Portfolio | Artistic Excellence 2017: Meet the Finalists

This story was featured in the December 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art December 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

Paula Willis Jones | Oklahoma

Paula Willis Jones, Snowbound, oil, 24 x 48.

Paula Willis Jones, Snowbound, oil, 24 x 48.

What inspired this artwork? SNOWBOUND came from a deep love for frolicking dogs! My dog romps and plays and loves the snow.

Where did you study art? I studied art for two semesters at the Lyme Academy College of Fine Art in Connecticut. The rest—and most—of what I’ve learned came from my mother, Mamie Willis. She is one of the best artists I know, and to this day, I don’t let a painting go public until she has critiqued it and given her advice.

What have been some of the highlights of your career? Having my work shown on the Martha Stewart Living television show and in the magazine. Having a solo exhibit at our state capitol to coincide with the inauguration of the new governor. Painting portraits for two Oklahoma governors. Participating in all of the Heart of the West shows at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, TX. Painting a portrait of Ochoa, the highest-money-earning quarter horse of all time!

What are your goals for the future?
I would love to be included in the Prix de West Invitational at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. My father-in-law says, “You can’t win if you don’t enter, and if you’re gonna run, you better run hard.” So, I intend to commit to entering that show.

What galleries represent your work? JRB Art at the Elms, Oklahoma City, OK, and www.paulawillisjones.com.

Debbie Daniels | Washington

Debbie Daniels, SJI Beach Rocks, oil, 20 x 32.

Debbie Daniels, SJI Beach Rocks, oil, 20 x 32.

What inspired this artwork? I have always marveled at the beauty of the beach rocks here on San Juan Island, particularly when the tide comes in and covers them with water, showing off their brilliant colors. There is something about the variation of color, when the rocks are wet, that makes me want to capture and preserve them.

Where did you study art? I am a self-taught artist with one year of study at Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, OH.

What have been some of the highlights of your career? Having my work accepted into several national and international juried exhibits, including winning an award for excellence at the Colored Pencil Society of America’s International Exhibition; the publishing of one of my drawings in North Light Books’ Strokes of Genius. My paintings are also in numerous public and private collections throughout the United States.

What are your goals for the future? Inclusion in more juried exhibits as well as further gallery representation, and to continue daily to take the beauty of what
I see and bring it to life on canvas.

What galleries represent your work? WaterWorks Gallery, Friday Harbor, WA, and Equis Art Gallery, Red Hook, NY.

Kathy Fieramosca | New York

Kathy Fieramosca, Autumn Reflections, oil, 13 x 16.

Kathy Fieramosca, Autumn Reflections, oil, 13 x 16.

What inspired this artwork? The idea for the painting started simply with a small white pumpkin that I bought at a farmer’s market. I loved the creamy white hue, and since it was mid-October, I decided to build a still life focusing on the hues of autumn: orange, burnt sienna, umber, and the creamy white pumpkin.

Where did you study art? I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Columbus College of Art & Design in Ohio. I continued my studies in New York City at the Art Students League and the National Academy School. In addition, I studied privately with Michael Aviano, Jon DeMartin, and Daniel Greene.

What have been some of the highlights of your career? One highlight came when I was invited to join the roster of portrait painters represented by Portraits Inc. Another came when I received a commission from the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, VA, to paint a posthumous portrait honoring the spy Adolf Tolkachev, a Russian citizen who worked with American agents during the Cold War.

What are your goals for the future? One of my goals is to have a solo show.

What galleries represent your work? Portraits Inc., New York, NY, and Flat Rock, NC; Sewell Fine Portraiture, New York, NY; Gallery 71, New York, NY; Francesca Anderson Fine Art, Lexington, MA; and www.kathyfieramoscaart.com.

George Ann Johnson | Texas

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

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

What inspired this artwork? This piece was inspired by an owl that visited a tree next to our house last fall. It was an incredible creature. My goal was to create grace, power, and beauty in a single image. The title CAPTURING reflects the persona of the owl.

Where did you study art? [Classes at the] Danforth Museum of Art near Boston. I also have taken many workshops across the country with some of the best [instructors].

What have been some of the highlights of your career? Before I focused on wildlife, I painted portraits. The family of Pasty Cline remarked that my portrait of her was the most realistic of all the portraits they had seen. That was heartwarming. In my current work with the Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge, I am able to interact with all the big cats. It was particularly interesting to draw a portrait of Michael Jackson’s former tiger.

What are your goals for the future? This year I am exploring new styles, colors, and tools in scratchboard. I am focusing on infusing what I call extreme realism into each piece, where the viewer is captivated by the detail. It’s a no-holds-barred approach to realism.

What galleries represent your work? Two Old Crows, Pagosa Springs, CO; Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge, Tyler, TX; and www.gajart.com.

Janel Maher | Tennessee

Janel Maher, Medicine Hat Dancer, bronze, 13 x 15 x 5.

Janel Maher, Medicine Hat Dancer, bronze, 13 x 15 x 5.

