John Buxton: Historical Artist

This painting by John Buxton is full of possibilities; an early morning ride, a secret mission, or perhaps it’s the General’s horse, and they are heading into battle. Nothing gets in the way of the story; the drawing, the composition, the lighting, and the colors are all in perfect harmony. We can’t help but construct the narrative in our minds, and our imaginations take us away. “Full Moon” originated at a Kentucky photo shoot for a commissioned painting, where the artist spent the day driving oxen wagons through a creek. The young man with the horse provided the inspiration, and the artist transformed the image into a nocturne.

John Buxton is an historical artist. He has spent his lifetime producing art, whether as an illustrator or a fine artist. His paintings grace the walls of museums, he has garnered many national awards, and is a Living Master with the Art Renewal Center.

“The Agile Bark Canoe”, Oil, 22×34, Private Collection

The genre in which Buxton works is considered ‘Western’, however his paintings depict scenes from the 18th Century Eastern Woodland Frontier. These scenes are carefully researched, through reading, consulting with historians, and by actually visiting the sites he wishes to paint. He takes many photos of the landscape in order to accurately portray his idea. He then uses as many as 15-20 photos to capture his idea, then draws his image, adjusting the light and the figures as necessary.

“Great Falls of the Passaic”, Oil, 56×35, Private collection

With decades of art experience, John Buxton is able to create these scenes with lifelike reality. His technique varies somewhat based on what the painting may call for; he may begin with a toned canvas or a white surface, and his palette is determined by the needs of his subject. He prefers to work with alkyd oils for their fast drying time.

“Winter Windfall”, Oil, 22×34, Private Collection

He paints mostly on stretched linen canvas, and prefers flats or filberts of various sizes. To get an idea of how Buxton works, and the amount of research, thought and skill go into his paintings, watch his short video at

“Ox Wagon II”, Oil, 14×18, Private Collection

When asked for a few words of wisdom for our readers, here is John in his own words:

“…wisdom is supposed to emit from the tongue of someone my age , but ……
You have all heard it before : if you want to be the best at what you set out to be or do… then give it 100 % and don’t get sidetracked. Hopefully you have chosen something that you truly love … that perhaps you are a bit better at than average. Build on it. LEARN LEARN by DOING IT  over & over & OVER again. Your mistakes are your learning stages … cherish them. Remember , there are many many ways to be an artist … many many styles and concepts. Learn from as many as possible. Fill your art brain with as much knowledge as you can pack in. Years later it will pop out to solve some problem and amaze you. Most of all HAVE FUN along the way. It is an amazing life.”

“God’s Gift”, Oil, 36×21, Private Collection.

John Buxton’s work can be seen on his website at, and is represented by the Lord Nelson’s Gallery, Gettysburg, PA.

To see the NOAPS Best of America Small Works National Juried Exhibition go to

Written by Patricia Tribastone, NOAPS President

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Carmen Gordon: The Inward Significance

“Humility”, 10.5×8.5, Oil, by Carmen Drake Gordon, Private Collection. Winner of Best of Show at the 2021 NOAPS Best of America Small Works National Juried Exhibition, Private Collection.

The emotion in this winning painting by Carmen Drake Gordon is palpable. The delicate rendering speaks softly, quietly, strongly. It is first a depiction of emotion, secondly a portrait. The expression is understood at once, whether the interpretation is sadness, wonder, questioning, or prayerful. It is understood by all, each in our own way; and undeniably a masterful painting.

Carmen Drake Gordon has been an artist from her very first memories. Working as a student teacher at The Academy of Classical Design, she developed a strong foundation in drawing and art history. From there she shared a studio with Paul S. Brown, “who mentored me and taught me how to see color and paint.” Along with other workshops, she has also been mentored by Michael Klein and Louis Carr, who helped guide her with both art and galleries.

“Rusty Enamel and Violets”, 18×30, Oil, Private Collection

Many artists have provided inspiration for the sensitive and delicate technique Gordon has achieved. For her still life and floral work, masters such as Fantin-Latour, Victoria Duboug and Rachel Ruysch along with contemporary artists Klein, Claudio Bravo, Henk Helmantel, Katie Whipple and Kathleen Speranza were influential. For her portrait work, she has studied the work of Colleen Barry, Will St. John and Alex Venezia.

