Art Muse Contest December 2016 Winners and Finalists




A huge THANK YOU to our judge, John Wentz and congratulations to our winners and finalists. A great way to end our first year at Art Muse Contest. 





Drum roll.......

Master Class Winner: Mike Barr, Autumn Holiday

What immediately grabbed my attention was the strong sense of design in this piece. The composition is comprised of very strong verticals and horizontals. With the strongest elements being the horizontals, the calm and relaxing atmosphere of the beach is really emphasized. The verticals of the “legs” of the pier are echoed in the verticals of the beach goers, which, because of scale, are placed around like musical notes on a score. All of these elements are offset by one diagonal in the yellow umbrella under the right side of the pier. I also really enjoy the minimal use of color and the almost entirely primary color scheme. The majority of the picture is the blue of the sky with the accent of the yellow umbrella and the wonderfully placed figure in red on the left of the picture plane. With all of the formal elements in place, this painting also has captured that atmosphere and “feeling” of being at the beach in the fall. It very much reminds me of the beaches in Australia that time of year.

Master Class Finalists:

Alexandra Averbach, Peppermint Sweetness

A beautiful composition with a limited palette. I love the centering of the candy jar and the curve the candy creates at the top as it overflows from the jar. With the jar in the center it visually works like the fulcrum of scale. At first glance, having an even number of candy on either side doesn’t seem to work. To make it visually interesting, convention says to use odd numbers. However, the lid of the jar works as a third element adding interest and just enough visual weight to off center thecomposition.

Kevin Courter, Sanctuary's Last Light

This piece really captures the flow of light and tranquility of the scene. A beautiful value pattern and wonderful play of warm and cool colors dominate the composition. The arc at the top of the trees creates a beautiful arabesque, which contrasts nicely with the strong horizontal of the horizon. My favorite element of the entire composition is the bit of light falling on the water in the bottom left corner. Wonderfully placed and well thought out.

Rani Garner, River Flow

What draws me into this piece is the number of spirals and arabesques lying within the rush rapids dominating the picture plane. Strong value pattern, vigorous brushwork and nice interplay of colors really emphasize the feeling of rushing rapids. All of this is wonderfully balanced in the top right of the composition by the calm water depicted in cool blues and violets while the two rocks work nicely tokeep the viewer’s eye in the composition.

Emerging Winner: Tanya Harsch, Cathersis

What first grabbed my eye was the very strong value pattern and wonderful limited color scheme. The strongest value contrast in this composition is at the top right corner which both serves to bring the viewers eye into this area and then to the face of the model but also to lead our eye around the composition in a spiral motion. I’m not sure if this is intentional, but I also love how the darkest part of the sky at top echoes the shape of the model’s arm and hand. I love the handling of blues and oranges that dominate the painting. The most saturated blues are at the top with the rest leaning towards a blue gray which lets the warmth of the orange bring life to the painting. The model is superbly and confidently painted. The gesture of the left hand has both confidence and the feeling of weight while the gesture of the feet has a delicate balance but the feeling that the model may spring into action at any moment. The strongest element for me though is how the model is gazing forward; ready to move on in this cathartic moment with little to no concern for what she is ready to drop.

Emerging Finalists:

Aaron Johnson, Genesse Farm

Confidence and energy permeate throughout this piece. I’m drawn into the picture with the S curves of the ground plane while the clouds create strong, implied diagonals which bring my eye to the focal point of the white architecture in the distance. The brushwork in the sky and the clouds is so strong and really brings vitality and life to an otherwise quiet scene.

Kathy Lindert, MM Therapy

Well thought out composition and stunning technique. The open bag on the left creates a strong vertical in the composition while the bag on the left is a nice, complimented horizontal. The candy spilled into the foreground creates a wonderful implied horizontal while at the same time adding interest and variety in color. I really love the pattern created by the green M&Ms which brings my eye across the picture plane from end to end. Plus, who doesn’t love M&Ms?

