Sunday, March 8, 2015

Why not my art?

 It's the start of art show season, the invitations are starting to fill my in box. Also we're accepting portfolio submissions for consideration  at the gallery for the 2015 season.
Every year young and not so young artists hopefully put their work out there, looking for recognition in the form of jury acceptance, awards and sales. 
Every year some of them have their egos crushed, and are left crying: why not my art??
For many years I was a part of that brigade, let me share with you what I learned that got me out of it. 
Sometimes your work is awesome, but it's just not what they're looking for at that show. 
Many years ago, I entered one of my paintings 'thank a pollinator' in two different shows, it was rejected from one, but earned a judges choice at the second...the judge for both shows, was the same person.  True story. 
Sometimes your work is too much like everyone else's. I've been to a few shows where I swear all of the artists have painted the same view, using the same technique. 
Sometimes your work is technically brilliant but boring.   
And's just not as good as your friends, family, and neighbours have been telling you it is. 
So, what do you do?
If you can, finding a good teacher/mentor is the best solution.
Don't be afraid to experiment, it's the best way to become the artist you were meant to be.
Learn to look at your own art objectively by training your eye. 
Go to every gallery you can, look at art online, and in books. 
When you see something you love ask yourself why? What grabs your attention in that work? What holds that attention?
Chances are it's:
Strong composition/ design: focal point, and counterpoint, connections and balance.  
Value contrasts (light/dark), mono value  paintings are really hard to do well,
Colour choices that make sense, I don't mean slavishly following the reference.  Using compliments for impact, cool colours in backgrounds and shadows, warm colours in foreground and highlights, some times that differentiation is very subtle. 
Intelligent use of line and edges. Some hard some soft, some barely there.
Something in those paintings has pop, something draws you in, hints at a mystery, and amuses your eye. 
Is it the technique? Tom Thompson, Van Gogh, Emily Carr all used the power of their brush strokes  brilliantly.
The subject? Lucien Freud, Frida Kahlo, Georgia O'Keeffe all mastered a subject. 
What can you take from the masters to lift your work?  


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