Joseph Sundwall: Getting to the Heart of It

Joseph Sundwall, whose painting “Eyes Right! I said Right!” was the winner of the “Most Original Award” sponsored by Southwest Art Magazine at the NOAPS 2016 Best of America Exhibit, is but one example of a talented painter whose work crosses multiple genres.

joseph-sundwall-eyes-right-i-said-right   “Eyes Right! I Said Right!” 24×18, Oil on Linen

Joseph Sundwall was raised in a suburb of Chicago at a time when the arts were an integral part of a child’s education.  Encouraged by family and art educators he found his art path early on, and completed his first oil painting in third grade.

When it came time for college he chose the Kansas City Art Institute, where he majored in graphic design after the first year of foundational studies.  Key elements of the program focused on color theory, composition, photography, typography, printing and development of negative space.  The minimalist approach aimed at clear and simple execution and stressed problem solving relevant to the objective of the work.

After college, Joseph moved to New York City, and worked for several years as a graphic designer and type designer, returning as well to studying oil painting at the Arts Students League, the National Academy of Design, and St. Oswald’s Studios in London.

Joseph has studied with some prominent teachers, including David Leffel, Ron Scherr, Everett Kinstler, and Charles Hardaker.  Because of his innate curiosity about the process of painting and his design background, he is always aware of the “big picture”; how the central focus of the painting relates to the whole, and the intention of the painting.

joseph-sundwall-caesar-mistretta   “Caesar Mistretta” 24×20, Oil on Linen

The subject of equestrian and animal painting began for him after watching a polo match, and he has since included equestrian events and  all kinds of animals in his work.  The human face and figure have also been integrated into his work: “I feel that I was somehow destined to paint the figure-humans and animals in motion and at rest”.

joseph-sundwall-baitfish   “Baitfish” 34×34 Oil on Linen

Today, Joseph divides his time between figure painting and landscape, which usually includes animals and birds in particular.  The artist prefers to paint from life, using simple oil sketches as reference material over photographs (though photographs become a necessity when painting fidgety children and animal subjects).

His painting style relies on wet-into-wet techniques, plus the juxtaposition of areas of flat paint with modeling and vigorous brushwork playing off areas of studied strokes.

joseph-sundwall-the-great-inland-sea   “The Great Inland Sea” 20×20, Oil on Linen

“I’m a realist painter,” Joseph says, “but more than just making things look ‘real’, I’m interested in putting down no more than is necessary to get a point across…to discover what can be left out or merely implied; this requires more conscious involvement in the process of painting for me, and invites greater participation by the viewer”. This is the heart of it!

The inspiration for “Eyes Right! I Said Right!” was a group of hounds waiting in the kennel to perform in competitive regional trials in Aldie, Virginia.  Sundwall finds this breed to be particularly “comical, childlike and a little confused, always bumping into each other and making us smile at their antics.”

For Joseph, a usual day in the studio consists of taking a few quiet moments to gather his thoughts about his paintings in progress.  This helps him to clarify what needs to be done next for his paintings, and takes the pressure off for completing a painting before the final touches are determined.

The deepest joy for Joseph is that moment when a viewer can connect deeply with one of his paintings; “for when the heart opens all barriers are dissolved, and there are no longer two of us, but we are one.  Art can do that, and that’s the real beauty of art…it reminds us of our essence”.

Joseph has taught oil painting privately and at regional art associations in New Jersey and New York, and regularly demonstrates the art of portrait painting before arts associations.  He currently lives in Montgomery, NY, and enjoys painting en plein air in the celebrated Hudson Valley.  Joseph is represented by J.M. Stringer Gallery in Vero Beach, FL. and Portraits North in Lexington, MA.

Visit his website at:, and his blog at:

To see more of the paintings included in the 2016 “Best of America” exhibition, visit


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Suzie Baker, Art with Energy and Passion

As the winner of the “Best Composition” award at the NOAPS 2016 Best of America Exhibit, I interviewed Suzie with some questions about her art and her process…her answers struck me with a sense of intense energy and passion for her art.  Here is the interview:

Artist Suzie Baker   “Vigil”, oil on linen panel, 30×24

PT: What got you started on your path to art?

