View Full Version : Revamping the Art Degree

10-05-2007, 06:47 AM
Seems we've come to an interesting evolution in the art and electronic imaging competitions where some new standards might be in order.

Art/tech was primarily for artists in the photographic field who obtained their degrees for retouching and print enhancement. In short, this competition is close to obsolescence. There are still some fine restorationists out there, but by and large, this is a dying art.

With the advent of Painter, there will be more and more paintings done and right now, most of it is in the electronic imaging competition and general print competition. I believe someone else had mentioned that there should be a "straight" print competition and a "photoshop" competition. In a sense, there should be, but in reality, print competition has always, historically, had some element of "manipulation". That is, there really is no such thing as a "straight print. Indeed, a dilemma.

Here's where redefining the Master Artist degree comes to play in all of this. What if we now have this degree for those who have a good understanding of the various media techniques in art AND for the art itself? The reason this thought came up is because:

1. On the technical side of things, some of the national judges may quite possibly be unqualified to judge art techniques. Case in point: My wife Leslie got her critique back for print competition and the comment that kept it from going loan was that "the painting brush effect did not follow the path of her arm". Also, a similar comment was made on the EI side of her entries. Folks, this is a strong indication that the painting style images have gone beyond the capabilities of the judges. Why? Have you ever gone to a museum and studied a Sargent, Renoir, or Rembrandt painting closely? You will find that brush strokes do not follow the path of the arm, or for any parts of the body. Sure, there are some major emphasis strokes that will folow the curves of the subject, but not in the detail work.

2. This one is a bit difficult to even write about because I'm on the fence on this one. Most of you know that I feel that art is art. No painting, to me is any more important than a work done by a camera. So, separating the photographic competition from the Art competion, as a completely separate category would be difficult. This is very similar to a problem with "unclassified" and "Illustrative" categories a long time ago, people were wondering "what's the difference?".

But, we need some training ground to have judges who truely understand painting technique if this will be the evolution of photographic works in the future. PEC needs judges that understand this and I have a feeling that we don't have enough judges who do. Even some painters out there have misconceptions about the technique so this will not be an easy nut to crack.

So, where the heck am I going with this (as I read back in this post). To tell you the truth, I don't know. But the key is in the Master Artist competition. I think that new standards need to be met and a new criteria for becoming a Master Artist. Someone who understands painting technique, and most importantly, someone who knows something about being an art critic (someone who has curating credentials or something like that, I'm just brainstorming).

The thing is, I noticed that various reports on images scoring "100" in various regionals have been either painter images, or paintings over photograph. While I would agree that the techniques are spectacular, some of the emotion and feeling of the works are hardly a museum masterpiece (the one's I have seen). So how do you now score these things? This is a whole new ball game and it will be interesting to get some input from our currant judges, to defensive artists. Perhaps we need to reexamine the print competion standards as a whole?

10-05-2007, 02:40 PM

I have been a full time photographer for 13 years and have been an artist for 25 years. I have been doing competition for 2 years. Art Tech is being recognized more now because it adds something extra to photographs that sets you apart from other photographers. I have a problem with categories in all levels of judging. How is it possibly to enter an Art Tech print one year and the next year you can enter the same print in Photography? Is it a painting or is it a photograph? Some of the merit prints in photography should have been in Art Tech. Does anyone enter a photograph straight from the camera for competition. Since the beginning of competition photographers have either enhanced their own prints or paid someone to do it for them. Is the work theirs or does it belong to the person that made it a winner? We all have seen images entered in competition that we knew the photographer was not capable of the finished product. I feel competition should be the makers work or be a multi-photograph as they do in albums. I sat through the entire judging of Art Tech 2 years in Florida. If you haven't watched the judges you should. We have great art tech judges that do a wonderful job. I saw paintings picked apart down to brush strokes and placement of subjects. They judge first as a photograph then the painting. The difference in art tech and photography is you have to take an image and make it meet the same standards as a meit photograph (impact, composition, light, story telling) but you also have to have great painting techniques. One of my prints merited at nationals but not at state. That happens in photography competition too. I scored a 99 on an Art Tech print. I will attach it. Thanks for the post I have been wanting to get this off my chest for a while. I am not sure how my image will view I am not good at this part. If it doesn't come out right I will download again. It is 72 resolution.


10-05-2007, 03:09 PM
Perhaps we need to reexamine the print competion standards as a whole?

