April 2016 Winners and Finalists

Lordier Painting on Catalina 2014Thanks Kim Lordier for agreeing to judge our April contest.

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


Kim’s notes regarding selections.

I am honored to jury the Art Muse Contest for the month of April. Every painting entered, regardless of skill level, merits considered evaluation. First and foremost, I believe judging artwork is subjective. Important elements that I look for are the fundamentals that artists continually strive to get a handle on throughout their creative journey, such as draftsmanship, line quality, use of values, color harmony, and concept/mood. Most important to my subjective eye is design. I look for a strong impact of shape and value regardless of subject matter or style. Many of the paintings offered this month took my breath away, many more than what I am allowed to award. I encourage everyone, no matter what skill level you are at to strive for excellence and paint what you love.

Important Note: When entering digital images for consideration, please make sure they are of the best quality, and do not have mattes or frames showing. Several pieces were too small to see and appreciate the fine work.

Budding Artist Winner: Anna Toberman “Innocent”

Anna Toberman

Anna entered two equally strong portraits for this contest. Both images deserve this award. I have selected her drawing, “Innocent” to be the winner of the Budding Artist category. Strong draftsmanship, great observation of textures and values, and a lovely expression bring this piece to the front of the submitted paintings. Her oil, “Winter Memory” is just as beautifully executed. It was very difficult to choose. Congratulations on your fine work, Anna!

Budding Finalists:

Kelley Hails “ The Painful Reign of the Ego”


This compelling painting by Ms. Hails screams for attention. The expressive brushwork helps to tell the story, and doesn’t let us down. The complementary red and green color harmony battle against each other, and the intense cadmium red notes in the cheeks and finger are exclamation points. Great execution of concept.

Alfredo Medrano “Cast of Voltaire”

Alfredo Medrano
Alfredo Medrano

Mr. Medrano employs solid use of values and placement in this cast drawing.

Carol Hein “Harbor Sunrise”


I selected this painting by Carol for the strong simplified composition in an otherwise complicated scene. There is a nice handling of rhythm in the vertical and horizontal lines.

Emerging Artist Winner: Christopher Cook “Silent Messenger”


Mr. Cook’s “Silent Messenger” is simple in its complexity. It does not “jump” off the page, but entices the viewer to look closer. The monolithic formation could easily overtake the idea in this painting, but his handling of the medium with rhythmic texture and considered values places a deep space between the viewer and the immensity of the shape. This painting moves like a musical score. Modern, yet historic at the same time.

Emerging Finalists:

Julia Aspin “Still Life with Spring Green”


Ms. Aspin entered two equally beautiful still lives for this contest. Her indirect lighting, and attention to edges creates a quiet, contemplative mood. Clean color and a strong value structure builds interest in her composition.

Jacqueline Dunster “ The Greek Artist”


I selected Jacqueline’s painting, “The Greek Artist” for her solid draftsmanship and careful attention to the warm and cool light sources illuminating her subject. She had an equally strong female portrait, but this piece struck a nerve with me in how she captured the subjects’ gaze.

Sean Michael Chavez “Nothing Gold Can Stay”


Again, two strong entries by Mr. Chavez. What strikes me with Sean’s work is his thoughtful attention to design. Great shapes and movement through out both pieces. “Nothing Gold Can Stay” moves ahead in this category for the subtle muted color harmony and solid use of values to emphasize the poetry of the tree.

Chris Zambon “Foggy Morning”


Ms. Zambon moves us through her painting with confident fluid strokes and low-key values creating a mysterious environment. Each shape is unique and flows into the next with expressive color, abstract in nature but grounded in representation.

Elizabeth Rouland “First Night in Paris”


Bam! Love the drama and rich colors of the night. Small light shapes mingle and dance throughout the dominant dark values of this painting.

Master Class Winner: John Wentz “Imprint No. 78”


Parallel worlds collide in this mixed media portrait. I am fascinated with the classical underpinning that supports the expressive line and confident paint application. This piece is intricate yet bold, thoughtful in observation yet chaotic. Love it…

Master Class Finalists:

Kevin Courter “Warm Welcoming Light”


Subtle temperature shifts and delicate texture in the ground plane merge to lead the viewer’s eyes to the warmth of the foliage and the complimentary color of the home. The muted/grayed colors, while still rich, take a back seat to the intense cadmium yellow note of the light in the window, drawing us further into the painting. This painting is all about edges, and evokes a serene mood, inviting me to stay and explore.

Ned Mueller “Low Tide Mevagissey, England”

Ned Mueller

Love this composition! Dynamic and complex, Mr. Mueller makes it look so easy. I thoroughly enjoy the tetradic color harmony with the dominant red note. Clearly the artist knows his subject.

Alexandra Averbach “Afternoon Tea”


Stacked and balanced in design and composition, “Afternoon Tea” is exquisitely painted. If you remove one element the painting falls apart. Beautiful observation and draftsmanship in the two paintings Ms. Averbach submitted for this contest.

Damien Gonzales “La Bajada Sunset”


This painting sings with warmth. Lovely gradating temperature shifts create a vast depth on a two dimensional plane. The cool note of the mesa is just the right balance to harmonize the melody.

Laura Zuccheri “The Dancer”


To be honest, this painting was vying for the top spot in this category. Exquisite watercolor, dry brush effects, quality of line and composition create an intriguing story for the viewer.

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…

Susan Kutnitsky, “Once Upon a Time”


Strong narrative with a painting rule broken in the right way with a centered focal point. Deft handling of textures and color. For all these reasons, it’s an eye catching piece. Well done, Susan. Kim and Kelley