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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Lori Putnam: In Pursuit of Light

NOAPS Putnam Sicilian Roots

“Sicilian Roots”, 20×24, Oil.  Winner of Best Use of Light and Color in the NOAPS 2020 Spring Online International Exhibition.

It has been said that what makes for a good painting is not what you see, but what it makes you feel.  Without a doubt, this scene by Lori Putnam makes us feel the warmth.  With the sun behind us, we can imagine strolling up to the villa, and pausing to catch a breath.  The artist has given us this sense of warmth by the play of warm and cool colors in various degrees,  carefully placed to give us a moment to rest in the shadows.

NOAPS Putnam Close to home

“Close to Home”, oil on linen panel, 18×24, Illume Gallery of Fine Art

Coming from a career in graphic design, Lori left her own freelance business in 2005 to pursue art full time.  Since then she has studied with many artists, among them Dawn Whitelaw and Quang Ho.  She has traveled extensively for her art, and in 2008 she spent 8 months living and painting in Italy, taking time to fully absorb the lessons of her mentors.   She continues to be inspired by both contemporary artists and artists from the past, such as Scott Christensen, Carolyn Anderson, John Singer-Sargent, Sorolla and Nicolai Fechin.

NOAPS Putnam Safe Harbor

“Safe Harbor”, 30×40, oil on linen panel, Meyer Vogl Gallery

The genre that Putnam paints is not necessarily the point of her work; she is painting light.  She explores the “medium itself, using shapes, rhythm, color, patterns and pieces that weave in and out to create a painting that is, to some degree, representational.”

NOAPS Putnam More Precious than Rubies

“More Precious than Rubies”, oil on mahogany panel, 8×10 LeQuire Gallery

Putnam’s work is mainly in oil, though she also enjoys using gouache for it’s versatility.  She usually works on a panel; either with linen or gesso.  Her brushes are by Rosemary and she mainly uses Gamblin oil paint.  In the studio she tends to work with a variety of colors including: Cadmium Yellow Light, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Indian Yellow, Cadmium Orange, Napthol Red, Brown Pink, Quinacridone Magienta, Dioxazine Purple, Ultramarine Blue, Payne’s Grey, Cobalt Blue, Phthalo Green, Permanent Green Light, Cadmium Green, Warm White, Radiant Blue, Radiant Turquoise, and Titanium White.  En Plein Aire, her palette is minimized to only Cadmium Yellow Light, Napthol Red, Ultramarine Blue, and Titanium White.

NOAPS PUtnam New Dawn

“New Dawn”, 12×19, oil on stretched canvas, 1225 Gallery

Her working process varies, sometimes working out thumbnail sketches, color sketches, and preliminary studies for the final painting.  En Plein Aire her work begins with a thumbnail which denotes light and shadow, from which she stains the canvas.  From there she works from large shapes to small shapes, paying attention to retain the sense of value and color.   At other times, the painting is done more loosely, painting directly from the scene.  She prefers to paint from life, and if a painting does require use of a photo, Lori feels that her life painting experience enables her to do so successfully.

Lori is a well-known instructor, often taking her students as far as New Zealand for plein air painting.  When not teaching out of town, she enjoys her own spacious studio, replete with soaring ceilings and north light.

To work hard and enjoy the work, setting aside the ego, self doubt and fear in order to make room for honest criticism and growth… that is Lori’s best advice for success.

NOAPS Putnam Low Country Boil

“Lowcountry Boil”, oil on linen panel, 16×20, Meyer Vogl Gallery

Putnam’s work is represented by Illume Gallery of Fine Art, St. George, UT; LeQuire Gallery, Nashville, TN; Jack Meier Gallery, Houston, TX; Meyer Vogl Gallery, Charleston, SC; RS Hanna Gallery, Fredericksburg, TX; and 1225 Gallery in Charlotte, TN.  To view more of Lori’s work visit

To see the NOAPS 2020 Spring Online International Exhibition visit

Written by Patricia Tribastone, NOAPS President


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Linda Besse

NOAPS Besse Ice Bear

“Ice Bear”, 22×36, Oil, Winner of Best of Show from the NOAPS 2020 Spring Online International Exhibition.   Collection of the Artist.

