First prize

Dear Artist, The other day I was rummaging through some old schooldays papers — report cards, notes from girls, etc, and I came across a blue card for First Prize in Junior Watercolour. Scratching my brain and reading the material on the card,

It wasn’t much, but it beat mowing lawns.

I realized this was my first recognition beyond my family and school that I was an artist. The year was 1950, I was 14, and the painting was of hummingbirds. I’d been cycling on a quiet pathway in Beacon Hill Park in Victoria, B.C., when I happened on the nest of a Rufous hummingbird. I sketched the nest while the two birds hovered nearby, scolding me, even buzzing the red binder of my notebook. When I got home, I copied my drawing to a piece of rough Whatman’s and painted the nest, birds and all. I erased the pencil lines with an art-gum that left what I figured was a fresh watery watercolour. My dad found an old frame and I cycled my effort to the fair. The day the fair opened, a woman phoned to say she and her husband had bought it. Birders from Portland, Oregon, they “just couldn’t resist the hummers.” I was amazed. Not only had I enjoyed painting it, now I was a winner and was to be paid $15.00. My “charmed life” syndrome kicked in and I offered to meet them and take them to see the “actual birds.” We met at the park and I led them quietly along the path only to find the hummers had checked out. I’m sure we all have such pivotal events. The kid suddenly becomes a footballer, a veterinarian or a politician. That day I became a painter. I now knew what I needed–freedom of the pathways, freedom to do as I wished with what I saw, freedom to catch wonder before it disappeared, freedom to become proficient and the freedom to sign my own name to whatever at will. My hummingbird painting has of course disappeared into the Diaspora. I’m sure the painting is not as good as I thought it was at the time. But my dream has become my story. Perhaps it’s your dream, too. If it is, stick with it, it’s a good dream. Best regards, Robert PS: “Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become. Your vision is the promise of what you shall one day be; your ideal is the prophecy of what you shall unveil.” (James Allen) Esoterica: This may seem peculiar, but I’m not aware of having entered another contest since. It seems that a tiny bit of recognition was all that was needed. Perhaps it was the cash flow. Modest as it was, it beat mowing lawns for a living. I saw that cash flow made it possible to stay on the path. Cash flow from collectors who actually liked my work seemed superior to begging for grants. This decision has been born out in my lifetime–most of my contemporary grant-getters are now doing something other than painting.   Show us the birds by Ben Novak, Edmonton, AB and Ottawa, ON, Canada  

Homeschooling image at, hummingbird nest

OK, we see the prize certificate, but I expected to see the painting. I, too, painted at 10, 11, 12, and my dad kept a few of my works. They are of interest to me now. Come Robert, show us the birds… (RG note) Thanks, Ben. And thanks to everyone who got after me for the same thing. Unfortunately, as I mentioned, the painting is somewhere out there in the Diaspora. If someone finds it, or thinks they know of it, somewhere near Portland, Oregon, perhaps, please let me know. I’d love to see it again, faults and all. One of my greatest regrets is that I never kept decent records, particularly of work done in those early years. I should have named that one “Painting #1,” and gone from there.   Late bloomer by Judy Stead, Charlotte NC, USA  

“Invented Landscape”
acrylic painting
by Judy Stead

Today’s post recalled for me the art prize I didn’t win when I was 12 or 13 years old. It was at Rainbow Camp and I knew my painting was the best-in-show at the end of summer awards. When I didn’t win the blue ribbon, a counselor told me they gave first prize to the other kid because I knew I was good, but she didn’t, so they gave it to her to boost her confidence. Fast forward nearly half a century and two art-related careers later (design and illustration) and I’m starting a late blooming love affair with painting. This particular letter speaks to me about putting the work first, loving the work, doing the work, and letting what may come of it. There are 3 comments for Late bloomer by Judy Stead
From: Anonymous — Apr 26, 2013

Yes – a similar thing happened to me when at age ten I recited a long Bible passage in a competition. I was word perfect; the only other participant, a teenage girl, won, because although she forgot large chunks of the passage, she practically wept as she proclaimed. They preferred that. ;-)

From: Anonymous — Apr 26, 2013

Me too! It was explained to me later that the other girl got the best student prize because her parents had split up and she needed the confidence. Sort of soured me on believing that life is fair. I stopped caring if teachers gave me good marks or not.

