Portfolio | The Juror’s Choice

This story was featured in the January 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art January 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

Each year our sister publication, Artists Magazine, conducts a major art competition that draws entries from around the world. The competition is divided into five categories: Abstract/Experimental, Animal/Wildlife, Landscape, Portrait/Figure, and Still Life/Interior. In the following pages, we’re happy to present a selection of winners and finalists in each category. Enjoy the diverse works of these artists.

O’Neil Scott

O'Neil Scott, Praying This Works, oil, 60 x 48.

O’Neil Scott, Praying This Works, oil, 60 x 48.

What are you trying to convey in this artwork? Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, PRAYING THIS WORKS questions what is necessary for a black male to transcend to a higher level of acceptance in our society. I am trying to convey how being who you are can have a negative impact on how others treat you.

What is your creative process? The process starts with a feeling, an idea, and then a sketch. I then take reference photos that convey the emotion within the subject. I start blocking in colors to create an underpainting. Then I paint over it with layers, adding texture and adjusting values along the way.

What makes your work unique? I want to bring awareness to subjects that are less likely to be talked about. With my work being highly representational, I hope the conceptual ideas and emotions in each painting are evident. Most of the paintings are textured and large scale, inviting the viewer into the space and allowing the meaning behind the painting to feel extremely important.

What do you like best about being an artist? I love being able to express my emotions and the feelings of the world in a medium that will stand long after I am gone. Artists have been at the forefront of change for a long time, and each one of my paintings makes me feel like we are inching closer to that goal.

What galleries represent your work? Jo Hay Open Studio Gallery, Provincetown, MA, and www.instagram.com/oneilscott.

Filipe Assuncao

Filipe Assuncao, A Handful of Memories, acrylic, 39 x 47.

Filipe Assuncao, A Handful of Memories, acrylic, 39 x 47.

What are you trying to convey in this artwork? A HANDFUL OF MEMORIES is about the experiences, feelings, and images that one accumulates over a lifetime, making each individual unique. It depicts mostly the good experiences that everyone tries to keep and remember.

What is your creative process? Usually the general architecture of each painting is built in an intuitive manner, meaning I have a general idea about the painting, but I do not have a main sketch. This process is difficult as the possibilities are endless, but it’s rewarding when the painting is finalized.

What makes your work unique? Each work tells a story and delivers a message. I realized that no one stays indifferent to my drawings and paintings, and I have received comments from people [who say] that my paintings are the most interesting they have ever acquired.

What do you like best about being an artist? I love the opportunity to create and open windows to new worlds and to leave a legacy that may last for a long time. To be an artist is both a privilege and a huge responsibility. I need to keep a very high standard and produce consistent work. I enjoy the emotions that people experience when seeing my work and the communication that is established. That gives me the motivation to continuing creating.

What galleries represent your work? Gallery Koll, Stavanger, Norway, and www.filipeassuncao.com.

Mike Wimmer

Mike Wimmer, Praying This Works, oil, 60 x 48. Will Work for a Better Future for my Family, oil, 36 x 24.

Mike Wimmer, Praying This Works, oil, 60 x 48. Will Work for a Better Future for my Family, oil, 36 x 24.

What are you trying to convey in this artwork? While living in Oklahoma City, OK, just after the 2008 economic crash, I was witness to the diversity of the population at opposite ends of the financial spectrum. I was inspired to ask myself, and then later others, what they would work for. It is my desire to help bring a visual display of answers to the question that we are all asking: What gives life purpose?

What is your creative process? My process was to set up a place where I could have my models sit to be photographed and sketched, so that people walking by could observe. My working methods are traditional, drawing in charcoal and other mediums, as well as painting, mostly in oils.

What makes your work unique? Since my move to Savannah, GA, I have continued the project and plan to display the work in a gallery exhibition. I wanted a reason and a chance to bring all these divergent voices, faces, and points of view together so they will see themselves and their voices as equal and as worthy as another’s.

What do you like best about being an artist? The greatest enjoyment of being an artist is the inner joy of bringing an idea to life that didn’t exist five minutes before. It’s almost a godlike feeling to be able to share these ideas and opportunities with my audience.

What galleries represent your work? www.mikewimmer.com, www.mikewimmerportraits.com, and www.wimmerstudios.com.