Oh Brother
Do you know how to get my heart pounding in the morning or what! I'm going to my happy place now and think only happy thoughts. :D

Your image is terrific! The image I've attached hung in 99. I think mages like the one attached below will still hang at national straight out of the camera because there is no skin tone, portrait lighting or expression to debate. But hey I'm going to my happy place.....darn you Michael! ;)

10-05-2007, 03:33 PM

Beautiful image. It is timeless. I love landscapes but never do them It is a good thing to start the day with your heart pounding. Sometimes typed words sound a little harsh. Didn't mean for it to. I am amazed at the job of being a judge. What a heavy responsibility to make or break a heart. You know that feeling in your throat when your image is naked against the judges. When you want to explain away what they are saying, but is most times true. Competition is fun and should makes us stronger and a better photographer. You just can't take it as a personal attack. To them it is an image, to us it is our baby. I have learned so much from the forum. I have been trying to put more into my Sr sessions since I have looked at all the wonderful images people have been sharing. thank you forum members for your time to help.


10-05-2007, 04:19 PM
You know that feeling in your throat when your image is naked against the judges. When you want to explain away what they are saying, but is most times true.

Do I ever.
Very well put Sandra.
I'm in my happy place now. :)

10-05-2007, 05:03 PM
Hi Sandra

I think, I could be wrong, but I think you are echoing the problem I've outlined. That is, now that many of the photographers do their own "paintings" and at least their own retouching, Is there a need for art tech in it's current form? That is, Art Tech, the way it is supposed to be judged, is to be judged on it's technique, not for the content of the image itself. The same goes for Electronic Imaging. The reason for this is that the image itself in it's originality is not neccessarily that of the maker.

But, as I might have haphazzardly wrote in the original post (I gotta quite writing so late at night), "Do we have enough qualified judges to judge this new breed of "photographic art"?

So, where do the "paintings" go? The "paintings" are still, by and large based on photography. Perhaps the "scores" have become obsolete? Perhaps PPA has got it right: The merit prints should be "thumbs up or thumbs down" and the over all judging of the images should be judged on the dirty dozen plus one (a bakers dozen, if you will), that is, emotional content.

As with you, Leslie has been a gallery artist for nearly 35 years. She knows paintings (believe me, she knows), and what the judge suggested in their critique might be an indication that the paintings have gone beyond their expertise.

This may require a whole new generation of painter/artists/Master Photographers to step into the judging arena on the national level.

Then again, this may be a learning process for the judges as an evolution: the "students" teaching the "teachers".

Take your pick :)

10-05-2007, 05:37 PM
Is there any reason why the category should be limited to "painting" effects? We have a whole lot of people doing incredible work using Photoshop (rather than Painter) to create beautiful composites, photo-based illustrations, collages, and other such work. The final artwork certainly wouldn't qualify as a "photo," but neither would it find approval from judges who expect to see Painter-produced verions of portraits. In what category, for example, would one place the work of John Paul Caponigro or the beautiful (yet haunting) work of Adobe's Julieanne Kost? Yes, these are photo-based artworks, but they are neither a "photo" nor a "painting."

Thoughtfully yours,

10-05-2007, 06:04 PM
I was using "painter" as as an example to the rather extreme edge of things.

In the Cafe Batigiolles thread, I've pointed out that there is just "art". Photography is a medium no more than a paint brush or a pen tablet, or even photoshop, in my opinion. Imagery has evolved to where we now have "Imaging USA". Not "Photography USA". So with that perspective, perhaps judging should be on "Imagery" not just Photography.

As I walked through the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, Calif. I saw a Van Gogh. It was a painting of his mother. A painting over a photograph, with a quote from Van Gogh that said he hopes that someday, paintings will be done on top of photographs. Took a while, but he finally has gotten his wish. ;)

10-05-2007, 06:31 PM

Paintings are not the only prints in Art Tech competition. Last year I entered 6 prints. I used digital manipulation in several and painting in the others. I went 6 for 6 my first time in competition. I didn't compete for 11 years so I was not a beginner, just a late bloomer competing. There are different categories in the art tech comp. The (2) 100 prints at the FL convention were entered in Photography Illustrative, I think. They both were beautiful pieces. Really eye stoppers.


