Saturday, February 19, 2011

The art of judgement and the judgement of art

 Sterling Fellows
charcoal and white pastel
19" x 25"

I won't belabour the point as I've had my rant over on Facebook about the vaguaries of criteria for acceptance and rejection of art in juried competition.  This piece was submitted and rejected to a juried competition.  That's fine.  No problem.  My ticked box on the application form asked for adjudicator comments, in my hope that I would receive something that would help me in the future if the piece was rejected. The note that was sent with my rejection letter told me that  I can draw well, create great atmosphere, but I need to add colour and broaden my composition.

Hello...there was no colour because that was the purpose of the piece.  NO COLOUR.  So the feedback is basically telling me, yes, you can draw well and create a scene, but we'd really prefer you made it in colour and choose a different composition.  ie  it would have been better if I hadn't done it at all or done it to someone else's criteria.  I was asked for and included an artist statement.  I guess they never read that  as it may have given a little insight into my work and its theme of fish.   These comments weren't telling me why the piece was rejected, or how I could improve it technically.  I see these as comments from a group/individuals personal preferences in art and how they would prefer to see the piece if they had created it.

So I'm left shaking my head and mentally ensuring that I don't enter that competition again.  I should have learned after the rules were changed the other year where a piece must be hidden from the world before being entered.

I don't mind having work rejected, in fact I expect it, as not all work suits all exhibitions and my piscean creations aren't everyone's cup of tea, nor is representational art.  My problem is with the criteria, or what seems to be lack of, in both the ability of judges to choose work objectively and to respond, if required, with comments that can assist an artist to grow.   I'm likely flogging a dead horse to rail at it from time to time, but I will continue to do so.

Now on to a lighter note...if you subscribe to my newsletter, you will know that I am having a contest until the end of February with a prize of an original portrait.  However, I thought I'd share it here as well.  Details of how to take part are below.

This contest gives you a chance to win an 8 x 10 original portrait. The portrait can be of you, a friend or family member or a pet.  I will choose the medium and the winning name will be drawn on March 1st.

The pieces shown here are drawn in charcoal. Your portrait may be in charcoal, graphite, or coloured pencil.  Perhaps painted.  Its all part of the surprise... 

There are several ways to win.

1. I will have a contest post on my Facebook page. Join my Facebook page 
(you need to click 'Like') and let me know why you want to win a portrait. 

2.  Become a subscriber to my newsletter.  Current subscribers  and those added up until February 28 will be included in the draw. You can join in the link on the sidebar to the right here.

3.  Send me an email  between February 15 and 28 and tell me why you would like a portrait and of who. 

The winner's name will be announced in the March newsletter.

Good luck!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


16 x 20
coloured pencil 

Medusa is complete, even if I can't get a great photo of it.  The combination of coloured pencil and a black surface make for technical difficulties, even with PS editing.  I'll keep working on it, but you get the general idea of it.

The tinkering part of me wonders if I should add some specks of detritus floating in the water as there tends to be particles in deeper water instead of being crystal clear.  The sensible part of me slaps my hand away and says leave it alone.  And I will let it sit for a few days and see if anything rears its head when I next see it.

I used an online framing program MatoMatic, to test some frame and mat colours.  I like to have some idea of what I want before going to a framing shop and this program allows me to try out different ideas at no cost.  It also gives art collectors an opportunity to see how a piece will look when framed, when making a decision to purchase online.

I'm taking a short break from the blog to catch up on my final gyotaku pieces and work on some marketing and planning for the workshop.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

River stones

I've had an idea for a painting in my head for quite some time and have been playing around with different mediums to see what will work best for it.

The reflections of light on stones in shallow, flowing water is what I want to reproduce.  The distortions of the shapes caused by the moving water and the lines of reflected sunlight across the stones is challenging and takes time to produce.  I don't anticipate this to be a quick piece.

I tried a study in acrylics and that just didn't work for me and today I reverted to watercolours which seems to give the effect that I'm looking for in the stones.  Subtle colours and granulating pigments work well to create the texture of the river stones.  I'll be using a lot of masking fluid to create the lines of light I think.  Masking seems preferable to using gouache for these lines, as the final result should be transparent and natural.

I'm still not sure of the final size for this.  Not a huge piece I don't think as the detail might just become too tedious.  Then again, size matters, so going large and going crazy may be in my future.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine puzzle

I'm not a fan of Valentine's Day.  I think there's more consumerism than love in it, but I don't deny those who enjoy the event.   However, I'm going to make you work for your Valentine treat here tonight.

I took a photo on a beach that seems appropriate for the day and created a puzzle out of it. Once you complete the jigsaw puzzle you will see the image.  I'm in the process of starting a new painting but have nothing share quite yet, as its in the very ugly stage. Soon.

I tried to add the puzzle to this post, but its a bit too wide, so I'll simply add the link and let you solve the puzzle.  You cannot rotate pieces and each correct matching piece will lock against its mate when found.

Valentine Jigsaw Puzzle

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Rennies Mill River in summer

 Rennies Mill River in summer
7 x 9

Part of the pact with myself for 2011 is to create a body of work with water as the subject.  I have no deadline hanging over me to do this and have completed one piece.  This is a small second piece where I was was working out water movement and colours.  I have a larger painting planned for another piece, not the same subject, being drawn up today.

The surface of water with all its reflections and movement is a challenge to capture.  A combination of real life studies and photographs make it easier and living close to many water sources, its just a short walk or trip to find myself very close to my subject.

On this cold snowy winter day, I need a touch of summer that looking into this water provides.