“Dandelions”, 15.5×13.5, Oil, Private Collection

Gordon has chiefly focused on Still Life, which was the core of her training. She has recently turned to portraits and figures, a goal since the beginning of her career. Her main medium is oil, however she also works with charcoal and graphite. Often her paintings begin with a quick sketch, or at times and depending on the subject matter, she will compose a completed drawing for the painting. Very often the painting begins with the drawing directly on the support, done in raw umber.

Inspiration for her work comes from that which surrounds her; her farm, the roadside flowers or “time worn antiques…that stir my imagination into the past. There’s a sense of calm or oneness.” Her portraits are often inspired by the “emotion that the religious or allegorical work the masters would produce. I look to recreate this emotion and use antique clothing to inspire my stories.”

“Self Portrait”, 9×12, Oil, Collection of the Artist

Gordon uses a traditional palette of Raw Umber, Burnt Umber, Ivory Black, Ultramarine Blue, Brunt Sienna, Alizarin Crimson, Chinese Vermillion, French Vermillion, Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Raw Sienna, and Lead White. With an assortment of brushes, she paints on an aluminum composite panel which she prepares herself.

“Nasturiums”, 24×18, Oil, Private Collection.

Living on a farm, her day begins by tending to her animals and garden. This time spent in nature serves to bring joy and calmness, essential to her creative process. “If I am painting flowers, I will spend some time gathering them from my gardens, fields or nearby roadside ditches. Sometimes I will spend some time in my library searching for answers and inspiration”.

“Forsaken”, 23×48, Oil, Collection of the Artist.

Carmen Gordon has always aspired to be an artist, and her greatest accomplishment is the realization of that dream. Her strong foundation in drawing has allowed her to express the ideas and emotions that inspire her paintings; “It (drawing) is the foundation of the work, and then all the rest comes in play…and with regards to the rest, I think of a quote by Aristotle, ‘The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance’.

To see more of Carmen Drake Gordon’s work visit her website at

Her work is represented by Collins Galleries, Orleans, MA, and SugarLift, NY, NY.

To see the paintings from the 2021 NOAPS Best of America Small Works Exhibition, visit

Written by Patricia Tribastone NOAPS Blog Director

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2021 Spring Online International Exhibition: Judge’s Choices by Christine Drewyer

“At the Threshold”, 36×30 by Charles Young Walls
Best of Show in the 2021 NOAPS Spring Online International Exhibition

Best of Show;   At the Threshold

The very moment I look at this amazing piece of art, I am drawn into the figure and her story. The extraordinary skin tones, the exceptional balance of light and dark values which expertly move my eye throughout the composition. Remarkable edges and restrained color throughout the piece and the amount of subtle detail, which is in the drapery and carpets, then crescendos into the luscious reds of the robe on the woman which only facilitates the feeling of an ancient story. I am certain I must already know this story without ever hearing it. The use of glowing light which helps to create a sense of space and time continues to bounce the energy around this exquisite painting. This piece just oozes an exceptional amount of poise and grace so rarely seen in a contemporary piece.

“Taking the Train”, 24×12, by Gayle Madeira; Second Place in the 2021 NOAPS Spring Online International Exhibition

2nd Place;   Taking the Train

There is a remarkable sense of place created by the minimal approach to this engaging piece. I can almost feel his thoughts, sense his quiet humble grace all emphasized by the posture and composure in this man. The simple graphic presentation is a perfect example of less is more. I know where he is, the gleaming light reflected off the seats, the balance of careful patterning of the linoleum floor against the vertical stripped upper third of the painting continues to draw the eye upward and surrounds this elegant figure with a quiet dignity which is so current and honest. Outstanding painting which emanates poise and a natural grace.

“Shelley at Strasburg Railroad”, 30×40 by Lee Alban. Third Place in the 2021 Spring Online International Exhibition

3rd Place;  Shelley at Strasburg Railroad

This remarkable painting just possesses so many qualities of excellence. The drawing skill is impeccable, the use of restrained color, the narrative qualities and the historical significance all contribute to an outstanding piece of art. Perfection of perspective and composition and the reflections are extraordinarily rendered. Each texture is believable and exquisitely handled. This piece of art is skill at its peak all the while reminding us of the working people and their important and relevant stories.

