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How to Enter and Win an Art Contest

Updated on October 18, 2016
Ilonagarden profile image

Being creative is what it's all about- let's make some cute stuff! Hope you enjoy these ideas and they spark your own fun projects.

Grandma Moses Winter Scene

A Place at the Columbus Museum of Art

I was only twelve years old or so, but my mother entered my picture in an art contest.

I won!

My Art Exhibited, if Only for a Moment

My prizes were:

  • a visit with Lucy of 'Lucy's Workshop' (a local children's television show),
  • an art kit consisting of a steel case filled with real oil paints,
  • a coffee table book of Grandma Moses paintings,
  • an Arbuthnot Anthology,
  • and best of all: my winning painting on display in the Columbus Museum of Art, with the other winners.

It was one of my happiest moments in childhood.

I don't have a copy of the winning picture, but it resembled the painting of Grandma Moses winter scenes, like the one illustrated on this page.

the spotlight
the spotlight

Happy Memory

It is Nice to Be in the Spotlight

That is a given for some, but I don't like the spotlight very much. I do love art and art museums, and having a picture I painted on display in one of my favorite places to visit was a wonderful event in my early life.

My mother always had me entering contests, and not just me, but my younger sisters, also. I won a set of Encyclopedia Brittanica that way, and my sister won an entire set of World Book encyclopedias, which I spent many useful hours reading. So, I didn't think much of entering this particular contest, and didn't have lots of dreams of winning anything. I don't even remember if I knew what the prizes would be before entering and winning, but it turned out to be one of the most satisfying moments of my youth. Right up there with the praise of my Kindergarten teacher for my painting of "Hickory Dickory Dock".

I received much of my sense of self worth in my early years from creating art.

Style That Wins

The picture that won the prizes was something like a Grandma Moses picture (see examples of her painting on this page). I liked to paint landscape themes filled with little people and details, and I think I painted children sledding down a snowy hill, if I recall correctly. It must have been a happy circumstance of the judges looking for and appreciating something in the spirit of Grandma Moses folk art, because she was quite popular at the time. She made the cover of Time Magazine in the year I was born... I wonder if Grandma Moses isn't someone of iconic importance to me in some esoteric way?


Grandma Moses Did It Her Way - and a word of advice

Sugaring Off
Sugaring Off

The Style Of Grandma Moses

Grandma Moses, A Self Taught Artist

Most of her pictures were of winter winter scenes,. "Sugaring Off" was a favorite theme and it is thought she was inspired by the Currier & Ives lithograph. "Maple Sugaring - Early Spring in the Northern Woods.1872". The making of maple syrup has many common elements in such scenes. In fact, if you were to make it at home with your own Sugar Maple trees, you might find yourself pouring a bit of the sugar on the snow for a favorite treat in exactly the way pictured in her painting.

While incorporating common elements, she did not make a "copy"- her pictures were fully her own style,expression, and composition. It was that uniqueness that helped catapult her to popularity. She created original art.

In the 'History of Naïve Art' site, the phenomenal success of Grandma Moses is mentioned. They termed her as one of the first artists to become a "media star". With a worldwide reputation after WWII, she was catapaulted to popularity through marketing of her art on everything from greeting cards to printed fabrics. Books and news stories of her and her child-like paintings received top billing.

Her paintings are not in vogue today as they were at the time when I won my art contest, in their heyday from the end of World War II through the Fifties.

That brings us to the fact that fame and popular opinion are fickle.

A word of advice on that from the example of Grandma Moses:

"...One of the nice things about folk artists is that the real ones pay absolutely no attention to such theoretical squabbling. They simply go about their business, painting as they see fit."
-from the History of Naive Art

Develop your own style. Paint in the way you desire to express yourself, and don't try to copy others or the latest fads.

In the eye of the Beholder

You Won't Win Unless You Try

There are lessons that I learned, the greatest of which is probably that you don't know whether you will win unless you try.

I appreciate my mother's persistence in encouraging us to try out for competitions of recognition for our talents.

Don't be afraid of submitting your artwork to contest and exhibitions.

Coveted Blue Ribbon

Steps to Take

It is as simple as creating your own work of art and entering it in the proper category in an art competition. Mine was a contest in the local newspaper. Many Public Libraries, and State Fairs hold contests.

It helps to appeal to the tastes and aesthetic sense of the judges or the times, but don't let that concern you when you are creating an expression of yourself or your message.

Improving technique with art classes is a good pursuit, but as you can see from Grandma Moses, there are many self-taught painters.

Start Drawing - Practice makes perfect

Art technique is a matter of practice. Go ahead and make it your habit to sketch daily and paint as often as you can.

Get some supplies and get drawing!

PRO ART Pencil Set Sketch & Draw, 9.38" x 9.38" x 0.25", Graphite & Charcoal
PRO ART Pencil Set Sketch & Draw, 9.38" x 9.38" x 0.25", Graphite & Charcoal
Using professional quality tools to produce art is important. To sketch is a foundational skill for serious artists. The varied hardness of the pencils leads give shadings not possible with ordinary #2 pencils. Start drawing and improve your technique.

Instructions for Entering Art Competitions

How to win Contests Tips

How to enter & win fine arts & sculpture contests
How to enter & win fine arts & sculpture contests
Bolster your confidence with good advice on entering art contests. Learn about requirements and tips for making your submissions stand out.

Advice on your Unique Technique

Develop your Style

While you may gain commercial success by painting in the style that is most popular at the time, you will not be original and shouldn't expect longlasting success from it.

Like Grandma Moses, who took popular subjects and elements for her paintings, make art that is your own with your unique style created with your sense of expression.

Some contests have a theme or subject chosen for artists. The challenge is to interpret the theme in an original way.

If you want to win an art contest, the converging of your own originality and ability with what people like at the time (and what the judges think is best) are what create a winning entry.

Judge's Opinions

If you don't win the contest, don't give up, just use the advice and continue to develop your style.

Such opinions help form your style and can be used to impart helpful advice for improvement. And if you win- like I did- it is a great encouragement that you will remember . So go ahead- be brave, enter that contest ! The secret of success is to try.

Naive Art, a Childlike Manner

The subject of winter play interpreted by another artist. Just as Grandma Moses displayed a topic in a naive way, this artist expressed it in their own style.
The subject of winter play interpreted by another artist. Just as Grandma Moses displayed a topic in a naive way, this artist expressed it in their own style. | Source

Get Started and Win an Art Contest -

The books I won, or something like them, and art supplies. Awards are still being given to encourage young artists. Why wait, though? Arrange your own art awards to give your kids incentive.

Most artists will tell you that the act of sketching and drawing, often, is one of the foundations of developing your artistic talents. Make it easy by using a set of sketchbooks, pencils, and erasers that are easily portable.

Make Practice of Painting Easy

Art101 Sketch Box Portable Easel + Supplies
Art101 Sketch Box Portable Easel + Supplies
Painting outdoors or in a small studio space is easy when you have all your paint and supplies boxed up and ready to go. Make a masterpiece or a sketch- everything is right at hand with your own easel set-up.

Young Girl Explains Her Winning Painting Entry

Make your Mark - Leave your Signature (with notes!)

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    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 

      8 years ago

      Great lens, you had a good mum. My son is a photographer, it is hard to get him to enter his work in contests. It takes guts.The only thing I ever won was a cake walk - and somehow I won three cakes.


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