Departure acrylic mixed media painting by Kathy Guzman of Herndon, VA
Byway with Mustard Field oil painting on aluminum by Jane T. Woodworth of Fredericksburg, VA
Face mixed media painting by Retta Robbins of Fredericksburg, VA
Pebbles in the Sand watercolor on yupo by Rita Rose Apter & Rae Rose Cohen
of Spotsylvania, VA
Marsh at Pruitt's Landing mixed media painting by Lynn Mehta of Alexandria, VA
Coral Indian Paintbrushes oil painting by Charlotte Richards of Fredericksburg, VA
Builders digital photograph by Norma M. Woodward of Fredericksburg, VA
It is always fun for me to see what artists are doing away from Northern Virginia, where I teach and live, and DC where I am spoiled rotten at our wonderful museums. A little road trip always hits the spot and I sure enjoyed my day and the opportunity to select this show.
Besides competent handling of the media, I look for variety, originality, whimsy and mostly risk. I like the viewer to be challenged, to have a new experience or thought. To perhaps be perplexed and forced to create their own narrative. I look for things that make us feel, wonder, hunt, or time travel, even if that feeling is uneasy. It is not the job of art to merely decorate or replicate our world. I want to sense the presence of the humanity of the artist and delight in what he or she wanted us to notice.
Some pieces that were eliminated had composition issues, meaning it didn't seem to read as a unified whole. You have to take yourself seriously all the way to the end. Even a signature that is too large or placed in the wrong spot, effects the composition. Beware of getting important or high contrast elements too close to the edges. Everything should look like you planned it to fit comfortably and that we are compelled to stay within the image.
Good art with a bad frame job is weak art. It won't work with the group, and you don't look professional. Try to keep the mat widths at least 2 1/2 inches wide. Even small items look great with larger mat widths. Plus, you can sell them for more and they are more noticeable. Spend the extra moola and do it right. However, be sure we don't see your frame or mat more than your artwork.
Let's take a look at the third prize winner "Face" by Robbins. The framing demands you take that image seriously. The mat width separates us from the wall and other images near it, and we are drawn into this worried soul. We have the space to contemplate and engage fully with it. The job of an artist can be to create a new reality, one that we accept on its terms and this little jewel does just that. It isn't drawn right, but it's just right. Is it male or female? Does it matter? I'm glad the title leaves that open. I like the transience of the expression. The way it is drawn shares the struggle of our perception of our humanity and our emotions. It takes a lot of nerve to share that.
The award winners are the most subjective. My favorites tend to be ones that stood out from the group as having a unique presence, and took artistic risk with the imagery or the handling of the material.
The second prize was awarded because it was not the same complementary color schemes we see in so many landscapes. The glints of aluminum are unexpected but not gimmicky looking. It's not pretentious or trying to be gorgeous. It just "is." It's what the artist saw and felt and makes no apologies.
My First place selection was because it is not of this world, it had the whimsy factor. I can see reality anytime I want. This image takes me away. It has strong complete presence. I want to cover my eyes and go there too.
I am sorry I can't be there tonight to meet the interesting people behind these pictures, but if you would like to meet me, or yell at me, I have a landscape show opening in Colonial Beach next weekend, Friday Aug 12, at Jarret Thor Fine Arts.
Keep making the world a richer place and thanks for entering.
Lisa Semerad grew up in Chicago and moved to Virginia in 1970. She has been a professional artist and teacher in the Washington DC Metropolitan area since 1982. Lisa's expertise is in diverse drawing and painting techniques, in both academic and contemporary expressive styles. Hundreds of her landscapes, portraits and figure drawings scatter America in books and in private and corporate collections.
Her education is in Fine and Commercial Art with two years of specialization in formal portrait and figure painting and drawing. She was the apprentice of prominent Washington, D.C. area painter Danni Dawson and in Philadelphia with Nelson Shanks. Mr. Shanks is known for his portraits of Princess Diana, President Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Pavoratti to name a few. His portraits of Denise Graves and Bill Clinton are the museum of American Art.
Initially, Lisa taught at a small co-op in Occoquan VA , The Arlington Art Center and the Emerson Gallery in McLean where she started the first colored pencil and graphite techniques courses on the East Coast. For the past 27 years she has taught exclusively at The Art League School in Alexandria, located in the Torpedo Factory Art Center on the historical Old Town waterfront. Her courses are in portrait and figure drawing, design basics and painting. During semester breaks, she conducts oil pastel, graphite techniques and line workshops. She also leads critique workshops at Photoworks in Glen Echo Park.
Annually Lisa leads travel workshops with emphasis on creative breakthroughs. For 5 years she took students to Tuscany and last year Antigua, Guatemala. "Nothing will loosen you up like climbing an active volcano!"
In addition to teaching, Miss Semerad was a commercial illustrator for 15 years. Her clients included Time-Life Books, United Way, National Hospice, The Smithsonian's NSRC, The National Zoo, The National PTA, Freedom From Hunger, The National Academy of Science and United Health Care to list a few. She tends to pick jobs that involve education.
Her fine art career is centered on less academic lines. She is currently working in oil pastels, encaustic and mixed media combining her draftsmanship with more symbolic, 3 dimensional and abstract components inspired by her travels to Portugal, Italy and Guatemala. "I enjoy media that has a bit of its own agenda. It provokes me to be responsive and inventive. Not knowing what will result and having less control is far more interesting for me now."