Monday, September 29, 2014

Random thoughts on contests.

Tired, cloudy.
    I got home at 12:30 this morning, no wrong turns, no traffic, no car problems (engine light on!), exhausted, but home. Too tired to ask myself why I do these, presumably I would say the prize money, and/or the opportunity to exhibit and sell a painting, meeting other painters and "networking".  All good reasons.
    The concept of a "competition" when engaged it the arts is a bit absurd. In my years of formal education  anything that settled on an absolute simply didn't exist. Of course  there's the idea of competitions is anti-modern, but that's not necessarily bad is it?
     Painting is not a group activity, I go to great lengths to find remote locations, not because they're more prosaic than the I.G.A. parking lot, (well maybe a little), but because for me painting is a meditative process, I'm focused on looking and totally forget about everything else, I don't want to be watched, or to have conversations with anyone. So a painting contest is out of my comfort zone on a number of levels.

     Now I'm in this tidal zone, in between tides, and I've got the paint flowing, and one after another, cranking out paintings in the same location, this is what pushes me in the direction I want to go. Being away from home and my day to day routine is the best way to work this intensely. This is why I do this.
    In this particular group of painters I felt a bit different, maybe it's just my view of it, but ultimately I could see how the focus of my work differed from my comrades, and it clarified for me what that focus was. I'm going to keep the paint loose, and the brushstrokes visible. I'm going to find compositions in nature and let nature reveal it's symmetry to me. I'm going to focus on getting the light with color that I see. I have to work fast, the light is fleeting, and I must see it and it must be in front of me, because if I can't remember what I went into a room to get, how will I remember the subtle changes in tone between the rock and the water?  These convictions are for me, for now, and I can change them at will anytime for any reason. Each and every artist needs to decide what they do for themselves, what works or doesn't, and I feel that this competition helped me clarify this.


  1. Thanks for sharing those interesting thoughts. Competitions are good indeed to get known (to sell and to network with colleagues), but I do not like them either, for the same reasons. I often feel that painting competitions compare apples with pears. And they cut my inspiration...
    I think I hate the concept of competition at all. In karate also, for example, which is for me a group activity, exactly opposed to painting. But within this group activity, every karateka is advancing on his/her own way and the karatekas are supposed to grow together as a group ...

    1. If I never left my little town, and painted the back roads everyday, I might like that a lot, but I do think getting out with others is good. I like your Karate experience, and the expectation of growing together. I will do more contests once in a while, but will seek out other opportunities as well, and as always find myself when lost in the backwoods.

  2. Interesting thoughts, Matt. I find that competitions lead to new painting friendships. I really enjoy painting with friends and sharing thoughts on our art as we each enjoy the beauty around us. But during the painting process, each of us need to be focused on our work in progress. So, it's really a bit of group meditation.

    1. I really don't get lonely or scared when I'm by myself, and really do prefer it. Yes l paint with a friend occasionally and I like that too, but I do the contests to advance my career, and to push myself by doing a lot of work in a sort time, I don't mean to be anti-social, but I have a family, and we together have lots of family time, and by and large that satisfies my social needs. I do think it's great for people to paint and be social together. thanks for your comment!