I didn't take any ribbons at the recently hung small works show. There was a single judge, a respected academic and fine artist in her own right. Not everyone can win.
Last night was art judge critique night at the gallery, and many of us went to hear her presentation and discuss her criteria for judging. She described some of the elements she looks at, the skill level and subjects. Behind it all - judging is a subjective response to a particular piece at a particular moment in time. One of the judges I worked with in the past said if she were to judge at any other time or place, her responses may be different. You can't use a point system, like so many points for composition, so many points for use of materials, presentation of subject, color, or any of the other elements of art. You either like it, or not. Even at that, there are not enough ribbons to go around for everything the judges like. They have to make the hard decisions. They may have a strong emotional response to a piece that lacks in skill or composition, yet it may draw them back to it. I find this so fascinating. It also makes me wonder why we try to find judges with good academic credentials if they are just going to throw them out the window and go gaga over any old thing that tugs at their heart strings. I guess the reason is that they can communicate their decisions and rationale with an air of expertise. I like that. It's important for an artist to hear criticism as well as praise. And praise without an explanation is so empty. Then it really does seem more like a whim. This judge explained things well, and was very thoughtful in her critique.
Someone asked her to critique one of my gelli prints, and she said she was quite taken by them but didn't quite know what they were, the use of materials was something she had not seen before. She asked how I accomplished them and I gave a very brief description of the process. All in all, she like s them, very much liked the sense of space and composition was strong. She liked the colors. She liked the serenity. I had such good feedback from the other members and a few in particular who I respect immensely - so much so that I went back to the gallery today and raised my prices. I really don't want them to sell and will only be happy to sell for a whopping sum. LOL I guess the response from the judge and the group gave me a big boost of over-confidence! LOL I was already sure I was on to something really special with this new group of works. I didn't expect to win. I thought the pieces are so quiet and unassuming, they might go unnoticed - but that is their charm. They are soothing and peaceful and easy on the eyes.
I didn't win anything but a good feeling. I already have a strong emotional response to these pieces because the subjects come from our family photo archives. I think I needed to hear that they evoked good responses from others without the family connection.
At the gallery, my three pieces are hung in different areas. One is in the front window. One on the featured artist wall, and one in the back room of the gallery. An artist I respect ( who used to have his own gallery) said he would have hung them together. I had to agree that would have been my preference, but our gallery manager does such a good job, I would not ask her to change it now.
Anyhow, if you don't win, you just keep going if you like the direction you are headed. If not, then perhaps it's time to change directions. At least it makes us analyze what is working and what isn't. And the critiques (not always flattering) are learning experiences. You have to have tough enough skin to face the critics as well as your best friends who only say nice things.....
Do these pieces remind you of this one I entered a couple years ago that did win, much to my surprise.
I think the quiet ones are my favorites. I think there is more than enough noise and confusion in the world. Quiet places are soothing to the soul.