Tony Baselici

Tony Baselici, Krista, oil, 24 x 20.

Tony Baselici, Krista, oil, 24 x 20.

What are you trying to convey in this artwork? Truth. My model is an unconventional beauty, and I stay true to the idiosyncrasies that make her an individual. She has no makeup and unkempt hair, endowing this portrait with a raw edge that exposes beauty in strength and confidence.

What is your creative process? The first task is usually a photo shoot. My favorite advantage of photography is the serendipity that comes when I capture my subject in between poses, or I find inspiration in a candid shot that is totally unrelated to my original concept. Once I have my reference, I dive straight into the canvas. I paint “landmarks” and lay in areas of shadow and light.

What makes your work unique? I tend to separate my figures from a natural environment and place them on an abstract, patterned, or color-plane background. This emphasizes their compositional and narrative roles. But the emphasis is always on the figure and any narrative elements I choose to include. The use of hard lines is especially important in my work.

What do you like best about being an artist? For me, every painting is a lesson. I enjoy that challenge and seeing my growth and evolution in my work. The arts are a critical part of our culture, and I am excited to be a part of that.

What galleries represent your work? www.tonybaselici.com.

Rosanne Cerbo

Rosanne Cerbo, Reading Time, oil, 18 x 24.

Rosanne Cerbo, Reading Time, oil, 18 x 24.

What are you trying to convey in this artwork? It is rare to find two children at this age be so absorbed in their reading time. I would like the viewer to get a feeling of relaxation while looking at this piece. Perhaps they let it bring them to a happy place after a hard day’s work.

What is your creative process? Since I paint many different subjects both in my studio and en plein air, my process varies as my encounters vary. In all cases, though, I work with a prismatic palette of oils, usually on primed linen.

What makes your work unique? I have trouble realizing my own style. I paint from my heart every day and most every night. I love painting animals and children, and I have been told one can see their souls through their eyes. If I can convey this to the owner of one of my paintings, then this is my goal, and I am happy.

What do you like best about being an artist? I tend to have a love/hate relationship with being an artist. An artist has his or her share of frustration, and it is an ongoing occurrence. Without failure we cannot learn, but it doesn’t feel that good going through it. However, the rewards far outweigh this, and I could not envision myself doing anything else.

What galleries represent your work? Castle Gallery, Fort Wayne, IN; Galleria Silecchia, Sarasota, FL; Gate House Galleries, Wyckoff, NJ; The Salmagundi Club, New York, NY; www.rosannecerbofineart.com.

Kathleen Perelka

Kathleen Perelka, Great Island Great Blue Heron, soft pastel, 12 x 12.

Kathleen Perelka, Great Island Great Blue Heron, soft pastel, 12 x 12.

What are you trying to convey in this artwork? I am always searching out great blue herons, or they are searching me out. I have some kind of connection with them. Usually I see them alone, as was this one. These are magnificent birds, and they’re on the decline. So in part I’d like to draw awareness to that and also to the fact that they are incredibly stately and beautiful.

What is your creative process? Pastel is my medium. I love its immediacy and vibrancy. I love the way the stick feels in my hand and that there is no brush or pencil or implement of any kind between my hands and the surface I’m working on. I do most of my work in the studio, but I rely much more on memory and emotional connection to color than on what shows up in a photo.

What makes your work unique? I emphasize understated places. I depict farms, marshes, and blueberry fields, accentuating color that is there but not dominant. I only paint what I love: Sometimes it’s colored light reflected off a marsh. Sometimes it’s the purples found in blueberry fields in the fall. Sometimes it’s a lone heron at the edge of a waterway.

What do you like best about being an artist? I love hearing people say that they look at their world differently after getting to know my paintings.

What galleries represent your work? Archipelago, Rockland, ME; Maine Farmland Trust Gallery, Belfast, ME; River Roads Artisans Gallery, Skowhegan, ME; www.kathleenperelkaartist.com.

Cynthia Neill

Cynthia Neill, Distracted (Sabi Sand Leopard), oil, 16 x 20.

Cynthia Neill, Distracted (Sabi Sand Leopard), oil, 16 x 20.

