On the morning of November 4th 2020, it was time to get the results…
… not from the election. It was time for another Art Renewal Center Salon.
For those unfamiliar with it, the Art Renewal Center Annual International Salon is among the world’s most prestigious juried competitions for creatives that specialize in drawing, painting, and sculpture in a classical, representational manner. Much like the 19th Century Parisian Salons it is modeled after, successful acceptance into the Salon can introduce your work to a wide world of publishers, curators, collectors, and galleries. The jurors of the Salon are among the most skilled craftsmen and notable art historians in the world.
My 2013 and 2017 entries to the Salon were rejected (in 2013, "Sorceress", and in 2017, "Sentinels", pictured). Those moments of disappointment had etched themselves into my brain. I recall scrolling through the names of painters, sculptors, and draftsmen and women who had their work stamped with the Salon seal of approval, a moment loaded with the anticipation, possibilities, and the hopes of my life’s work, and finding my name absent. Each failure resulted in a period of intermittent disappointment, jealously, and sulking. I stopped painting all together for a month or two. Following those counterproductive responses, however, there was always a period of reflection, focus, and a return to work.
On the morning of November 4th 2020, it was time to scroll the list of names again, and …. there I was! My adrenaline surged, and I took a photo of the computer screen and sent it to my wife, who was beginning her morning one floor below me. That feeling of elation, satisfaction, and achievement was unique, and made more powerful in light of my prior failures.
I couldn’t help but consider the painting that had crossed the proverbial finish line for me – Armed Couple. I recalled my prior Salon entries and wondered what was different about this one. With Sorceress, I was mindfully attempting to paint a more polished, graceful figure, and my 2017 entry (Sentinels) was a more personal work, my take on angels. I don't think that they're terrible pictures, but I can better see their shortcomings in hindsight.
I welcome viewers to perceive my pictures in any way they wish, but when I painted Armed Couple, my theme and personal motivation was paranoia. In Armed Couple, two nervous and desperate looking people aim pistols at unseen threats. Of the motif, I wrote that the individuals were, “souls who find themselves swirling in the aftermath of greed, madness, and cynicism.”
The brushwork on much of the painting is heavy impasto, thickly applied in portions, which is particularly helpful in lending a physical presence to figures. Controlled intensity is a challenge. At times during the creation of the picture, I feared it would get away from me.
I’m grateful for the semi-finalist selection by the panel of Jurors for the Imaginative Realism category, Jeannie Wilshire, Fred Ross, Julie Bell, and Dr. Vern Swanson.