Last weekend I was in Atlanta…

I got to serve as juror for the Exhibition of the Southeastern Pastel Society. So last week I traveled south and attended the Opening of the show.  It was really cool to see a large gallery full of images that I had selected.  And moreover, to see the award winners up close because I had to select them online through ShowSubmit.

That is the funny thing about shows now.  The online image carries so much weight because the selection process happens online.  And as much as I and every other juror scrutinize and labor over the digital images, there is nothing like seeing the paintings in person.  Yes, we can know the posted sizes, but a large painting feels different in person than its smaller, digital representation.  Some paintings I loved even more when I saw them in their frames.  And then some felt weaker when viewing them in person.  We all try to adjust our images to make them look their best to get accepted into a show, but some of them changed the paintings in a way to make them stronger.  It is a jurors’ dilemma.  

I was asked what I thought of the show and if I would have changed my choices especially for the award winners.  No, I responded. The winners were easy to spot.  

I was asked to say a few things about each painting that had won as the award-winning artists were announced. That was easy. Each had something amazing or perfected or clearly controlled by the artist making the painting sit a bit above from the others.  

And then it came time to annouce the Best of Show in the Master division.  This is the painting I picked by artist, Toby Reid. 


So as I thought about why I picked this painting over all the other pieces, all I could think about was one word-  grace.  

To me, saying a painting is graceful is the strongest compliment I could ever give. Grace is natural beauty. And a true measure of the creator.  I said at the Opening that a graceful image appears effortless – as though no work or swearing was taking place behind the scenes, but rather the image appears to have come together to tell a story in a beautiful way. In simple eloquence. 

It is what brings us wonder when staring into the eyes of a child.  It is what keeps us up all night to watch the sunrise.  It is what calls to us on museum walls. 


Then I got to teach my “Power of Pastel” workshop to the group last Saturday and Sunday as well. Here are a few images of my demo and how it came along. I realize that no matter what stage I am in I think about that word, grace. Is a mark beautiful?  Does an area represent the beauty I am seeing? Can I paint the light and represent the beauty in a person? 

Plus we had fun. 

I was honored to pick out the paintings for this show.  To see so many different ways to handle this medium.  I met new friends and was truly honored with how they treated me and especially with how they introduced me. I felt like a million bucks. And I realized that we are all looking for that elusive element in our work- grace. Artists want to bring something forth with beauty. We search for new ways to create paintings out of love and control of the image. We are grace-seekers.  

I wish you luck finding some this week.  

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