What are you trying to convey in this artwork? I wanted to present the beauty of the African leopard and its warm colors. I observed this male leopard following a female in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve of South Africa when a noise distracted him. I wanted to capture his sudden pause and extreme situational awareness.

What is your creative process? I first sketch out the subject on the canvas in pencil. Next I map out the light and dark areas in a burnt-umber wash. I then mix colors for each area of the painting in light, medium, and dark values. I work on the background first and then come forward to the subject and foreground.

What makes your work unique? I have grown to love the warm colors of the African terrain and game animals, and I want to depict that in my paintings. I use a bokeh (blurred) background, so the emphasis stays on the animal.

What do you like best about being an artist? I love to be in the moment with each animal that I paint. I am able to experience, again, that split-second excitement of when I first saw the animal. Painting wildlife has always been my passion. After multiple trips to Africa, the continent’s game has become the pinnacle of my passion to paint.

What galleries represent your work? www.neillwildlifeart.com.

Linda Besse

Linda Besse, Woven, oil, 33 x 44.

Linda Besse, Woven, oil, 33 x 44.

What are you trying to convey in this artwork? WOVEN is one of my more unique oil paintings. It reflects the interconnection of the animals and peoples
of Africa.

What is your creative process? For this piece I started with the phrase “black, white, and red all over.” Then the idea of using an African textile for the background popped into my head. After researching historic textiles, I came up with a design that would complement the zebra’s stripes. The challenge was to give the background enough variety to make it look hand-woven but keep it feeling like the work of a master weaver.

What makes your work unique? My goal in each oil painting is to tell a story—one I haven’t heard quite that way before. If I can try a new technique and really push myself, whether it is in the background, gesso color, or substrate—then I can grow as an artist.

What do you like best about being an artist? I like telling a story that translates my emotional response of being there to the viewer. A story that resonates with the viewer drives me as an artist.

What galleries represent your work? www.besseart.com.

George Ann Johnson

George Ann Johnson, Capturing, scratchboard, 7 x 9.

George Ann Johnson, Capturing, scratchboard, 7 x 9.

What are you trying to convey in this artwork? The intensity of the owl is the focus of the piece, but it is augmented by softness that speaks to the grace and beauty of the creature. CAPTURING captures the persona of the owl.

What is your creative process? That is a difficult question. Many times when the creative spirit is active, it simply takes an image or a thought, and I know what needs to be completed. However, the times when the creative spirit is dormant, I search for images that convey a message, images that talk to me. Once the image decision is made, I make sure the image provides the level of detail that will allow me to conceptually understand the volume, depth, shading, and design required to create the artwork.

What makes your work unique? The quality and the detail of the animal image. When you see my work, the animals come to life. They transcend the limitations of
the scratchboard.

What do you like best about being an artist? The most rewarding aspect is to see other people enjoy and become fascinated by the detail in the piece.

What galleries represent your work? Two Old Crows, Pagosa Springs, CO; Yellow Rose Gallery, Rockport, TX; Square Gallery, Goliad, TX; Port Aransas Art Center, Port Aransas, TX; www.gajart.com.

Laura Farrell

Laura Farrell, Bad Ass, acrylic, 36 x 36.

Laura Farrell, Bad Ass, acrylic, 36 x 36.

What are you trying to convey in this artwork? In this piece, I want to show how exciting nature can be. I had been told there were wild donkeys on the island of St. John, and when I found them, it was just incredible. I wanted to capture their gentle yet spunky nature and force people to see them in a new light.

What is your creative process? My creative process is a constant thing. Usually images will pop into my head based on what I’ve experienced throughout the day or over a period of time. I see it in my mind before it ends up on paper. Sometimes I will just start painting and make changes as I go. Other times it is well planned.

What makes your work unique? I think my perspective makes my work unique. I have a background in decorative arts and design and a love for psychology. I am creating a personal response with my work. If I can make someone see something a little differently, then I’ve done my job. I also use a variety of techniques and am not afraid to explore new styles and materials.

What do you like best about being an artist? I am most grateful for being able to do something I love every day of my life. I also love the people I meet along the way.

What galleries represent your work? DC Arts Studios, Washington, DC, and www.lmistudiosinc.com.