I do agree with you. I am sure your wife would be qualified to judge (but no credentials) art work because she is an artist. I think that some judges are still on the photograph path in judging art tech. We do have great judges, Sherry, Jane Conner Ziser, Helen Yancy are just a few. They are great artist and get what we are doing. I enjoy painting a picture more than taking it. I feel I have found my place with Art Tech. Can they be judged in photography? I don't think so. It is a totally different media. The judges are viewing it as a photograph and we both know it is much more. I took a class with the Simones and they do blend both together better than anybody I know. I don't have the answer, but we do need to revamp some of the judging categories. Art Tech is growing rapidly and it may take a little time for the judging to catch up. I would love to see your wife's paintings. Mine are on my website under galleries. sandrapearcephotography.net I am attaching my favorite art tech. It is two of my sons & grandson on their ranch. It got best of show and I am making cards of it. The top photographs are what I started with.


10-05-2007, 07:38 PM
I'll try and see if I can sneak one of Leslie's paintings onto this forum. Actually, the image in question (brushstrokes along the arm, kept the image from going loan (according to the critiqing judge) That kept Leslie from going 4 for 4 Loan images for January. Look for her images in the loan book and hanging at National in January...actually, 7 of her images as she hung 3 in EI as well (1 loan).

10-10-2007, 04:24 AM
The PEC has discontinued the Art Tech judging as of July. They are still discussing what will happen to those few who were working toward the M. Artist degree. The reasoning that I was given is that the number of entrants has dwindled to the point that it is cost prohibitive to continue. Add that to the fact that there are just a handful of jurors that are fully qualified to judge artwork and there are not any new people trying to become qualified art tech jurors.
I wish I could have been at the judging this last year... I would love to have seen Leslie's images. I do not know (and it is probably better that I do not know) who the juror was that did her critique, but I would suspect (or at least hope) that there were other issues that held it out of loan other than just the brush strokes on the arm. As a juror, when I hear of an issue like this, I try to see it from the maker's as well as the juror's viewpoint. Remember the Critique is one judge's opinion and as you know the panel is 6 opinion's. The panel is made up of jurrors from the neg. retouchers as well as color artist, both contempory and traditional. All of the jurors try to be open minded to styles that are new or different than thier own. You don't know if the critique happened to be from a juror that is more versed in neg retouching than heavy oils or direct color. It may have been a juror that felt the image SHOULD have gone loan and was trying to find a possible reason that it didn't. I understand your frustration for the situation at this last judging. I am sure it will also be frustrating to know that Leslie's efforts toward the Art Tech degree are possibly now wasted. I know that there were frustrations from members locally when we did away with the state and regional level art tech judging many years ago. But no organization can be so fiscally irresponsible to contimue a program that loses more money every single year. If entry numbers had dipped and then risen or maintained, I bet this would not have happened, but the writing was on the wall. It's the same as labs who chose to discontinue optical printing. The demand just didn't support the cost.

I do ask all that read this to keep an open mind. PEC wants to do what is best for the organization. These kind of decisions do not come easily. Any one that has served as officers of thier local organizations know that you can't please everybody all of the time but they try as hard as they can to please as many people as possible.

I am not a member of PEC. This is all my opinion and sharing info I was given, as I understood it.


10-10-2007, 05:31 AM
Thanks, Keith for the update. Perhaps it is time to actually bring the degree of Master Artist to the next level. Perhaps it will be the degree after the Master of Photography. Wouldn't that be grand? Of course there is the Imaging Excellence award, but there is nothing left after the Masters, unless you join ASP and receive the fellowship.

It will be interesting to see what they do with those who've been pursuing their Master Artist. Perhaps migrate them over to electronic imaging? Who knows.

10-10-2007, 03:49 PM
[QUOTE=Michael Gan;106275]Thanks, Keith for the update. Perhaps it is time to actually bring the degree of Master Artist to the next level. Perhaps it will be the degree after the Master of Photography. Wouldn't that be grand?

Hi Michael;

I have a friend who does hold Master Artist from PPA. She holds MArtist, & CPPS. So, that is a degree now. (or did I misunderstand you ?)

10-10-2007, 04:06 PM
Yup, but that's ok...;)

Notice that Keith has a M. Artist as well? The idea is to elevate the Master Artist to its true meaning: as an artist. Currently, the Master Artist is based on technique of enhancement and restoration. It has nothing to do with the total process from the original creation to completion. It is the manual equivalent to the MEI degree.

