The Boca Grande Invitational Art Festival Is In June

Well, it’s not over until it’s over, as they say. Normally our season ends in Fernandina Beach the first weekend in May at the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival (as announced), but Nancy was just accepted into the 8th annual running of this festival on Friday, June 7, from 10 am past 6 pm, and Saturday from 10 to 4 in downtown Boca Grande on Gasparilla Island on the Gulf of Mexico.


This is our first time in this festival and although intrigued, we don’t yet know much about it. There will be 60 artist displaying as part of the Tarpon Festival, which coincides with the “World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament”. You might check out their Facebook page. See you there!

Tell It To The Judge: In Defense Of Photographers & Canvas

To be transparent, I must say I’ve developed some theories about the biases of art critics and the judges of art festivals, based mostly on their selections of art to be awarded prizes at these festivals (and maybe my own biases).  I’ve noticed certain patterns that I was hesitant to discuss here until I had taken the time to formally learn something about art.  That hasn’t happened yet, but we did have an opportunity to discuss photography (more specifically, nature and wildlife photography) with the judges at one recent art festival and I feel compelled to address one aspect of that discussion.  My comments on the other aspects may wait until I satisfy my original goals/requirements.  Today’s comments involve canvas.

The Judges’ Remarks

One of the judges said, “I’ve Never Seen A Photograph On Canvas That I Like”. There were three judges at the table when Nancy approached them. Their views were all consistent. Other remarks included “When I see a photograph on canvas I think the photographer is trying to impersonate a painter” and ‘When I see a picture wrapped around the edge of the canvas, it makes me think they are adapting a larger picture to a frame that is too small.’ One judge pointed out that painters don’t paint the side of their canvas.

Our History

Those familiar with our website know there are already two places where I’ve referred to painters as pre-photographers:

You also know I’ve even chided fellow photographers for not keeping up with the times Stop Thinking Like A Film Photographer!.

A Dose of Reality

Painters like Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (1452-1519) and Georges Seurat (1859-1891) (see the first note in “A Question About Pixels”) are just two examples of artists who led society into the future, not followed. I’m sure if Leonardo had a camera, he would have used it in a flash (forgive the pun, I couldn’t help myself). These two and their peers would be saddened (or worse) to think that painters now feel unable to keep up with society and judges feel a need to artificially reserve materials and techniques specifically for painters in an effort to level the playing field.

My Responses

Now I’d like to address some of their remarks individually.

“When I see a photograph on canvas I think the photographer is trying to impersonate a painter”

A few months before this conversation, a painter at another prominent festival in Florida won Best Of Show and $10,000 for impersonating a photographer. I know another artist who uses pencil to imitate black & white photographs. This is called realism, which apparently artists have tried (with varying degrees of success) throughout history, most notably in the Realist Movement of the mid-nineteenth century.

So here’s a question: if canvas-using photographers are impersonating painters, whom was Leonardo impersonating when he painted the two versions of Virgin of the Rocks in oils on wooden panels? A sculptor, maybe? Maybe a carpenter like the protagonist in his famous mural
“The Last Supper”? Or maybe that particular impersonation has been reserved for the judges.

“When I see a picture wrapped around the edge of the canvas, it makes me think they are adapting a larger picture to a frame that is too small.”

Well maybe that’s why painters do it. After all, contrary to the one judge’s declaration, some painters do paint the sides. But have you ever see a painter warp the image around the edge so that at some angle it creates an illusion and looks like a continuation of the front image (as described in the Canvas section of our Services page)? While we are at it, have you ever seen a painter camouflage their signature to make it less distracting (which solves a problem some critics have complained to photographers about)? Here’s how we do it ( Our New Technique For Signatures & Titles). Come on, painters, try to keep up!

“I’ve Never Seen A Photograph On Canvas That I Like”

I recently heard from another wildlife photographer about a time when a judge took a liking to one of her images, but then left without comment. When the judge came back the second time, he asked if she had another copy of that image that wasn’t printed on canvas. Fortunately, she did, because that second copy won her the second highest award in the festival.

In our booth and online, I’ve discussed the magical properties of canvas. When people see one of Nancy’s images on canvas they are more likely to ask “Is this a painting?’ or are more likely to comment that it looks three-dimensional. For some strange reason, it is also perfectly acceptable to print a particular photograph larger on canvas.

To see the Note click here.To hide the Note click here.
People have offered a couple of explanations for this. The first argues that the texture of the canvas disguises any lack of resolution. The second, getting psychological, suggests that canvas invokes some painting mentality, making the viewer less critical (nobody ever asked an eighteenth-century master how many pixels were in his/her brush). Both explanations sound plausible to me, but being a pragmatist, I just run with what works.


So it is especially disturbing, and sad, that a judge would make a statement like this. Photographers follow the same rules of composition and the same principles of art, but for a judge to admit that these are not important, to me is an admission that the judges don’t really know what makes a piece of art special and are just grasping at fads or straws.

At least that’s how I see it (I guess now is a good time to remind you that the views expressed in this blog are not necessarily those of management). So what’s your view. If any of you can make better sense of these judges’ remarks, your comments are also welcome.

Isle Of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival Coming In May

This will be our seventh time at this art festival in Fernandina Beach in eight art festival seasons. As I’ve mentioned beforeprevious, Amelia Island goes all out for this festival with parades, pageants, fireworks, etc. They are expecting around 135 thousand visitors this year. The art festival part is open from 9 am to 6 pm on Saturday, May 4th and on Sunday from 10 to 5. Come find us in Booth 204. For more information, see their website (www.shrimpfestival.com).

Nancy Gets Award of Excellence at Cedar Key

Cedar Key Award of Excellence
At the Old Florida Celebration of the Arts at the end of Marchannounced, Nancy received an Award of Excellence. As I remember, she was the only photographer to win this award (although I am unable to confirm this). This award is even more special considering that last year we weren’t even accepted by the jurists into the festival. Recognition like this is always appreciated.

Melbourne Art Festival Will Be Last Weekend In April

This will be our fifth consecutive time participating in this eventprevious. It is free to the public and will be open from 9 am to 5 pm both Saturday, April 27th, and Sunday. They are expecting 49 thousand visitors to 250 artists around a lake in Wickham Park. Other activities include a 5k run, KidsWorld, children’s workshops, and continuous live entertainment. You can go to their website (www.melbournearts.org) for more information.

Nancy Proudly Places 1st In Photography At Pembroke Pines

At Artfest In The Pines last weekendannounced, Nancy received 1st Place In Photography. There were four other photographers. As you may recall, last year she was the third best photographer of threeblog. Needless to say, we were thrilled to receive this award.

I don’t know if this award was because of or in spite of her comments to some of the judges about judging biases at art festivals (which she expanded on in her acceptance speech at the award dinner). I had already started an article based on comments we received about photographers’ use of canvas from the judges of a large art festival last fall (tentatively titled “Tell It To The Judge”), but because of our current schedule, I have no idea when that article will be ready. Stay tuned.

The Spring Arts Festival At Santa Fe College In Gainesville Starts April 6th

This will be their fiftieth annual festival, and our second appearance (our first was in 2015announced).  It will be along historic Northeast 1st Street, between 2nd and 8th Avenues.


The college expects around 100,000 visitors to 190 artists. There will also be live music and dance performances. It is open from 9 am to 5:30 pm on Saturday and noon to 5 on Sunday. You can go to their website, www.sfcollege.edu/spring-arts/index for more information whe it becomes available.