I am putting this out there in hopes of gaining some insight for juried art shows. I started painting back in September of 2022. I think I have a gift for painting. Others do too. So, I painted a seagull on a railing for a show that is coming up early next year ( Whooping Crane Festival). A local art league near where I live hosted a juried art show open to non members a week ago. No particular theme for the artwork. So...I thought I would enter my seagull. It looks real. I'd say I nailed it. LOL  Well, I didn't get into the show. Paid my $35 for my 2 entries and neither of them made the cut. I did notice that about 85% of the paintings that made the show were framed. Mine was a 20X20 gallery canvas ( unframed ). I did paint the sides to match the front. Even wrapped the fishing pole around one side for a "3D" effect. 

I got no feedback on any note or anything from the judges. Don't even know who the judges were. Do I ask the judges for feedback?? There was no requirement for a frame on gallery canvases in the prospectus. Again, there were a handful of unframed canvases. Does an "unknown artist" just not have the ability to make the cut even if the work is exceptional????  Just trying to wrap my head around it because I'm not giving up. I intend to figure out what it takes and get into some juried shows. Or am I wasting my time and just need to move on??? ha!  Maybe it was "who you know" for the judges. 

I'll take whatever you want to throw at me for criticism or pointers. 

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  • Lynn, I like your art! Keep going! Paint what you love or have a passion for. Try to paint or sketch every day that's where you will see how your work improves over time and how your style develops. You don't have to attend an art school to learn to paint but I would suggest attending workshops given by artists on subjects you like to paint. Talk to other artists on the "how too's". YouTube has a lot of good instructional videos on composition etc.

    When you enter Juried art shows or exhibitions I would select local galleries and attend the openings first. This way you get a feel for where your art fits in and what to price your work based on similar work and at what level your work is at. It is a lot easier to get accepted into local shows than larger national or international shows where you compete against 1000+ artists who are masters at their craft. When entering an exhibition, read very carefully the prospectus for all the important information and instructions and follow it exactly. Make sure your work is photographed according to the size and megabytes specified. Make sure your photograph is high quality. You can use an iPhone or you can hire a professional photographer that specializes in photographing artwork. There is no guarantee your work will be accepted into the show. This can be for many reasons. They might have too many submissions on the same subject, and the technical aspect of the is poor, your subject does not meet the criteria or theme of the show. With any curating or judging of work, there is always some subjectiveness on the judge's part even when they try to be impartial. If you feel your work is good then keep trying.  Most importantly have fun and enjoy the journey. Wishing you sucess.

  • I don't want to squash any hopes here, so keep in mind that your work can and should improve. I went to your website and looked at what was on there. Your work is nice but isn't going to score high enough to get into high level shows at this time. I have judged for several shows, including a major one for over ten years, and yours would be a toss-up between a 3 or a 5 out of a 7 where there is no 4. You need to be on a 6 level to be guaranteed acceptance as you're in a competetive media category.

    Your choice of subject material is fine. You're still learning and will be getting better. What holds your work back is lack of range, contrast as it were, and value. Your perspective work needs more separation between foreground and background to make your subjects jump out more. look up "aerial perspective" and see how it could apply to your work. Another issue is learning to see how light hits and wraps around your scenes giving it more contrast and dynamism. An example ofthat is your bird paintings where the bird paintings are the same value as the background; make the backgrounds either darker or lighter than the subject but not the same. Think of the light as coming from the edge of the painting and giving a thin line of brighter light around the edge of the birds. You can look up "Vermeer lines" to get more detailed information on that. Your rendering and proportions are fine, so it's really the finesse touches to get your work up to a higher level.

    A suggestion on your web site is to rephotograph your paintings and crop out anything beyond the edge of the canvas. You certainly need to do that when submitting images for jury applications. Frames and easels are a no-no in these situations.

    I'm giving you a link to a tutorial I wrote ten years ago on improving your chances to getting into shows. It adresses in three parts how to set up your computer and monitor, jury shots and your booth shot. It's a long read but packed with a lot of information. 

    The first article is here and has the link to the next section at the end.

    St. Louis Art Fair Mock Jury and Image Workshop 2013, Part 1
    Introduction   After editing this and re-editing, I finally decided to re-do it as a three-parter to keep it readable. Even my eyeballs glazed over t…
    • Thank you for the input! My website was crap and I've updated it with more recent work. I also had the wrong files uploaded and now have the "non easel" pics on there. Sorry that's all you had to go by. I have no formal training at all. I just picked up some brushes, paint and canvases and started painting. LOL  All your information is greatly appreciated!!! I am hoping one day to get some formal training. I will try and attach the pictures that did not make the cut. 12289365490?profile=original12289365086?profile=RESIZE_930x

  • I juried the number one art show in the country, The La Quinta Arts Festival for 16 years and I produce my own show, The Sugarloaf Fedtival of the Arts. Your work is amature. You need to attend a good art school for academic training. Suggest you start with lots of life drawing. You need to understand composition, color, texture, materials. techniques etc. There are no short cuts. Do this for about 5 years to start.

