Sunday, May 10, 2009

Art associations, dues, and juries

Here's a new painting on its way out the door. I show you both finished and unfinished art, so you must sometimes wonder, what does this guys stuff actually look like. Its a 16x20. I started it up in Vermont last fall and finished it in the studio over the last week or two.

I think I will talk a little more about juries and exhibitions, I got started on it and I would like to lay the subject to rest before I move on. Now here comes a basic fact of the art world that constantly influences what is going on.


Because of that there is some kind of a vetting process, always. There are two different types of membership organizations. The first type tries to be inclusive, they often have huge memberships and will take people who a more elite organizations won't. Sometimes the only question is, can you pay the dues to be a member.

The second sort of organization is more of a guild. They keep a relatively small membership and try to be elite. That is,although they jury lots of hopeful artists they only take those they deem the best, most skilled or whatever it is that they value as an institution.

Many people think that the inclusive model is fairer and the exclusivist organizations are elitist, particularly if they have been rejected from one .Oddly enough, those same people expect the staff at their hospital to be an elite, rather than trying to let everybody in the communiity have an oportunity to do gall bladder surgery.These people often see art as therapy for those who do it, therefore the largest number of citizens should be able to have that benefit.

The dirty secret of the inclusivist organizations is they have lots more members than they can actually show. They collect their dues before you are juried . A member may submit paintings to them and pay his dues year after year and never get his art on to the walls. The exclusivist organization juries you, if they take you, THEN you pay your dues and usually your work is hung. In some of these organizations you will always have something hanging on their walls. But you don't pay dues and not get hung .

Sometimes the inclusivist organizations may decide to push their membership out to many hundreds of members in order to receive the dues money.So either way you are going to be juried either before you pay or after. I like after a whole lot better.

I think that unless you are in a school or atelier you should consider joining either an art association or a painters group that meets to draw the figure or paint outdoors. You should be in the most professional art association you can get into. If the one you are in now is a sick joke, start applying to better ones and upgrade when you get in. The best art organizations have the best painters. It is important to find an organization that has working professional painters in it. Search around, they exist in almost every area of the country.

Art associations will introduce you to other painters, try to get to know the best of them and see if you can tag along behind them. If you wanted to be a good tennis player you would seek out good tennis players to learn from and compete with. Often the more accomplished artists are very happy to teach other painters who are WORKERS, no one bothers to help the lazy.

I have been involved for many years with several members organizations and I know a lot of artists because of them. In fact almost all of my painting buddies were met within these organizations. Business people network, this how the artists' network.

You also need to show your paintings. This is where you will start. That's part of learning, just like playing recitals is a part of piano lessons. Don't look at art associations as a place to make money, incidentally. Generally they don't sell a lot of art at at serious prices. You will sometimes see an artist get in to an organization and do a few shows then leave because they aren't making any money. They missed the point, money is made out in the commercial galleries. But friends, reputations and connections can be made in the art associations. More tomorrow.


Jesse said...

Wow, you're new painting is great! I like the level of detail vs the looseness of the brush. You always hit just the right note between the two.

Good info on the associations, it sound like something I need to look into.

JAMES A. COOK said...

Great painting of yours, has your logal all over it and it is great to see in your work what you have been teaching in your blog.
Question, your clouds are done different than most of the ones I see in your paintings. However very effective, and I see it like this; they are done with broard brush strokes , fluid and fast . They seem to compliment the bold brush strokes in the forground. This being so, brings my eye to the nice edges on the barn. The barn with the sharp edges becomes the focal point. The tree line brings me right down to the barn and the white house to the right of the barn keeps me right there focusing on the barn.
Did I read this right .
Also in your design , was that white house next to the barn as you saw it in the field or did you add it.


Stapleton Kearns said...


Thanks.That detail versus looseness thing is where I am hooked up. That is one of the things I most like to work with. Tomorrows blog is an auto dissection of the piece.

Stapleton Kearns said...


Thanks. I will address those question in tomorrows post. The white house was about where you see it but I deliberately grouped it and the barn.

Todd Bonita said...

Great post, I think I'm addicted..just got back from a weeks vacation and one of the first things I did was catch up on your posts. Glad I did..I happen to be in the middle of preparing my package for artist membership into the Copley Society in Boston. They have a great history, location, prestige and artist member list. If I was lucky enough to get in, I would have to pay membership dues of $300 a year. I live in Portsmouth, NH. not far from Boston so networking would be doable but I scratch my head over the three-hundred annually. I like your honest approach in this blog and would love to hear your thoughts on this. I looked into the North Shore and Rockport Art Assoc, both have rich history and very good reputations as well and notice their annual dues are under 100 each..hmmm...Should I consider joining all three or better to pick and choose here? Would that be over kill, whats the move here (If I could even get in any of them). Thanks for any input you can add to my questions. feel free to email me privately if you
Looking forward to your follow up post on this subject...very timely for me personally. Thanks again for sharing. All my best to you,

willek said...

Stape. I like the way you used cloud shadow to separate the hills and creat interest in the middle background. I recently read when some big turn of the century painter made a comment that those shadows were put there for the landscape painters. Or something to that effect. WillEK

Stapleton Kearns said...


I have e mailed you. The answer is I think dependant on how much you can spend. If money is very dear, I would go after the two lesser expensive, Rockport and North Shore. Ideally and if you can afford it comfortably, do all three and make a decision at the end of a year as to who has best earned your money. Parking is a nuisance in Boston and easy in Gloucester and Rockport so you might be tempted to use them more.If all you do is drop of your work you won't get much out of the organizations, you should go to drawing groups etc. and possibly if you have the time go be of service, be on a committee or volunteer for some small duty there after you have lurked for a while I am particularly fond of Rockport because I used to be the janitor there.

Stapleton Kearns said...


I am myself am a turn of the century artist. Cloud shadows are a good excuse to throw light and dark passages on the different parts of the landscape and design more without being too constrained by what is actually before you.