From: Kelly Rhodes — Apr 28, 2013

  Benefits other than sales by Herb Kelly, Huntley, IL, USA   I sold my first painting about a year ago. When I started painting at age 60 I only knew I wanted to give it a try. The idea of anyone wanting to give me money for art that I created was not even a glint in the eye of a dreamer. While I can say that the sale gave me satisfaction I have no plans to make painting a livelihood because I paint only what pleases me. If folks like it enough to part with cash that is fine but it isn’t a goal. My favorite part about art is that it constantly presents new problems that are fun to solve and because of that I will continue to mix paint and water on my 300 lb. Arches paper. There are 2 comments for Benefits other than sales by Herb Kelly
From: Anonymous — Apr 26, 2013

That’s a great attitude! Money spoils everything. Too bad it doesn’t grow on trees :-)

From: J. Bruce Wilcox — Apr 27, 2013

No money spoils everything- too.

  The joy of splattered paint by Nina Allen Freeman, Tallahassee, FL, USA  

acrylic painting
by Nina Allen Freeman

I knew I wanted to be an artist the summer I was twelve when my Mother signed me up for painting lessons at a nearby art studio. I walked there for my classes carrying my paints and paper. The artist/teacher was an interesting looking man with a white goatee and paint-splattered clothing. The studio was filled from top to bottom with paintings and supplies. It was heaven. I couldn’t imagine a better life than spending my days making art in a place like that splattered with paint. I don’t remember anything I painted there; it was the experience that has stuck in my memory. There are 2 comments for The joy of splattered paint by Nina Allen Freeman
From: Jackie Knott — Apr 26, 2013

I had a similar experience. As a child I experimented with those pitiful watercolor tray sets from the five and dime, then graduated to an “oil painters kit” complete with cheap brushes. But I still got immense pleasure out of them. Our family relocated in temporary housing and my dad stumbled upon a neighbor’s wife who was a real painter. She invited him to bring his daughter to her basement studio. She had just finished teaching a class and there were four other women there. She stood me at her easel and her palette was set up. She pulled out a blank canvas, folded a page out from an Arizona Highways magazine for me, and said, “Here, let’s see what you can do.” I was eleven year old and got to use “real artist’s supplies!” She left to talk to her class and then came back and sat on her steps and watched me for an hour. When my dad came back for me I overheard an amazing conversation. That was the first time I heard an objective evaluation of my potential other than my parents and a few teachers. She begged him to let her teach me. She lectured him to get me adequate supplies. I got a terrific foundation from her in a very compressed time before we had to move. But I will never forget what a wondrous place that messy basement studio was with canvases and easels and the smell of paints. Magic happened there.

From: Hoppy — Apr 26, 2013

Love this piece. Poignant and evocative, thanks for sharing it.

  ‘You didn’t do that’ by Siobhán Dempsey, Cork, Ireland  

“St George and the Dragon”
oil painting
by Paolo Uccello

My goodness, Robert, talk about comparison — your experience brought me back to Miss Hayes’  class St Catherine’s school, Cork, Ireland. I’ll never forget when I was ten years old and she looked at my piece of work–a copy of St George and the Dragon — “You didn’t do that,” she said. Fearing the slap on the back of the head or the stick across the legs I stood there waiting. “Some adult did this and I’m keeping it, now sit down,” she said. Funny how these experiences leave such a mark on your potential. There is 1 comment for ‘You didn’t do that’ by Siobhán Dempsey
From: susan burns — Apr 30, 2013

Powerful! We feel when we look at art. All the feelings that have been pushed down, come up! That woman handed you her power. Too bad we can’t do much about it as children. She couldn’t even say the truth about why she wanted to have it. Sad. Intuitively you knew she was incorrect in her judgement which gives you and everyone who hears this story the inspiration to be open, compassionate and honest. thanks

  Juried shows by Tom Bennick  

original paper art
by Tom Bennick

Regarding the validity of juried art shows, it seems that a lot of juried art shows now have only one judge to evaluate many different mediums and styles of work. I have become leery of even attempting to submit knowing that the selection of art work will depend upon one person. I realize many of the judges are qualified and quite knowledgeable in their particular medium, but how can they fairly select work from mediums in which they have little or no experience? I would rather be rejected by five people than just one. (RG note) Thanks, Tom. This current trend of one juror must be stomped on before it becomes the norm. Jurying of mixed shows should always be done by at least three, and preferably of mixed persuasions.   Dreams into reality by Valerie Kent, Richmond Hill, ON, Canada  

