Art Muse Contest June 2016 Winners and Finalists

A huge thank you to our June judge, Lori Putnam.

 

Announcing our June winners and finalists. Thank you to everyone who continues to support our efforts to create a great contest. Congratulations to all the winners and finalists.

Budding Artist Winner:

Arena Shawn, Defiance

 

It is immediately clear that this artist has technical ability and understands the structure of the head. What makes this more than just a great drawing, however, are the subtleties of tone. The artist chose to tighten the value range rather than emphasize contrast here, and it is carried out extremely well. If I compare the value of the reflected light on the side of the face in shadow, with the value of the gentle transitional value between the nose and cheek on that same side, the lighted plane is only about 5% lighter than the shadowed (reflected light) plane. Additionally, a variety of appropriately soft and hard edges gives the work a sense of form and air.

Budding Artist Finalists:

Lizz Card, Al Studies

 

This painting is strong because of the artist’s clear visual statement of light and shadow. The work demonstrates an understanding not only of value but use of warm and cool to suggest subtle plane changes such as those on the front-lighted arm and the face in shadow. There is also confidence in the brushwork, color, and edges. Just enough is said with singular strokes of paint to describe the hands, arms, and fingers. The facial expression so accurately tells this young man’s story.

Janette Gray, Orchard View

 

Reality with notes of abstraction are perfect for a subject such as this. As a viewer, I am immediately struck by the lights and shadows, particularly in the fruits in the foreground. But what is also interesting, and what keeps me looking and searching about, are those areas that are not fully described. The balance of both “fully rendered” and “only suggested” is just one of the strong points of this piece. Another is the appropriate use of warm, orange tones in some of the leaves, and cool violet colors reflected from the sky. Those two, subtle choices, provide color harmony. Otherwise, the greens might appear too strong in contrast to the reds and pinks, and the sky too blue against the yellows and oranges.

Tom Afflerbach, New Snow

 

Great use of warms and cools in the snow on this painting. There is a tendency to use too many colors and value shifts in snow shadows, but this artist has kept those areas more silent using only very subtle changes. What is also clear is the light pattern. The addition of the color of the sunlight to the snow is chromatically perfect. It gives me a clear idea of the time of day and setting.

Emerging Artist Winner:

Erica Norelius, Dreaming of Sargent

 

This artist’s use of light and shadow AND light/dark pattern certainly make me think of Sargent, which is, as noted, used in the title of the piece. One of the rare cases where the word “derivative” is not at all a derogatory term, this work is confidently painted, well drawn, and has beautiful color harmonies throughout. The warm colors in the shadows of the chair mimic those underneath the chin and around the neck in shadow, causing a beautiful lost edge and flowing seamlessly into the jacket. Also, with regard to color harmony, the color on the pillow in light is repeated in parts of the neck’s local color. In the face, the artist enjoyed more saturated color and contrasting tone, and by placing the hand alongside the cheek, brings the subject’s face into an intentional focal point. Conversely, the hand at the chair arm is more simply stated, and its angle repeats the lighted shape of the pillow on the left.

Emerging Artist Gallery Representation Finalist:

Tracy Ference, Leah

 

Obviously a beautiful portrait and a precious subject, but upon close examination, this work demonstrates knowledge and sophistication in the artist’s use of color, value, edges, and drawing. The delicate shifts in the eye sockets, along the turn of the cheeks and jaw, and along the hairline bring living, breathing flesh to this painting. Lost edges where the chin and blouse meet provide the entrance point from the bottom of the canvas, up along the front of the face and head and into the hair. A hard edge between the back of the neck and the background pulls the subject forward. Warm and cool transitions in the shadow side of the face provide fullness and form. Wonderful.

Emerging Artist Finalists:

Susan Elwart Hall, Little Tug, Big Lug

 

Love this design. It’s a tough one to pull off, and this artist succeeded. At first, you do not know, or for that matter care, what the dark mass is behind the main boat. Then you see it and it is brilliant. This artist’s use of neutrals placed against stronger colors gives the piece a sense of chroma without overstatement. We know the water in light is colorful, even though when looked at closely, it is a blue/grey mixture. The under-stain of violet in the cast shadow has been tempered with blue green in the same value. When measured, both are quite neutral but they vibrate, resulting beautiful color when placed together. Similar relationships are found in other areas of the painting as well. Additionally, the artist has used lost edges throughout where appropriate to keep the viewer interested, digging, and looking for more.

Nanci Charpentier, Lost

 

This is just great on so many levels, including design, draftsmanship, and color. The foreshortening of the dog is wonderful, and the way the darks hold together as one piece perfect. I can imagine if that shadow shape was a sticker, I could peel the shadow mass off in one, continuous piece. Having the majority of the color shifts and excitement in the lights and mid-tones while leaving the shadows more simply stated adds to the painting’s strength. The values of the dog’s black in light and the white fur in shadow are so close, yet separated slightly. The same is true of the reflected light on the extreme backside of the dog when compared to the lighted top plane of the skull.

