Raymar Art Painting Competition Finalists (6th Annual Competition Month #10 - September 2012)

Select the competition you wish to view:  6th Annual Competition Month #12 - November 2012 | 6th Annual Competition Month #11 - October 2012 | 6th Annual Competition Month #10 - September 2012 | 6th Annual Competition Month #9 - August 2012 | 6th Annual Competition Month #8- July 2012 | 6th Annual Competition Month #7 - June 2012 | 6th Annual Competition Month #6 - May 2012 | 6th Annual Competition Month #5 -April 2012 | 6th Annual Competition Month #4 - March 2012 | 6th Annual Competition Month #3 - February 2012 | 6th Annual Competition Month #2 - January 2012 | 6th Annual Competition Month #1 - December 2011 | 5th Annual Competition - Final Judging | 5th Annual Competition Month #12- September 2011 | 5th Annual Competition Month #11- August 2011 | 5th Annual Competition Month #10 - July 2011 | 5th Annual Competition Month #9- June 2011 | 5th Annual Competition Month #8 - May 2011 | 5th Annual Competition Month #7- April 2011 | 5th Annual Competition Month #6- March 2011 | 5th Annual Competition Month #5- February 2011 | 5th Annual Competition Month #4- January 2011 | 5th Annual Competition Month #3- December 2010 | 5th Annual Competition Month #2- November 2010 | 5th Annual Competition Month #1- October 2010 | 4th Contest Final Judging Includes Aug 09-July 10 | July 2010 | June 2010 | May 2010 | April 2010 | March 2010 | February 2010 | January 2010 | December 2009 | November 2009 | October 2009 | September 2009 | August 2009 |  



Sherrie MacGraw has critiqued her twelve selected finalists with an overview instead of individual critiques for each chosen painting.  It is comprehensive and well written and offers thoughts about what makes a painting a winner on many levels. She challenges us to view her selections from her point of view of an instructor.  Her critique appears after the posted finalist paintings.  Enjoy!


Judging the Competition and Critiques from Sherrie McGraw:

Every competition is difficult to judge, but this show was particularly challenging. As with any conscientious judge, many factors weighed in on my final decisions. Not only did I look at all the entries closely, but also when my curiosity was piqued, I went to their websites to get a fuller appreciation for the painters’ work. As every judge values certain qualities highly over others, it can feel much like a poker game in how the finalists rise to the top—a work may “be an excellent hand” but another will “beat” it by having other more important qualities or in some cases, a piece may have a quality that was the “ace” that made it a “winning hand.”

As strong visual concepts are at the basis of my own work, this was the overriding factor in my choices. Even when I could see from the painter’s website that—as in one case—one particular painting was well beyond her other work, still, the painting captured such a beautiful idea, that I kept coming back to it and simply could not ignore the power of its visual concept.

Since I believe that good drawing skills lay the foundation of good design, in two other cases, the painters had strong designs—though crudely executed—which finally overrode their lack of finesse and in one, a lack of color harmony. Again, the ideas were so compelling and visually engaging that I could not leave them unrecognized.

After so many years of teaching, I can often read the intent of the painter—that is to say, why a work was painted. Sometimes the work exists to glorify the ego; sometimes, for commercial concerns, the painter has settled into his or her own ”style” or gimmick; at other times the desire is to simply imitate an idea that he or she admires in another’s work, which lacks the excitement that comes from capturing an original idea. I am drawn to work that was inspired by life; it usually has a freshness that is undeniable. I am swayed by potential, how open the painter was to the subject. Hopefully a balance is struck and through the painting we learn something new about the subject and the artist. Then the painting can open up an entirely new way to see common objects, as in one little sketch that I included; I will never see popcorn the same way again.

The ability to copy reality is not as important to me as the appreciation of abstract visual concepts and the beauty of the paint itself; this is why some competently rendered work was passed over for other apparently less proficient work that had a better grasp of the language of painting and often consequently, a stronger visual idea.  

Sometimes on examining a person’s website, I would find a piece that would have been a better choice to enter and may have made the final cut, but ultimately, I felt the work submitted needed to stand on its own. When the entrant was someone whose work I know, I still judged on the success of the pieces themselves, instead of being influenced by my knowledge of their ability. Sometimes the work was wonderfully painted, but was, in my opinion, a partial idea, an “effect”  rather than a complete idea. Sometimes there were the seeds of ideas that got lost in a sea of information—too much going on. Sometimes the color was too garish. Mostly, I opted for work that had good design, size and placement and in some cases, a playful painterly sense.

Though there were several pieces that were in strong contention for the Best of Show, the piece that I picked is a portrait by Carol Arnold. It is simple in design; its size and placement are just right, and she exhibits two rare qualities here—sensitivity to paint and masterful brushwork. Like a Chinese brush painting, her presence of mind is total throughout the painting. This is aesthetics laid bare, and the development of one’s aesthetics is integral to achieving a sense of magic.  She also did something in this painting that I strive for every time I go to the canvas: she connected to the subject. What we see is the artist’s letting go of oneself enough to capture the spirit of the model, which takes the result beyond picture making to something more meaningful on a human level.

I sincerely wish that I could have recognized more of the work; there are some very accomplished paintings that I was not able to include in my final choices—this was really the most difficult part of judging this show. Whether the reader agrees or disagrees with my final choices, at least I am glad that I have had the opportunity to explain the thinking that led to the roster of twelve works that you see here.

~ Sherrie McGraw