Art Competition Judge Reviews Winners to Help You Win!

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hey everybody Steve here welcome back I

hope you're doing well thanks for coming

back repeaters and if you're new here

welcome today I want to talk to you

about an art show that I judged I want

to talk about the winners and I want to

tell you a little bit about why I picked

them and what I look for whenever I'm

judging an art show the show was for the

oil painters of America if you're not

familiar with them they're a terrific

organization for us oil painters and

they do these online showcase

competitions three times a year if you

want to learn more about them I'll put a

link in the description in this showcase

there were over 1100 entries in the show

and it was open to associate and

signature members out of those eleven

hundred and thirty or so I needed to

knock it down to a first second and

third place in each category and in some

honorable mentions that means that you

have 0.5% or 1/2 of 1% chance of being

in the money so needless to say you

really have to make yourself stand out

but the big question is how do you do

this well let me tell you what my

criteria is what I look for as a judge

and this being a representational art

show there are a few things on my list

the first being drawing of course

because this is representational art

show you need to show mastery over your

values your composition needs to be very


the colors need to be harmonious or

interesting interesting choices and your

technique your paint application your

manipulation and your edges and you need

to show some good originality that'll

help you just stand out and for me one

more thing is does it make you feel

something when you look at it or does it

tell a story so let's take a look at the

winners why I thought they kick butt and

deserve to win and some of the reasons

why let's start with the associate

members honorable mentions and just so

you know the honorable mentions they're

not in any particular order

first off we have Kim Vander Hoek sorry

if I pronounced that wrong the painting

is called key bridge arches you know

I've painted bridges in plein air before

and they are very difficult to keep them

from looking like an architect's

rendering and so she does a wonderful

job with keeping things loose and at the

same time doing a very good job at

drawing I love how the trees in the

background have very soft edges and it

really sets them back this painting was

very dynamically painted and it walks a

fine line between loose and tight very

hard to do

next we have a piece called acceleration

by Patricia rice I just absolutely love

how this bird is skimming the water and

in another half a second he's going to

be gone

the waves are painted beautifully the

reflection on the water the warmth of

the sunlight

it's very believable and this is just a

wonderful piece for me the thing that

kept this one ending up a little bit

higher was the composition I would have

liked to have seen it a little bit lower

or a little bit higher in the picture

and I think that would have really

helped this but still wonderful

wonderful piece

the next beast is called Manhattan

mosaic by Alan Wiley and there's so much

about this painting I love the light

that's infused in here the drawing is

spot-on it's busy but it's not it's not

overwhelmingly busy it's just it's a

wonderful example of how you can get the

illusion of light on a 2d surface not

the only thing that kept this one from

entering a little bit higher was the

crappy capture I mean it's all blurry so

there's a little tip for you always put

in an awesome photo

I don't know her but I'm gonna go out on

a limb here and say that Ali spends a

fair amount of time going out and

painting on location this painting

although it's 20 by 20 it probably

wasn't painted on location but she's got

that information in her head as to how

light works and how to simplify that

information and even though the

composition of this is kind of in the

center everything is dynamic enough

about it

that you don't seem to notice it or care


in the next painting by Mark Anderson

called the woodpile you know it's

probably because I come from the

illustration side of things that this

painting really caught my eye it really

has more of an illustration feeling than

a fine art painting but here we have a

complicated scene of snow on a wood pile

that's been simplified and painted to

read well not only is this a strong

composition where the wood pile

leads your eye into the scene and back

along the top of the receding snow on

the pile but think about this for a

moment this is a scene of snow on top of

logs with tree shadows on top of the

wood pile snow and that is not an easy

feat good on you mark this piece by

melinda morrison called cherub rocker is

the perfect way for me to launch into

one of my teaching moments and that is

that i can't be judging these paintings

against each other because some

paintings are painted looser than others

and and if I did that everything that

was my favorite style would win but what

I do is I judge the painting for what

the artist was trying to accomplish and

how successful they were at that not how

much time they put into a piece for this

painting I don't know how much time I'm

Melinda put into this but I do know that

every stroke in this painting is

important and that if you take any of

them out it diminishes what's there and

this painting it's not so much about the

composition it's about the mood and the

energy and just the life that she's

infused into it and it's wonderful and

in so many ways painting in this kind of

a style is so much more difficult than

painting what's photorealistic and right

in front of you because there's

interpretation and simplification that

has to be done on this so just because

something's looser doesn't mean it's


even sung by Blair 1/3 Holt there's so

much about this painting that I love I

love that it's a it's a low-key painting

I love the way he has simplified parts

of this painting in the background and

the ribbon and that they're not nearly

as as much detail as let's say the jug

or the grapes and I love the rhythm of

this painting I love how everything

moves you around in a big circle and you

don't miss any part of it the subdued

colors and complementary color scheme on

this painting make it awesome


now since Jim water can die are both in

the Western art genre I do know Jim but

as my other friends will tell you that

doesn't make any difference whenever I'm

judging a show it has to stand on its

own and this one definitely does the

composition of courses it speaks for

itself it's wonderful but the thing that

really stands out on this is his

absolute mastery of color Plains as the

as the plain ground plane comes towards

you the part that's in the shadow there

with the with a rider that definitely

warms up brings it closer to you the

values are darker and that pop of color

of the campfire glowing on the arch it

just it brings it all together and it

tells a great story of homecoming but to

me a favor don't tell Jim I said that


steve staffers painting of dead horse

point juniper is just gorgeous it's not

a huge piece and I can tell you I'm

pretty sure Steve spends a fair amount

of time out painting on location as well

just the the sense of light of

backlighting here where all of the

values are compressed nothing is black

black and it just reads exactly as it

should things are simplified color

temperatures are spot-on a couple little

grasses scratched out in the front and

just hinting at the large shapes going

on back in that Canyon and everything's

perfectly placed for this great

composition it's a beautiful piece I

wish I'd painted it and Brian McClair is

painting forgiven there's so much about

this that caught my eye

I love the rough unfinished quality of

the background

I love the direct and honest look of his

face the broken colors that are painted

on his face are ones that are picked up

from the colors on his tattoos if the

colors weren't already in those tattoos

having those colors on his face wouldn't

work but they're unusual enough that

they do because they appear in other

places in the painting and finally I

love the title forgiving which is the

tattoo on his right wrist and with one

word it tells a story to me titles are

an extension of the work and can further

the message or like it does here

crystallize it


the painting entering Yellowstone is an

example of a realistic landscape that's

all about the design of the shapes if

this isn't the first video of mine that

you're watching you've probably heard me

say that good composition is an unequal

distribution of size and shape arranged

in a pleasing manner and this painting

is the very definition of that for me

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really helps the channel grow now we get