    • Thank you! My work is VERY amateur! My biggest fear is to continue without some training so I don't develop bad habits. I'm still having fun with my work. I never started painting with any desire to have anyone see them. Ha! It was for relaxation/therapy purposes. My wife felt like it was getting good enough to put in shows. My website IS updated now. Sorry that's all you had to go by. Didn't realize I posted the wrong files with the uncropped photos.  I now have my more recent pieces on there. Some of those earlier pieces will be taken down. I will retire in about 6 years so maybe I'll have time to take in-person courses somewhere. I do plan on concentrating on more practice and learning composition, color, texture, and YES materials and using them properly. I call myself a "hack" currently. And that's probably what a lot of other artists call me when they see my work. LOL  That's fine! I'm one year in on this venture that has turned into a real passion. I want to paint things that people want to put on their walls. Not so that they sell for money, but for the simple fact that they enjoy my work enough to take it home and display it. My first official sell was this humming bird. My 35th painting to do. It's not on my website because the owner paid extra to have the only one with no copies made of it. It's a 16X16 gallery canvas. And it also looks better in person than in this photo. Perfect? no. Far from it. Bunches of misses I'm sure. Most I don't even know of as a rookie "hack". But the buyer loved it and that's what made it a success. Thank you again for your input!! 12289504079?profile=RESIZE_930x

  • Good morning Lynn, first of all what your going through is not unusual.  If you research the judges taste in art, then you'll understand that everyone has an idea of what is unique, trendy and will draw buyers.   I took a look at your website.  Yes, you have talent.  However, you might want to talk to gallery owners.  Find out what kinds of work sells.  You focus on birds.  I can tell you that you might want to diversify your subjects.  You haven't been at this very long.   It's not political, it's by chance.

    When I first started bringing my work to the local art association, I had my heart on my sleeve hoping that I'd be accepted.  It was insulting to see the lesser works that did get in!  So I assumed the worst.  In hindsight, I was a marginal artist and was ready to throw my paintbrushes away. I worked hard at my craft and a year or so later my work was selected as Best in Show.  Thats show had  a record number of submissions!  Not long afterwards, I won another Best in Show and several other awards at a different event.  I was now in demand!  I was told by one of the judges that I shouldn't compete anymore, as the other artists were so angry that I cleaned up on all of the ribbons.  It was then that I was accepted into a decent gallery on Martha's Vineyard.  My work was selling, that's all I cared about- not about the competitions.  Framed, unframed it may not matter.  As a former picture framer, I can tell you that a good quality gallery frame will raise the interest level of your work.  If it's really contemporary, then frameless might work.  I belieive the trend might be moving towards framed for more representational artwork.  But ask the gallery owners in your area.  

    Also, I have found that the level of my work has been raised by painting with a plein air group.  If you don't have one nearby, start one!  Meetup.com is a good way of getting artists together for a weekly paint out.  Good luck and don't take it personally.



    • Thank you!! My desire is to be an artist that SELLS work so that galleries will want my pieces on their walls. I have updated my website yesterday and have my most recent works on there now. There are a few yet to get photographed. My focus recently has been largely on birds because I'm trying to build up my inventory for a big show in February. It's the Whooping Crane Festival in Port Aransas, TX and I've been given an opportunity to set up a booth. I love doing seascapes and landscapes. Big sky paintings are something I'm very interested in doing. Would love to lean away from realism and try some impressionism pieces. I just finished a portrait of my daughter's cat. It's a birthday present for her next week. (attached here) I know that it's going to take me some time to learn about values, mixing colors and picking the right brushes for what I'm doing. My two pictures I submitted to the juried show are above in my reply to Robert Wallis' comments. The seagull piece is a 20X20 and it looks real i person. I thought I "knocked it out of the park" on that one. LOL It's not perfect, but I feel like my work has improved over the last 4 paintings I've done. The realism I'm trying to capture is starting to come through. I just have to keep working and doing some studies on technique. Thank you again for all your input!! 12289496499?profile=original

  • Move on. Walk some local and near by shows to get a sence of what gets in. Then apply if demographic fits your prices. 

    • Thanks! That's pretty much what I have decided. I'm still very new to this and it's just part of the experience. 

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