“Tioga River on 140”, 16×12 by Liane Whittum Best Landscape in the 2021 NOAPS Spring Online International Exhibition

Best Landscape;  Tioga River on 140

The rich and quiet use of atmosphere in the subtle color harmonies of the peach tones which sing perfectly against the plethora of greens. It is so difficult to portray a scene which emanates a sense of calm and peace while using such a restrained palette. Lovely perspective which draws the eye up through the water and finishes with a glowing sky at dusk. Gorgeous and beautifully handled brushwork which bounces from fine detail into a soft lustrous and pleasing backlit row of trees which creates a beautiful sense of distance and place.

“Fringe Benefits”, 12×12 by Claudia Seymour, Best Still Life in the 2021 NOAPS Spring Online International Exhibition

Best Still Life;  Fringe Benefits

The first thing that struck me about this still life was the luscious use of color. It is extremely difficult to create a full spectrum colored piece and still have the color harmonies of those Yellow & orange apricots bouncing off the lovely rich blues in the pottery. The eye travels easily around the entire composition and the subtle gray background is a perfect neutral to enhance the remaining rich colors. The paint is controlled but still possess a quality of life and movement.

“Emotions IV”, 80x120cm by Agnes Zaszkaliczky Best People in the 2021 NOAPS Spring Online International Exhibition

Best People; Emotions IV

What an extraordinary of a surprising presentation of portraiture! The skin tones are translucent and play in perfect harmony with the busy patterns of the suggested Art Neuveau background and the dress. It is remarkable the way both the engaging glance as well as the negative space created by the body balance out the composition in such an interesting and contemporary presentation. I am intrigued and drawn into her story instantly while still wanting to explore all the delicious pattern work which has been exceptionally rendered. Amazing Oil painting.

“Macaroons”, 11.5×10.5 by Marcia Palmer Best Use of Light and Color in the 2021 NOAPS Spring Online International Exhibition

Best Use of Light & Color;  Macarons

It is almost impossible to praise enough the exquisite use of color and light in this enchanting piece. I believe that I am looking at a beautiful little vignette of an intimate café. The variety of textures are impeccably handled, from the cloth of the tea towel to the plastic & ribbon and then there are those macarons! Bravo, I could just take a bite! The reflective qualities in both the glass pieces as well as the silver of the teaspoon are pure perfection. Bravo, exceptional painting.

“The Drunken Concubine”, 80x60cm, Most Innovative in the 2021 NOAPS Spring Online International Exhibition

Most Innovative;  The Drunken Concubine

There is a lyrical sense of movement which is created and amplified by the arms and hands which surround the key figure in this intriguing painting. Compositionally, the supporting characters are there to draw even more attention to this central figure and her story. There is a tension created by the posturing of the ancillary players as well and an almost sense of dread on their part to an obviously oblivious star character. The limited palette and stark black background only enhance the engaging story and a need to know what might happen next. To accomplish this much emotion with only the movement and placement of the figures is exceptional use of composition. Brilliant painting.

“Entranced”, 21×20 by Cher Pruys, Best Narrative in the 2021 NOAPS Spring Online International Exhibition

Narrative Excellence;  Entranced

Having spent hours transporting my own daughter to countless hours of dance classes, this scene is particularly familiar. The artist has captured the innocence and intrigue felt by these young dancers so precisely! It so beautifully tells the story of young beginners who are enthralled with what the more experienced dancers are doing. They are believably engaged and possess that appropriately disheveled look that endears the little ones to us. Handled with such charm and amazing graphic qualities – exquisite story telling and brilliant use of paint.

Our sincere thanks to Christine Drewyer, AWA, WAOW-Master, NOAPS for judging the 2021 NOAPS Spring Online International Exhibition. Her time, effort, and breadth of knowledge are much appreciated.

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Christine Drewyer: A Celebration of Beauty and Creation

“Golden Glimmer”, 14×18, Oil, 2021 NOAPS Best of America Small Works National Juried Exhbition at the Principle Gallery, Charleston, South Carolina.

Serenity is the first feeling that comes to mind when viewing “Golden Glimmer” by artist Christine Drewyer. The scene is idyllic, with a path beckoning us to enter. The play of light coming through the trees, the placid water and evening sky create a sense of peaceful contemplation. To paint what one sees is the beginning, but to paint a feeling is masterful.

Christine Drewyer is a full time artist who is known on a national level for her sensitive landscape paintings. She has had a wide variety of experience in the field of art; ranging from attending the Maryland College of Art & Design for two years, to owning and running a successful art gallery in Annapolis, Maryland, to becoming the President of the American Women Artists. Her career has provided her with a vast knowledge base, not only in painting but also in the business of art.

