As the editor of Artist Daily, I constantly experience art on the screen of my computer. It just isn't possible for me to go everywhere to see everything that I would like to in person, but images in any given online art gallery or art blog have come a long way in terms of quality and the ability to see texture and movement of paint on the surface.
|Insh'allah by Marittie de Villiers, acrylic on canvas, 59 x 59.|
Experiencing paintings and drawings this way has made me hypersensitive about looking for telltale signs of how a work's surface appears and visually feels. For any given painting, I search for indications about how the brushstrokes are applied in relation to the subject of the work. I ask myself, where and why does my eye go first when looking at a painting? Second? Third? Answering these questions allows me to better understand the artwork even if I'm not able to actually stand in front of it.
I also love to see that the brushwork or mark-making has been honed–that there is a strong skill with blending in places of transition and that passages with daubed applications or broken areas of gradation or color show me something interesting about the artist's gestures. But I also want to be surprised. Color, composition, and subject matter can all play a part in giving a painting or drawing the 'wow' factor that makes it memorable.
As a fledgling, wannabe artist, studying art this way helps me actively teach myself about art techniques that I observe, no matter where or how I see a work. But these aspects of any given painting or drawing are also like a crib sheet for what judges look for and respond to in art competitions. They are certainly what I look for when I'm curating shows and making exhibition selections and paneling competitions, and I'm thrilled that I can announce that American Artist magazine's art competitions for this year have arrived and are accepting submissions right now.
There's the American Artist Show Us Your Very Best art competition and the 75th Anniversary exhibition competition, Drawing magazine's Shades of Gray drawing competition, and Watercolor magazine's What Do You Love competition. All four have notable editors and artists evaluating the submissions. I encourage all of you at Artist Daily to participate with a few of your top works. You've already got an insider's take on what it takes to impress, so take advantage of it and good luck!