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My thoughts on 'Judging' art.

I have been asked to judge a couple of upcoming art shows/exhibits. I look forward to any opportunity to get together with other artists and to discuss ART. However, when asked to ‘judge’ work, I do balk just a bit before my reply, my reason being, I have been on the other side many, many, many times, myself, listening to a judge's decision. I remember myself disagreeing with the judge. I remember not knowing ‘what the heck they were talking about!!, where are they coming from!!!!' I have evolved, grown in my art and understanding of art. The more I paint, I learn. The more I gather with other artists, I learn. The more I read, I learn.


​I do take ‘judging’ artwork very seriously. First and foremost, creating art is a personal endeavor. As the viewer of your art, I, in no way, can know, understand or have the same emotions about the work you have. Only the creator can have that intimate relationship with the piece. However, when the artist enters a competition, you open yourself up to the subjectivity of the juror, judge and audience. What one judge loves, another may hate. I recently entered a national watercolor exhibition and was rejected, entered the same piece in another show, was accepted and placed with an award.


​My process: First, I take time to look at the work. I describe it in my head in detail using facts, not opinions. In this step I play "detective", gathering visual evidence or clues. I use these clues to interpret the artwork. I avoid using words as pretty, gross, weird, sloppy and so on. What is this piece about? What is the artist trying to say? Is there a center of interest/focal point? Has the artist been successful in convincing me of the subject matter? And what I mean by this is 'Does the water look wet? Do the clouds look fluffy, soft?'

I have become automatic in reviewing work regarding the ‘elements of art’ and the ‘principles of design’- lines, shapes, color, value, textures, space……….has the artist been successful in arranging these elements (design)? Does the design guide the viewer through the art? How well has the artist used the medium…………the tools………the materials?​ Mastering the use of oils or watercolors or pastels cannot make up for bad perspective or incorrect proportions. Good art should appeal to you and be skillfully made. The best art has meaning beyond just an image; it creates a feeling, an emotion, perhaps it puts a smile on your face or brings you to tears or reminds you of some place or time. It stands out in a crowd and dares to be different.      -Anita
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