into the big winners for the associate

division starting with third place

Chason say currents painting is a

wonderful study in the idea that less is

more and it's done to perfection there

is very little detail here proving the

point that if it's done well a painting

is stronger with less detail than more I

really get the sense that this is a

dusty old hay barn with beautifully

placed areas of light streaming in

through the roof and walls the fact that

the wood on the far wall has areas that

you can tell that the wood is thin and

you can see the light through it it made

me smile when I viewed it for the first

time and you know what it still does

this is an artist that has a mastery

over all aspects of this painting

second place went to Robert Goldman's

onto coal mine Canyon great composition

and simplification of a very complicated

subject but the atmospheric perspective

on this painting rocks sorry couldn't

resist as things go back you can see

masterly control over the values and

color temps the dark values get lighter

the light values darkened slightly and

every shape is simplified and the edges

soften the light in dark patterns that

he paints hold together in a beautiful

pattern that fits together like a big

puzzle in the middle ground rock

formation he has some wonderful greens

and the shadows of the rock wall while

in the closer foreground rock walls he

has really pushed the colors in the

reflected light so you can tell there's

more of these rocks just out of your

line of sight blasting their color into

the shadows beautiful finally here's

first place in the associate division I

think this piece by John Buxton pretty

much speaks for itself so I'm just gonna

sit back be quiet and let you enjoy the

poetry that is his painting


okay listen don't believe a word he's

saying to you he doesn't know what he's

talking about he never has Uncle Albert

what are you doing get away from that

camera run Albert Turner cameras Oh

doggone it Albert the technical

difficulty screen too


I am really sorry about that everybody

let's just put that behind us and move

on let's go to the signature member

winners and let me explain a little bit

about what makes them signature members

basically you can be an associate member

in the oil painters of America as long

as you work in the oil medium and you

pay your dues and as you can tell by

what we just saw there are some amazing

painters in the associates Division to

be a signature member of oil painters of

America you have to have been in a

certain number of national or regional

shows and once you've done that then

you've submit your portfolio to a review

committee and they will say either yes

or no you can have your signature status

and you'll probably notice that

signature members are able to put the

letters OPA

after their signature on their canvas

not everybody does it but you can if you

want to here are the honorable mentions

for the signature division and again

these are in no particular order here's

Michelle Isabella's painting mellow

morning a beautifully colorful painting

that's colorful but not garish Lee so

this is definitely a colorist painting

great composition so that if you squint

down then you can see the patterns of

light and dark this is a scene that can

easily get overly complicated in a hurry

but because of how she simplified the

shapes and the way she applied the paint

such as letting much of the detail fall

away along the left-hand side the

finished painting is a delight it's the

kind of work that looks almost abstract

from close-up but when you step back it

all snaps right into place

a sonnet in blue is by Charles Emerson

Winchester the third oh no no wait

that's not right

here it is Charles young walls Charles X

he had three paintings in the running

but I whittled it down to this one

mysterious and beautifully painted I'd

love to know what the story is behind

this painting was it a commercial work

for a book cover maybe a commission from

a collector or did he just pull it out

of his fertile imagination if I ever

meet Charles I'll be sure to ask him but

one thing I do know it's a beautiful


painter Linda Bessie has done a

wonderful job of capturing a moment and

another moment this guy's going to be

gone and the fact that she's able to

make this polar bear or ice bear stand

out in a field of what essentially is

white luckily it's not a snowstorm

she makes everything secondary to the

bear that's on the ice floe there and

she does a great job of mixing in warms

and cools to make everything work

together this definitely deserved the

merit of being called out as an

honorable mention so we're on to our

last three the first second and third

