Is it Good Artwork?

I was recently asked to judge an art show. The art was created by adults, in all media (including photography), from all over the state of Wyoming. The previous time I did this task was children’s art and County Fair. Thankfully in both instances there was a second person judging, making the decisions easier.

On Stage 18 X 28 $400
On Stage 18 X 28 $400

It is useful to have a list of attributes to recognize in the artwork and award when done very well. First on the list is competent art mechanics. This covers many things: composition, repetition of shape, use of negative space, use of color, understanding of values and reflected light, and placement of focal point. Is the artists’ intention to have accurate perspective and depiction of atmosphere? Did they want something to look flat or defined in space? Because there are so many styles of art, intention is important to consider.When taking part in a critique of art, the mechanics and theory are the things that one comments most on. They are the things that are taught in art classes. It is easier to see the mechanics of a piece when we turn it upside down or side ways.

Detail
Detail of Movin’ Along

The second thing to respond to is originality. Is the subject matter just like many others, or is it original in some way? The third thing is presentation. Is the art set off in it’s best light? Does the presentation compliment with out taking over or being distracting? A perfect presentation is often seamless and an extension of the artwork. It is a subtle continuation of what the artist has to say.

Fourth is Voice. This covers both the what and how of an artist’s  work, and may be closely tied to the medium. It is pretty obvious when an artist has something to say. It is often the reason that we as viewers are drawn in, to look at a piece more closely. We are responding to much more than composition, color, and focal point! If we were watching a live performance, we would probably call this the “IT” factor. The fifth thing to consider as a judge (or viewer) is this: Has the medium been elevated? Has it been transformed? Has the medium taken me to another place?

In the example below, my hand painted fabrics, hand applique of raw edges, and hand quilting are a big part of what I have to say. The outlined figures of a child pulling a baby in a wagon are only partially defined.  Time is fleeting. Life is both fragile and strong.

Movin' Along
Movin’ Along (Pull My Baby)

Written by Joan Sowada Art

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