“The Marsh Haliburton”
oil painting
by Valerie Kent

I was in grade 11 and had the good fortune of taking art in school. Today a lot of students do not have this luxury because there is no room for it in the curriculum or the money to run the programs. I loved art and had taken it every year. I painted like a fiend every day in our basement. I loved it. The school let me have a solo show all over the classroom and in the halls. I had 52 pieces up in my first show. I did not sell anything but I was so pleased that people looked at the work and liked it. I became someone special and different. Today I am in Aix en Provence, France giving a tour called, Painting the Best of Provence, and painting with the participants in this art workshop. Painting is how I still make my living. I am one of the lucky ones. I am still living in Canada but painting many countries. I still feel special. I hope that school board administrators read this letter and realize the importance of offering art at the High School level to any student who wants to take it. My dream is now to let artists turn their dreams into reality. There is 1 comment for Dreams into reality by Valerie Kent
From: Helen Opie — Apr 26, 2013

What school administrators lack is the ability to put 2 + 2 together. Visual art is probably the only subject where students have the opportunity to make their own judgments, to make up their own minds. The world cries out for more creative and independent thinkers while simultaneously dubbing the one type of class that gives this a ‘frill’. Computers are expensive, and typewriters before them, and no one denies them to schools as ‘frills’; mostly bemoan they haven’t money for more. Art classes are the answer to so many ‘problems’ from turning out serf-like graduates to enabling the non-reading types to do something valid in school and get credit for it, to boot.

  Allowing others to empower us by Beverly Smith, Rose Valley, PA, USA  

Elk herd in the Pennsylvania Wilds
image by Derek Stoner

It’s interesting how we let other people give us affirmation or discouragement. When I was in school, I was always one of the best artists in the class. I always had my hands in something messy that would ultimately end up as art. I sculpted a horse’s head out of clay soil. It dried and I liked my sculpture. Sometimes people would steal something I made in art class. That was both maddening and encouraging. My high school art teacher had us working with acrylics. I remember painting a landscape scene that was in my head from a drive over the mountains that my mother and I took two or three times a week to go to ballet class. The landscape was so beautiful and revealed colors that I couldn’t see in the desert, where I lived. Blues, purples, many greens — a totally different color palette. I worked and worked on this painting until one day my teacher said to me, “Beverly, you’re flogging a dead horse.” I thought in my heart that with each stroke I was getting closer and closer to the vision in my head of those mountains. At any rate, I was enjoying the process and the colors and I liked the way my painting was going. Because of his careless comment to a sensitive teenager, my paints were put away after I decided that wasn’t my forte. Maybe I was better at clay, or pen and ink. I painted on and off for the next few decades until I decided to paint full time. I can take criticism and compliments now and know that other people aren’t always right. I know if the work pleases me or if it needs more work, or abandon. Mr. Art Teacher would have served me better by saying, “We have to move on to another project now but you can take this painting home and work on it there if you want to.” I’m glad that I can say that to myself now. There is 1 comment for Allowing others to empower us by Beverly Smith
From: Susan Kellogg, Austin, TX — Apr 26, 2013

He and all teachers who are not sensitive to the vulnerable state that you have to be in to make art should be flogged!


Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for First prize

From: J. Bruce Wilcox — Apr 22, 2013

I’ve never applied for a grant. And I’m still producing, though financial success is still unfortunately irregular. That’s what happens when you work in a less-recognized medium doing something different from the norm, and BEING something different from the norm. I’ve had to accept that who I am has played a significant role in my being less accepted rather than more accepted. But I’ve been juried into many shows since the first in 1977, in Salt Lake City, UT, where I won my first Best-In-Show award. But I hung my first exhibit in 1970, when I was still in high school, in Ogden UT. Some of us start early and keep working no matter what. Till we’re dead. Some of us follow the juried show path. But cash flow remains crucial. I’m a week away from having my power turned off. But I love being first on here… For many of us the juried show route is a pathway to recognition, when there are few galleries that handle what some of us do.