SB: I was one of those art kids, continually drawing, painting, creating and leaving eraser shavings all over the dining room table.  When it was time to go to college, I knew my major had to be related to art.  Always a pragmatist, I chose to major in Graphic Design figuring I would be able to get a job with benefits and a reliable paycheck.  I received a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising and Fine Arts from Louisiana Tech University in 1992.  Following my degree program, I worked as an ad agency Art Director before trading my Pantone swatches for a brush and palette.  That transition came when my family moved to the Middle East in 2008 with my husband’s job.  That major life event served as a reset button for me.

PT:  Any mentors along the way?

SB:  I had some terrific early teachers in high school and college.  After returning from the Middle East in 2010, I began seeking out artists whose work I admired and signing up for their workshops.  Over the years, I’ve studied with Clayton Beck, Rob Liberace, Judy Carducci, Dan Gerhartz, Jeffery Hein, Jill Carver and Michael Lynch.  Every one of those workshops informed my paintings and contributed to the way I approach the canvas today.  I also participated in the Cecilia Beau Mentorship program.  To my great fortune, I was mentored by Rich Nelson who is still available to me when I need some “been there, done that” advice.

PT: Of artists that have gone before you, do you have particular artists that you admire and that have been inspirational to you?

SB:  Well, let me just jump on the Sargent, Zorn, Sorolla, Fechin bandwagon and add to that Velasquez, Rembrandt, Cassatt, Dean Cornwell, Norman Rockwell, William Wendt…now I’m just getting all stream -of-consciousness, and I haven’t even started to name living artists and my peers that regularly inspire me.

PT:  What genres do you prefer?

SB:  I am not limited to a particular genre, though I do stay within the representational realm.  I regularly paint landscape, still life, and portrait/figure work.

PT:  What was the inspiration for the piece that won the award in the last Best of America show?

SB:  That’s an easy one.  The model.  Dave Malin, friend and fellow artist, often models for me.  Dave is a collector and maker of costumes.  I’ve painted him as a cowboy, doctor, patriot, pirate and (not ironically) a Renaissance man.  Every year for the last three years, I have done at least one ambitious piece with Dave as the central character.  I plan ahead somewhat, but ultimately, I let my original plan morph into the final setup before beginning to paint.  In the painting Vigil, oil on linen, 24×30, Dave takes on the persona of a doctor holding vigil through the night.  The book at his left hand is Dr. Chase’s, Third and Last and Complete Receipt Book and Household Physician from 1891.  I hope the viewer is compelled by the narrative of this painting to wonder about the condition of this physician’s patient.

PT:  Can you describe your working process?

SB: I hired Dave for a day comprised of two three-hour sessions.  I did the setup, lighting, block in and a majority of the painting on the face and hands from life.  I left the still life on the table at his left elbow in place to work on in my studio.  I brought the painting to completion from photographs I took and my established color notes from when Dave was present.  Note about using photography: I feel obligated to point out that there is no substitute for working from life.  You just don’t get the experience of accurate drawing, color and value range without it.  When you do use a camera, particularly in low light situations, a good SLR camera with a fixed 50mm lens (to avoid distortion) and a minimum knowledge of how to use it and set white balance is a must.

file-feb-15-3-06-54-pm   Here is Suzie’s palette

Included here is a recent study for a larger work I did with Dave titled, “To Every Purpose”. This shows my process of working from block-in to finished painting.

Artist Suzie Baker   Artist Suzie Baker   Artist Suzie Baker   Artist Suzie Baker

PT:  How do you start your day at the studio?

SB:  I wish I could say that I was regimented about my day in the studio and that I paint every day, but that is just not the case.  If you are a working artist, you know that time can easily be monopolized by the day-to-day business of art: email, book keeping, marketing, studio upkeep, framing, gallery relations…all have their demands to be obeyed.  I can say, however, that I am working most every day, sometimes it’s in my home studio, or at my travel easel with a painting group, or in my beloved Toyota Sienna minivan traveling to Plein Air events or teaching workshops around the country.


Painting En Plein Air at Olmsted Plein Air Invitational 2016.

PT:  What is your greatest achievement to date?

SB:  Honestly, it’s 23 years of marriage.  Admittedly, this is less of an achievement for me than my husband; I got the sweet end of that deal!

PT: Do you have any words of wisdom for our readers?

SB:  I often say that your best art supply is a supportive spouse/relationship!  Find one of those and take excellent care of it.

Also, draw, draw, draw!  I know it’s tempting, especially if you’ve waited until retirement to start art-making, but drawing is too foundational to skip over.  The great thing about drawing is that it teaches values as a byproduct which gives you a leg up once you move over into color values.  I habitually carry a sketchbook.  Additionally, I often take breaks from painting to do life drawings, and my paintings always benefit from the break.

