Sunday, March 30, 2008


Yesterday was my maiden venture into the world of judging an art exhibit. I was hoping that there would be a lot of work that would be easy to eliminate based on a lack of painting experience but the entries were of very high caliber, so I was challenged in making my decisions. I had taken along a sheet of guidelines to help me focus. The saving grace in the entire process was that many of the entrants submitted two paintings. The rule was that any individual could only receive one prize. When I was deciding between two paintings by the same person, I had an easier time. Now that I think about that, it was because I was comparing apples to apples rather than apples to oranges. Some of the variables were eliminated and I was then thinking about the strengths and weaknesses of just that particular painting. Then, when I had to assign 1st, 2nd, 3rd and honorable mentions, my own idea of hierarchy of importance of elements made the difference for my choices as opposed to what a different judge might pick.

People that are selected as judges recognize better craftsmanship, composition, color, mood, imagination, invention, interpretation, etc. etc. So, if a painting doesn't have it all in equal amounts, what becomes more important? If you have to choose between a painting that is more skillfully painted and one that is more imaginative, what wins out? At the national competition level, there are so many entries and so few spaces, skillful handling of the medium is usually a given. That said, there is always an exception or two in almost every national level show I have seen. At the local level, there is a much greater range of technical ability.

My own ideas of what is important in a painting has changed in the last few years. Like many others, I was focused on technique, technique, technique and wanted to be able to reproduce that photograph perfectly. I actually got pretty good at it in watercolor, which is no mean feat, but now I am looking for creativity and originality in my own work and rank that higher in importance in others' work, as well. So, the bottom line is that there is no way to judge others' work without personal prejudice because it is a subjective activity. After I was done, I talked about my assessment of each painting to those who were hanging the show. Hopefully, they were satisfied with the results.

The results of the judging of awards for the American Watercolor Society has been announced and I am the recipient of the CPS Medal. This was recognition beyond my wildest imaginings!! The show opens on Tuesday in New York and the awards dinner is on April 25th. I am treating my husband to an exciting trip to New York and will share a slide show upon our return.

Today I found a great check list by Tom Lynch in an old issue of International Artists magazine. I am listing the basic categories (he went into greater detail) because I think it will be useful for each of us in evaluating our own paintings. I don't know if the order is significant but you might want to arrange them in the order of importance to you. DESIGN, IMPACT AREA, MOOD/FEELING, CREATIVITY, VALUES, COMPOSITION, UNITY, CRAFSTMANSHIP, COLOR, PRESENTATION.


Nava said...

:-) :-) :-)

TOLD YOU this is one special painting!!!


RHCarpenter said...

Congratulations, Myrna!!! How great that you kept trying to get in and this year not only did you get it, but you WOW'd them!!!

Mike said...

This is a difficult idea to communicate about judging . . .and this is the best I have ever seen. It makes ablsolute sense and really addresses those things that are so important beyond technique!

Hats off to you and your painting award at AWS, again! The visualizations of being there in NY at AWS paid off!

Mary said...

Myrna, you are hanging with the big ones. I checked out the winners on the AWS web pages - WOW!


Dawn said...

I love your painting, though she looks abit to much like me and I could never be that old LOL!

laura said...

This painting is truly phenomenal, and excels in all the elements elaborated by Lynch. I love the light on the face and the reflected light under her chin, but her expression is truly priceless!! And thank you for your thoughtful description of the judging process; it is of course of great interest to all of us out here who aspire to reach your heights! Congratulations.

Tracy Wandling said...

Congratulations!! You must be thrilled...I'M
I hope you have a grand time at the awards ceremony!!!

Michelle Himes said...

Wonderful!!! Congratulations, Myrna! Now I HAVE to get in to see that show.

Nava said...

Oh wow - just looked at the list of award winners - what a lost of big shots!

Again, very, Very, VERY cool!!

JohnnyB said...

Myrna -


Really, I mean it.

BTW - we expect to be named, near the top of your Thank Yu speech. Really, I mean it.


Congratulations - nice to see others appreciate you like we do.


Marilyn Fuerstenberg said...

Congratulations Myrna!!!! I opened my emails this morning and the one from the American Watercolor Society announcing the Award Winners...and there you were...How excited you must be to be in the company of theNationally known watercolorists. Way to go!!!!
Marilyn Fuerstenberg

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