“Peaceful Pastures”, 24×30, Oil, received 2nd Place in the Masters’ Category at the Women Artists of the West 51st: America the Beautiful Exhibition.

Presently, Drewyer works primarily in landscape, and also paints animals and the occasional still life. She prefers oil as her medium, and works from life as often as possible. For her landscapes, she finds inspiration in many places, in particular the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she has been known to paint plein air in the middle of a stream! The plein air paintings and sketches become part of her reference material, along with photos and a working memory of the place. When painting in the studio, she often uses an underpainting, then uses charcoal to sketch in the scene before moving into color.

“Lake Blooms”, 30×30, Oil, shown in progress and final painting

The artist’s palette consists of warm and cool colors of the primary triad, plus greens, violets and some earth colors. For each painting, she “create(s) a palette specific to each piece using a triad of a consistent blue, yellow and red tone. I stick to those three throughout the painting which keeps it cohesive and more luminous. I use a warm and cool temperature of each primary and add several earth tones to my palette.”

“Violet Interlude”, 18×18, Oil, winner of the America the Beautiful Masters Award at the Women Artists of the West 51st: America the Beautiful Exhibition.

Christine has had great success with her artwork; in 2018 she won the “Purchase Prize Award” at the American Women Artists National Juried Exhibition “Full Sun” at the Haggin Museum in Stockton, CA. She has served as the President of the Women Artists of the West from 2012 to 2020, and is currently President of the American Women Artists (2020). The two most recent awards have been at the 2021Women Artist of the West 51st America the Beautiful Exhibition.

In her own words, Christine feels that “the making of art is a celebration of beauty and creation…The muse can be a fleeting thing at best and I find it such an honor to be able to do what I absolutely love every day. Because of that, I never take it for granted and always paint what I am excited to paint.”

Christine Drewyer will be the Judge of Awards for the National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society 2021 Spring Online International Exhibition.

Her work is represented by the Berkley Gallery, Warrenton, VA; The Main Street Gallery, Annapolis, MD; the Rich Timmons Gallery, Doylestown, PA; and the Seaside Gallery, Pismo Beach, CA.

To view more of Christine’s work, visit

Written by Patricia Tribastone, NOAPS President

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Paula Holtzclaw: Capturing the Atmosphere

“Sundown”, 13×20, Oil on Linen Panel, available at the 2021 NOAPS Best of America Small Works National Juried Exhibition, the Principle Gallery, Charleston, SC.

The quiet warmth of the sunset is a scene that we always remember, but few capture convincingly. “Sundown” gives us not only the scenery, but the feeling of heavy air about to change to darkness, never the same sunset again. Atmosphere in a landscape painting is the one thing that can surely communicate feeling, and “Sunset” has that atmosphere.

“Moonlit Whispers”, 24×30, Oil, Highlands Art Gallery

Paula Holtzclaw has devoted her time and effort to painting with great success. As a self-taught artist, she has gained national recognition in numerous organizations. Her knowledge and skill, gained from workshops, self-study, and hours and hours of practice has developed into a signature style comprised of realism and impressionism.

“A Brand New Day”, 24×20, Oil Private Collection

Paula draws inspiration from the beautiful yet elusive coast of the eastern US, particularly the marshlands and inlets, uninhabited except for wildlife. She has been influenced by Tonalist painters such as Inness and Whistler, for their “ability to evoke emotion through creating atmosphere and moodiness”. Contemporary artists such as Nancy Boren, with her freshness and humor, and Elizabeth Robbins with florals and portraits.

“Blue Ridge Lights’, 12×16, Oil, Private Collection

Holtzclaw works mainly in oil currently, having switched from acrylics. Her paintings begin with a toned canvas upon which she then wipes out the rough design. She has long realized the importance of painting from life, from plein air to still life. Though she may work from photos, the plein air experience is evident in her moody landscapes.

In her studio, one could see more than one work in progress at a time; paintings in different stages await the final brushstrokes as the artist takes the time to “wait and see what needs to be done.”

“Orchids and Pears”, 16×20, Oil, Private Collection

Paula is currently at Master Signature Artist with the American Women Artists, Women Artists of the West, a Signature artist with the Oil Painters of America, the National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society, and many more. She has won numerous national awards, has been featured in prestigious art magazines, and participated in fine art exhibitions in museum settings.