Debra Trent

Debra Trent, Powerwash, oil, 20 x 40.

Debra Trent, Powerwash, oil, 20 x 40.

What are you trying to convey in this artwork? White pelicans are one of my favorite subjects to paint. Since white is reflective of all surrounding color influences, their coloring alone makes them wonderfully rich to portray. On a sunny day, that means blue, lavender, mauve, and yellow. Adding their outrageous orange bills, you get a feast of complementary colors. Here I focused on a single pelican, although more were nearby. The pelicans were grooming themselves, beating their wings against the water. The gesture of this one bird was exciting to me and great fun to paint.

What is your creative process? Painting wildlife requires field work, which is food for my soul. My inspiration begins through observation. I take lots of photographs, not only of the animals or birds but also of their habitats. Once back in the studio, I go through my reference photos and start coming up with design ideas for paintings.

What makes your work unique? Each of us sees the world with a unique perspective. As an artist that influences every decision I make, from the composition to the color choices. My work always reflects my love of nature, color, and light.

What do you like best about being an artist? Doing what I love and touching others through my work is huge. But so is observing all the incredible animals out in the wild.

What galleries represent your work? www.debratrent.com.

Suzanne Aulds

Suzanne Aulds, Tomatoes, oil, 24 x 24.

Suzanne Aulds, Tomatoes, oil, 24 x 24.

What are you trying to convey in this artwork? TOMATOES is an expression of the absolute beauty to be found in the everyday object and composition. My goal is to create work that reminds the viewer that beauty and harmony surround us, if we just open our eyes and our minds.

What is your creative process? Once I have an idea or subject for a painting, my creative process is quite methodical. I arrange and photograph dozens of combinations of the objects I wish to feature, along with other items that either contrast or harmonize with it. I’m always experimenting with composition and color. I paint from background to foreground, usually leaving my focal feature for last.

What makes your work unique? My method of painting, literal use of color, and realistic depiction of subject matter are definitely traditional. On the other hand, my subject matter, the manner in which I compose it, and the deliberate use of design elements are entirely contemporary.

What do you like best about being an artist? If I were to choose just one factor, it would have to be the process of creation. As the work progresses, I become increasingly excited by the image as it evolves into what it will finally be—which, I might add, is not always what I had initially imagined. I suppose it is akin to giving birth, only without the pain.

What galleries represent your work? Thibault Gallery, Beaufort, SC, and www.suzanneaulds.com.

Yana Beylinson

Yana Beylinson, Ambrosia, oil, 24 x 24.

Yana Beylinson, Ambrosia, oil, 24 x 24.

What are you trying to convey in this artwork? I’ve always been fascinated with pomegranates and their rich symbolism used throughout history. They are traditionally a symbol of fertility, learning, and wisdom. And they’re just visually beautiful. My goal was to depict those gorgeous fruits without unnecessary detail, with loose and confident strokes, and with a very limited palette.

What is your creative process? My process differs from piece to piece. For AMBROSIA, the first step was a general delineation of dark areas on the phthalo green-covered background. I proceeded with setting down light and dark masses, making them more specific and detailed as I went. The challenge was to keep the application loose and not overworked, while staying on target with the shapes, colors, and values.

What makes your work unique? I am not specifically looking to be unique or different, but it comes with the territory. I feel a deep reverence for nature, and I am curious about the inherent qualities of objects. I want to develop my own way of looking at everything.

What do you like best about being an artist? Being an artist awards me an unlimited sense of freedom. I can paint anything I want, in any way I want. I don’t know any other way to reach this stratospheric feeling. Painting allows me to forget about the minutiae of life and rise in my spirit. This is the highest reward I can think of.

What galleries represent your work? www.yanabeylinsonartist.com.

Margaret Dwyer

Margaret Dwyer, Sunwaves, watercolor, 22 x 15.

Margaret Dwyer, Sunwaves, watercolor, 22 x 15.

What are you trying to convey in this artwork? Nostalgic memories drew me to the scene first. The lace tablecloth belonged to my mother. What moved me to capture the image in watercolor was the transparent, reflective, abstract surface of the glass. It was a good blend of a challenging subject matter in a natural setting with an emotional connection.

