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When I first started working full-time as an artist, I applied for membership into the Oil Painters of America (OPA). I filled out an application, payed a fee and submitted samples of my work for review. Luckily, I was approved and became an entry level associate member. The next step is to become a Signature Member. To do that, I must have exhibited in three national OPA shows (or two national OPA shows and three regional shows.) To this point, I’ve been juried into two regional shows and one national show.

I chose OPA because members are reviewed and it provided more than one or two opportunities to exhibit and win prize money. I liked that it was somewhat exclusive and I liked that they wanted to get award money in my pocket.

What I want to do here, is create a series of blogs to show collectors and friends what the anatomy of an art competition is like. I was talking to my artist friend Kathleen Coy and we agreed it’s like a rollercoaster ride. I want to share with you things like:

  • Deciding which piece to submit along with varnishing, framing and photographing the art
  • uploading to Juried Art Services (online service where jurying committee reviews and accepts/rejects submissions)
  • Approval/Rejection (both involve adult drinks)
  • Shipping/Packaging (trusting your hopes & dreams to FedEx – two ways)
  • Attending the Exhibit opening (seeing/comparing your work Associate & Signature Members and Master artists)
  • Attending the demonstrations (this is my favorite part, unless I win something, then this is my second favorite part.)

Up to this point I haven’t won an award from OPA, but I have found that all my work improved when I committed myself to submitting at least one piece to an OPA exhibit. (It’s like threatening yourself!) When my work is accepted the drive to be better becomes even stronger and I hold my next pieces to even higher standards.

I hope you enjoy learning the anatomy of an art competition.