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Brent Flory: Stories Behind the Images

The stunning portrait “The Showman” by Brent Flory, winner of the 2016 Fall Online International “Best of Show” is an arresting image.  This beautifully painted portrait, with the intense blue eyes, well-balanced composition and vivid colors is not just about Brent’s ability to paint.  This portrait tells a story; it lets the viewer in on the obvious possibilities, but leaves the rest of the story to the viewer.  And that was the intent of the artist.


“The Showman” by Brent Flory, Oil, 12×16, Private Collection

Brent Flory was educated in Illustration at Brigham Young University, and there his most influential teacher, James C. Christensen, inspired in Flory the idea of not just painting well, but painting well and telling a story.  He cites painters and illustrators of the past who inspire him as well, such as Norman Rockwell, Dean Cornwell, N.C, Wyeth, Russell, and Remington, all who were able to narrate wit, wisdom and humor through their art.  It is this narrative in his artwork that sets Flory apart; for example, his fantasy work “Window of Opportunity”, where Flory says he has included “the A-Z at the top of the arch for apple to zebra and all the opportunities we are given with letters and language.  Then the beautiful valley though the window for the ‘sometimes’ wonderful opportunities we have but miss because we are looking in another direction.”


“Window of Opportunity” by Brent Flory, Oil, 24×20, Private Collection

Today, Brent’s inspiration comes mostly from the history of the West.  As a young boy he was exposed to books mainly dealing with the West, a subject matter that continues to inspire him.  Living on a ranch in Wallsburg, Utah, and travelling in the western United States has given him access to many people and places that continue to feed his imagination.  His painting, “Mahwissa’s Gift” is a portrait of an American Indian woman, who tells “an amazing story about one of the survivors of the massacre of Black Kettle’s camp on the Washita and Custer”.


“Mahwissa’s Gift, by Brent Flory, Oil, 24×12, Private Collection


“And Jill Came Tumbling After” by Brent Flory, Oil, 30×40, Private Collection

In the studio, Brent starts the day with fresh paint, and uses a palette of warm and cool red, yellow, green, blue and burnt umber.  He mostly paints on Masonite, but uses canvas for larger pieces.  His process consists of first getting the large areas of the painting covered, and then returning to the painting to adjust values and colors.

As for Brent’s greatest achievement, it is his next painting.  His commitment and effort come from his mother’s words of wisdom, a saying above her computer: “The wishbones will never replace the backbone”.

To view more of Brent Flory’s work, visit his website at

Brent’s work can be viewed at “Going to the Sun” gallery in Whitefish, MT and “Beartooth Gallery” in Red Lodge, MT

To view the NOAPS 2016 On Line International Exhibit, visit


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Scott Royston, Painter with a Vision

It is easy to see why Scott Royston’s painting; “He Got Game” won Best of Show at the NOAPS Best of America Exhibition 2016 at the Addison Gallery in Massachusetts.  The painting is stunningly vibrant, perfectly executed, and hits every note for a true masterpiece.  Among Scott’s many honors and distinctions, he considers this award from NOAPS his greatest achievement to date.

he_got_game_icon “He Got Game” 26×22, Best of Show, NOAPS Best of America 2016

                                      Collection of the Artist.

Scott’s interest in art began as a child, and continued throughout his education both in public school and at the Baltimore School for the Arts.  His art education continued at the Schuler School of Fine Arts completing his Graduate Year in 1999.  Since graduating his extensive resume reflects an artist truly committed to excellence in his craft, with many distinguished awards, including Signature status with NOAPS and Master Signature status with the Oil Painters of America.


“Freedom’s Colors” 36×24, Private Collection

Scott has had many positive influences in his art career, including middle school teacher Mr. Heil, the Schuler School which taught him “how to paint”, and OPA member Joyce Pike.  He cites Old Master artists William Harnett, Jan Van Huysum and other Dutch painters for his inspiration, but above all, his inspiration and dedication to his art are a direct result of his deep Christian faith and commitment to that faith.

Scott’s working process starts with an idea, one that inspires him, that is unique and often sends a message.  He works directly from life, starting with a detailed drawing to scale.  He carefully measures everything at this stage, and then continues with an underpainting.    His colors are often more intense than he sees in life, giving the viewer a heightened sense of his reality.

simple_splendor_icon “Simple Splendor”, 14×11, Private Collection

Scott’s message to aspiring artists and experienced artists alike is simple, humble and of utmost importance: “Hone in on your drawing skills.  Take every amount of mentoring you can get.  Be a sponge…absorb, learn, and take it in.”

