What style of drawing can I enter?

The theme is 'The Ties That Bind', and there is no restriction on the style of drawing you can do using that theme. Here are some possible styles of drawing to consider:

  • traditional realism
  • contemporary realism
  • academic
  • abstract
  • illustration
  • sketchbook
  • rough sketch or study
  • ...anything else!

In other words, if it's a drawing using the theme 'The Ties That Bind', you can enter it.

We will not consider anything containing gratuitous violence or pornography, however. Let's keep this classy!

And it should go without saying that copying someone else's artwork or photography is prohibited. Original artwork only please -- of course you can use your own photos for reference if needed.

What drawing media can I use? Is digital drawing allowed? What about colored pencils?

Drawing media such as pencils, graphite, charcoal, pen & ink, Conte crayon, and silverpoint are the approved media for this competition.

We are not including digital art at this time. It's a great medium, but there already exist a number of digital art contests and the Martha's Vineyard Drawing Prize hopes to encourage artists to use traditional tools to create excellent drawings the way humans have done for thousands of years.

And although artists do draw with colored pencils and other multi-colored media, for this competition please stick to the more monochromatic type of drawing. It would not be fair to judge full-color artwork against a black and white image, and much can be done using the traditional shades of black, raw umber, terra cotta, sanguine, and white.

Here's a complete list of approved media:

  • Pencil - graphite, ebony
  • Charcoal - black, white
  • Conte crayon - black, raw umber, terra cotta, sanguine, and white
  • Silverpoint
  • Pen & Ink - black, brown, white

To understand how the artwork will be judged, please see the FAQ 'What is the judging criteria'?

If you are not sure whether your drawing material qualifies, feel free to contact the Martha's Vineyard Drawing Prize staff via our Contact Us page.

Does my drawing have to be done on paper or board?

Yes, at this time we are keeping to traditional materials/substrates for consistency in judging.

Feel free to use colored papers or board as well as white and cream.

If you are not sure whether your drawing material qualifies, feel free to contact the Martha's Vineyard Drawing Prize staff via our Contact Us page.

Do I need to frame and ship my drawing?

No, there is no need to frame and ship your drawing. This will be an online exhibition for 2019, and the finalists and competition winners will all be displayed on this website for a year. All you need to do is take a good photograph of your drawing before you enter the competition, so that the jurors can see the details clearly.

This will make it a lot easier for you to enter the competition, and will keep your costs down. So consider entering more than one drawing! You can enter up to 3 drawings for the $10 entry fee.

What will be the judging criteria?

The judges will be looking at each piece, no matter the media, for the following criteria:


  • How did the artist interpret the theme The Ties That Bind?
  • Is the artwork original in concept?
  • Is the concept clearly presented?

Skill & Technique:

Did the artist handle the following in a way that indicates a level of drawing excellence?

  • quality of line
  • form
  • shading
  • mass
  • contrast
  • values

Overall impression of the artwork; does it stand on its own as a complete and outstanding drawing?

Who will be the Martha's Vineyard Drawing Prize jurors?

The jurors have been selected by Elizabeth Whelan.

We have selected one collector, one gallery director, and one artist to be the jurors. Each of these representatives of the art world bring different view points to the judging.

This year's competition will be judged by well-known art collector Monina von Opel, contemporary art gallery director Jenn Pillsworth (Field Gallery), and fantasy artist Sheila Rayyan (The Art of Sheila Rayyan)

I anticipate some interesting conversations between these three as they look through the artwork! I am sure they will be thoughtful and open-minded in their approach.

The jurors will not be engaging in communication about the art submissions before/during/after the judging, and their decisions are final.

Elizabeth is not going to be judging the drawings herself, however she will be overseeing the process.

Can I enter a drawing I completed in December 2016?

No. Only work made since January 2017 is eligible for entry.

How will I know if my work won a prize or award?

All entrants will be notified of the final decisions via email on August 11, 2019, to the email address that you used when you registered your work. If you have not received a notification please check your spam filter.

The finalists and award winners will also be announced on this website the same day.

How does the Call for Entry website work?

If you are new to the Call for Entry (CaFE) website, look for ARTIST SIGN UP in their menu and register on the site. This is free.

When your drawing images are ready, upload your image(s) of your drawing(s) to an online portfolio in your ARTIST account -- this is also free. There are size requirements for the digital images:

  • File Type: JPEG or JPG only
  • File Dimensions: 1,200 pixels or greater on the longest side
  • File Size: Under 5 MB

After you have uploaded your images, navigate to the Martha's Vineyard Drawing Prize call, click on the green APPLY NOW button and follow the instructions.

You will be asked for an Artist's Statement: Tell us a little about yourself, and your interpretation of the theme The Ties That Bind.
(Elizabeth suggests writing that up before you start the application process, so that your screen doesn't time out! Speaking from experience....)

You will pay a $10 entry fee for this call--and can select up to 3 images from the portfolio you created.

That's it! We will contact you to let you know your art was received, and the finalists and awards will be announced Sunday, August 11, 2019.

(By the way, there are other interesting Calls for Artists on the Call For Entry website! Click this link to see the entire list, which updates as calls come and go. There are competitions, grants, residencies, etc. Once you have images uploaded to your portfolio, you can enter them in other appropriate calls. Some have fees, some do not, so read the guidelines for each call in which you are interested.)

What is the entry fee used for?

The entry fee of $10 goes towards the administration of the competition.

That includes the cost to use the Call For Entries portal for entering and judging the competition, the cost of hosting the Martha's Vineyard Drawing Prize website, and the cost to advertise online and order printed materials.

The cash prizes have been donated by Elizabeth Whelan. She is also managing the competition and doing the promotion for the competition on her own dime (building and maintaining the website, creating the logo and supplying the graphic design, managing the social media, writing and sending press releases, news outlet outreach, etc.)

Elizabeth wants to keep the entry fee as low as possible, so get out your pencils and get drawing! We're looking forward to seeing your creation.