What inspired this artwork? The inspirations for these bronze sculptures are my interest in horses and their legends from all different cultures. I am very interested in Native American culture, and some tribes believed certain horses possessed “good medicine.” These horses were usually chestnut-and-white pintos with the chestnut marking of a medicine hat or warbonnet on their head. 

Where did you study art? I am a self-taught artist. I started drawing and painting at an early age, but then I discovered oil-based clay. I learned about armature and attended two great workshops early in my sculpting career taught by Dan Ostermiller and Fritz White. After that, I was off and running. I know horses, their anatomy, and their behavior from living on a farm, so inspiration is close by. Whether it is our own horses, poetry, a song, or sometimes just a comment I’ve heard, I never run out of ideas.

What have been some of the highlights of your career? I think one of my highlights was when I was awarded the Women Artists of the West President’s Award for my piece GALILEO at the 45th annual juried show. It was the first time this award was presented to a sculptor.

What are your goals for the future? My goals are to continue to paint and sculpt what people will like. It is always my goal for the viewer to see a subject that breathes life.

What galleries represent your work? Saks Galleries, Denver, CO; Worrell Gallery, Santa Fe, NM; Claggett/Rey Gallery, Vail, CO; and www.janelmaher.com.

Christina Ramos | California

Christina Ramos, The Artist, acrylic, 30 x 24.

Christina Ramos, The Artist, acrylic, 30 x 24.

What inspired this artwork? Beauty can sometimes be found in the most unlikely of places. THE ARTIST was inspired from that beauty. Southern California has its share of scenic landscapes and panoramic views, but it also has its share of urban decay. We do, however, have an amazing street-art community, that tries to bring some beauty to the areas that need it most. This painting honors those who go out and create their art in these places. My daughter, who is currently in art school, was my model. The mural behind her is inspired by one of the drawings in her sketchbook.

Where did you study art? I am primarily self-taught; however, I have studied at the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art, where I am currently a teacher. It is hard to find teachers who work in acrylic and teach traditional portraiture, so I have had to create my own techniques that translate into both the medium and subject matter.

What have been some of the highlights of your career? Being hired by the Golden paint company to be one of their working artists has been a great honor and an amazing opportunity. I get to travel and teach people about “all things paint.” I was also featured as an Artist to Watch in 2015 in Southwest Art.

What are your goals for the future? Just to work hard, be creative, and keep striving to be a better artist and a better human being.

What galleries represent your work? My work is available at www.christinaramosart.com.

Samuel Shelton | Texas

Samuel Shelton, Oil Bearer, oil, 30 x 24.

Samuel Shelton, Oil Bearer, oil, 30 x 24.

What inspired this artwork? Pigments suspended in such a luscious medium as oil will add luster, depth, and beauty to a painting. I wanted to paint a tribute to oil painting itself. The glowing aspect of the oil beckons the viewer to look a bit deeper at this beautiful substance.

Where did you study art? I studied for a time at the Academy of Art University and at Gold Light Atelier. But I am mostly a self-taught artist.

What have been some of the highlights of your career? Getting accepted into the Bosque Art Classic was good for me as a painter. Looking at my work next to other distinguished artists and being able to confidently say that it was on par with their work was encouraging for my career. Another highlight is seeing the reaction from people when they see my work in a gallery setting.

What are your goals for the future? My goal as a painter has always been twofold. The first is my belief that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. If my paintings are not telling a story of truths that are greater than me as an artist, then I might as well stop painting. The second would be to simply make a living through selling my work.

What galleries represent your work? Your Private Collection Gallery, Granbury, TX; Asylum Salon, Waco, TX; At Hello Lash Studio, Austin, TX; and at www.facebook.com/shelton.fineart.

Randy Van Dyck | Idaho

Randy Van Dyck, Bird Watch, acrylic, 30 x 16.

Randy Van Dyck, Bird Watch, acrylic, 30 x 16.

What inspired this artwork? Recently I have been fascinated with the concept of time, both metaphorically and physically. In the background I tried to capture that exact moment when the sun was just appearing through the mountains; 10 minutes either way would have dramatically changed the lighting and the mood. The vintage watch, while showing its age, marks the passing of time, and the birds are meant to represent renewal.

Where did you study art? Ages ago, I studied at the Art Institute of Seattle, but I believe that most of what we learn as artists comes through our own experimentation from within.

What have been some of the highlights of your career? I feel so fortunate to have had my work recognized as the subject of a feature article and on the cover of International Artist magazine. It was also a feature article in Acrylic Artist magazine.

What are your goals for the future? I will continue to challenge myself with new subject matter and ever-evolving concepts.

What galleries represent your work? Imprint Gallery, Cannon Beach, OR, and www.vandyckframe.com.

Kathryn Ashcroft | Utah

Kathryn Ashcroft, All the Colors of Black, oil, 18 x 24.

Kathryn Ashcroft, All the Colors of Black, oil, 18 x 24.

What inspired this artwork? My husband, who is a wildlife photographer, and I are always taking time to travel to Grand Teton National Park. One winter, on a bitterly cold January day, we were parked eating our lunch in the comfort of our heated Jeep, and a raven flew by to see if we would share a morsel. The sun was shining, and the colors on the raven just popped. My husband shot a few reference photos for me, and the idea for a painting was born. Using my artistic license, I decided to place it in a much warmer environment.

