Thoughts on My First Art Show

Every year the film industry gives out golden statuettes for the best movies of the year, the best acting performances, the best music, set design, and more. The television industry does the same with their Emmy awards to recognize talent. Every year there are elated winners giving long acceptance speeches, and every year there are losers who utter those oft-heard words. “It was an honor just to be nominated.”

In any competition, there are always more losers than winners, and with my first art show, I didn’t expect to win any awards. I was hoping that I might get enough votes to come away with the People’s Choice award — chosen not by the judge but by visitors to the show.

As it turned out, I didn’t get the award — which was a gift card to a popular restaurant — but at our club meeting on Monday night, my name was read off on the list of those who had received votes. In fact, all three of my paintings received votes. So, I should feel good about that even though I know those votes all came from family and friends.

I’ll admit to being a little down right after the judging took place. Again, I hadn’t expected to win but it would have been nice to at least get some sort of honorable mention or other recognition. But as I looked around the display, I realized that there were a lot of beautiful paintings on display by a lot of very talented artists, and they didn’t win any awards either.

I tried to get photos of the prize winners, but the lights and reflections made it difficult.



And the People’s Choice award went to this fabric creation — everything you see comes from old jeans.

Peoples Choice

Definitely creative, and definitely worthy of the win!

As for me, I’m left repeating those sorrowful words. “It was an honor just to be nominated.” Indeed, it was, and despite the disappointment of not having any ribbons to hang on my wall, I’m glad I took part in the show. It was exciting, and I enjoyed being part of it. My art did look good on display, and again, it’s not like I was the only loser. I take consolation in that.

As for the future, I’ve already submitted my entry and fee for our next show — which opens in October. This show will include artists from throughout the region, not just HFAA members. I’m sure the competition will be brutal, but as before, I won’t go into the show expecting to win. Rather, I’ll approach it expecting to learn from the experience.

I am signed up to work the show for several hours on two different mornings, and on the night following the judging there will be a reception — along with an opportunity to receive critiques from the judge.

Being part of our local art community feels good. I love being part of our larger, online art community, as well. Even though I’m not yet an award-winning artist, I know I’ve come a long, long way in three years. It’s fun to imagine where I will go from here.


  1. And I refuse to let it go. Art is subjective and, most times, most contents like what’s popular, traditional, and not shocking or contemporary. In other words, they like the beauty of what they see more than the beauty of the soul behind an art piece. Whta’s pretty get more likes than what’s unique and challenging….thus, please do not conform to what’s pretty just because you want to get rewarded by an art show.
    Most famous artists were never rewarded for their paintings….Theo’s art sold better than Vincent’s art because it was pretty and conformed to the culture of the period.
    Be yourself and keep making art for your soul……

    Liked by 2 people

    1. At this stage in my journey, I have no idea what judges are looking for when they decide who wins — but it doesn’t matter. I’m still learning my way, still figuring out how to do things, and simply doing my best at something I’ve come to love. Being part of the arts community has really come to mean a lot to me.

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      1. Keep making art..the rest will follow…I, once, was invited to audition for the Cake Wars show…I interview with one of the recruiters….”Your fondant art is beautiful and so unique… so detailed” she said…” but, can you make gigantic cakes just for the show?” My point is…art flows from our unique soul into a materialistic world that asks for certain standards….
        It is up to the artist to find a healthy compromise between what the soul needs and what society wants.
        Keep making art for the soul and you will figure out all the rest…which is great but not necessary.

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      2. You’re right. For me, this art journey is very much a process of figuring out who I am, finding my own voice as an artist, and coming to understand my personal style. I want to make art that brings me a sense of fulfillment. Getting recognition for what we do is always nice, of course, but not if we have to be someone else or do something different in order to gain that recognition. If that’s the case, what’s the point? We have to be who we are, otherwise we won’t be happy.

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    1. Oh, my goodness, no! Five years ago I couldn’t draw a decent stick figure — or anything else. I truly couldn’t draw a straight line. That’s why I bought the first book I did. The opening lesson was on “How to Draw a Straight Line”. I figured that was a good place to start. When I realize it’s only been 3 years since I made the decision to give drawing a try, I’m flabbergasted to see where I am today. It’s really unbelievable. I couldn’t have done it without all the encouragement I’ve received from you and others. Thank you so much.

