Awards · Competitions

Spring Competitions

Last year I did not enter a lot of competitions other than those at the RAL Art Center. I didn’t figure I’d enter many this year either, but it turns out I’m already applying to enter three! I’ll, of course, keep you posted if I get into to any of them.

The hardest thing about entering competitions these days, I think, is realizing that one must approach each competition as an entirely separate activity. There are unique rules to each one and you can easily make mistakes and miss steps that eliminate you from the competition.

First of all, read the description very carefully. You don’t want to enter a representational painting in an abstract show no matter how good it is. Some folks recommend reading up about the juror as well, but hopefully, even though the juror may work in abstracts, they have been deemed qualified to judge a representational show (if it IS a representational show) but reading up on the juror gives you an idea of how open they are to a representational piece that is unique or edgy — or not. You also don’t want to enter a floral in a portrait show unless there is actually a portrait of someone in there somewhere.

This painting, for example, could be entered in either a portrait show or an animal show, or something about history… but it would not fit in a landscape show.

For some reason, most of the competitions these days only announce they are open to receiving applications just weeks or days in advance of the deadline. I suppose the purpose of late announcements is to keep artists from painting for the specific competition and has us relying on our inventory that may or may not meet the criteria exactly. This is especially so for oil painters as paintings often take months to cure and cannot be shipped off or hung somewhere until they are ready. So watch your deadlines. (I have to throw out here that Oil Painters of America (OPA) does give their members loads of notice about upcoming competitions and I’m grateful for that.

The second thing to pay attention to is the size restrictions on the photos submitted. All I can say is the $9.99 a month I pay for Photoshop really pays off in this area (assuming I enter a competition of some sort every month).

In some of the submission programs they want you to upload your artist statement, biography and your artist photo before you do anything. Some want you to pay for the registration first. Others let you load your painting photos first. I’m learning to just take a deep breath and move slowly through the instructions, one step at a time and trust the process (even though it is sometimes very unclear). Read EVERYTHING you can before you pay a fee or upload anything because you may be paying for something, that in the end, you don’t want.

I also recommend you make a to-do list for each one as sometimes the things you need to do are sort of scattered about the website and not listed in any particular order. Many now also want not only the size of the painting, but the size of the frame. Some competitions have this unique way of collecting everything they need with a combination of on-line forms, emails and/or using the US Postal Service.

I’ve learned to mark on my calendars (yes, I have several both on-line and off) dates and information about when we can expect to hear about acceptance (or rejection) and if accepted, when the piece must be delivered or shipped, and when the show starts and ends and when the reception is scheduled.

I’m also learning to set aside paintings that I’ve entered into shows so they don’t “accidentally” end up in another show or go to a gallery or get sold before I learn if they were accepted. In this, there is a good reason to have a very large inventory of work. Artwork Archive has been a life saver for me when it comes to keeping track of where my inventory is and what has been reserved for this or that show. This is another program that has more than paid for itself. And you can do me a favor and put my name down as the referring person if you decide to use it… I get a free month, I think, for referrals.

So, here are some of the competition announcement sites that I follow:

There is one in Art Archive

Bold Brush

Call For Entry or CaFE


Artist’s Magazine Annual Competition

There are loads of them out there…

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