Where did you study art? I am [mostly] self-taught, but I have also had the good fortune of being able to study under a few artists that I greatly admire.

What have been some of the highlights of your career? Being accepted into the prestigious Birds In Art show at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, WI, in 2016 is one of my career highs. I was also invited to participate in the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition in Charleston, SC, in 2017, and I have been invited back for 2018.

What are your goals for the future? To continue improving in technique and style and have each painting be better than the one before it. I would also like to add more figurative pieces to my portfolio.

What galleries represent your work? Horizon Fine Art, Jackson, WY; Terakedis Fine Art, Billings, MT; Expressions Art Gallery, Sheridan, WY; JF Prince Gallery, Logan, UT; and www.kathyashcroft.com.

Jackson Lee | Hong Kong

Jackson Lee, Upstream and Downstream, acrylic, 26 x 36.

Jackson Lee, Upstream and Downstream, acrylic, 26 x 36.

What inspired this artwork? Watching the water flowing upstream and downstream in the river, I think that it’s like the lives of most people, a day-to-day existence with countless ups and downs. So, I would like this artwork to encourage the people of Hong Kong to appreciate the ups but don’t give up during the downs, and always keep peace of mind regardless of circumstances.

Where did you study art? I have not studied art particularly, but I graduated from my design and illustration course at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

What have been some of the highlights of your career? I went into the advertising field after graduation in 1984 and didn’t pick up a paintbrush for over 30 years. In 2014, I created a series titled Hong Kong in a Better Light. These 16 pieces were painted within 18 months and were a traveling exhibition during 2015-2016. To my surprise, I have received much positive feedback, encouragement, and some international awards!

What are your goals for the future? I was born and raised in Hong Kong. This is my home with all of my family, friends, and memories, which are deeply relevant and integral to my identity. To reciprocate the love, care, and support that this community has provided for me, I would like to preserve the legacy of Hong Kong, to show its vital spirit, through my paintings. I am planning my second round of exhibitions with a new series entitled Hong Kong in a Fresh Light in 2018.

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

Kaia Thomas | Arizona

Kaia Thomas, Deserted But Not Forgotten, oil, 8 x 10.

Kaia Thomas, Deserted But Not Forgotten, oil, 8 x 10.

What inspired this artwork? I love a scene with strong contrast, and this scene on this particular day certainly fit the bill. I was out painting near Chiricahua National Monument with fellow artist Glenn Renell not far from where I live in Arizona. The lighting was very surreal that day. There was a bright, hazy yellow atmosphere, which made the contrast between the sky and the abandoned homestead a very attractive subject. Old buildings inspire me as well, with their character and hidden stories—this place had both for sure.

Where did you study art? I’m primarily self-taught. I have taken plein-air workshops with J. Chris Morel and took a course on painting architecture and street scenes with Phil Starke through the Tucson Art Academy online. Learning and growing as an artist has been a lifelong adventure.

What have been some of the highlights of your career? First would be getting to do what I love to do and call it my job. I also had the honor of being juried into the Thunderbird Foundation for the Arts gallery at the Maynard Dixon Invitational Camp-Out, displaying my work alongside artists I admire and look up to.

What are your goals for the future?  To continue seeking my artistic voice and honing the skills to do so. I would also like to expand my representation.

What galleries represent your work? Thunderbird Foundation for the Arts, Mount Carmel, UT; Belleza Gallery, Bisbee, AZ; Endeavor Gallery, Benson, AZ; and www.kaiathomas.com.

Alejandra Gos | Washington

Alejandra Gos, Summer Trail, pastel, 9 x 12.

Alejandra Gos, Summer Trail, pastel, 9 x 12.

What inspired this artwork? This painting was inspired by one of the many marshy areas we have in western Washington state. I painted this piece while visiting my mom in Argentina (where I come from) as a gift for her birthday. She proudly displays it at her home along with many of my other paintings.

Where did you study art? I am a self-taught artist. I have had the opportunity to study with some of the best pastelists, and that has greatly improved my work and confidence since 2011, when I started my career in art.

What have been some of the highlights of your career? Earning an honorable mention in the landscape category of Pastel Journal’s Pastel 100 competition this year. Being accepted into the International Association of Pastel Societies annual juried exhibition this year; my piece was the first one to sell!

What are your goals for the future? To keep improving my landscapes toward a more impressionistic look. I also would like to establish myself as a colorist. I want my paintings to be bold and vibrant.

What galleries represent your work? Christopher Framing & Fine Art, Edmonds, WA, and www.alejandragos.com.

This story was featured in the December 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art December 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

MORE RESOURCES FOR ART COLLECTORS & ENTHUSIASTS
Subscribe to Southwest Art magazine
Learn how to paint & how to draw with downloads, books, videos & more from North Light Shop
Sign up for your Southwest Art email newsletter & download a FREE ebook

COMMENT