Competitive Pastelling

All those lovely paintings that are on display in your cozy home, and who can see them, besides your immediate loved ones and friends? If you use social media, then your followers can comment and “love/like” you in the virtual world, but what about entering pastel art competitions?

There are pastel societies popping up all over the world, specific to a particular region (or island in my case), but almost all of these have a yearly exhibition which is judged by a more well known or accomplished instructor in pastel, with monetary awards or (even better!) pastel merchandise!

This is a good way to see what other artists are doing with their work and gives you confidence to put your paintings out there for others to see also. These societies are a wonderful way to meet new friends who paint and get together to plein air, or have paint-alongs or maybe even trade techniques and supplies.

The first step is to find one near you. I live on an island in the middle of the Pacific, so my choices were limited to island societies, until I thought I’d like to try a bigger organization in California. The more members, the harder the competition and the chance of being juried out also. I would suggest your first show be in your region.

Looking through your latest paintings, find the ones that you are the most proud of, your biggest challenges and strengths! Every judge is different, depending on what they prefer, so a pastel may be passed over in one show and win an award in the next one.

Once you have picked which pieces to submit, you will have to photograph them for digital submission. There are tutorials for this process on most social media platforms (YouTube, etc.) but if you use a digital camera it’s fairly easy. Each show has an entry platform with specific rules, so read everything before you decide to enter, in case you need help from a friend with the technical side!

After getting your pastel images ready for submission, follow the guidelines carefully for entry. The title, description, price and all your contact information should be finished before you enter the fee for submission.

Most shows give you a range of entries from one to three, with a fee based on whether you are a member of that society or not. Make a note of all the important dates of the show, notifications, shipping dates, award reception and return shipping dates. A note about shipping, you should enter works that are small enough to ship easily, I prefer 12×16 inch pastels for shows, when framed they are about 20×24 inches and will fit nicely into a large mirror
box of extra sturdy cardboard.

When you receive that email that says, “Congratulations! Your painting has been selected!”, you will be entering a new phase of your pastel journey and more incentives to push your work to a new level.

Pastel painting by Helen Turner, of a flooded park in Spring.
Spring Floods
Pastel painting by Helen Turner, of a rocky mountain stream.
Falling Grace

I’ve included some pastels that were award winners for me over the years. I have grown quite a bit since “Spring Floods” my first jury show in 2006, but the encouragement that award provided, motivated my pastel journey. “Falling
Grace” was an experimental piece that found an award and a home! “Calling Elizabeth” is a pastel that I submitted, a tribute to Elizabeth Mowry, she brought me luck!

Pastel painting by Helen Turner, of a country road with telegraph wires.
Calling Elizabeth

Most recently, I entered a brand new show on another island and although I did not garner any awards, my pastel “Red Cottage” was purchased during the opening reception! So finding new collectors is another perk of being in a group show.

Competitive Pastelling 1
Red Cottage

I wish you luck with trying something new, and most of all, if you are not accepted, do not despair or give up. All judges are unique, and your work will find it’s voice, just keep showing it to the world.

I am a Signature Member of the Pastel Artists of Hawaii and also the Pastel Society of the West Coast, and those are the initials I can use when writing, or signing my name, signifying a level of competence in the medium. I rarely do use
them but its nice to know I can!

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2 Responses

  1. I’m hoping this will encourage artists to step outside their comfort zone and show the world their beautiful paintings!!

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