What is your creative process? Some work requires some drawing before the painting process begins; others begin with no drawing whatsoever. I love the surprises that emerge during the watercolor painting process. I encourage a visual conversation with the piece rather than trying to control every mark that is made.

What makes your work unique? Earning my master’s degree in visual art strengthened my voice as an artist. I am better able to incorporate life themes into my work through a deeper, psychological lens. Technically, I can achieve rich darks and saturated colors in watercolor.

What do you like best about being an artist? Every day I have more ideas than I can keep up with. Actualizing some of those ideas through the physical act of creating something is a wonderfully unique experience. Working with other artists and students has provided a rewarding balance to being a studio artist. I continue to learn and enrich my practice through teaching.

What galleries represent your work? Kimpton Brook Art Studio, Wilmot, NH, and www.margaretdwyer-artist.com.

Julie Skoda

Julie Skoda, Good Morning Austin, pastel, 18 x 18.

Julie Skoda, Good Morning Austin, pastel, 18 x 18.

What are you trying to convey in this artwork? I was in Austin, TX, earlier this year helping my brother and his wife care for their young son. Hudson wasn’t quite a year old, and he wanted me to walk with him in the yard to explore and to chase the family dog. We came back inside and left the back door open with the warm sunlight streaming in. I loved the disheveled chaos of baby life indoors and the welcoming sunlight outdoors. The print on the wall was comical and added lightness to my vision of what I wanted to paint.

What is your creative process? I took a few photos of the scene on my phone, and when I was back home, I did a small thumbnail value sketch followed by a color study in watercolor. The original painting was 12 by 12 inches, but I wasn’t happy with the composition, so I used the painting as my reference for this final version and corrected a few compositional errors.

What makes your work unique? I tend to paint scenes from personal experiences and my environment with the goal of creating an emotional response from the viewer.

What do you like best about being an artist? I love the flexibility
of being an artist and the ability to paint, sketch, and photograph
no matter where I am–en plein air, in the studio, or traveling. It’s a good life.

What galleries represent your work? www.julieskoda.com.

CJ Lukacsik

CJ Lukacsik, Spring Snow in Russia, oil, 14 x 22.

CJ Lukacsik, Spring Snow in Russia, oil, 14 x 22.

What are you trying to convey in this artwork? I wanted to portray the unique beauty and resilience of the Russian spring. We think of springtime as a festival of warm gold and green hues, which, at first look, was completely absent on this April day—it was all cool blues and reds. But then, in the earth at the edge of the melting snow, I saw golden hues. It felt like hope for the coming season.

What is your creative process? I usually work from photos, as I find bringing supplies to paint en plein air is a bit challenging with international travel. I paint as soon as I can when I get home, so the memories are rich in my mind. I have to remember the feeling, or I won’t be able to paint the subject matter.

What makes your work unique? I believe the style and character of a painting always follow the style and character of the artist. That being said, I have a tremendous love for music, and people always say they can see the music in my work.

What do you like best about being an artist? Being an artist has allowed me to see so many wonders of the world. My experiences while traveling and scouting locations have given me immense joy. In turn, I can then share my joy with others through my work.

What galleries represent your work? www.cjlukacsik.com.

Jackson Lee

Jackson Lee, Forever Guardian, acrylic, 26 x 36.

Jackson Lee, Forever Guardian, acrylic, 26 x 36.

What are you trying to convey in this artwork? I would like to use FOREVER GUARDIAN to inspire people to become guardian angels for each other—to care for, encourage, support, strengthen, and lift one another at every moment of life’s journey.

What is your creative process? Throughout my painting process, I am reminded that life is full of challenge and hardship. That’s why we need someone to stand by and walk with us through the darkness, until we see the sunshine.

What makes your work unique? Nowadays, a lot of art is done on the computer, while traditional painting is fading away. I still insist on using the paintbrush to draw the picture, bit by bit, layer by layer, to achieve natural perfection. Maybe this makes my work unique.

What do you like best about being an artist? I can spread positive energy to the viewer through my work. If each person conveys the symbolic themes of my series called Hong Kong in a Better Light, this would be my greatest achievement.

What galleries represent your work? www.jacksonlee-art.com.

Scott Harris

Scott Harris, The Fray, oil/aluminum, 36 x 48.

