THE final countdown is on for the Martin Hanson Memorial Art Awards with the judge, Pat Hoffie flying into Gladstone yesterday afternoon.
It is the first time Ms Hoffie, an artist herself, will have judged the Martin Hanson awards and she's very excited.
"The gallery does such a great job advertising the award, it's a very highly esteemed prize,” she said.
Ms Hoffie says she doesn't go into judging with any pre-conceived ideas.
"I never know what I'm looking for until it jumps out at me. You can be really surprised, that's one of the best things about art,” she said.
Ms Hoffie is an experienced judge, having judged prestigious awards including the ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) Art Awards and the Tattersalls Landscape Art Prize.
"I've actually done more judging than I have entered competitions,” she said.
She used to travel to Gladstone years ago as part of her work with the Flying Arts Alliance, but this trip will be a bit of a whirlwind. Her responsibilities as judge will not leave her much time to explore the region.
Ms Hoffie recently left her position at Griffith University to focus full-time on her own work.
But that doesn't mean she is taking it easy.
She says even though she's now her own boss, "I'm a really strict boss!”
"I treat my art day like a work day, I work like I'm at the university.”
She says people don't necessarily realise how hard artists work.
"There's a hell of a lot of work that get rejected before it faces the public,” she said.
The works that make it into an exhibition are "the tip of the iceberg”.
For her, art is inseparable from her life.
"You can't take the art out of the girl, life and art is so much the same thing now, it's a way of responding back to life, the sadness, the joy, the yearnings,” she said.
The winners of the Martin Hanson Memorial awards will be announced tonight at 6pm.