Thursday, May 03, 2012


A busy few days, and weeks! A few Monday's ago I helped host a poetry night at the local community centre and our guest poet Jim Bennett was brilliant, not only as a poet (he was clearly way above us!) but as an inspiration and as entertainer. He even got us singing along to one of the poems! He was clearly a true artist, he wrote his first poem aged 8 and he's been a poet all his life, but despite his years of experience and many achievements he was really down to earth and still passionate about language and society.

The night was a busy rush for me. My singer friend Tor and his manager Honey came along so I met them in person for the first time. They came back here and listened to tune after tune while I bamboozled them with offers and begs to record more songs with me. They said yes.

That excitement aside I've been painting stalwartly for the most part. I've also entered and been turned down for the Stockport Open. I was commenting that competitions can boil down to the judges taste. Trying to second guess judges though can be a nightmare. I was disappointed last year when one of my best paintings, at least a good one, I thought, was turned down, so this year I entered paintings that were different but both of those were turned down too, and the judges were different anyway! That said though, the two I entered were perfectly fine. We can but try.

In other news I've been ordered to take down two paintings from my Crewe Hall exhibition on the grounds of nudity. This annoyed me somewhat. For a start it could easily cost me £50-£100 to hire a van to take them when the only reason for me to remove them is that they don't like them, and they've been there for a month and I at least supplied a price list with titles etc. months in advance. My works aren't like Lucien Freuds or Francis Bacons, but Crewe Hall isn't an art gallery either. This happens in many venues with my work and now I must ensure that I check in advance. About 25% of my paintings are unshowable to the public, apparently. I expect this is entirely a matter of fashion and that if I were as famous as Lucien Freud, Crewe Hall would happily show them and not bat an eyelid.

These events have made me think.

My plan was to paint for competitions. Now I think I might as well paint for my own whims, the reasoning being that trying to please a judge is like a cat chasing its tail or that uncatchable fox being chased by the immortal hound. Stand still and you have more chance of the fox jumping into your proverbial arms. Yet, whims are limitless. Why paint every day for every month forever? Is that a question to ask every artist?

Well we'll all live until we get old and then die. We can do anything in between. Anything we want. The ultimate reason I enter competitions is as a goal, a point in time that motivates action, the fun and the challenge of the creation process against imaginary opponents. Mentally, the prize is filling in the entry form because that announces the end of the process, and victory.

On that note I've just entered this into the Threadneedle Prize. As a London competition, they should notice the reference to the B.P. Portrait Award last year.


Robin Samiljan said...

I could not have written a more perfect understanding about competition entries, the jurying process, and why there is no way to second guess the subjectivity of the jurors. The most honest, purest form of creativity is to do exactly as you say (and I am taking your words to heart) - paint for yourself, to please yourself. Your style of surrealism and nudity is some of the most fantastic I have seen. You have the good company of poets, singers, and entertainers, and your work is a perfect match.

Mark Sheeky said...

Thank you Robin. There seems to be so many art competitions around these days too, and so many artists take the judgements to heart. It's really hard not to! But when you think of the benefits of trying, a new picture... new inspiration and the fun of a challenge, then even being rejected can make you feel better compared to those who didn't try. The competition I loved most was one where a group of artist friends voted for each others work. The only prize was to suggest the theme next time.

-Don said...

I agree with both you and Robin. You MUST paint for yourself. It's like I've quoted before from the band BuckCherry's song 'So Far', "I didn't do it for money. I did it for free. I did it to fill the f**king hole inside of me." That's why I paint. If the paintings I create happen to make someone else happy enough to include them in a show, or better yet, buy them, then that's just the icing on the cake. Great post!