From: Naomi Shriber — Apr 23, 2013

Your story reminded me of my first win as an artist. I grew up in a small community, Coney Island, in Brooklyn, NY and loved to draw. I entered a local contest with a drawing of a woman (kinda nude) overlooking the ocean. It won first prize. The prize was a class at the Brooklyn Museum Art School saturday classes. I was 14 years old, and my teacher was Raphael Soyer. Of course, I had no idea who he was, but that was the start of my life as an artist.

From: Robert Sesco — Apr 23, 2013

In 1955 in Biloxi, MS while in diapers, I got loose of my mother and found the paint brushes my dad had left in coffee cans by the side of the house after he had finished his exterior painting of the house. I took the opportunity to paint the chrome bumpers and sides of our new 1955 Chevy Bel-Air that sat in the driveway while Dad was at work. He had worked very hard to earn the money to pay for our first car. Well, I didn’t earn any awards, didn’t even get a decent critique of one of my first efforts, but I did avoid death as my Mom whisked me up and got me clean and in my crib before Dad got home, who was due any moment, because she knew that cute and cuddly in my crib was likely the only way I might survive. I forgot about that episode for most of my life and didn’t realize its significance until I was about 50 years old. In my case, my artistic nature has manifested in just about everything I did, from the way I wrap presents to the types of gifts I give to the attention to detail that I’ve given to every moment of my life. And then I remembered painting birds from the color plates of Collier’s Encyclopedia, and it began to dawn on me that I was, indeed, an artist, even from an early age. I just never gave my nature a title, or recognized it for what it was. It took a certain amount of maturity and life experiences to understand who I was. And now that I understand it, embrace it, and allow myself to be filled with it, it flows unimpeded from my soul, with purpose and pride.

From: gail harper,NY — Apr 23, 2013

so oooo refreshing

From: Another Dreamer — Apr 23, 2013
From: Marion — Apr 23, 2013

This is just a note of appreciation for your letters – although I am very interested in art (I am an amateur folk artist) the value for me is your words of wisdom on anything and everything. I look forward to receiving these letters for some time to come, can’t wait until your book on philosophy comes out? You teach such wonderful life lessons. Thank you so much.

From: Skye Richardson — Apr 23, 2013

Reading this I saw something of a coincidence. We are obviously the same age and, while you were sketching the hummingbird nest, I was (at age 14 in a small English village) sketching a frog patiently sitting quite still until I had finished the composition. I also won a prize for that artwork. Just one of those silly things that appealed to me. Hope you can appreciate it.

From: Bill Brewer — Apr 23, 2013

I have never won a contest. That is because I never entered one. I think if I had, and won, it would have made me think how shallow the whole business is, and how flawed that they would have chosen me. I’m with you Robert, I prefer cash flow. Thanks so much for your simply electrifying letters.

From: Luigi Scaglione — Apr 23, 2013

There’s something particularly beguiling abut a person simply wanting a work and having the willingness to pay for it. No fuss, no muss, just win-win.

From: Deb — Apr 23, 2013

I had a similar thing happen to me. When I was 16 I created an “abstract experiment” using melted crayons and wax dripping it down a 24×36 piece of corrugated cardboard. My sister’s friend loved it so I gave it to her and some time later she had a friend make a large offer to buy it but she refused. Now I’m into watercolor, colored pencil and pastel and ramping up to sell!

From: Jack Golombek — Apr 23, 2013

Artists who apply for and get grants are still stuck when the gravy train ends. Better to learn entrepreneurial skills early

From: Stefania Luciani — Apr 23, 2013

I remember the same moment exactly like yours! The piece was in crayon and magic markers of a little circus on a hill. Thank you for remembrance of visual souvenirs. (Italian-American–Abruzzese-Pennsylvanian)

From: valerie norberry vanorden — Apr 23, 2013

My story is similar in that I was a young teen when in 1972, my mother sent my “pull” of the print “Ribbit” of a frog, to my Aunt Margaret in New York, who was an artist and a nurse. Aunt Margaret took the print to a framer, who used it, unwittingly, for a coffee coaster and got a stain on it. Aunt Margaret was given 25.00 to pay for the print (Thank God it was just a print not an original), which she sent to Mom, to give to me. Twenty-five dollars was a fortune to a 13-year old girl, and I certainly learned, as you did, Bob, that good art = cash in best case circumstances. I have yet to recover the high I felt at learning my piece fetched an unexpected 25.00, and hearing it from my mother, but I’ve enjoyed commissions all my adult life and don’t quite understand people, artists, who don’t enjoy commissions. Yes, it is a bit like being a temporary worker with a new boss each time, but by believing in a “higher power” who sends you bosses you need in timely fashion, one can certainly engineer or navigate one’s way, wending through this world, in a rewarding fashion.