For more information on Scott Royston, visit his home page at

To see thumbnails of the “Best of America” 2016 exhibit, visit and go to “Best of America” page.




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NOAPS Signature and Master Exhibit at the Eisele Gallery, Cincinnati, Ohio


The NOAPS Master and Signature Exhibit for 2016 is sure to be a stunning show, hosted by one of the oldest and finest art galleries in Cincinnati.  The Eisele Gallery is known for it’s offerings of 18th, 19th and 20th century American art as well as contemporary local, regional and national artists.  The gallery most recently hosted the Oil Painter’s of America Eastern Regional Exhibit, and will host the OPA’s National show in 2017.  The gallery’s owner, Doug Eisele, is excited about the NOAPS show, and is looking forward to the arrival of the paintings beginning November 1st.

If you are thinking about visiting the NOAPS Exhibit, be sure to check out the city’s art museums.  The Taft Museum, a small art museum which boasts a fine collection of European and American art, is a “real gem” according to Doug Eisele.  The museum is open Saturday and Sunday 11-5, and Tuesday – Friday 11-4;  Another museum for visitors is the Cincinnati Art Museum which houses African, Asian, Native American, European, and American art, textiles, photographs, and more.  The museum is open Tuesday – Sunday 11-5;

Other attractions in Cincinnati include the recently improved and developed Riverfront area, with many fine restaurants and shops.  And don’t forget about the Bengals, who will host the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, November 20!!  (OK, I’m from Western New York…!)

There is one thing for sure…although you can view the selections of the NOAPS Master and Signature show online at, I can highly recommend seeing the show in person.  I am always overwhelmed and delighted when I have seen a show online, and then in person.  The colors will be richer, the images more powerful and moving.  The impact that a painting has in person is no comparison to the digital image…and you will be sure to be inspired by this amazing selection of paintings by our foremost artists.


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More Than a Study


          Allow me to introduce myself: my name is Pat Tribastone, and I am your new blogger for NOAPS.  Although I started out in pastel painting, most of my work is now done in oil, thanks to the reintroduction of the use of walnut oil, and safer options for solvents.  As a representational artist, I paint mostly still life and portraits, with an emphasis on color, light and shadow.

Although I could write more about the techniques of my own work, perhaps more interesting is the essence behind what and why I paint.  As artists, we all know that we paint because we love the process, the result, the expression, and so on.  We’ve all read about that.  But what goes much more to the core of my painting is the desire to bring out something beautiful.  Something that someone might look at and see the quiet, the overlooked, the simple existence of everyday objects.  Still life might be looked at as just a study, but when more closely observed, these objects take on a life, and like all paintings, invite the viewer into the world of the painting.   My desire is to paint these objects with sensitivity, such that the viewer yearns to touch them, to be a part of the world they are looking into.

So on and on we chase after that elusive element of painting…the element that makes one fall silent upon viewing our painting; the element that tells us we have a masterpiece.

mandarins-and-sketch-book  old-fashioned-sauce

Pat is a Signature member of NOAPS, a juried member of the International Guild of Realism, a juried member of the Salmagundi Club of NYC, a Master Pastelist with the Pastel Society of America, and a Master Circle Artist with the International Association of Pastel Societies.  She maintains a gallery/studio in Canandaigua, NY.

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Marc Chatov – Drawing on the Soul of the Subject

Marc Chatov was the Best of Show winner for NOAPS Spring 2016 Online International. His painting Goldfinch was sold as a result of the exhibit. We congratulate Marc once again and we are pleased to share with you this article about Marc and his art.

Article written by: Celeste McCollough

When Marc Chatov was just 6 years old he could be found sitting on the floor of his father’s studio drawing pictures. Roman, Marc’s father, would encourage Marc to price his works, which Roman would then buy. Marc’s prices ranged from 25 to 81 cents. Roman Chatov, was Russian- born and classically trained as a muralist, figurative painter, and portrait artist. Marc’s uncle, Constantin Chatov, was also a portrait painter and concert pianist. When Marc wasn’t drawing pictures for his own enjoyment, he was typically found sitting for his father, whose passion for painting was all consuming. Marc jokes “I became an artist so I wouldn’t have to sit for paintings anymore.”

marc4Marc attended his home town college at Georgia State University. Like many traditional artists at that time, he found that what the University taught was in conflict with his passion for traditional realism. He remembers his art teacher telling him, “Realism in painting is dead.” Not satisfied with that predicate, Marc began a serious apprenticeship with his father, thus initiating his career as a representational artist. In addition to attending Art Students League, Marc studied and copied the masters and consumed every art history book he could find.