Aaron Johnson, Moscow Mountain Alpen Glow

Fantastic format choice, which really emphasizes the vastness and quietude of the scene. The quickness and confidence of the paint application really adds to the feeling of frigidity in this composition. The accents of orange on the top really work to add interest and move the eye around the painting. Lovely color scheme.

Julian Tejera, Quiet

I love the cluttered feeling of the bottom portion of this painting juxtaposed against the calm and quiet of the model. It really reminds me of painting the model from life. Below we see the creative mind at work...or the remnants at least. Above is the muse quietly doing her thing, which could be a break in between poses. My eye first goes to the model then travels down her arm and slowly winds down to the palette in an S curve. The palette at the bottom really works to keep the eye in but my favorite is how it abstractly echoes the model and the background. Really love the touch of blue.

Susan Perrish, The Birthday Garden

I love the simplicity and delicate quality of a black and white image. Sometimes the absence of color can add a somewhat psychological quality to a picture. The arrangement of values really balances the off center placement of the figure. The rendering of the subject is subtle and handled wonderfully. What I enjoy most is the eyes gazing to the side as opposed to making eye contact with the viewer. We are looking into this subject’s world that is full of joy and imagination.

Budding Winner: Verlinde Doubleday, Peaceful Place

This painting wonderfully captures the flow of light across the scene, especially on the water. The lily pads create a nice implied diagonal which mimics that of the boat all of which contrast nicely with the horizontal of the horizon and the vertical of the picture plane. A nice variety of greens throughout with beautiful accents of red and pink in the boat and flowers. All in all, the water is handled wonderfully. It really has the “feeling” of water, which creates a nice textural contrast with the impasto handling of the trees. Great sense of calm and quietude.

Budding Finalists:

Vanessa Dowden, Hopper

Wonderful detail and attention to anatomy in the head. The colors and value range contrast nicely with the cool background giving a sense of space and coming into the foreground. The diagonal of the reins and the bridle help move the eye around the picture. With all of this wonderful attention to detail, I think I would love to see some of the legs added to really give a sense of life.

Jeff Thompson, Monday Morning

Good placement and cropping on both the top and bottom of the figure. Wonderful gradation of the background which adds space and atmosphere. The choice of shirt is perfect for the overall orange and blue color scheme. Skin tones are handled wonderfully and the drawing and proportion are solid. The pose couldn’t be more fitting for the title!

Jerell Meyer, Christmas Angel

Wonderful pose which creates a very strong diagonal towards the bottom right. The upright of the figure complements nicely with a dominant vertical. Nice choice of colors, which add a calm and ethereal quality to the overall picture. The finished quality of the figure against the looseness of the background contrast beautifully and adding visual interest and great unfinished quality. 

Merit Award Winners:

While Kelley and I don’t have any say in who wins an award each month (that’s entirely up to our judges), we do however, get to choose an artist who did not win an award but we feel entered work that merits recognition. This month’s Merit Awards goes to…

Once again Kim and I couldn't pick just one, so we have two winners. 

Nancy Bass, Annie and Her Calf

A wonderful example of the effective use of high key painting that elevates the subject. The subtle value shifts are expertly handled. This is a subject that could easily become overly sentimental but, the way Nancy has composed this painting she has prevented that from happening. She has created a piece that could live in the western, contemporary, traditional and/or impressionistic world of painting. Well done! - Kim & Kelley

Kathy Falla Howard, Najavo Totem, Land of the Dine

A nice balance of verticals and horizontals along with a strong lead in, Kathy Fall Howard's painting is designed to lead the eye through the landscape. The warm hues in the rocks vs. the cool shadows give a sense of heat to this desert scene. The vertical rock formations could have easily overpowered the painting, yet, Kathy has designed this so expertly that they support the entire piece.  
Wonderful! - Kim & Kelley

January's judge is Jason Sacran. Enter our contest and be
eligible to win Jason's full set of Rosemary Brushes. 

Click here to enter TODAY.