In an attempt to fairly and properly judge representational paintings, it is recommended that the juror consider both sides of the painting, the objective and subjective.
Idea: The first consideration might be about whether the piece speaks on an emotional level. Does it create a convincing mood? Is there some intriguing mystery or does it achieve an intangible richness? How successful is the overall idea? Is the artist's interpretation of the subject generally successful?
Opinions on these more subjective considerations may vary widely from one juror to the next, depending on personal taste, and the level of understanding and experience of the juror.
The technical considerations are only a little more easily determined. From a more objective standpoint, the juror can now begin dissecting the technical merits of the painting.
Design and Composition: Is the design interesting or static? Does the composition support the design effectively and is there an interesting division on positive and negative space? Is there a simple arrangement of the main masses with a clear dominant feature? Is there an effective lead-in to the focal point?
Values: Has the artist controlled the values or manipulated them in an interesting way? Do the values contribute to a sense of depth in the painting?
Drawing: Is the drawing good? Is the perspective correct and consistent throughout? Is there good proportion from one mass to another? Good shapes? Is the position of the focal point attractive or distracting?
Color: Is there a convincing sense of depth, perhaps richer in the foreground and more grey in the background? Does the color scheme support the overall mood of the painting? Is the color exciting or is it simply out of control? Are there interesting combinations of warms and cools? Are the temperature relationships believable?
Paint Application – Edges and brushwork: What about the surface treatment? Are the brushstrokes confident or tentative? Are all the brushstrokes the same, causing a static effect, or is there an interesting variety in the length and size of the strokes? Does the brushwork lend itself to the subject, does it create a believable sense of light and atmosphere? Is it robust or formulaic? Is there a variety of different edges? Are there some wonderful thick and thin passages? (oils and acrylics).
It is recommended that a summation or final assessment be made from the proper viewing distance for the size painting being judged. Step back and see if it works on the whole.
In the end, the jurying/judging process will always be quite subjective. None of us can escape our own personal preferences or current levels of understanding. However, a responsible juror can attempt to assess from all the major vantage points for each work considered.
Ultimately, the juror must answer the question, how well did the artist achieve that delicate balance between inspiration and skill? Both must be evident for a painting to succeed as art.
A note about CD submissions:
Many excellent paintings get rejected from shows and competitions simply because the CD was poorly prepared. Take a little time and make sure the painting is photographed well, cropped well and shows well on you computer before you burn your CD.
Remember entries are judged only on the quality of the image presented digitally.