Past Watermedia Showcase award winners share the rewards of entering an art competition—and it’s not all about taking home the prize money.
“I enter many competitions every year. Often I don’t get in, but when my painting is recognized for an award, I feel validated and energized creatively.” —Soon Y. Warren | Fort Worth, Texas
“I enter many competitions. It’s one of the ways I assess whether or not my work has value and whether or not the story I’m trying to tell is engaging my audience.”—Laurin McCracken | Leland, Mississippi
“Unlike sports or chess, art can’t be judged by definitive criteria. How is it decided which painter’s work is better or worse when every painting carries the individual expression of the artist? Bear in mind that a work can’t touch other people’s hearts without touching the artist’s own heart first. In this way, no matter whether the work manages to win a prize or not, it will bring the artist great pleasure in the pursuit of excellence.” —Chien Chung-Wei | New Taipei City, Taiwan
“I have quite a respectable stack of rejection letters, but whether my work is accepted or rejected, I’m encouraged to paint more. Painting is my life, not my hobby.” —Thomas W. Schaller | Marina del Rey, Calif.
“I usually enter three or four international juried exhibitions per year. I’m constantly reminded that I should never take myself too seriously or be too hard on myself. There’s always a juror who will reject my work and another who will award it. Competitions keep me doing my absolute best work.”—Peggi Habets | Bethel Park, Pa.
“It was a great honor to be awarded the American Watercolor Society’s [AWS] Mary Bryan Memorial Medal in 2012. I was humbled to connect with watercolor artists from all over the country at the AWS show, and to feel that community of fellow watercolor explorers. For me, the process of entering competitions was part of learning to prepare my work professionally and to bring my work from a focus on process into a focus on dialogue.”—Kathryn Keller Larkins | New York
“Contests are a great way to push yourself artistically and help you to gain perspective. It’s inspiring to see others rise to new artistic heights even when you fall short. Sometimes a juror’s decision helps you gain a new appreciation for a different approach.—Joseph Alleman | Logan, Utah