PaintersOnline Virtual Patchings Festival - Advice for entering TALP Open from Paul Bramble

Artist Paul Bramble shares advice and encouragement for entering our annual TALP Open Art competitions. Look out for our 2021 call for entries in December this year.

I have been entering my work into open painting competitions since 2003. I do it for a number of reasons, but first and foremost, I strongly believe that it has helped me to grow and develop my artistic ability.

The competitions give structure to my year.  I tend to gather ideas, sketches, photographs during the spring and summer months, then using this material, I create paintings in the cold, dark autumn and winter months where I have less distractions. The competition motivates me to produce a body of work from which I select my favourite pieces.

Entering competitions has helped me to both develop my craft and create my own painting style. This does take time but it is a rewarding journey. Success is rarely instant and it can be disheartening if you don’t get the results you think you are due, however, it has never put me off. I pick myself up and have another go next year.

I have entered my work into both the Leisure Painter and, more recently, The Artist open competitions, which are (usually!) showcased at Patchings Art Centre. I think that the judges enjoy seeing an artist push themselves and develop their creativity over a period of time. It is important to keep evolving to produce paintings that ‘sing’ and stand out from the crowd.

Creating your own distinctive style is very important and it takes time to achieve. I really enjoy researching what my favourite artists are doing and the techniques that they are using. I have learnt lots from finding artists on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook. I can spend hours watching the masters at work!

I think it is important to visit open competition exhibitions to get an idea of the subject matter and media that are selected by the judges. It’s fascinating to see what subjects are represented in the paintings and see the palette of colours that different artists use, along with how things are mounted and framed.

I think the most important thing is to be true to yourself and paint what really stimulates you. I particularly enjoy painting figures in landscape. I have maximum enthusiasm for this subject matter and this translates into my best and most successful work. I know full well, however, that if I was to undertake a painting of a subject that doesn't stimulate me, my output would be poorer for it.

When choosing a new subject, I try and think about both the viewing public and any potential judges.

This year’s competition entry, Morning Coffee (see above), is an image is of a couple enjoying a cup of coffee in the sunshine in Whitby. I spotted them on a visit last year and knew immediately that the composition would be perfect for a painting. The light was just right and I was lucky that I had my camera with me so I could capture it. Who doesn’t like a cup of coffee in the sunshine?

Another entry for this year, entitled The Ploughman (above), was perhaps a little more risky. I had spent the day at Southwell Ploughing Match and spotted a number of fantastic characters at the event, all involved in the hustle and bustle of the day. Although the subject matter is unusual, it remains true to my enthusiasm for painting people and I was thrilled with how the painting turned out.

Entering competitions is a fantastic way to develop and improve your artwork. I have learnt so much along the way and continue to do so every year.

Give it a go, best of luck!

Find out how Paul got on by visiting The Artist exhibition here.

Head back to marquee number 10 for more virtual festival fun by clicking here.