As an assiduous artist, Holtzclaw knows the necessity of many hours of easel time; “just keep at it. Put in miles and miles of canvas. Not every painting works, but in every painting is a lesson”.

The National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society is proud to have Paula Holtzclaw on the Panel of Award Judges for the 2021 Best of America Small Works National Juried Competition.

“Shining Seas”, 24×30, Oil, Currently at the WAOW National Show at the Western Museum of Art, Kerrville, TX

Her work is represented at Anderson Fine Art Gallery, St. Simons Island, GA; Cheryl Newby Gallery, Pawleys Island, SC; Highlands Art Gallery, Lambertville, NJ; Hughes Gallery, Boca Grande, FL; and Providence Gallery, Charlotte, NC.

To see more work by Paula Holtzclaw go to

To view the 2021 NOAPS Best of America Small Works National Juried Exhibition, visit

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Lee Alban: Setting Yourself Apart

NOAPS Alban Stephanie-LadyOfSteam 24x36

“Stephanie-Lady of Steam”, Oil, 24×36

This highly detailed painting does more than just display an incredible skill, it tells a story. As the young lady looks into the light, we can see that she is probably hot, tired, but still paying attention to the job at hand. We can read her readiness, and we wait while we expect her to turn to us and push the knob. We can feel the hot steam in the background, smell the grease and hot metal, and hear the humming of the engine. A masterful work makes us feel.

NOAPS Alban Shelley at Strasburg Railroad 30x40

“Shelly at Strasburg Railroad”, Oil, 30×40

Lee Alban is a painter of stories. With his deft hand he creates a narrative that compels the viewer to look carefully into the painting, and work through the story. Lee devotes himself to his art full time, spending long hours in the studio creating his complicated compositions. He often works in a series, and the painting above is part of a collection called “Silk and Steel”, depicting “women who work on steam trains, but also includes women who build, maintain, and operate vintage steam tractors and other farm equipment.”

NOAPS Alban Avery Restoration 30x40

“Avery Restoration”, Oil, 30×40

After his career teaching high school science, Lee enrolled in the Schuler School of Fine Art in Baltimore, where he honed his realistic style of painting. He works exclusively in oil, though in the past also worked in watercolor and pen & ink. His mastery is not limited to figures; he also paints still life, landscapes and portraits. He is inspired by artists ranging from Bouguereau to Sargent, and comtemporary artists Richard Schmid and Harley Brown.

NOAPS Alban May The Warm Winds Of Heaven Blow Softly Upon Your House 24x30

“May the Warm Winds of Heaven Blow Softly Upon Your House”, Oil, 24×30

His process includes making his own paint and Maroger medium using black oil, and works on panels, hardboards, or stretched canvas. He derives his compositions from his photographs, using the computer to design the best image. He sometimes paints an underpainting in raw umber, particularly for complicated paintings.

NOAPS Alban To Touch The Earth Is To Have Harmony With Nature 18x24

“To Touch The Earth Is To Have Harmony With Nature”, Oil, 18×24

Alban has been a prolific painter, and his greatest achievement to date has been the Gold Medal of Honor from the Allied Artists of America 107th Annual Exhibition. In Lee’s words, “I learned a long time ago that when you enter the highest levels of competition ALL of the artists are unbelievably good. You need your best skills, best composition, and a lot of luck..”

Lee’s best advice to artists? “Learn from the artists you admire, take their workshops, study their videos, but find your own unique pathway.” That is what sets you apart.

Lee Alban’s work is represented by Reinert Fine Art, Charleston, SC; Lovetts Gallery, Tulsa, OK; Main Street Gallery, Annapolis, MD; Southwest Gallery, Dallas, TX; and The Good Art Company, Fredericksburg, TX. To see more of Lee’s work visit

Lee Alban is a Signature Member of the National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society, and is on the Panel of Award Judges for the 2021 NOAPS Best of America Small Works National Juried Exhibition.

Written by Patricia Tribastone, NOAPS President

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Donna Nyzio: The Pull of the Subject

“4 Southern Belles”, Oil on Clayboard, 18×36, Winner of the Best Painting by a Signature or Master Artist in the 2020 NOAPS Best of America National Juried Exhibition at the Cutter & Cutter Gallery, St. Augustine, Florida.

