Getting your work accepted into juried shows can be a wonderful validation, but can actually jumpstart your paintings!
1. Plan ahead – give yourself plenty of time to paint freely. Deadlines are good to get us motivated. But it can also kill creativity. My advice is not to paint ANYTHING for the show, instead paint for yourself and to improve your own skills without regard to the deadlines. Let them come and go if need be.
2. Don’t second-guess the juror – Don’t submit work or paint pieces based on what you think the juror will like. A juror who is a portrait artist might actually be particularly critical of portraits.
3. Choose your subject – There are a few subjects/themes that people seem to gravitate to. So there are LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of them, meandering rivers, still life paintings with marbles, kids on the beach. If you chose a very popular and familiar subject, it’s got to really, really be exceptional to stand out.
4. Keep it consistent – Are entering a show that requires multiple images? Then this is not the time to show the breathe of your talent! Choose one genre or media and submit a cohesive body of work that all ties together, so when the juror looks at it he or she could say, “that’s what this artist does”.
5. Get trusted advice – If you are unsure, get a second opinion. I don’t mean your spouse or your partner. These folks love us but can sometimes be the wrong ones to ask! Enlist another artist that you trust and respect. It’s a sign of strength to ask for help when it’s needed!
6. It’s not always the time – Don’t choose a piece just because you’ve been laboring on it and planned on submitting it. Choose your very best work. Even if it’s the piece that took an 1/8 of the time as the one you planned on submitting. It’s not about the time it took to do the piece; it’s about all the mileage it took to ALLOW the piece to happen.
7. Keep it anonymous – When submitting for selection into a show, don’t submit images with your signature or those letters after your name, i.e. PSA, IAPS MC, etc. If you are truly committed to a fair selection process for yourself and your peers, you will want to be anonymous.
8. Invest in the framing – Since you’re investing time and effort into painting, submitting and possibly shipping your piece, framing is not the place to skimp! A frame can make or break a piece, add or detract. Choose simple but professional looking framing that is appropriate to the piece. As a juror, I try to concentrate on the piece and not so much on the framing because I know some people are inexperienced, but honestly, sometimes it’s difficult to overlook bad framing, so step it up if you can!
9. Don’t give up – we’ve all heard stories about authors that had to submit their manuscripts to dozens of publishers before one was accepted. Keep painting and improve your skills. Over the years I’ve watched former students grow and seen their work published and see some teaching. I love that!
10. Keep perspective – One juror’s opinion is just that…one opinion. If it stings, let it sting and then move on, but be honest with yourself about why you may have been rejected. Sometimes rejection is a gift too.
11. Paint – then paint some more. This is my very best advice and the only thing that is even close to a secret. Do you only paint 2 paintings a year? Then your chances of one of those being of merit to enter into a show is slim. If you paint 200…well, you get the idea!
Hope these tips help you with your artwork!
With Warmest Regards,