In conversation, Marc reveals the depth of his passion and knowledge. He talks art history like most people discuss current events. His students prize his knowledge and uncanny ability to spot their affinity with particular painters in the annals of art history, which enables him to suggest artists they should research and study in developing their own personal expression.

mc-the-old-grinder-aka-the-ol-coffee-mill-e1439569263718Although Marc is widely known as a painter of people, he also loves to paint still lifes. “I find the still life to be the most biographical form of art. A still life yields information, not only of the time period, but also of the taste and personality of the artist. I’m drawn to objects that have a history or a story – materials made by hand, hand thrown pots, cups, woodworks – to me they have the creator’s touch, feel and personality. Sometimes I’ll deliberately juxtapose objects that I love, like the antique coffee grinder, against a plastic coffee bag that is totally manmade and objectively cold. We had the Stone Age, the Iron Age and the Bronze Age; now we’re in the Plastic Age. ”

When viewing his portrait works, one can clearly see that Marc employs no set formula. Rather, each piece stands alone. Marc says an individualized approach to each painting is important, because “each person is different; I try to go beyond likeness to capture the essence of the person.” His subjects have said he has an ability to capture an image that seems to depict their very souls.

chatov-1While Marc acknowledges the importance of the spiritual aspects of his life, when it comes to successful works of art, he goes directly to the nuts and bolts of his craft. In particular, Marc points to skillful drawing as the lynchpin of all that he does. For this reason, he incorporates drawing into his daily process and practice in numerous ways.

Marc says he usually starts his day with thumbnail sketching, and
it is not unusual for this sketching process to point him in the
direction of his day’s work or of future works. For the thumbnail sketch, Marc is apt to use whatever medium is at hand – pencil, charcoal, or ballpoint pen. “The important thing is to allow the mind to wander and play without too much editing.”

mc-goldfinch-e1458576591520Likewise, if he has a model that day, he often begins his work with an hour or more of 30-second to 5-minute gestures. Marc maintains that gesture-drawing is important because one must find and express the essence of the pose immediately. He often tells his students, “What if you’re on a bus or train and you see that pose that you have to get down? You may have 5 minutes to get it down in your sketchbook, or you may have 30 seconds. You never know. The more you practice quick gestures, the better you will be prepared to capture the necessary information immediately.”

Moreover, when working with a model in the studio, the initial gesture drawings often help Marc to identify and design a pose that will bring out the best from the model. From there, the process can be very unplanned and organic.

marc-2Marc’s recent work, Goldfinch, started with such a process of gesture drawing. When he saw the model with arms uplifted, he knew he had a pose that would form the basis of the painting. “Although most of my paintings start with an idea and drawing sketches, often times, for me, the creative process is not completely preconceived.” This painting, started from a moment’s gesture. Then, it sat in the racks for two years before he had his “Aha!” moment to finish it. While the piece started as a nude figurative pose based on a gestural work-out, on a later date, his favorite model, Eden, showed up at his studio wearing this costume. Upon seeing her, the pieces fell into place and the painting took off.

“Goldfinch” recently won BEST IN SHOW at the National Oil & Acrylic Painters Society International competition as well as PORTRAITURE AWARD OF EXCELLENCE at the Oil Painters of America 25th Annual National Exhibition of Traditional Oils 2016.
Marc also believes in the importance of drawing for drawing’s sake. He currently is working on a drawing of a cast of Ariadne. The cast stands in the corner of his studio, and he has spent

countless hours losing himself in working and refining the drawing in charcoal. Why spend so much time on the drawing of a cast? Marc, who has painted the portrait and figure for more than forty years, finds this a necessary part of maintaining and improving his skill in capturing the precise likeness of the subject. In a sense, he says, you can “fake” a likeness in paint. It is in drawing that one discovers the true nuance of the subject.

For Marc Chatov, the ability to capture the essence of a subject starts and ends with drawing. In his view, one can never draw enough.


See NOAPS Spring 2016 Online International in our website at:

NOAPS Fall 2016 is now taking entries. See the prospectus at:



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