The painting by Donna Nyzio brings together numerous aspects of an outstanding painting; repeated and interesting shapes, color cohesion, edge control, balanced composition, atmosphere and light. But there is something more than the artist’s technical skill; there is a story. The boats are positioned as if they are speaking to one another, that they are in some sort of collusion. The interest doesn’t stop at the focal point, we continue to investigate the myriad of lines and shapes to interpret more of the story. This masterful painting is both strong and soothing, a perfect balance.

“Summer with Betty M”, Oil on Claybord, 12×24, Collection of the Artist.

Donna Nyzio lives near the ocean; so painting her locale is a natural choice. In her words, “My studio is located on the Crystal Coast of North Carolina in a small town named Beaufort. Boats and fishing of all types and sizes can be found and painted with relative ease. I enjoy learning about different boats first hand from the guy who built them, worked on them, or retired from them. The passion for their boats, coast and fishing is infectious and motivating…As I meet these working watermen and boats, I become more interested in their history, current trade, and the future of fishing…so I end up becoming more entangled in their nets.”

“Local Catch”, Oil on Claybord, 12×24, Private Collection

Donna plans these paintings well before hitting the canvas; she often visits the seaside to capture in paint, in her sketchbook or her camera the various boats and their fishermen to find a composition that will create a captivating painting. She feels that it is important to spend the time observing her scene in person in order to not just capture the image, but capture the story as well. Her plein air paintings are not usually finished paintings, but will take back to the studio her plein air study, photos, and most importantly, her memory of the scene in order to create the finished work.

The materials that the artist uses consist of either Innerglo Panels or Amersand Claybord, Rosemary brushes, and Vasari and Holbein paints. Her palette changes frequently, consisting of opaque and transparent colors separated into warm and cool. Oil paint is her preferred medium, though she started with airbrush and has experimented with many other mediums.

“Autumn Sails”, Oil on Claybord, 24×24, Collection of the Artist

Donna currently is a self-supporting full time artist, enjoying a creative life having built a strong foundation for her art business. She encourages artists to make painting a habit; to find your vision, find ways to learn and improve, and just paint. “And every once in a while, paint with abandon and without rules or goals…and see where it takes you.”

Donna is a Signature member of the National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society, a Signature member of the American Society of Marine Artists, and a Signature member of the American Women Artists. She has won many awards for her paintings, both local and at the National level.

Donna is a member of the Panel of Judges for the 2021 National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society Best of America Small Works Exhibition at the Principle Gallery in Charleston, South Carolina. She will also demonstrate her technique during the opening weekend events at the Principle on May 7, 20211. Go to for more information.

To view more work by Donna Nyzio go to She is also represented by Pinckney Simons Gallery, Beaufort, SC; Louisa Gould Gallery, Martha’s Vineyard, MA.

Written by Patricia Tribastone, NOAPS Blog Director

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Elizabeth Robbins: Awards Judge

Many thanks to our 2020 Fall Online International Exhibition Awards Judge, Elizabeth Robbins. Elizabeth is a Master Artist with the National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society. As the judge, Elizabeth took many hours to look at each painting in our exhibition, and took the extra time to write notes on the top award winners. Congratulations to all the award winners, and to the accepted artists. With over 1400 paintings submitted, and 200 accepted, the competition was at a very high level.

Here are the comments by Elizabeth:

As an award judge I look for these things in a painting

1.  My first gut reaction.   I have learned that my first reaction to a painting really tells me whether it deserves an award or not

2.  The emotional impact of the piece.  This goes along with my gut reaction.  My emotional response to a painting could be completely different than someone else.  Everybody’s voice matters.  As a judge I try to listen       to every voice but there are some that resonate more with me than others

3.  Harmony:  Does the painting have a pleasing color harmony.  Is there any color note that just feels out of place or do they all feel cohesive together

4.  Composition:  Does the painting have a composition that feels like a piece of music.  Do elements of the painting connect with one another or do they just feel as if they are all isolated.  

5.  Value relationships:  Of course this is a big one.  

6.  Line and edges:  I love a lyrical line in a painting.  I’m also looking for a variety of edges either more hard or soft as long as not everything is lost or everything is found.  