From: Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki — Apr 23, 2013

My childhood memories are of wandering around suburban undeveloped grassy fields, dirt pathways, picking flowers, daydreaming and making up stories. I wonder if children today experience that kind of freedom and stillness of the passing time. No schedule, no agenda and no intention. My visuals were in macro mode, I remember tiny leaves, bugs and specks of sandy earth. Ideas came up, entertained and got forgotten, nothing required a follow up. It was glorious. A family black sheep uncle who was drunk most of the time and always tortured me with teasing, saw my drawing of shackled hands and was touched by it. He said it was very good – the first and only art praise I got from the family. He tried to lead a charmed life. Thanks for reminding me of those things.

From: valerie norberry vanorden — Apr 23, 2013

Oh, and did I mention the time I was three and I “painted” my mother’s newly washed sheets hanging on the line, with a stick and mud? Yes, I am alive, and my mother learned to focus my energy and keep me alive at the same time. My mother should be nominated to sainthood for that act alone.

From: Judy Palermo — Apr 23, 2013

What a charming, delightful memory of an early victory you have uncovered! This reminded me of kindergarten, 1960, we kids standing in front of our easels. I painted a sturdy apple tree, and put a strong, perfectly horizontal branch across it, and had a plump bird perched on each side. I still recall the zest of my brushstroke, making that branch slash across the tree! It took first prize for some contest, and I remember seeing the blue ribbon on it. I don’t have the ribbon now, and I never saw the painting again; I heard it went on a tour of banks across New York- my first public exhibition!

From: Deb Tidwell — Apr 23, 2013

It makes me emotional to think of how one moment in time can set in motion our path to the future. It is also a reminder to how we deal with fellow or budding artists. The right encouragement or wrong criticism could make all the difference in their journey.

From: Laurell Hamilton — Apr 23, 2013

Sometimes those seminal harbingers of the future can take many years to come to fruition! When I was about 9 years old, I received a set of pastels for Christmas. I rendered everything in sight from magazine photos to seasonal cards. I was obsessed with painting. I came to believe I was the very best of painters and that my work was nothing short of remarkable. I used every crumb of those pastels. Nothing survives that I had rendered so lovingly as a child, but the memory is profound. Now, years later, I am seriously painting in various media and there are times when I experience, for fleeting moments, that extreme sense of mastery and excitement that I remember having then. I think that is partly what keeps me painting – not the product so much as the tremendous sense of being almost electrically alive that happens when I am immersed in my craft. When I am in, what I call a painting frenzy, I can paint for hours, immersed in a kind of exhilaration that arises from the process itself. The painting is painting me, I think!

From: Melanie Peter — Apr 23, 2013

Reading your “First Prize” memory I was struck by nostalgia for the days when Whatman’s could be bought. I’ve found nothing to compare with it. Maybe you can find out what happened to make it disappear from the market.

From: Edna V. Hildebrandt — Apr 23, 2013

There is a great elation when one gets recognition for an achievement. I had entered jury shows a few times and it serves as a challenge for me. There are pieces in those that I have entered that were exquisite and there seem to be no error whatsoever but, the winners more often than not seem to be less appealing and sometimes it is hard to see what the composition was. We were told that it depends on the juror or jurors interest lie that the decisions are based on. It is mind boggling.People talk about perspective, color choices and techniques or principles. So is it really a fair contest?

From: Susan — Apr 23, 2013

Therein lies the conundrum. If your soul needs to paint, you need to paint if your work is recognized or not. Of course recognition is good, and every artist desires it. When I decided I would be an artist. At age 4 I received a wonderful coloring book for my birthday and showed it to a businessman who was had come to my father. The man looked at it and shook his head. Do you like to draw? I shook my head yes. He said: Why are you drawing someone elses drawing. Throw away that book. Take a piece of white paper and YOU draw the drawings. I looked at him and smiled a wide smile. I remember it until this day.