place in the signature division Greg

lorac is another artist that had two

paintings on the shortlist for awards I

thought this one was just a touch more

successful loosely painted but not

sloppy too often I think many painters

use looseness as an excuse for poor

draftsmanship this painting takes all

the boxes for a great painting

it has good drawing excellent

composition his values are spot-on

harmonious colors meaning that not only

do the colors work together that he

chose but they have a harmonious

intensity to them - as I said his

technique of paint application is

terrific loose but never sloppy and good

manipulation of his edges and I love the

story or subject of this painting

Patrick Saunders painting war dancer

took second place now Western art is my

chosen genre painting and I think there

are some who enter in our competition

thinking they have an advantage entering

in our competition if they paint the

same subject matter as the judge when I

find that just the opposite is true

since I see western cowboy Indian

paintings every day it takes a very

special painting to catch my eye

this painting did that right away even

in the first round I shortlisted this

one for an award all the award paintings

have all the things I look for in an

outstanding painting this is painted

with a simple honesty that's just so

pleasing to my eye there's a lot going

on with his costume in regalia but he

simplified the shapes and details into a

cohesive whole

the whites aren't pure white in fact if

you hold a piece of white paper up to

this it's surprising just how much color

is there but what really made this stand

out are the choices he made for the

background the first being the sky

filled with clouds and no landmass

visible no trees nothing like that the

second is being the point of view of you

the viewer the fact that his viewpoint

is low on the Indian and looking up

gives his subject a larger-than-life

imposing impression that along with the

name war dancer tells an interesting

story at least to me and I think if

you've ever been to a powwow

it would to you as well


quite simply this painting won the big

prize because it made me feel more than

any other painting in this competition

first place in the signature division is

called winter creek by dave Santee

honest I think they've hit a grand slam

home run with this painting I know I

know you're thinking but Steve what is a

schlub who lives in Arizona know about a

scene like this and whether it's spot-on

or not well it's because of weather like

this that I now live in Arizona before I

moved here to press kit I lived in

Minnesota for 20 freakin years and I had

enough of this weather in fact I started

painting plein air in Minnesota and have

a rule that I won't go outside and paint

if it's 18 degrees or below because the

oil paints just get too stiff to control

at that temp but I love the mood and

atmosphere that this painting captures

everything about this scene rings true

to me this reminds me of all those days

we'd go out walking or cross-country

skiing the subtle play between the blue

and pink of the snow the dark undercut

of the creek bank where the snow isn't

the frozen Creek the Bluegreen ice and

snow that's drifted over it in places

that little pokey brush that's sparsely

showing through the wisps and most of

all the line of buildings in the

background that's barely visible in the

distance how they merge into the bare

treeline this is a painting that anyone

who paints landscapes will tell you as

magnificent in its subtlety and

restraint I would buy this painting if I

had any money which I don't I don't know

maybe this is a piece that only someone

who who's gone out and painted in that

weather can appreciate what do you think

let me know down in the comments which

of these paintings was your favorite and


there were only opinions there aren't

any wrong answers so go for it I hope

you found this little video helpful and

that it gives you lots to think about

for your work

heck even if you don't enter

competitions having more information can

only make you a better artist on a

personal note I was so impressed by Dave

Santana's painting that I went to his

website and looked at his upcoming

workshops and I signed up for his August

workshop in 2020 in st. George Utah he

must be good if I'm willing to go stand

outside for three days and paint on

location in southern Utah in August I'm

crazy I don't know I'll try to do a

video of my experience and bring you all

along anyhoo I do thank you for showing

up like I said if you liked what you've

heard hit the like button subscribe hit

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and as always I'll see you down the road