I was thinking about group challenges the other day – like the Virtual Sketch Date and Karin Jurick’s Different Strokes From Different Folks - and what a great learning experience they are for me, in particular, reviewing all the entries.
When viewing the entries, I love seeing them all together on one page. I start out by scrolling through the entries or glancing at each one quickly. I know that the entries that catch my eye during a quick sweep deserve a longer look.
When I first started viewing these group challenges, I wondered why some entries caught my eye and others didn’t, especially because they are all of the same subject. What was it about some paintings that made me want to linger? For me it comes down to three things.
- Composition – Many times what makes a painting stand out from the crowd is composition. Cropping can make all the difference in how a painting reads. Same is true for elements that are left in versus elements that are eliminated. Recently I saw two almost identical compositions and the main difference for the one I preferred was the addition of something that didn’t appear in the original reference. My lesson…study composition until good compositions come easy.
- Style – I am finding the more I do this exercise the more often paintings of a certain style catch my eye. The surprising thing about this is that the paintings I like are not painted in a style similar to my own. Having learned what style appeals to me, I’ve decided to try to work toward that style in my own paintings.
- Technical Ability – My studies have revealed that technical ability is actually less important to me than I would have guessed, but there is some base line that needs to be met for me to enjoy a painting. The lesson for me here is to not sacrifice style and feeling in my own works in an effort to prove technical ability.
I love that I can learn from group challenges even when I don’t participate in them. I’m interested in hearing what lessons you have learned from the School of Group Challenges. Feel free to share them in the comments.