A = A, part 2

Posted on July 7, 2011 in Blog Post, Editorial, Philosophy, Plein Air Painting

In my last post on this subject, I discussed some of the issues involved in a plein air event, the juried awards, and the significance of winning or losing. I also gave you my criteria for evaluating a painting.

I want to reiterate: I have to believe that good work within a genre will tell.

Putting aside the issue of sales, and focusing on the judging of awards for these events, other issues arise:

  • What if the judges are not objective in their evaluation?
  • What if the judges do not share my criteria for evaluating a painting?
  • What if when the judges looked at my work, it was poorly lit, or inconveniently placed?
  • What if there were simply too many paintings to be objective with?
  • If the uniqueness of subject matter is an important concern, what if I chose to submit a piece that had as its subject matter, something that was already done by many other artists?

I should also state that certain events offer criteria to judges. Beloit is fond of work that is done in an “Impressionist style,” whatever that means. Some events claim that there is a “Plein Air style.” (There isn’t.) This generally refers to a representational painting done in a painterly manner. I think.

The problem is that the guidance offered to the judges is often ambiguous and non-specific, and often written by people who have absolutely no background in art. This is often not conducive to fair judgment.

So what am I to make of these events? This: If the judges share my criteria for evaluating paintings, and their choices reflect these criteria, then their judgment means everything in the world. If they fail to share my criteria for evaluating paintings, then it means nothing.

The events don’t have to be fair to be worth the risk of being a waste of time and effort and money. The fact is that I am participating in these events because they can lead to further opportunities to compete, show and sell. The downside of losing? I have a body of work that can be shown (and sold?) elsewhere, not to mention a world of experience, conversations with friends, insight into new parts of the state, and refining of my technique. I suppose I can live with that.

I’d rather lose and not sell my paintings, more importantly my integrity, than win by the price of it. Besides, I still believe that if my technique and my eye are good enough, I can create a painting that is undeniably superior than those around it.