Friday, September 14, 2012

Unisex Art Club and Art Club for Women.

I have a small piece in a show that opens tonight at the Cincinnati Art Club.  

Unbolted, 3 1/2" x 5", oil on linen, ©copyright Richard Luschek 2012
Signature Member Show Opening Reception
Friday, September 14, 6-9 p.m.
Exhibit open Sat., Sun., Sept. 15, 16, 22, 23

1021 Parkside Place, Cincinnati, Oh 45202

Yesterday I was honored to be asked to judge an art show for the Cincinnati Women's Art Club. The show is the Annual Members Exhibit, and will open this Sunday, September 15 through October 7th.

I had to chose 1st, 2nd and 3rd. Out of an entire room packed with paintings that is a challenge. I thought I would talk a bit about my method for choosing the works I did. I do enjoy judging art shows, as it is a solid lesson in what makes a painting successful. 
My first method is to do a cursory stroll through the gallery to quickly look at everything. I then stand in the middle of the room and slowly spin around to see what attracts my eye. I grabbed some cards they had stacked by the door as advertising for the show- I grabbed a handful and dropped cards in front of pieces I thought should be considered for the top prizes. I quickly narrowed it down to about 10. The only issue with this is that twice, club members strolled through while I was judging and tidied up the space, picking up my cards.
Then I made sure to slowly walk around and look at every piece. I found it interesting how many pieces I had not seen at all in the first two go arounds. Now that I was forcing myself to look at each one I was finally looking at some of them. Interestingly, this did not change my initial decisions at all. The paintings "invisible" to my initial look, were not helped by careful study.

So, the lesson learned- a painting has to have a powerful abstraction of lights and darks. When I say light and dark, I do not mean white and black, but some arrangement of values that catches the eye. Paintings can be monochromatic, but they should never be monovalumatic- is that a word? Well, it is now, it means having a single value. Paintings are going to be more successful with clearly stated value patterns with a pleasing arrangement.
I also considered good used of color and edges to control the space and atmosphere in a picture. There were a few paintings that had deep space, with good drawing, but the artists had not adjusted the color or edges at all to control space.

I want to stress how little subject matter influenced what I chose. A painting of road kill could have won if it was done well enough and had some beauty. A judge does of course have specific tastes. I tend towards realism, so any paintings that were merely abstract were probably not going to get much consideration. Sorry, life is not fair.  

I think most people see me as a still life painter. While a few still lifes were in my top 10, I did not pick a single still life for an award. Again, I may have been harder on still life, but again, I tried to make it a visual game.
I will be at the Fund Raising Event on September 21st, so anyone with paintings in the show that has questions about my thoughts on their work can of course talk to me. Be prepared, I may be a bit tipsy and opinionated, but my wife will be there to make sure I am well behaved.

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