Scott Harris, The Fray, oil/aluminum, 36 x 48.

What are you trying to convey in this artwork? This is from a picture I took while I was in Madrid. There’s something peaceful about looking down at all that wonderful commotion from a still spot above it all. I think that’s the feeling I was going for.

What is your creative process? Most of my work, especially paintings, comes from photos that I take. So I’m constantly taking pictures. Much of the time I work on a few pieces at a time. I usually work on a set of pieces with similar subjects, unless I need to work on a commission.

What makes your work unique? My paintings are done on aluminum rather than canvas. This creates an almost three-dimensional quality in the work. It kind of moves along with you and changes as the lighting changes.

What do you like best about being an artist? I think what I like best about being an artist is that, through school and then in practice throughout life, I have trained my eye to see. I think that noticing the world around me creates a sense of wonder. I never want my world to be mundane because I lack that skill.

What galleries represent your work? ArtSource, Raleigh, NC; Midtown Gallery, Nashville, TN; The Little Gallery, Moneta, VA; Vision Gallery, Atlantic Beach, NC; Fat Cat Ltd, Oak Ridge, NC; The Uptown Gallery, Fargo, ND; ArtBlend Gallery, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Ann Jackson Gallery, Roswell, GA; Edgewood Orchard Galleries, Door County, WI; Irving Park Art & Frame, Greensboro, NC; www.harrisdesignstudios.com.

Don Wink

Don Wink, White Pass, acrylic, 35 x 55.

Don Wink, White Pass, acrylic, 35 x 55.

What are you trying to convey in this artwork? White Pass is the mountain pass above Skagway, AK, on the Gold Rush route to the gold fields in the Yukon. In the 1890s, men and women risked life and limb traversing this route. It climbed 2,680 feet up Dead Horse Canyon, aptly named for the large number of animals that expired during the journey. Today there is a railway and a road that cross the pass, but the view from the summit is still chilling, especially when one imagines the prospect of another 400 to 500 miles of travel from this point on. As I stood surveying the view, I imagined the elation of reaching the pass only to see how far one still had to go. I see this painting as a tribute to the indomitable human spirit.

What is your creative process? In this case, I looked carefully and took a few photographs to remind me of the physical nature of the place. But it was the
emotional memory that I locked in my mind. I wanted to express the essence
of that memory.

What makes your work unique? The way I apply paint and use color.

What do you like best about being an artist? Being an artist is being alive to the privilege of life.

Sabrina Stiles

Sabrina Stiles, Mountain Livin’, pastel, 24 x 20.

Sabrina Stiles, Mountain Livin’, pastel, 24 x 20.

What are you trying to convey in this artwork? This scene is the view from the hotel entrance where I stay while participating in a plein-air event in Fairplay, CO. I was hoping to capture the no-frills warmth and attitude of this quaint mountain town.

What is your creative process? Typically I start with a very rough underpainting in a warm tone. This helps with the cooler palette of the landscape. In this piece, the pastels were laid over the underpainting, so it adds to the texture and neglected look of the buildings. Eventually, in every painting, I stop looking at the reference and take stock of what’s working and what isn’t. I listen to my gut.

What makes your work unique? In my opinion, time, mileage, risk-taking, and trusting one’s instincts give an artist’s work its own voice. I’m always asking “what if,” but my main goal has been trying to capture the mood of a place. If I succeed, my work usually resonates with others.

What do you like best about being an artist? What I love most about being an artist is the adventure. It’s exciting to begin a painting and see where it goes. Some paintings are a struggle, some paint themselves, and some just never feel right to me. As I evolve as an artist, the bar gets higher and becomes more elusive. That’s what feeds my passion.

What galleries represent your work? Mary Williams Fine Arts, Boulder, CO; The Glass Tipi Gallery, Ward, CO; www.sabrinastiles.com.

Timothy Mulligan

Timothy Mulligan, Marina Light, San Francisco, acrylic, 48 x 36.

Timothy Mulligan, Marina Light, San Francisco, acrylic, 48 x 36.

