I announced yesterday that Jennifer Mary in Denmark was the overall winner of the Art Diary Challenge but today I want to qualify that and say that everyone who entered was a winner in my eyes! A diary of any kind is normally a very private place and it takes courage to go public with the pages!
When I wrote to let Jennifer know she had won yesterday she sent me this in reply;
It's a record of the art materials on her desk that day - I think you can see why she was a worthy winner. Jennifer tells me she's working in her third book of the challenge and has no intention of stopping anytime soon!
When we judged the submissions we were looking for a number of different qualities. It wasn't all about technical skill although obviously it helps if the drawing is sound and the art medium chosen is used with understanding and sensitivity. We were looking for pages with visual impact, well composed and with competent use of mediums but concept and idea were probably just as important as the visual effect achieved.
A visual diary is more than a sketchbook. I looked up a number of dictionary definitions and here's a combination of my findings:
A diary is a record of events and experiences kept daily or at frequent intervals.
A book in which are recorded personal observations, thoughts and feelings.
A daily record, usually private, of the writer's (artists') experiences, observations, feelings, attitudes.
To me, the most significant words that appear in the definitions are 'personal experiences' and 'observations'. The challenge involved a specific time - 3 months - and was intended to be a response to events within that specific timeframe. Because the work we received was of such a high standard we have decided to make three Highly Commended awards.
The first goes to New Zealander Bernice. Her page recorded a day at the river beach with her family. The open page spread shows both the whole experience plus a beautifully executed detail. Bernice painted the detail on watercolour paper and inserted the sheet back into the book after removing the bulk of the original page.
She has combined photography and painting to tell the story of the moment really well. It's almost like being there ourselves!
Annette recorded an autumnal chestnut leaf using coloured pencils worked over a gessoed page of her diary. Her observational study perfectly captured the crisp edges of the leaf as it curls and begins to decay. The shapes on the right hand page are actual leaves, pressed and attached under layers of acrylic wax. The text is collaged from magazine pages and burnished with gold.
The idea of a conker on a string to act as a bookmark was a great final touch!
Pat made a well observed and beautifully understated drawing of a sloe branch to record the bumper crop this year. Just look at the texture of those gnarly, lichen encrusted twigs!
Pat concealed the fruits of her labours (sloe gin) under an attached flap which altered the proportion of the page and gave scope for more drawing. The overall composition, ignoring the spine of the open page is very successful. We liked the combination of variation in scale, the drawing of negative space and the use of accent colour in the form of the bottle, the stitching and the yarn tag. Once again this is an example of a personal story recorded with sensitivity.
I may never issue a challenge again as I've had real trouble singling out individuals from all the submissions received. I feel guilty about not being able to give everyone a prize!!
May I take this opportunity to thank everyone who followed the challenge and especially the brave souls who sent in their pages for judging. You are all winners and my sincere hope is that you'll keep a visual diary from now on!
Talk again soon - Love Linda x