This engaging scene presents us with a story for the viewer to create…the nearly monochromatic painting presents us with an image that impresses both with detail and weight.  We can feel the weight of the bear, the force of the impending growl, and the icy cool water.  Amid the mass of ice the bear is painted slightly warmer, giving us the impression of life.  The challenge of this painting is expertly met with the artist’s use of values and temperature, creating an immensely successful painting.

NOAPS Besse Shore Leave  “Shore Leave”, 30×24, Oil, Private Collection.

Linda Besse is best known for her renderings of animals in their natural habitats.  Though trained as a geologist with a Master of Science degree specializing in geochemistry, Linda became intrigued with painting while observing another artist paint.  Her dedication to the craft has spanned 20 years, with much self-study along the way.

NOAPS Besse Stealth - Amur Tiger[27730]  “Stealth”, 24×34, Oil, Collection of the Artist.

Linda has found her subject matter traveling to all seven continents and 40 countries…though inspiration can come watching the birds and animals from her kitchen window.  For her winning painting, Besse states: “I’ll spend hours in a small willow blind scanning the horizons for polar bears.  Just when I know I’ve spotted one, a quick look through the binoculars will reveal a large shiny…..boulder.  But, when a polar bear comes into view, it is so obvious.  Their white hollow fur almost glows and there is nothing quite like it.  Then I wonder how I could have ever mistaken a glacial erratic for this magnificent creature.  It is that glow which the background is designed to enhance.”

NOAPS Besse Woven  “Woven”, Oil, 33×44, Collection of the Artist.

Besse works exclusively in oils for their luminosity and depth of color.  Her palate consists of titanium white, cadmium red deep, cadmium yellow deep, Naples yellow, yellow ochre, sap green, viridian green, ultramarine blue, cerulean blue, Paynes gray, raw sienna, burnt sienna, raw umber, burnt umber, Van Dyke brown, and lately Crimson Lake and Phthalocyanine Blue Lake (Michael Harding brand).  Besse paints on gessoed boards, either commercially made or hand painted.

NOAPS Besse Painting in Progress  Painting in Progress, Oil, 13.5×20 (also see on artist’s blog:

Due to the nature of her subject matter, Besse works from photos, using up to 15 different shots to compose her painting.  Though the painting is done in the studio (along with her two cats), Besse always takes the time in the outdoors to take in the surroundings, memorizing the colors and feel of the place.  She draws directly on the gessoed board, and then paints alla prima, starting at the top of her painting and working downward, background to foreground.

Though she had won numerous awards for her paintings,  her greatest goal is striving for continuous improvement.  Growth for the artist is a lifetime study.

Linda encourages other artists to tell their own story, in their own way.  “Push yourself artistically.  Be bold and take chances and your work will continue to grow.”

The work of Linda Besse is represented by the Louisa Gould Gallery, Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts (Martha’s Vineyard)

To view more of Besse’s work visist

To view the NOAPS 2020 Spring Online International, go to

Written by Patricia Tribastone, NOAPS President

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2020 Best of America Small Painting Exhibition: Virtual Critique 2

It is said that the artist creates the art but once it is finished, the art belongs to the viewers. The viewers will respond, react, feel and see the art according to their own experiences, their background and their own life stories. They will come up with their own conclusions which might or might not match the original reasons or desires that led the artist to create the piece of art.


A Little R and R, 12×16 by John Caggiano

The beach grass shadows in this painting by John Caggiano immediately caught my eye. From a soft violet to a luminescence turquoise green, they are not only pleasing but they create a powerful statement in harmony and in unity with the colors of the ocean.  These shades also help to create a compositional line that starts at the lower right of the painting and takes us along a zig zag path to the ocean. The two chairs, while important in their meaning, are merely part of the zig zag line and their blue and yellow seem to be a pick of the surrounding colors. Adding to this feast of blue/green hues, the complementary color red towards the foreground creates energy and perspective. The white sand is actually a multitude of pastel colors. An impressionistic sky full of light and the bright colors in the ocean tell us the time of the day. It is probably a peaceful midday at the beach.
The brushstrokes are fast and loose adding to the vibrancy of this 12×16 soothing yet  dynamic painting.