From: Mike Barr — Apr 23, 2013

I think there are many artists that have received a jump-start by receiving some kind of award. I know I did about nine years ago, it may have only been an award of merit, but it meant the world! This is why I believe the judging process should not be taken lightly by those entrusted with it. Careers have been launched by judges, but more often than not their decisions cause agitation among artists when sub-standard works get the nod. Awards to be treasured the most are the peoples-choice awards – get these and you know you are on the right track.

From: Barbara Kerr — Apr 23, 2013

I still have an embroidered tea towel that my mother gave to my grandmother, tracing my early work as a pattern. So important in my art life.

From: Terri Enfield — Apr 23, 2013

“Freedom to catch wonder before it disappears” . . . That’s why I read you. Thanks.

From: Debrah Barr — Apr 23, 2013

Your articles have helped me so much. Been reading you now for about 5 years- and my artwork, my technique and my confidence have been transformed because of your generosity. Portland, Oregon

From: Christine Versteeg — Apr 24, 2013

You were fortunate to have a Dad who was supportive. Very few budding artists have parental encouragement. “Get a real job or profession.” Always enjoy your letters.

From: Michael DuPont — Apr 24, 2013

Focus and quiet ambition count for more than parental encouragement or discouragement. Some tiny private spark propels some people to excel. Lack of that spark and they lead ordinary lives.

From: Ignatz Wodenheusen — Apr 24, 2013

I knew it several years ago when I realized art was the only thing left for a vocation as I was not happy with being waiter, driver or usher.

From: Gwynneth Quirk — Apr 25, 2013

What a wonderful surprise you got by discovering the card about your first Junior Prize for the Humming Bird Picture. The story made my day! Thanks a lot.

From: Dick Sherman — Apr 25, 2013

Rummaging through old workday papers the only things I found were pink slips.

From: Ed Makena — Apr 25, 2013
From: Gilda Pontbriand — Apr 25, 2013

I started painting when I was a girl but for many years it remained a weekend activity. Later I had to work, study, take care of my daughter, etc., etc. After a very long illness that literally put me in bed, I took out my brushes and started painting the moments that I was not in bed. In one of the many visits to my family doctor she mentioned that there was an art competition in town and that I should register one of my paintings. She knows about art because she paints herself and I was amazed that she considered my art “good enough” to enter a competition. After a couple of weeks my doctor insisted again and I listened to her. I took my painting to the competition and, to my surprise, I got the First Prize. It gave me a great deal of confidence because I was competing with people who had been painting full time for years. Three months later she insisted again that I should send another painting to a provincial competition. I listened to her and once again I got the First Prize in the oil category. Those 2 prizes I got in 1992 changed my life forever. Since then, I paint as often as my illness permits and my life has been greatly enriched. I am still grateful to my doctor for changing my life forever.

From: J. Bruce Wilcox — Apr 25, 2013

I’ve read above questions about whether judging is fair. No- it isn’t. So what. Judging encapsulates the entire perspective of the juror/s- including what they had for lunch or whether or not they got a good night’s sleep. Again- so what. If you enter a single juried show and expect the results of that to project your creativity till the end of your life- or not- then you need to wake up. But if you enter many of them because that’s a pathway that can help you establish a reputation, then one juror or the next show become meaningful- precisely because you’re not dependent on a single event. It is the stream of juried shows that take on meaning. And guess what? It’s a risk. And if you can’t take a risk- you lose. Just getting in a juried show is not necessarily easy, and you have to have great work and consistent work- and you have to learn how to deal with rejection and a bruised ego and have that become meaningless- and if your work ISN’T up to snuff- you have to try harder or give up. So it’s not about the award. It’s totally about whether or not your work can stand up alongside a bunch of other work and be judged acceptable for exhibit within the context of a group show. Will the jurors biases play- absolutly. That’s WHY no one juror or show means anything. If you managed to get in one- do it again and see if you can do it again. You may not be able to. But trust me- if you can get your work into a top-notch show- it means a lot. If that show produces a catalog- you’ve just gotten publiushed. If they give awards and you don’t win one you still got published. Awards are NOT the motivation. Numbers are. I was juried into Fiberart International in 2001. 769 artists from 35 countries entered more than 1900 pieces and they picked 84. I was juried into the Colorado Art Open, an all-media show- in 2010. 529 artists entered over 1500 pieces and they picked 96. It means something. It means even if I starve to death because I have no money- I still win.

