Thursday, February 21, 2008


Today was the last day of the George James workshop. Everything came together and people finished paintings with pretty amazing results for a workshop effort. I was able to photograph each one and I will post that slide show tomorrow. Today I am sharing the two small demos George did to explain his way of designing shapes. One strategy is to have dark shapes connecting through the painting. He calls this linkage. If you do the same with light shapes, he calls this passage. He demonstrated both. This is a concept I think I will be able to utilize in more of my paintings. It doesn't work if you are following the logic of how light works in the real world. He calls this "light logic". His method is arbitrary light and dark shapes with a focus on design and contrast. You create a very different kind of painting using this idea.

The second part of his morning discussion dealt with entering competitions and the jurying process. I found this information very very valuable. He described the heirarchy of types of shows. Starting with local shows, then regional, national and lastly international. The competition increases as you move up in the heirarchy. The awards also increase. The larger the prize money, the tougher the competition.

There are two types of judging. One is a single judge and the other is multiple judges. A single judge has more time to look at the slides and review them to make his decision. In this case, where your slide was in the pack was not very critical. When there are multiple judges, they all get together and decide at one time. George noticed that the judges were being hyper critical of the first few trays to insure a top notch show. If there are 3 judges, then if all 3 vote yes the painting is in, if 2 vote yes it may be reviewed if they need more paintings after the first round of viewing is done. If only one or no judges vote yes, the painting is out. George decided to send his slides into competitions somewhere in the middle of the receiving dates to position his slide past the first trays because the slides are placed in the slide trays in order of being received.

If you are accepted into the National Watercolor Society, you have the option of sending in an additional 3 paintings in mats to be reviewed by a panel. If they feel your work is up to the society standards, they will grant you signature membership. I always thought it was a separate viewing from the painting in the show by a different group of people than those who selected the show paintings. It turns out they put a slide of the painting accepted into the show on the wall and then place the additional 3 paintings underneath that so they are seeing all 4 at one time. Therefore, it is best to have all 4 related in subject matter and definitely of the same degree of excellence.

The other piece of information I found interesting is that the American Watercolor Society has quotas on how many signature members can be in their yearly national show. They are competing against each other for these slots. That way there are always opportunities for the unaffiliated entries to be accepted.

George shared how he evaluates slides submitted for a show where he is the single judge. This is his method and not necessarily the way all judges do it.
He receives the submitted slides which have been placed in order of being received. He views them at his home and can take as much time as he needs to decide. He is given the total number of paintings he can accept for the show. This number is related to the exhibition space available. Let's say there are 700 entries and space for 100 paintings. The first thing he does is go through the slides and get a feel for the range of SUBJECT matter. The next thing he looks at is CRAFT (how well painted)
Next he pares it down to 200 paintings. If more than one slide was permitted to be entered per person, he eliminates all but one per person. Now, to get it down to the exact number of paintings for the show, he looks for STRONG DESIGN, STRONG COLOR and UNIQUENESS. The juror is always working towards a balanced show in terms of subject matter and styles of painting.


Nava said...

Very enlightening - thank you for sharing!

By the way, seems like he's really into the cruciform composition. Many of his works have it.

Myrna Wacknov said...

All of his paintings have the cruciform composition because he uses a "zone" concept for his designing of the rectangle. The center of interest is in the center zone and moved up to eye level. Then he has secondary zones, zone 3 and zone 4 (corners). The grid is visually very dominant in his work.

Nava said...

Sounds like I missed a real good design workshop!! hopefully, between your blog and his new DVD, I'll understand to get some of it.

Tracy Wandling said...

That's very cool that he shared that 'inside' information. Sounds like an interesting workshop...thanks for sharing what you've learned with us. Looking forward to seeing the paintings!

Related Posts with Thumbnails