This year's competition was a crazy mixture of emotions! For starters, my main entry in the show was "Focus", which you know from previous posts here on the blog. I expected it to do well, but past experiences at the show have taught me to never know what to expect from judges! This year was no exception to the rule. "Focus" took no ribbons what-so-ever. Not even a class ribbon or an honorable mention. Which, for those of you who know me and know the show - was somewhat surprising. But, as we all know - art is subjective, and the judging is even more so. Upon speaking to a judge at the wine-and-cheese function, it was explained to me that perhaps the anatomical accuracy was an issue in this piece... they were debating whether or not a cougar would have such a huge paw. Well (again with the "those that know me" bit) those that know my work will know that I usually measure precisely and take extra care in getting my sketch identical to the original reference photo. At no point do I make any portion up, or refer to multiple reference photos (which can lead to just this problem of anatomical discrepancy) and I strive for such an accuracy in the drawing that essentially, it is close to identical to the original photo. And so, this basically means that when someone questions anatomical correctness of my artwork, they are really just judging the conformation of the animal in the wild - like a dog show. Which I find amusing. Of course, I digress. It was great, as it always is, to get feedback from a judge in a competition of this caliber. So that was the not-so-happy part of the emotional roller coaster.
The biggest shock of the weekend came when I was looking for my miniature piece, "Snow Leopard's Eye", to see how it had done. I was curious if it had won the miniature division, and so I walked back to the miniature division boards and looked for it - and it was gone. Nowhere to be found! It took me five minutes of wandering around like a dork before I realized I had seen the second and third Best in Show winners, but had yet to see the winner overall - the Best in Show Open winner. That's when I headed for the front of the hall (where they put special boards to hang the Best in Show winners - so the public sees them first upon entering the show) just to discover that my little miniature piece actually WON. Actually WON the Best in Show Open award. Wow. So obviously this is the way-more-happy part of the emotional roller coaster! Here's a picture of the painting hanging on the Best in Show boards, with it's ribbons:
The next loop on the ride was the Special Competition #5, or the Poster Competition. Each year, they hold a competition to decide which piece will be placed on next year's advertisements, posters, buttons, etc - essentially every piece of publicity they put out for the show will have the winning piece of artwork on it. It's a big deal, so I brought out the big guns! I entered "Repose" - the tiger cub colored pencil piece - and held my breath! And when I attended the wine-and-cheese function, I saw a ribbon hanging by "Repose". And so, with the roller coaster going up, I started celebrating. Until a good friend pointed out that the ribbon was red... indicating second place... yup. All previous years had always awarded a first place only - no reason to tell someone they were that close to winning, right? They simply awarded the winner. Meaning I saw a ribbon and immediately assumed I had won. Wow, did I ever feel like a spaz. Of course, I had already told the owners of the piece that we had won, and we were all happy and celebrating, and then I had to tell them the not so great news. Yay. And so, my bubble wasn't quite burst - it was just pinched a little. It couldn't burst all the way, I mean... I had just won a Best in Show with my miniature! And so that kept the party going.
The most shocking and brag-worthy award of the entire show came late on Sunday afternoon, during the awards ceremony. For the first time EVER, the organization decided to do a "People's Choice" award, meaning that every one of the thousands of people who came in the door were given a ballot, and had the chance to vote for their favorite piece in the show. This could be ANY piece - a carving, a photo, a painting, anything. And so, I had really not given the idea any more thought other than "Oh, what a great idea that they are doing that this year!" as I just assumed one of the awesome carvings in the show would receive the award. And then they announce the winner: Christina Langman with "Repose"! My tiger cub colored pencil piece, which I entered in the poster competition and took second place, was actually the "People's Choice" - the public's favorite piece in the whole show. I don't want to sound like I'm bragging, but I'M BRAGGING. I was thrilled, to say the least. A "People's Choice" is often a larger "feel-good" award than some judged awards, as it is a large group of people, all picking you as their favorite. It makes an artist all warm and fuzzy inside!
So the roller coaster ended, with me feeling dizzy and slightly exhausted, but overall very glad I got on the ride! And of course, looking forward to riding again next year!