7. Drawing.  I really don’t mind a painting that the drawing is slightly off because nothing is perfect in life.  I’d rather view a painting that has a very strong emotional impact but some flaws than a painting that is perfect and lacks emotion.  True art comes from the heart not the head.  Someone else might disagree with me but I want to be moved by art.  

Best of Show “Capture” by Richard Johnson

Wow was my reaction when I saw this one. The movement in their bodies is incredible. I loved the drama. I loved the touch of red. The skin tones are remarkable. Edges excited me. I wanted to keep looking at this painting waiting for the next move.

Second Place “Boca Light Sunset” by Neal Hughes

 Beautiful Landscape.  Great composition.  I loved the large cloud shape in the sky in relationship to the smaller land mass. I loved the grays in this painting yet it feels very colorful

Third Place “Roses and Grapevines” by Katie Liddiard

As a Rose lover and painter I just loved this.  So quiet and yet so poetic.  The color palette is just so pleasing.  I loved the more abstract design in the lower leaves.  It’s a painting I would love to have in my collection.

Best Still Life “Spanish Memories” by Jeremy Goodding

Everything about this painting is beautiful.  They lovely grays. The form of the vase, the edges.  The fact the all the flowers are facing down with the exception of the one on the bottom right was intriguing.  It has a story to tell

Best use of Light and Color “Jacobs Ladder” by Jason Sacran

This has a lot of drama to it.  The light peaking from being that tree and the sun rays are lovely, the color temperatures in the shadows are wonderful.  I loved that touch of pinks and violets in the tree.  It has depth and emotion.  Another one I would love to own.

Best People “Conquer” by Pavel Sokov

With this painting I loved the darker shape behind him that followed his body down the canvas.  The look on his face has strong emotion.  The edges are wonderful. Great Harmony

Best Landscape “Light Dance” by Matt Cutter

My first reaction to seeing this painting was just WOW.  The line of rocks and light that lead me to that upper left crescendo is magnificent.  I loved the quietness of the palette yet you can feel the warmth of the sun hitting the water.  Bravo!

Most Innovative “Pursuit of Happiness” by Natalie Wiseman

I would have loved to have seen this one in person.  The complexity of the design is mind boggling.  I love the message it gives.  Very complicated piece and quite original.  The touch of the yellow smiley face is brilliant.  Well Done

Narrative Excellence “Helen” by Sandra Kuck

Beautiful painting, full of emotion.  Lovely skin tones.  The background detail tells a story. Great harmony.  Her outstretched hands with the full bouquet of roses on the left to lead you to the one rose on the right.  Great narrative.  

Check out my new online membership course

Elizabeth Robbins

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Linda Dunbar: The Search for Excellence

NOAPS Dunbarr Ricco of Black Wall Street 36x24 Oil RS Hanna  “Ricco of Black Wall Street”, 36×24, Oil, RS Hanna Gallery, Fredericksburg, Texas.  Winner of ‘Best People’ in the 2020 NOAPS Spring Online International Exhibition

The very best portrait paintings always have a story to tell.  In Linda Dunbar’s painting of Ricco, the story of the model is evident in his facial expression and gesture.  The background adds to the story with not only the colors but the repeated angles of the sitter and the hard edges.  The active background and position of the model are uniquely contemporary, and add to the complexity of the painting.

NOAPS Dunbar the Young Artist 48x36 acrylic CA  “The Young Artist”, 48×36, Acrylic, Collection of the Artist.

Linda Dunbar always had a penchant for art, but it was not until later in life that resources allowed her to pursue it full time.  Her search for knowledge led her to many workshops, including local artist Ross Myers, and later well-known artists including Derek Penix, David Leffel, Sherrie McGraw, Rose Frantzen, Jeff Legg, Kelli Folsom, Lori Putnam, Daniel Keyes and many others.  Her main goal is her search for excellence in her paintings, no matter the subject.  She is inspired by artists such Sorolla, Fechin, Zorn and Sargent, along with contemporary artists such as Richard Schmid and Quang Ho.

NOAPS Dunbar Smoke Em if You'be Got Em 36x36 Oil PC  “Smoke Em if You’ve Got Em”, 36×36, Oil, Private Collection

Dunbar works mainly in oils, but also acrylics and watercolors.  the portrait and figure are her main genre, but she will venture into other genres for a diversion, most recently in abstracts.

Linda is currently focusing on a double primary palette, consisting of different versions of warm and cool colors.  She prefers Rosemary brushes, and uses a variety of oil paint brands.  The support she most favors is Centurion Linen.

