August 2016 Winners and Finalists

Thanks to our July judge, Terry Miura.terry miura

Here are this month’s winners and finalists. Terry has included a brief statement about each painting. Congratulations again to all the winners and finalists.

Master Class Winner

Jason Sacran, The Old Mill

Jason Sacran

This is a really beautifully executed nocturne. I’m drawn to the quiet mystery of the piece. The old industrial building looks abandoned, but a lone light illuminates a room. What’s the story here? The painting doesn’t give us answers, but invites us to come up with our own narrative. This open ended narrative is the power of this painting, and the artist masterfully engages the viewer by giving us just enough information. By taking full advantage of the limited light, he/she reduces much of the detail to flat, abstract shapes. Still, we understand what these shapes represent because of context. It’s necessary to have absolute control over extremely tight values to pull this off, and not only the artist achieves it, he/she treats us to poetic handling of the brush, and even manages to seduce the eye with subtle color shifts which are so tightly harmonious, they could only be done with a confident hand.

Master Class Finalists

Richard Prather, Guadalupe Box

Richard Prather

The rugged landscape is masterfully depicted in this painting. The first thing I notice is the sense of place. The technical aspects are, of course superbly executed – from the dynamic composition, to the use of repetition and variation in the small shapes, to manipulating color, value, and edges to really create the solidity of rock enveloped in atmosphere – these things are all there, but the fact that I noticed first the sense of place and not the technique, is a testament to the mastery of the artist. It’s one thing to be blown away with dazzling technique; quite another to be moved by a painting. Well done!

Sherrie Levine, Seeing Aix

Sherrie Levine

This charming little painting is so simple, yet so effective. I sense a seasoned eye for composition. Editing out details so that we get an impression of the environment, but no more detail than necessary to achieve this statement. The figures are painted with economy,  too, and they are full of life, thanks to the artist’s confident handling of gesture in each figure. The color scheme is uncomplicated, and that’s just what this picture needs. The strategic use of higher chroma blues really makes this painting sing. It’s a little gem!

Lori Putnam, UnBeLeafable

Lori Putnam

Here is a vibrant and colorful painting that amazes me. The artist puts down the strokes in a decisive, intentional manner and we believe every bit of it. Using colors that are complementary to one another, it’s really easy to get muddy, but there is none of that in this painting. Keep the colors clean while painting wet into wet, keeping the strokes fresh and immediate yet thoughtfully designed. Bold, but never sloppy. What’s not to love? Oh and did I mention how effective the use of grays are to maximize the simultaneous contrasts in this piece? Delicious.

Rani Garner, Summer Bees II

Rani Garner

A beautiful sense of light. The painting is filled with color variations, but the artist successfully keeps it unified. When a painting is all green, it’s so easy to end up with all the same boring green. But here, we see many, many variations, and delightful shifts in temperature. That the artist managed to include reds in such a fearless (and effective!) manner is quite an impressive accomplishment. The organic shapes are beautifully designed, too. It may look like it was done quickly, but shapes like that don’t just fall off the brush. A lot of thoughtful back and forth went into those trees, not to mention a lot of experience.

Jane Hunt, Winter Sky

Jane Hunt

This one really takes the viewer into the painting. The evocative quality is achieved by the tonal treatment, keying down the entire painting to maximize the effect of the dusky winter sky and the setting sun. It’s tempting to push chroma in these situations, but the artist wisely chooses restraint, to great effect. Restrained, but there is plenty of subtle, harmonious color, which ensures that this does not become monotonous. Really nice control of all the formal aspects, but the technique doesn’t overwhelm the statement; a sure sign that the artist has a firm understanding of what makes a great painting.

Emerging Artist Winner

Zac Elletson, Sunflowers on Antique Rug

Zac Elletson

This painting is full of fresh brushstrokes, yet totally controlled. I love the economy and decisiveness. The design is really well thought out – a little bit unexpected but extremely effective. This artist understands how to manipulate the viewers’ eye, and we are delighted to be manipulated. How he/she combines variety of edges, colors, and shapes to create a believable (realistic even) mass of flowers and leaves at the top, all the while maintaining the compositional statement, is remarkable.

Emerging Artist and Gallery Representation Finalist

Neil Carroll, Peony Light

Neil Carroll

A beautifully simple still life. The restraint is remarkable. This is such a compelling painting, that I can get lost in its world. Really beautiful handling of the paint, but it’s such a strong image that I almost don’t notice the technique. Sublime.

