It’s no surprise that an art juror is going to begin his or her task by studying a painting for certain expected attributes: strong design, solid draftsmanship, a skilled handling of value and color. But once an entry has met criteria like these, what is it in a painting that catches and holds a juror’s attention all the way through to the winner’s circle? What is the secret to that intangible “wow factor”?
At Pastel Journal, we ask this question of all of our Pastel 100 Competition jurors, and they’ve offered some truly great advice over the years. Here are 10 tips for improving the odds that your painting will be one of the stand-outs:
10 Ways to Catch a Juror’s Eye
1. To decide which painting to submit, view your images on a computer at a rate of about one every 10 seconds. Choose the painting that catches your attention in that short time. If you consider the number of entries and time involved, 10 seconds may be all the time you have with a juror.
— Doug Dawson
2. Push yourself to go beyond the expected portrayal of your subject matter. Determine a clear visual message for your subject and use that to drive the execution of the painting.
— Barbara Jaenicke
3. Take risks. Create work that’s personal. And strive to go beyond. — Debora L. Stewart
4. Be sure your painting accomplishes what you set out to do. I tend to be drawn to paintings that feel complete. Whether loose or tight, impressionistic or realistic, colorful or monochromatic, paintings that say it all and nothing more are the ones that stand out. — Terri Ford
5. Paint the essence of a subject. Paint the idea, not just what you see. — Stephanie Birdsall
6. Consider what you want your painting to be about and how you can simplify the visual story. Limit the detail to areas where you want the viewer to focus. Take chances. Interpret your subject rather than copy it. You have a voice, so paint to tell your story. — Vianna Szabo
7. Follow your heart in terms of both content and artistic treatment. Be true to yourself as an artist; it’s the only way to achieve fulfillment in your work. — Brian Bailey
8. Paint a subject you love—one that speaks to you, challenges you and gives you an I-can’t-wait-to-paint-it feeling. — Stephanie Birdsall
9. Don’t try to mimic another artist; allow your own personal style to emerge. — Barbara Jaenicke
10. Paint. Paint. Paint. Every day, if you can. — Elizabeth Ganji
Meet This Year’s Pastel 100 Jurors
Rita Kirkman | Animal + Landscape Juror has won a number of major awards in national and international competitions and is rapidly becoming a popular workshop instructor. Kirkman is a signature member of the Pastel Society of America (PSA) and a Master Circle artist with the International Association of Pastel Societies (IAPS). Her work has been featured in a number of art publications, including Pastel Journal. Although she’s well known for her depictions of ranch animals, and her adventurous use of color, the artist says that she enjoys painting “almost anything” and finds resonance in a quote by Claude Monet, who said, “The subject matter, my dear good fellow, is the light.”
Nancie King Mertz | Landscape + Interior Juror is an IAPS Master Circle artist, and a master artist in the PSA and Chicago Pastel Painters. Her work was featured in the 2015 February issue of Pastel Journal and has been included many times in Pastel 100 competitions. She teaches across the United States and internationally, and is on the faculty for the Plein Air Convention and the IAPS Convention in 2017. Mertz has traveled the country and to nearly 20 countries abroad for painting inspiration, but her hometown of Chicago remains her favorite city to explore and paint.
William A. Schneider | Portrait + Figure Juror sharpened his skills during eight years of study at the American Academy of Art’s Saturday Program in Chicago, and through workshops with artists Dan Gerhartz, Harley Brown and Richard Schmid, among others. His work has been featured in such publications as Southwest Art, Fine Art Connoisseur, The Artists’ Magazine and Pastel Journal, among others. His work has received awards in a number of exhibitions including those of the American Impressionist Society (in which he’s a master signature member), the Oil Painters of America, the Portrait Society of America and the PSA (in which he is a master pastelist).
Arlene Richman | Abstract + Non-Objective Juror is a native New Yorker and an award-winning abstract pastelist. Her work has been widely exhibited in the U.S., and internationally. Richman is a PSA master pastelist and serves on the executive committee of the PSA board of governors. She’s also a signature member of the Connecticut Pastel Society and the Pastel Painters Society of Cape Cod, and is an artist member of the Salmagundi Club. She has been featured in Pastel Journal and The Artist’s Magazine. Her pastel work is part of the permanent collection of the National Arts Club in New York City and in numerous private collections.
Sarah Blumenschein | Still Life + Floral Juror is a pastel artist living in Albuquerque, N.M. Her work has been part of many local, national and international art competitions, earning a number of awards, including First Place in the Still Life category of The Artist Magazine’s 2009 Annual Art competition; The Grand Prize in the Pastel Journal’s 2010 Pastel 100 competition; Best of Show in the 2014 New Mexico Masterworks competition; and Best of Show in the 2015 Pastel Society of New Mexico National exhibition. Blumenschein is a signature member of the PSA and a distinguished pastelist of the Pastel Society of the West Coast.