In this blog I will explain what a blue ribbon means to me. In this picture, the category I entered was listed as, “A Traditional Sailors’ Valentine” at the Sanibel Show and as you can see, out of all the entries in that category in 2007, I took first place.
Again, in 2010, I entered the same category and was lucky enough to repeat with the same results, first place! I am very happy and honored to know that the judges felt I was worthy again of the same result, but there`s a lot more to my story than just what the judges felt.
When I look back at the first pocket watch I ever produced, I remember the experience vividly as if it was yesterday. I struggled and reconstructed it three times and on the final try even though I was not satisfied with it, it took first place in my very first show. Sanibel Shell Art Show in 2002.
At that same 2002 Show, I entered this small eight inch tall Apple Blossom tree and it also took first place. I could not believe how I lucky I was to receive first place in the two categories I entered! So I’m standing there and I see this trophy for “Best First-Time Exhibitor” and low and behold it was for my art work!!! To say I was surprised was to say the least. What made these awards all the more special was that I knew I did not need to share them with anyone, I was a self-taught artist, who had never taken a class. It was a great first step into the World of Shell Art.
But the best award came later in that Show when a lady came by and was bending down taking a close look at my eight inch Apple Blossom Tree. She would look at the tree and turn her head and look at me, then look again at the tree, then again at me. I knew something was going on and finally turned and looked directly at me, this six foot, two hundred pound guy standing there with my hands in my pockets and asked, if I created the it and answered,"yes”. Then still standing there she asks if I could do her a small favor and I said "sure what would you like to know", and say`s, “Can I see your hands?” Well here it is 2011 and I can still see her standing there asking that question like it was yesterday. From that time on, I have learned a lot, not only about shell art but the reactions I receive from the public.
I can humbly say I have won many awards, but to me the best blue ribbons come from the public's reaction and personally feel, that they are the true judges of my art. On a number of occasions I have received requests from budding artists asking me to critique there art. The first time this happened I did not know what to do or say but looking back over the years of experience in shows, and at times hearing comments from artists such as, “I don’t know how that artist could get first place over my entry,” I came up with my answer to the critique question. "Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, even thou the judges are blind". So to close this blog, the reaction on peoples faces and what they have to say is the greatest blue ribbon any one can ever receive, as it was with the lady who asked “Can I see you hands” in my first show. So no matter what you may feel about the art you have created always know that it came from your heart and always be the first to award yourself a Blue Ribbon, the first of many "Blue Ribbons" to come. B.