The painting process for Dunbar begins with careful planning, thinking through the goal of the painting and the process and skills required to express it.  Although she prefers to paint the models from life, this is not always feasible, and works most of the time from photos on a tablet.  The tablet allows her to hone in on details of the models, a useful tool for today’s artists.

NOAPS Dunbar In Progress 36x36 Oil  Unnamed Work in Progress, 36×36, Oil

Continuous learning is a constant for Linda; she takes time to study art through reading, visiting galleries and museums, and by just observing her environment.  Her advice to readers is to value that constant learning process, as she states, “there is no end to learning or improving and for that we all are grateful.”  Linda has also found great learning through teaching, and finds inspiration in helping others succeed.

For Dunbar, winning the NOAPS Award was a boon to her confidence; the validation for years of hard work and attained skill.  But her learning is not over; she encourages all artists to regard themselves as never beyond learning.  And once learned, to share with others that valuable insight and skill so hard-earned.

To view more of Linda’s work, go to

To view the 2020 NOAPS Spring Online International Exhibition, go to




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Cathy Pitts: Mixing Realism and the Abstract

NOAPS Pitts Light Tapestry, oil on belgian linen on board, 47x57 inches, private collection

“Light Tapestry”, 47×57, Oil on Belgian Linen on Board, Private Collection.  Winner of Most Innovative from the 2020 NOAPS Spring Online International Exhibition.  Contact the artist at

The swirling shapes of light and dark dance throughout the painting and immediately send our eyes moving.  As we investigate, we see the repetition of the image, with the division of space that beats at a pace we can literally match to a heartbeat.  The artist has revealed her technical skill, but also the ability to create an interactive painting which engages us at an abstract level.  The result invites the mind to inquire, over and over.

NOAPS Pitts Magenta Sunset, oil on canvas, 48x72 inches, collection of the artist  “Magenta Sunset”, Oil on Canvas, 48×72, Collection of the Artist

Cathy Pitts would describe herself as a Contemporary Artist, mixing representational images with the abstract.  She was educated at UCLA, graduating with a BFA in theater and set design.  This training led her to the visual arts, with a unique vision for conceptual work.  She worked designing sets for the Palm Springs Dance Company, then began a dedicated study and career in fine art.  She attended classes and workshops, and found a mentor in Kwok Wai Lau, from whom she has gained much insight over the course of 20 years.

NOAPS Pitts Her Majesty, oil on canvas, 48x72 inches, private collection  “Her Majesty”, Oil on Canvas, 48×72, Private Collection

Pitts finds her inspiration from many sources ranging from random streams of visual thought to the real life objects around her.  “Light and movement are the central themes of my work, as it represent life and hope.”  In her painting “Light Tapestry” she challenged herself to take an image, remove the color, repeat the image, all in many layers of paint and patience, to create a “vibration, or dance of the shimmering light throughout the glass landscape.”

NOAPS Pitts East Meets West-Chi Fusion Series, oil on canvas, 48x72 inches, collection of the artist  “East Meets West: Chi Fusion Series”, Oil on Canvas, 48×72, Collection of the Artist

Her work is not limited to one genre or medium, revealing versatility in her choice of subject matter and materials.  She also works in photography and mixed media, incorporating metals, acrylic, wood and neon.

Cathy Pitts is a disciplined artist; she works at her passion 7 days a week in the studio for eight or more hours.  She works from both photos and life, while planning her compositions with much deliberation.  The paintings then take on their own life, as she departs from the photo or still life set-up, and becomes immersed in the painting.  Her palette consists of a variety of colors, chosen for their intensity of pigment.

NOAPS Pitts Brave the New World, oil on canvas, 60x50 inches, collection of the artist  “Brave the New World”, Oil on Canvas, 60×50, Collection of the Artist

This accomplished artist has shown her work internationally, having created paintings for three shows for Art Revolution Taipei.  Sponsored by the New York Contemporary Art Fund, she was selected to represent the US in Taiwan.  Cathy has exhibited in over 40 national and international juried exhibitions, has won numerous awards, and has been published in many publications.  Her work is widely collected in the United States and abroad.

Cathy Pitts is a self-represented artist; to see more of her work visit

To view the 2020 NOAPS Spring Online International, go to

Written by Patricia Tribastone, NOAPS President and Blog Director

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