What are you trying to convey in this artwork? I wanted to express how I perceived the beautiful and intense light on a building in the marina area of San Francisco, CA. I simplified the scene to build a balanced and elegant composition. I hoped to create a warm and sunny feeling from the buttery way I painted the light on the wall. I added a little mystery and intrigue by focusing on the window in the center with its shade closed. The result I hoped for was to capture a unique source of light, built from observations, memories, and my interpretations.

What is your creative process? First, I find an interesting subject that has special meaning to me. I carefully study the lines and shapes to simplify the information and to create a final sketch. While painting, I experiment with colors and textures to achieve both a sense of the real subject and how I relate to it. I then add hyper-colorful effects to the objects, shadows, and the seams to link the shapes in the painting.

What makes your work unique? My landscape and cityscape paintings are of real locations built upon abstracted planes of bright color and reimagined forms. I paint them in an expressive style inspired by the Bay Area Figurative Movement.

What do you like best about being an artist? It allows me to be creative.

What galleries represent your work? Elliott Fouts Gallery, Sacramento, CA; The Studio Shop, Burlingame, CA; Signature Gallery at Studios on the Park, Paso Robles, CA; www.timothymulliganfineart.com.

Denise Willing-Booher

Denise Willing-Booher, Frosty Dawn, watercolor, 39 x 25.

Denise Willing-Booher, Frosty Dawn, watercolor, 39 x 25.

What are you trying to convey in this artwork? I was trying to convey the raw beauty of the winter sunrise that I walked into one morning, and the promise and hope I felt from the spreading rays of the rising sun.

What is your creative process? Working intuitively and organically, I may paint on location, work in my sketchbook with concepts, or take reference images of things that speak to me. First, I will do small, quick test-paintings, testing different compositions, designs, and color palettes, while also testing my paper and how I want to paint my subject to communicate the feeling I want. Once I have the right combination of all of those elements, I draw it out simply, allowing changes all through the process. Watercolors are a challenging, magical medium that works with and for you.

What makes your work unique? My paintings are from an up-close-and-personal perspective. I am inspired by the beauty and drama of life and nature all around me. My subjects are not always considered beautiful, but I strive to create beauty with them. I enjoy working with multiple shapes and colors.

What do you like best about being an artist? Being an artist, to me, is an amazing gift and an unending journey of discovery and development. Touching people positively with my work is very rewarding and humbling.

What galleries represent your work? www.willing-booher.com.

J.R. (Rusty) Cook

J.R. (Rusty) Cook, Live Oaks and White Roads, oil, 22 x 30.

J.R. (Rusty) Cook, Live Oaks and White Roads, oil, 22 x 30.

What are you trying to convey in this artwork? Growing up in the Texas panhandle, I remember being able to see the lights of a town 40 miles away at night. The horizons became one with the sky in many places. When I moved to north-central Texas, I fell in love with the post oaks and live oaks. So I guess I am trying to mix the depth or expanse of the Texas panhandle with the landscape of this area.

What is your creative process? I take photos and make field sketches of things that attract my attention while traveling. From these, I make many small sketches to determine a layout, and then I begin a painting on a toned canvas with a loose brush sketch. Then there’s a lot of trial and error, with way more paint being scraped off the canvas than what’s left on. Texture—brush strokes, thickness of the paint layer—is important to me.

What makes your work unique? While I emulate the styles and palettes of turn-of-the-century American Impressionists, I use more earth colors than some of my contemporaries.

What do you like best about being an artist? I enjoy attending shows and receptions and being asked to do demonstrations
and such.

What galleries represent your work? RS Hanna Gallery, Fredericksburg, TX; Davis & Blevins Gallery, Saint Jo, TX; www.jrcookartist.com.

Louie Rochon

Louie Rochon, Urban Prairie, acrylic, 36 x 36.

Louie Rochon, Urban Prairie, acrylic, 36 x 36.

What are you trying to convey in this artwork? I work hard, intuitively building each layer of my art, and eventually the paintings reveal their messages to me. In the case of URBAN PRAIRIE, an elaborate layered background of intense, frantic energy blossoms into a prairie of wildflowers.

What is your creative process? I have no limits. I try everything. Art comes to me if I let it. The really tough part is getting the courage each day to walk in that door and step up to the canvas. After that, it’s just a question of getting dirty and getting my head out of the way. It’s no easy task, but nobody said art was easy.

