The longer one paints, the more one feels the need it seems to enter competitions. To get recognition from your peers/superiors? To feed an ego? To bolster resumes? Who knows. But I do remember winning my very First Place award at The Weisman Gallery, Pepperdine University in Malibu, a rather gorgeous white-walled gallery with a wonderful director, Michael Zakian. Quite frankly I cried my eyes out in the car with disbelief after going back to double-check with show organisers.
Roll the years forward and career-breaking first place prizes are very hard to come by. Big competitions are hard to get into, the bar/level is raised. Quite rightly so. Let's face it, we can' t all be Jeremy Lipking and hit the right grey color note every time. Sometimes you are left feeling, well, left out, questioning your art as in my case with the recent California Art Club Gold Show having four paintings rejected after being delighted to have been accepted as a full artist member by a full panel of my peers (which included, yes, you guessed it, Jeremy Lipking) just a few short months before. Now that hurts! Ouch.
And then you have to listen to all your art pals telling you how they got in. What! You didn't?? What's wrong with your work? Maybe you need to draw more, maybe you need to soften things, toughen things. Jeeze, it can make you competition crazy.
I kind of admire the story of a young local L.A. artist who recently took his paintings off a gallery wall in a great flurry when show judges didn't give him a top prize. At least he KNEW his worth. What strength. He was allowed back into the show later and got to demo his stuff to other artists shortly after. BOY, he must be good! Should Jeremy Lipking be worried?
But no such flurry here. There I was still feeling a rather Lipkingish-bruised grey this week from CAC Gold Show rejection when the phone rang Thursday to tell me I had won the Daler-Rowney Award for painting excellence at The Oil Painters' of America National Show in Montana. See picture. "HEATHER"S BRAIDS". Wahoo! This was good news indeed.
I almost fell off my chair. In a few short days I went from "What am I doing?" to "I know exactly what I am doing!" However, I do know the latter feeling won't last long. I know another great artist who put a rejection slip and subsequent gold medal award (for the same painting in the same competition a year later) side by side on the mantel in his studio to remind him how random this can be, and to not take it all so seriously.
What is the most important thing it seems to me is to create great art. And both The CAC Gold Show www.californiaartclub.org/ and The Oil Painters' of America National Show http://www.danagallery.com/opa/ showcase the incredible talent that is out there in America. Period. It is mind-blowing. Take a look at both shows for some terrific inspiration. Then go and paint, not to get into the competition next year, but just to do a great painting. It seems to me the paintings you do just for yourself are the winners every time!
Just so you know, "Heather's Braids", was a five hour sitting and is 14"x21". And I spent a lot of MONEY on the frame because judges look at the frames. Right?