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  2. I’ve been entering art events that gave prizes for 25 years and I have won quite a few. Not bragging, just stating a fact. Over the years I have experienced the thrill of winning and the disappointment of…not winning. And tried to figure things out. I’ve stopped worrying about it. I finally have learned that each judge is a unique human being with his/her own viewpoint, training, prejudices, preferences. Some are more open-minded than others and some cannot see beyond their own sphere of whatever part of the art world they are in and judge accordingly. Some don’t even pay much attention (I remember one show where the judges came in my booth, looked at my work while discussing their dogs, and left, all in about 30 seconds, and never acknowledging me. Ouch). And some are just…not very good! I’ve been rejected for shows I’ve done for years and gotten into ones where I have no idea why I was thought good enough to be in it (though grateful). In the end you just have to put up the best work you can, enjoy the competition, and if the judge speaks to you (as many will do in an art fair although it’s hard to get this in an exhibit) listen to what they see in your work and how you can take what they say to do better work (if you agree, because once again, some judges have rigid views). I applaud you for stepping up to put your work out there, and for all the hard work you have put into preparing for this moment. It takes guts to put yourself on the line and face scrutiny. That’s your real prize, that you took the challenge, and you made good art.

    Oops, sorry I went so long here! Thank you for reading it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You know how much I always appreciate your comments, Claudia, so please don’t apologize for your post. At our open studios, there have been conversations about different judges, and I’ve picked up on the fact that there are no absolute judging standards. A lot is personal opinion, some is “art politics” and personal relationships, and some is probably totally undefinable. It’s still exciting to be part of a show. It’s definitely something I never expected I’d ever be doing, so for me, it’s incredible to take part in these events. At the next show coming up, there will be a reception which is supposed to include an opportunity for critiques with the judge. I’ve been drawing for three years now and oil painting for two, so I’m still relatively inexperienced compared to others in the show. Having a judge give me suggestions would probably be very helpful — so long as those suggestions were stated in a kind way. 🙂 But, if not, I’ll grin and bear it. I’ll be brave!

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      1. I think you have the right attitude about the whole thing. For me, if the judge takes the time to really look at my work, I feel satisfied, even if I win nothing, because I felt I was (through my art) seen and heard. All the rest, well, people like to quantify things, awards help with that, and it is nice to have your work recognized. But I am struck by how you emphasize the art journey, and I can say from my experience, personal growth, making friends I’ve now known for decades, camaraderie, even having weird stories from shows to tell and laugh about – well, that is what I remember when I think back. Not judges.

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      2. I love those thoughts! Earlier this morning I was showing my husband a few photos from our Art League, pointing out different members and sharing a few experiences, telling him, for instance, about the woman who is 85 years old and still active in the club, about the woman who gave the presentation at our last meeting, the woman who will be doing the pastel workshop I’m attending today. It’s fun to be making all these connections, fun to be making friends, fun to be sharing the art experience with others. I love the creative atmosphere, and I’m very glad I’m stepping out of my little art room and getting to know so many other artists.

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    2. Claudia, your art is beautiful and, most importantly, it comes from your heart and soul. I don’t like when artists enter art events with a piece made for the judges more than for art itself. I know of artists in training who research the art and life of all judges to make sure to produce an art pieces crafted around them. The same with poetry and writing pieces. yes, it is nice to win and to be recognized as an outstanding artist, but is it really your art, the art designed around the preference of someone else?

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      1. I agree with what you are saying, and it always seems kind of sad when I see it happening, people grasping for an approval that in my experience, fades awfully fast, if it isn’t connected with doing something that you feel is good work regardless of what others think…I know when I first started out I was very concerned with sales, and at that time I wanted to make money for family reasons. Pretty quickly I realized I was going to drive myself insane trying to figure out what others wanted, and I just did what I wanted. I found that the people who got what I was doing found me and supported me and in turn I was able to make better work. I know many people who never made this swerve and it was fine for them, we each do art for different reasons – but as in most of life seeking outside approval is really anxiety-provoking if there is not a corresponding inner vision to keep you on track. And as for figuring out what a particular judge wants, well, whoever gets a system for that, they can write a book and make millions!

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      2. Yes, is it always difficult to stay true to ourselves because money is, in this society, a big temptation and a basic need.
        I can see that you have found your art and I applaud you for that. Your art is you and people can see that right away.

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      3. I had no thoughts of ever selling — or showing — my art when I began learning to draw. Of course, I never thought I would actually learn! So all of this is a huge, unexpected surprise in my life, and where I go with my art doesn’t matter a lot, if that makes any sense. Of course, it’s nice to receive recognition and to hear compliments on my drawings and paintings, but selling my art isn’t my foremost goal. I want to paint landscapes that I love. I want to express my feelings on the canvas. If someone else likes what I do, that’s a good feeling. If not, I’ll still be happy doing what I’m doing.

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  3. congratulations! you showed up for your first show. That is awesome! I love to follow and read your posts because I myself create. I have never submitted my artwork for a show. Maybe, someday I will find the courage to do it and show up anyway.I really admire you. The fact that you showed up, celebrate! Keep creating as so many love your artwork here on the blog…you got a lot of love!woohoo!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, thank you so much! Your kind comments have brightened my morning. I’m going to a pastel workshop today — this will be another first for me. It’s exciting join in and take part in art events, and I hope to keep learning and growing from these experiences.

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