Emerging Artist Finalists

Richard White, Lexie

Richard White

What I like about this portrait is that not only does it show a solid understanding of the structure of the human head, the artist manages to imbue a sense of personality. We don’t know who this is, and we have no idea how good a likeness this is. But we can feel something of the character of the subject – not easy to do. Furthermore, it seems to me that the painting works as an expression of the artist’s identity, which is even more impressive than the ability to merely render a likeness.

Arena Shawn, Serenity

Arena Shawn

This one exemplifies discipline, control, patience. It’s Old School. Proof that you don’t need color to have a beautiful, powerful image. The artist obviously knows what he/she is doing.

Erica Norelius, Crossing Tracks

Erica Norelius

Great design, movement, colors and mood! Here’s an artist who has a sense of identity, and knows it. I really like the graphic shapes that pushes it towards abstraction, but never compromising the drawing. Awesome job not being a slave to the photo reference!

Han Lee, After Rain

Han Jong Lee

Love the vantage point and the mood in this one. Cityscapes are difficult to do, what with the perspective drawing being so unforgiving, and there’s just so much information that needs to be distilled into a cohesive whole. The artist pulls it off in this painting, by being clear about what he wants to say, and not being tempted by everything that doesn’t contribute to the main statement. Great design doesn’t happen without a clarity of intent–this one certainly has got it.

Budding Artist Winner

Lizz Card, Mahosot Surgery I

Lizz Card

One may find the subject matter of this piece unappealing, but I selected this as the winner of the category for its strength in composition and handling of the values, colors, and the medium in general, not because of the impactful subject matter. The photo reference may have already been strong, but clearly, much thought went into how the hierarchy of importance is handled with a brush. The areas of detail supported by areas of looser,  cooler, and darker treatment is very effective. Particularly in the looser areas, I can see that the artist painted the forms with a lot of intent and care. (Not to take anything away from the focal areas, which are rendered beautifully)

Budding Artist Finalists

Lanny Sherwin, Done for the Day

Lanny Sherwin

I really like the sense of sunlight in this piece. The angle of the vehicle makes it a big challenge to draw, but the artist did a great job tackling it. The hard edges and detail in the tractor is not rendered to death, but looks very convincing. The realism in the tractor is heightened because of the simple background, a very effective juxtaposition. The simple background can easily become boring, but the artist avoids that trap by making sure there are plenty of intentional brush activity in the trees.

Randy Sprout, Avalon Harbor Early Morning

Randy Sprout

I love a good pen drawing! This piece combines pen drawing and painting (watercolor? gouache?) in a charming way, without getting cheesy or predictable. The restraint in the choice of colors is very effective in conveying a mood of a certain kind of light, which wouldn’t have been possible with just the pen drawing. I can sense a level of confidence in the artist’s handling of small shapes.

Suma Jayaraman, Emma

Suma Jayaraman

I did not select this one because it’s photorealistic. I chose it because the artist effectively takes it beyond “just making a painted version of a photograph”. I can see it in the artist’s handling of the delicate features in the girl’s face, placements of light and dark notes in the background trees, and in the careful organization of value and chroma through the painting.  The edge control is very effective in orchestrating what’s important in this picture. I don’t know how closely the artist adhered to the photo reference, but my guess is that a lot of compositional tweaking went into this picture. Very thoughtfully executed.

Merit Award Winner

While Kelley and Kim don’t have any say in who wins an award each month (that’s entirely up to the judges), they do get to choose an artist who they feel merits recognition. This month’s Merit Award goes to…
Ann Watcher, Vintage Silver

Ann Watcher

Ann Watcher’s “Vintage Silver” painting demonstrates how economy can create a strong piece of art. Her brushwork suggests each element with laboring over tiny details for maximum impact. Just look at those lost edges on the silver pot and pitcher. Do you miss them? Heck no! In fact, because they are completely gone it gives the illusion of bright diffused light on a shiny surface. Now let’s talk about color economy, because we know that you’ve been staring at that yellow lid, right? Ann has created a painting that for the most part is a study of values. She’s selectively used color notes to move your eye from the bold yellow lid, through the silver pieces, to the green curtain and back again. Many confident decisions went into making this piece and we feel they were all excellent choices. Well done!


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