What makes your work unique? I am blessed with bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and attention-deficit disorder. So I throw my emotions into my work without any hesitation whatso-
ever. This results in work that is always vivid, big, bold, and passionate; but also work that can range wildly from joyous and free to dark and depressing. I am always honest in my work.

What do you like best about being an artist? The freedom. I’m 65, but I feel very much like a little boy when I’m in my studio. It’s my fantasy world—a place where I can be whatever I want to be.

What galleries represent your work? Large Studio and Gallery, Langley, WA, and www.rochonfineart.com.

Christine Alfery

Christine Alfery, Three Koi in the Pond, watercolor/acrylic, 21 x 21.

Christine Alfery, Three Koi in the Pond, watercolor/acrylic, 21 x 21.

What are you trying to convey in this artwork? My artwork speaks to my philosophical beliefs about life and to the concepts of choice, struggle, change, and the moral and ethical codes we live by. For me, art is about individual freedom, a freedom that can or cannot help form our realities and what we believe in. THREE KOI IN THE POND is a conceptual work. Three is a significant number for me. Water is like the rhythm of life, with its ebb and flow. The grids represent the ways we entrap ourselves, as in a gate or fence, and the
movement—the black and white dotted lines—is the current.

What is your creative process? I start with an idea or a question, choose specific colors to carry this idea, and then apply the colors very wet and begin to work the concept with the colors. The process begins very abstractly, with fluid watermedia. Next, I begin to unite or remove the different elements. I stop when I find myself saying, “Stop! Stop now!”

What makes your work unique? My work is unique when my self remains in it because I am unique, one of a kind. It is not unique if my self gets lost in the aesthetic or technique.

What do you like best about being an artist? The freedom
to choose.

What galleries represent your work? www.christinealfery.com.

Ganga Duleep

Ganga Duleep, Seeking Refuge, acrylic, 36 x 36.

Ganga Duleep, Seeking Refuge, acrylic, 36 x 36.

What are you trying to convey in this artwork? I was trying to convey the heartbreaking chaos of the refugee crisis today: the bloodshed, the flight through turbulent waters, the loss of everything each person previously held dear, being identified by a number instead of a name, and so on.

What is your creative process? If something I experience evokes strong feelings—awe, delight, disgust, despair, or empathy—I reproduce that memory without using reference materials like photographs.

What makes your work unique? This painting was done on aluminum. I can play with light in a unique way when I paint on metal because I can manipulate the way light reflecting off the painting changes the appearance of the work. I enjoy watching people walk back and forth in front of my paintings in shows, marveling at how the work changes from different angles.

What do you like best about being an artist? I cannot remember a time when I did not create art, so it is akin to all other essentials that support life, like breathing, eating, and sleeping.

What galleries represent your work? For 30 years I have owned my own gallery on Wall Street in New York City. The space is currently undergoing extensive renovations and will reopen in the spring. My work can be found at www.artganga.com.

Susan Lucas

Susan Lucas, Looking Across 3, acrylic, 30 x 30.

Susan Lucas, Looking Across 3, acrylic, 30 x 30.

What are you trying to convey in this artwork? In all my work, my objective is that my landscape-inspired paintings convey to the viewer the mystery, mood, or memories I see in a particular place. This is the view from our home. I hope that by not defining the details, the viewer can sense the peace and the beauty of that place, and perhaps be reminded of a special place of their own.

What is your creative process? Every painting begins with something I see, a place that triggers that desire to share how it feels to me. Sometimes I use photos, but more often I paint entirely from my memories of how a place felt more than appeared. I paint in acrylics on canvas, covering the entire surface in areas of color and line work.

What makes your work unique? I have a unique view of the landscape, which I filter through the lens of memory and mood. My paintings evoke rather than explain; the emotion with which they are created touches the viewer.

What do you like best about being an artist? No question about it, the best part is the people I have had the pleasure of meeting through my career as an artist.

What galleries represent your work? 1514 Home/In Detail Interiors, Pensacola, FL; Susan Lucas Studio/Gallery, Santa Rosa Beach, FL; Anne Hunter Galleries, Seaside, FL, and Soho, NY; www.susanlucasart.com.

This story was featured in the January 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art January 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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