Unstoppable Emerging Artists | Artists Network

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The 15 student winners of the 38th Annual Art Competition exhibit admirable skills and dauntless spirit.

Edited by Holly Davis

The past two years presented special challenges for student artists, many of whom, due to the pandemic, battled stress and emotional lows. In addition, social distancing restricted their access to in-person classes and workshops. The creative drive prevailed, however, and several of the student winners found that the changes and trials engendered inspiration. We salute these indomitable emerging artists.

Here are the first-place winners in the five categories of the competition.

First Place, Portrait Category: Ave Liberace

Bill in Blue (colored pencil and chalk on paper, 12×9)

A family friend, Bill, has an at-rest expression that’s both stern and gentle. In creating his portrait, I pulled away from the gray of graphite and charcoal, choosing a less traditional color to give the classical realism a contemporary feel. To capture Bill’s look, I created an entanglement of light and ultramarine blue, using tapered crosshatch marks and saturated accents to weave together the edges of light and dark masses. As I strove to replicate every crevice and scintillation of light, this tapestry of details slowly formed a picture of Bill.

First Place, Still Life/Interior: Luiza Maia

Left Hanging (oil on canvas, 16×12)

The painting Left Hanging is part of a series called Nostalgia, in which I combine antique objects with patterns and color schemes that represent a certain time period. For this painting, I wanted to evoke the mood of the 1950s, as represented by the polka-dotted and pastel-colored background. The telephone receiver and cord are centered in the composition, accompanied by a dramatic cast shadow that makes the viewer wonder who’s on the other side of the line and why that person was left hanging.

First Place, Landscape: Kate Kwon

History of Bricks (acrylic on canvas, 24×18)

For History of Bricks, I wanted the featureless Los Angeles smog to present an intriguing contrast to the detailed rendering of the car and the brick wall of radiant color blocks. Originally, I hadn’t intended to delineate all the individual bricks, but I then challenged myself to include as much detail as I could. I spent many tedious hours painting that bright wall. This is my first acrylic work—and the piece that has taken me the longest to finish.

First Place, Abstract / Experimental: Susanna Hughes

Serenity 1 (acrylic with pencil and carbon markings on wood panel, 12×12)

I’m inspired by open spaces, water, and solitude, and I feel this is reflected in most of my work. I paint intuitively, without a final outcome in mind. I do, however, always write words as a first layer. I then respond to each layer, mostly using a squeegee, a credit card, and a trowel or brayer (rarely a brush) to apply and move the paint. For Serenity 1, I also used a toothpick and carbon paper to add fine lines and shapes. The painting arose from a prompt to use the limited palette favored by Anders Zorn—black, white, yellow, and red. Initially I was discouraged, as red and yellow are not colors I’d normally choose, but after many layers, I realized these four colors make beautiful soft neutrals.

First Place, Animal / Wildlife: Donna Davy Matthias

Tiberius (acrylic and gouache on hardboard, 20×16)

During my final class at the Academy of Art University, my goal was to concentrate on animal portraiture. Due to the pandemic, I had to focus on my pets as subjects. Tiberius is a dusky-headed conure, full of attitude and mischief. The use of chiaroscuro helped me capture his personality in a dramatic way, and painting on hardboard allowed colors and textures to show through as I built layer upon layer. Gouache highlights make the feathers stand out.

artists magazine 11-12-2021

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2021 issue of Artist’s Magazine. Check it out to see all of the winners of the 38th Annual Art Competition!

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