Perhaps both degrees need a re-examination? Now that times have changed and digital is not so much a novel idea? This idea will also placate those who feel that all this painting stuff should not be in the general print comp. But then, where should it go? That is the purpose of this thread: How can we update things so that they "fit in with the changing times"?

note: for those who don't know me very well, I'm known in this area to be an extreme long range planner which leads to out of the box thinking. Or plain weirdness. Take your pick ;)

10-10-2007, 04:42 PM
Hi Michael;

Actually, my friend is a photo artist - retoucher and not a photographer. So, she really is a Master Artist.

10-10-2007, 05:15 PM
Hi Michael;

Actually, my friend is a photo artist - retoucher and not a photographer. So, she really is a Master Artist.
Right, but in the Master Artist Category, they are judged on their technique, not for their original work. For her work to be judged completely, from the original to the finished artwork, she would have to enter it in the general print competition. So, your friend is a Master print enhancer/retoucher. Then, it seems the degree should reflect that. A master artist would be, to me, an originator to the completion of that artwork.

I think, what I am getting at with all of this is that we are not "Photographers" nor are we "Painters". We are all "Artists". Perhaps it is time to start bridging that gap and give photography it's proper due: Art.

10-10-2007, 08:42 PM
How interesting. A few years ago, while taking a class from Helen Yancy, she described her dismay at not having her photography Painters accepted by one of the national painter associations because it was not done with paint but computer art.

Now we're discussing exclusion of 'paintings' by the photographic community.

anyone else confused?

10-10-2007, 09:53 PM
I'm not excluding anything. I guess I think in terms of a utopian society where ther is no "Photographic community" or "Paint community". I just want it to be an "Art community" (Guess I should really take this into the Cafe)

The point of this thread is to redefine the Master Artist Degree so that it reflects just that: a Master Artist. Not a retouch artist, or a print enhancement artist, but something a little more substantial.

10-10-2007, 11:00 PM
I'm not excluding anything.

No, I knew you weren't doing the excluding. :)

10-11-2007, 04:46 PM
Right, but in the Master Artist Category, they are judged on their technique, not for their original work.

Currently, the Master Artist is based on technique of enhancement and restoration. It has nothing to do with the total process from the original creation to completion. It is the manual equivalent to the MEI degree.

Micheal, I read this yesterday and have been stewing over it since then. I know (hope) you did not mean this as it sounds, but your comments read as belittling to anyone who has the Master Artist degree or considers themself a traditional photographic artist (as that terminology has been applied in the past). To say that it is merely technique and not original work shows that you are not familar with what goes into the process. If it was merely technique, you could train a dozen people and give them the same print to retouch and enhance and the end result would all be the same. Your comments also discount the achievements of artists who work from photographs, either as inspiration or directly applying media on a print. If a pianist does not play an original composition, does that mean they are not an artist and are merely a technician? Interpetation, style, creativity all go into traditional photographic artwork. Yes, those entries were judged on technique but not JUST technique. Just as photographic open is judged for technical abilities,but we all know a technically perfect photograph is not enough. It needs to be lifted by artistic interpetation. The same is true for the artwork done to a print. It doesn't matter that the artist started with a photograph. That is just their choice of canvas. The photographer started with a subject or scene. Neither started with a completely blank slate. Both then go on to add their interpetation and that personal input is what makes it art and not just technique.

10-11-2007, 05:04 PM
No Keith, I love ya too much to belittle you :)

Just to clarify (and for all who are not familiar with this degree) that I did mean that the original is not necessarily those of the artist in this competition. So, it would seem that the judges cannot judge this on the content of the original image (not their, sorry), they can only judge the interpretation of the artist and the technical ability that the artist brings forth.

I haven't made up my mind on the "choice of artist canvas". There has been a faction for a long long time as to who the actual artist is in the general print competition. "Should the merit be shared with the photographer and the artist?", has always been a battle cry for probably as long as you and I can remember. Oddly enough, there seems to be a lot of evidence of more people painting over their photographs then ever before, it's just that they aren't entering them. Most would rather get the merit for the general competition.

With the elimination of the artist competition, the artists with paints have no where to go in the print competition. The EI's will still get their credits, but with the paint (oils, acyrilics), they're all cut loose into space.

I guess, what I'm really getting at is that I want to see the artist degree be awarded to those who originally take the photograph and do own their magic on it. Leslie has done some paintwork on some of my images, but I refuse to take full credit for those and both of our signatures are on the canvas. All of my loan images are all done by my hand from start to finish. Perhaps this is the next step in the evolution of our print competition: If we are to be artist, perhaps we need to interpret our own work, not the works of others. Just brain storming this.

Hope Holly and you are well, miss you both :)