From: Deborah Droog — Apr 25, 2013

Many years ago, a group of painters and photographers that I hung with, yearly submitted work to the area fine arts center. Amazingly, none of our work was accepted and we knew it was because of the wrong zip code on our applications. We all would receive out refusal card and howl because early on one friend had taken it upon himself to take the rejected group out to lunch for a celebration for rejects. What fun we had, and to even think we would not be able to go because one of us had something accepted to the show would have been a sad day. We looked forward to that reject card knowing it was what it was, a lunch invitation and party.

From: Kirk deFord — Apr 25, 2013
From: roseanne kibblewhite — Apr 25, 2013
From: Laurel Alanna McBrine — Apr 26, 2013

In Grade 4 I won a prize from “The Canadian Cancer Society” poster contest and the year after that I won the top prize for the same contest. A reporter from the Vernon paper came to my school in Lavington so I had my picture in the paper receiving the award. That was fun and encouraging!

From: carole borges — Apr 26, 2013
From: Sherry Chanin — Apr 26, 2013

I had an experience similar to this when I was 15 years old that was a pivotal moment. Out of the blue, or so it seemed, I won the Grade 9 Art Award at F.E. Osborne Jr. High school in Calgary in 1973. I had never won anything in my life before, was never acknowledged in any way, and was the quiet, invisible child so easily missed in school. Still, my teacher Mrs. Dalton, must have seen something, and always had the time to talk to me. I had showed her my charcoal drawings, and my sketches of birds in my dad’s garden, and discussed what I wanted to do with art projects and she always had the time to listen and be enthused. She made a difference in my life, and it was the first time that I thought maybe this was something important that I wanted to pursue, something that I was good at, and something that made be an individual with unique and treasured gifts – the ability to appreciate the world around me and create something beautiful out of it.

From: Paula D. — Apr 26, 2013

Winning prizes or not winning prizes…loving what you do is what counts. Some make money at art, some don’t. The Aspiration to be an artist is as innate, and natural as grass growing. It is going to happen whether encouragement from the outside or not, given water and sunshine from within. A seed of teacher’s praise sent me flying, watered by a significant sale at 13 during the same period to another. The following year, all hell broke loose from the next year’s extremely critical and humiliating art teacher. Did that fire put out my fire? Only temporarily due to oversensitivity of youth. Disability followed. Inability to make art a paying career. (Money associated with art is something to get over too. I do not agree that making money from art makes me a professional. Being guided from within makes me a career artist…just one who infrequently sells.) True healing and health came from my art. The best gift of all. Through me to you and back. Public awareness of the necessity of art education…feeding and fueling that type of Intelligence – artistic intelligence in our school systems – will help heal our broken world and nuclear families. Such joy must be shared. As much as we honor math, logic, etc. We must flourish from the wholesomeness of undivided giving through making and sharing higher art. Once we see the breakdown of society and apathy in youth to this degree, we know we have failed to awaken that inner joy so innate in infants who are well-fed. Inner awareness of our wonder, our Buddha- nature will come forth, shared, flowing naturally forth as goodness like milk. Through our art all who touch it are heightened, if only for a moment, if our attitude is healthy. Heightened to the realms of higher thought… where the angels play. The evolution of man/woman is then dependently-assured.

     Featured Workshop: Donald Jurney
042613_robert-genn Donald Jurney workshops Held in France   The Workshop Calendar provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order. 

Peace on the Rio Grande

oil painting, 36 x 24 inches by Greg DeLucca, Santa Fe, NM, USA

  You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013. That includes Marinus Verhagen of the Netherlands, who wrote, “Wouldn’t the search for the lost painting be a good idea for a TV show? “The Quest for Robert’s First Painting?” Let a TV-show host put some of his hounds on the track!” And also a half dozen artists who asked, “What is Whatman?” (RG note) Whatman was the most popular watercolour paper available when I was a kid. James Whatman (1702-1759), the Elder, was the founder of a paper mill near Maidstone, Kent, England that hand-manufactured rag-based art papers for many years. Papers bearing the Whatman watermark first appeared in 1740. These days the company produces mostly medical filters. Curiously, there are still collections of unused vintage Whatman art papers around. You can actually buy them online at The Whimsie Studio. I have a few old sheets in my studio, still as white and as delightful to work on as the day they were made.    

Robert and Sara Genn Twice-Weekly Letters

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