The WOW Factor | 10 Ways to Catch a Juror’s Eye


It’s no surprise that an art juror is going to begin his or her task by studying a painting for certain expected attributes: strong design, solid draftsmanship, a skilled handling of value and color. But once an entry has met criteria like these, what is it in a painting that catches and holds a juror’s attention all the way through to the winner’s circle? What is the secret to that intangible “wow factor”?

At Pastel Journal, we ask this question of all of our Pastel 100 Competition jurors, and they’ve offered some truly great advice over the years. Here are 10 tips for improving the odds that your painting will be one of the stand-outs:

10 Ways to Catch a Juror’s Eye

1. To decide which painting to submit, view your images on a computer at a rate of about one every 10 seconds. Choose the painting that catches your attention in that short time. If you consider the number of entries and time involved, 10 seconds may be all the time you have with a juror.
— Doug Dawson

2. Push yourself to go beyond the expected portrayal of your subject matter. Determine a clear visual message for your subject and use that to drive the execution of the painting.
— Barbara Jaenicke

Barbara Jaenicke, Landscape + Interior Juror in the 18th Pastel 100, found Jeri Greenberg’s painting Moving On/Change is Good (pastel, 24×18), winner of the Richeson Pastel Silver Award, to be “a delightful example of masterful editing” saying, “This piece reveals no more and no less than what’s needed to feature an exquisite display of light and shadow on fabric. The value and temperature shifts (both subtle and high contrast) are perfectly handled, and the closely cropped composition gives us an intimate view of this interior, which is adeptly balanced with a well-proportioned variety of shapes. The suitcase in the corner, where the viewer is led, displays the ideal amount of edited detail for its role in the painting; it’s not the first thing we want to notice, but it’s where we want to end up. Create work that’s personal. And strive to go beyond.” —Debora L. Stewart

3. Take risks. Create work that’s personal. And strive to go beyond. — Debora L. Stewart

4. Be sure your painting accomplishes what you set out to do. I tend to be drawn to paintings that feel complete. Whether loose or tight, impressionistic or realistic, colorful or monochromatic, paintings that say it all and nothing more are the ones that stand out. — Terri Ford

Animal + Wildlife Juror Elizabeth Ganji spoke of Yael Maimon’s design skills in her second-place finisher “The Breakfast Club #5 (pastel, 16×21-1/2): “This artist exhibits an exceptional rhythm and energy in her mark making and playful use of color. The painting exhibits a strong design with great flow… as my eye circles around the bowl and down to the bottom cat, his placement leads me back in again. It is obvious this artist knows her subject matter well based on her skilled use of line, ability to leave in what is important and exclude what is not and the overall life this painting emanates.”

5. Paint the essence of a subject. Paint the idea, not just what you see.  — Stephanie Birdsall

6. Consider what you want your painting to be about and how you can simplify the visual story. Limit the detail to areas where you want the viewer to focus. Take chances. Interpret your subject rather than copy it. You have a voice, so paint to tell your story. — Vianna Szabo

Portrait + Figure Juror Vianna Szabo called Lipstick (pastel, 291/2×211/2), the winner of the Pastel Journal Award of Excellence, “a masterful study in the power of limiting detail in a painting. The artist makes the viewer focus on what is important by employing more finished areas against areas that are suggested. Letting the arm fade into the rhythmic drawing of the hand holding the mirror keeps us focused on the face and gesture of the woman. The splash of pink in the background suggests atmosphere and light without placing her anywhere in particular. The artist skillfully used suggestion to involve the viewer in the interpretation of the scene.”

7. Follow your heart in terms of both content and artistic treatment. Be true to yourself as an artist; it’s the only way to achieve fulfillment in your work. — Brian Bailey

8. Paint a subject you love—one that speaks to you, challenges you and gives you an I-can’t-wait-to-paint-it feeling.  — Stephanie Birdsall

Abstract + Non-Objective Juror Marcia Holmes describes Village Boys #43 (pastel, 28×20) by Isabelle V. Lim, which took second place winner in the Abstract & Non-Objective category, as a “fantastically pleasing painting with the primary use of complementary colors.” The design is “a strong point,” she says, “with the vertical format enhanced by the two-toned blue. The movement is sublime, carrying viewers throughout the painting.”

9. Don’t try to mimic another artist; allow your own personal style to emerge.  — Barbara Jaenicke

10. Paint. Paint. Paint. Every day, if you can.  Elizabeth Ganji

By: Anne Hevener  Source: LINK

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