I am inspired to write to you all, the members of the Southern AZ Watercolor Guild~ Thank you so much for inviting me to jury your latest experimental show. Last night was a great pleasure and an honor to view and jury this wonderful show.
Ruth Tone – "Foundation Patterns"
Deanna Thibault – "Circling Around"
Bob Luedtke – "Trova Bird"
Francheskaa – "Silver Stream"
Anyone who has been showing for many years understands that jurying is always subjective. One learns not to be disappointed (too much!) when hearing the results of the winners, or more often, whether or not one even gets their work into a juried show. I have both been rejected fully and won best of show…with the same work! (Obviously different exhibitions and jurors). The viewer brings their world viewpoint to your work. A juror does too. If you didn’t get an award…6 out of 70 works were the odds, that by no means makes your work unsuccessful. It has taken me years, no, decades, to be able to shrug off “failure”.
The artworks that, to my eye, stood out amongst the rest have some aspects in common. I thought to describe what it is/was that I search for and am moved by when I am jurying:
Experimental: This is the theme of the show, so this played the most pivotal role for jurying. Is there a freedom of markmaking/brushwork? Did the artist push themselves with the use of media, either with straightforward watercolor or by mixing other media with watercolor? Am I surprised and delighted or moved by the use of media? While the work may have been extremely experimental for you, (for instance, if you are realistic and the work you submitted was abstract), it should also exhibit mastery of the principles of design and composition. The works I chose for awards all also masterfully incorporated the following:
Masterful Composition: How the shapes, directional movement, edges, color, difference in scale etc. should be arranged and designed with the viewer’s eye in mind. What is the focal point? How is that supported by the elements of design and imagery? I personally like some visual tension within the work. Consider the rule of thirds when composing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_thirds
Superb and engaging use of color and value: Color evokes an emotional response. Even when you are being experimental or non-objective, the use of color should be integrated. For instance if you used all the colors of the rainbow in the same value, that might not be as powerful as manipulating some of them to be darker or lighter. Experiment with using three analogous colors and one complementary color. (blue, blue violet, yellow green and red) or (pink, yellow orange, red and blue). Learn about the power of color, take a color course; try one small composition of shapes (photocopy a black and white line drawing of shapes) and try painting it five different times with different color combinations. Try the same thing with varied values.
Some simple web searches yielded the following interesting links:
Content: You might think that a work has to have recognizable elements to have content, but scale of the image, visual movement within the work, emotive color, tantalizing pattern and energetic line quality all evoke mood. Poetic sensation is directed by what is incorporated into the work, both consciously and unconsciously. The painter Josh Goldberg is one of my best friends. I am always viscerally moved when standing in front of one of his exquisite works. I am not an abstract painter, but of course can be moved to tears by abstract works that somehow turn on a switch within me.
Visit the website of Josh Goldberg to view his work and read his thought provoking writings.
And another site that looked interesting to me:
Mark of Hand: Is there a conversation between the creator and the created? What that means is, has the artist deftly left some “accidents” of media un-reworked to maintain freshness?
Lost and found edges: consider the freedom of brushwork and how edge and lack of edge can create a sense of spatial depth.
I love the freedom in the work of Charles Reid. Here is his take on lost and found edges: http://www.artistsnetwork.com/articles/art-demos-techniques/wc-reid-edges
There is a pdf you can download with further information.
New Zealand watercolor artist Susan Harrison-Tustain demonstrates her watercolor techniques of lost and found edges:
Presentation: The way the work is presented has to considered with the utmost care. Does the framing support the artwork? the frame should not overpower the work, rather it should serve to emphasize the work, pull the viewer’s eye into the painting. Truthfully, we should hardly notice the framing: it is the back up singer, singing in perfect harmony with the art and supporting the lead singer. Is the presentation a bit shoddy? Even if there is no frame, how it is suspended, mounted, positioned on a base should be clean and simple and elegant.
Professional photography: I am adding this, but please note that as this was a local member show, photographs were not necessary or required. It is vital that the work be photographed with finesse: correct color and light balance, in focus and all extraneous surrounding environs totally cropped out. Don't crop the work itself, if possible, especially if edges are important. Always document the work before framing, especially if under glass. No reflections and no hot spots. Remember that computer monitors vary in how color is viewed. Your job is to make the photo look just like the artwork. Take the photo with a gray card to achieve accurate color and value. "Hire up"- find someone who can shoot the works for you, if this is beyond your capabilities. Note: This show was not juried based on photography, I am just fortunate that there were images available for this blog. A quick web search brought up this informative and helpful site about photographing artwork.
Fully Integrated: When all of the above is working seamlessly in tandem, the work shines.
One suggestion I have to SAWG is to include a few honorable mention awards amongst your very generous financial awards. These can be non-monetary and could be offered to the juror to give out at their discretion…perhaps 3-5…ok I am giving six! It was incredibly challenging to choose the awards…I belabored over my decisions…Not enough ways to acknowledge them.
Juror's Honorable Mentions: I’ve woken up this morning, thinking about the show I juried last night, remembering particular works that didn’t receive one of the six awards. So I am going to take the liberty to dole out six honorable mentions, if I may do so:
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