Artistic Excellence | Meet some of our finalists

Choosing three winning artworks plus 10 honorable mentions from a field of thousands of submissions is a weighty task. In this year’s Artistic Excellence contest we received submissions from so many talented artists, we couldn’t stop at showing you just 13. Below are 12 finalists from our competition.

To see all 40 finalists, scroll to the end of this page.

Linda Tracey Brandon is a representational painter based in Arizona who works mostly in oils and drawing media. She loves painting people and feels honored by each portrait request. She also enjoys painting still lifes, landscapes, and figurative works. Pennsylvania-based painter Michele Byrne loves to paint en plein air as much as possible during the warmer months, then moves indoors during the winter. She’s fond of café scenes because of her love of alfresco dining and sharing those moments with people who are important to her.

Painter Barbara Churchley has twin passions for painting and the outdoors. These two loves have inspired her to explore the landscape in very personal ways. She reflects her love of the outdoors in her oil and pastel paintings. Steve Creighton makes his home in the heart of the Midwest, where he devotes his time to painting still-life arrangements and landscapes. He strives to create works that contain rich darks, restrained color, and that are not overly “finished.”

With a love of wetlands, Judy Fuller interprets the colorful moments at the break and end of day in places such as the Florida Everglades; Louisiana bayous, basins, and swamps; and the southern coastal marshlands. Born in Athens, Greece, Irene Georgopoulou’s medium of choice is pastel, though she also paints in oils. Her favorite subjects are colorful pebbles, glass marbles, shells, toys, and flowers.

After years in art-related careers, Robert Highsmith says he feels very fortunate to be painting full time. His watercolors explore the landscapes and other elements of the places he has lived, including the Northeast, the Southeast, and, now, the desert Southwest. Jane Jones has been inseparable from her art materials since she was 7 years old. While earning a bachelor of science degree in biology and chemistry she glimpsed “the awesome power of living things.” Today the Colorado-based artist explores color, nature, and symbolism in her fiery florals.

After attending 26 different schools as an “Army brat,” Brent Johnson settled down to make a permanent home in Oklahoma, from which he paints in watercolors, and, more recently, in oils. He paints primarily landscapes and rural scenes. Barry John Raybould, originally from the United Kingdom, now paints from his studios in Tuscany and China. He aims to capture the essence of a place by combining “the poetry (emotional and conceptual) aspects of a painting with its music (the underlying abstract design).”

Demetrios Vlachos lives in Moudania, Greece, where he strives to capture the everyday beauty of God’s creations in his paintings. As a mathematician, he loves geometry, which, he says, helps him greatly in his painting. He paints still lifes, figurative works, and land- and seascapes. Val Warner’s paintings represent her quest to convey the light, color, and radiance she sees in each of her subjects. “I’m brought to tears every time,” she says of the beauty she finds in the animals she paints, from the exotic—elephants, lions, and tigers—to the grizzlies, mountain lions, and wolves of North America.

Featured in December 2011.