Christine Mercer-Vernon, Skull Study, Elk Cow

 

Beautifully drawn with wonderful use of gradation and values. The monochromatic color scheme works so well here, and I love the warms against the cools in both the shadows and the lights. The sense of space between the background and the skull is expertly handled. Values in highlights and reflected lights are perfect with out exhausting the entire value scale. This is one of those times when placing the image right in the middle was exactly the right thing to do, and cropping the shadow shape at the left gives this painting a modern edge.

Cheryl Magellen, Screen Printer

 

This painted is a wonderful example of sacrificing chroma in one shape, (in this case the lighted side), in order to enjoy richer, more intense color in the other shape, (the shadow). That sort of decision shows the artist’s intension and speaks to the general understanding and use of color. The transitional tones and hues as the form rounds from shadow to light are also brilliantly stated without resorting to trite overuse. While the drawing is also excellent, this artist’s real strength is the discipline to exercise restraint in all of the right places.

 Master Class Winner:

Damien Gonzales, Vallecito Mountain, Taos

 

Masterful use of all of the elements one finds in a great painting. Color saturation and use is harmonic and cohesive. Subtle shifts of warm and cool relationships with hits of both in every plane change give form to otherwise flat, front lighting. A tight value system exhibits a magnificent understanding of light quality. Edges are sensitively managed. Design, line, and brushwork all stack up to a piece worthy of the win!

Master Class Finalists:

Rick J. Delanty, Fortress Cover

 

The artist delivers so much here. Almost every color is used, but in such sensitively greyed shifts that the piece never once seems out of harmony or color balance. Every shape is unique, a different size than the one next to it, never repeating exactly. That is a most-difficult task and this is an extremely difficult subject in which to tackle it. I also notice that there are very few true dark, darks. A cove like this receives so much ambient light bouncing off of every surface and causing each plane, when hit, to become a new light source all its own. Wonderful success here.

Patrick Saunders, Enter the Garden

 

I see scenes like this all of the time. They look so simple with clear light and shadow, but they are deceptively difficult to paint. The artist uses a beautiful variety of shapes, marks, and colors here while allowing some passages to remain completely silent. The overall effect is magnificent. Nothing feels haphazardly dashed in, yet the work is very loosely painted. Colors brushed over other colors create vibration in the light shapes as we enter the scene, but it doesn’t stop there. Small hints of color layering in other places give the entire wooden structure texture, while tiny touches of light move us back in space.

Eric Bowman, Night Brings Good Counsel

 

Clean, simple shapes and beautiful design are what first attracted me to this piece. The color sense and time of day are so clear. After examining the image more closely, I could appreciate the multitude of hues used to create the sky and air even though the paint appears to be thickly applied. Cools and warms gradate not only top to bottom but also left to right, yet the sky feels whole. Calligraphic strokes for the trees, along the road, and under the cloud forms provide variety and movement within the heavily massed shapes. Brilliant. Every value is absolutely correct in this complex puzzle. The large cloud seems so close. It is about 30% darker in value than the bright, crisp moon, which pushes miles and miles between them.

Debra Huse, Island Tradewinds

 

There is no doubt that this is a masterfully drawn boat. You can feel the wind and the waves rocking and tossing. The colors of the sails and their reflection in the water simply gorgeous. But what really struck me about this painting are the smaller shapes and patterns that are less apparent at first. The swirl of the large cloud opposite the swirl of the large wave and smaller swirls within the water, particularly in the foreground tell the tale. Those repetitive shapes are so elusive at first, and they are the sort of artistic gesture found in classical paintings of the sea. The artist has chosen to use most of the value and color differences in the foreground which is, of course, the subject. That sort of maturity, choosing restraint in the values and colors in the sky and clouds, helps emphasize the real story of the boat, its crew, the sea, and the winds.

Merit Award Winners:

While we (Kim and Kelley) don’t have any say in who wins an award each month (that’s entirely up to the judges), we do get to choose an artist who we feel merits recognition. This month, we had the very hard choice between two entries and we just couldn’t decide on one award, so here are our picks for June’s Merit Award winners…

Jason Sacran, Self Portrait

 

It’s hard enough to capture the soul in a portrait, but to do so as a self portrait is very difficult. This is a direct piece that seems almost confrontational because of the gaze of the subject, the placement of shapes and the confident handling of the medium. Leaving the background and clothing unfinished lends an immediacy to this piece which only works because of the excellent draftsmanship in the painting’s foundation. The overall feel is that Jason is interested in more than recording his likeness but also in capturing an honest moment of introspection.

Mitch Albala, Snow River

 

This piece is bold, striking and distilled down to it’s essence. Simple shapes and color harmony create a powerful mood to this particular landscape.The design of the major forms including the cool shadow cast across the bits of snow and inverted triangle of the sky all move the eye up to the saddle in the ridge. Through expert planning and deft drawing Mitch has created a piece that works both as a representational landscape and an abstract painting, something that is very difficult to achieve. Kim and Kelley