Monthly Archives: May 2013

5 Tips for Getting into A Juried Show

At some point in their careers, most artists want to see where they stack up next to other artists. Competition seems to be a common human trait. One way for artists to do that is to enter juried shows. Some artists do this to add another line to their resume, some to win prize money, and some just for the spirit of the thing.

I have been on both sides of that fence, from entering shows across the nation to judging shows individually or as part of my job as Director of the Jasper Arts Center and have reviewed thousands of slides and photographs. (No one uses slides anymore so that’s how old I am.)

So here is some of the best advice I can give you for getting into a juried exhibit.

1. Read the prospectus carefully. Does your work fit the guidelines? Are they looking for abstract expressionists and you paint landscapes with puppies? Is it a watercolor exhibit and you only do oils? How about the size and weight limitations? Did you check the schedule for entry, delivery, exhibit and return? Will your work be available for that period of time? A small oversight in paying attention to the details will cost you money and time as well as being just plain aggravating to both you and the show organizers.

2. Check out the jurors. Will the show be selected by one person or a panel? Will the images be projected or reviewed online? Can the judge be impartial enough to select work based on its merits and not just because it is in the same style as his/her own? It is an unfortunate fact that I have seen some exhibits selected all in the same style as the judge (shame on them). Most of the judges we have had here at the gallery spend quite a bit of time going through the images, usually reviewing them several times before winnowing the show down. They take great pains to have a mixed variety of media and subject matter and are especially pained at the final rounds when they have to cut out some really great pieces. They care.

3. Review your work with an objective eye. (Don’t listen to your family and friends because they love everything you do.) Is the work you are planning to submit the best you have? Is it cohesive? Will it stand out against the competition? What is the quality of workmanship? Would someone notice it across the room? Is it your own work and not copied from someone else’s design? What makes your work special? (Please, no more barns, flying ducks or Norman Rockwell look-alikes!)

4. Will the work be judged on site or by photos? This can really make a difference for some pieces, especially those involving texture or size. If you’ve ever seen a real Van Gogh in person, you realize that he “carved” the paint on the canvas and that texture is as important as the subject matter. All work looks the same size when projected which may cause advantages or disadvantages. A wall-sized impact piece will appear the same size as a miniature even though the sizes are stated; it’s still the first perception that counts.

If you are taking photos, make sure that your painting is level, no hot spots, no glares or reflections, no frames, no hands holding the piece. With today’s digital cameras and easy-to-use software, there is absolutely no excuse for sending bad images. This is the most important thing you will submit with your application so it had better be the best you can make it.

5. Finally, relax. After you send your application and images off, it is out of your hands. Any two jurors will choose a different show from the same selection of work. Not getting into a show is not the end of the world. You are creating for yourself, right? That’s what is really important. Keep creating!


As an artist, I have many distractions.  Don’t we all?  With a large yard and garden, this time of year finds me outdoors most evenings and weekends.  Yes, I’d rather be painting but sometimes I have to do some other stuff.  Work for one.  Gardening.

Swifts in corner of my studio porch

Swifts in corner of my studio porch

But this spring, as the past three springs, a family of swifts have taken up residence on the porch of my summer-kitchen studio.  I don’t know why they choose this particular corner as there are plenty of other good spots – woodshed, shop, eves, …yes, even birdhouses.  So they get touchy as I go in and out of my studio which puts a bit of a damper on my painting activities, especially at night.  I even covered the window with a black drape so I wouldn’t scare them.  Sometimes I go into the studio by the side entrance although mostly I forget to unlock that door.

Also, I love to garden.  Well, I love the results of gardening…not particularly the labor that goes into making it happen.  But it beats my hours at a desk so who should complain?  My husband plants a little spring garden – lettuces, kale, onions, asparagus, tomatoes, basil.  And I plant the big garden, about a quarter of an acre.  Tomatoes, peppers, beans (those durn rabbits), peas, squashes, corn, sweet potatoes, more basil…and loads of sunflowers.  In the winter when I’m having a nice vegetable soup or some homemade salsa, I think of all the sunshine that has been captured in my vegetables.  Maybe monetarily it isn’t worth the work, but it is to the spirit and soul.

View from the patio towards the big garden

View from the patio towards the big garden


As this blog isn’t totally about being an artist, I thought I’d talk about country life today.

This evening I was sitting on my patio listening to the sounds of the day winding down.  For those of you who live in the city, I know you think you live in a chaotic and noisy environment.  But those of us who live in the country also have the noise and chaos…just a bit different. 

This evening as I was sitting on my patio, I tried to identify all the sounds that I could.

  • Crickets in the garlic chives
  • Birds – chickadees, cardinals, goldfinches, titmouse, two kinds of woodpeckers, mourning doves, and even the stupid starlings in the gutters
  • Peepers (frogs) in the lowlands
  • Diesel engines of the train about a half mile away
  • Neighbor’s son revving up his truck’s engine then taking off
  • Far away highway sounds
  • Jet high overhead
  • Cat meowing in the shop telling me that it’s too early to be shut up for bedtime
  • Wind in the trees overhead
  • Bumblebees in the honeysuckle

Plenty of noise…just different.  You just have to listen.