Street Life, 10×8 by Donald Curran

Street Life is a 10 x 8 inches painting and it is amazing how much this small painting can tell us about contemporary life in the city. Imagine this painting being viewed 200 years in the future and gather all the information it would convey about our city life. Of course, the buildings, the traffic signs, and the cars are all there. Stores, light posts and even what looks like a garbage can or a fence are visible; however, the figure would give an entire narrative. Positioned at the center like in most classical portraiture, this figure and its background is very much from our times. A young man dressed in black with probably a t-shirt underneath and an open jacket with a hoodie. The beard is the style of many young men nowadays. The backpack over one shoulder hints a nonchalant approach. The cup in his left hand indicates he probably stopped to get some coffee, common practice of our days. On the right arm a skate board speaks of youth and of a carefree spirit “surfing” along city sidewalks. Even the face expression, captured in the eyes, would speak to each individual in a different way.
NOAPS Master Artist Donald Curran tells us much more in this painting. He makes us feel the cloudy weather of a snowy day. The edges are softened and broken with white speckles and even the skin has a tint of red from a cold day.
To top it all, Curran signed his painting in the top right corner but wait, is it his signature or a store sign?



Summer Afternoon, 14×18 by Barbara Nuss

In certain way, Summer Afternoon,  by NOAPS Signature Artist Barbara Nuss brings to mind the pastoral landscapes of the Dutch Golden Age. It was back in the 17th century when landscape became a genre of its own and it has been a favorite subject for both artists and collectors since that time. Barbara places the viewer on a hill providing a semi-aerial view of the meadow. The break of shadow and light further emphasizes our location as a viewer. It is like  viewing the scene through a lens.
The diagonal line of the hill creates interest and the trees on both sides frame the focal area. Dutch artists often placed cattle or horses at a distant and Barbara placed three horses leading the viewer’s eyes through an unmarked path from the first horse to the other two, then to the water, continuing to the distant forestation and finally to a cloudy sky. From our perch on the hill, we can easily deduct the time of the day given by the bright sunlight. Barbara even gives us an indication of an early Fall through the placement of colors around the canvas. Perspective is very well achieved with details and brighter colors in the foreground and a softening in the background.
This landscape makes me want to sit in the shade at the edge of the hill and from there be one with Nature and the pastoral life.



Yield, 14×6.50 by Blair Atherholt

Did you know that Still Life, while existing since ancient time, also became an important and distinct genre during the Dutch Golden Age? Artists create the Still Life paintings in their studio paying much attention to lines, shapes, color and of course light. In Yield, there are several interesting lines composed by NOAPS Signature Artist Blair Atherholt. While organic, there is no doubt that we see a vertical line in the small hanging branch. Its suspension in an apparent stopped fall adds mystery. Does it carry a symbolism? The title itself might Yield or imply a deeper meaning to this composition of course opened to the imagination of the viewer. Doesn’t the word Yield mean cease to argue, give right of way, relinquish possession as well as produce or provide? The apparent vertical line is stopped by the horizontal line of the ledge suggesting a feeling of stability and rest; however, not before the circle of the very well rendered plum is placed in between the vertical and horizontal lines.  We cannot miss the arch line at the bottom creating energy. The design carved in the stone also creates direction with a pointed leaf leading to the most illuminated part of the painting. All these different compositional lines make this painting. Imagine these same lines in different places and you will see that the entire feeling of the painting would totally change.
The chiaroscuro adds to the mystery and drama of Yield. The small details draw our attention and the light in each rounded fruit is treated with perfection taking into consideration the reflective light and the different changes in value to create a true three dimensionality for each shape in this painting.


Written by Hebe Brooks, NOAPS Master Artist and NOAPS Membership Director


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2020 Best of America Small Painting Exhibition: Virtual Critique 1

NOAPS 2020 BOAS Eisele

“Melancholia”, 11×14, Oil, by Nick Eisele, Winner of Best of Show at the 2020 NOAPS Best of America Small Painting National Juried Exhibition.

The seemingly simple arrangement of objects seen in Nick Eisele’s painting becomes more complex as we look more deeply into the scene.  Although the objects are separated by large amounts of space, they are united by the path of light and the unified color scheme.  The blues of the small vase are repeated in the foreground and on the silver objects; and the warms of the brass are carried through in the background and the surface of the table.  The value structure, established in dark tones, presents us with the small vase as the focal area.  The highlights on the objects then lead us around the painting, keeping us engaged as we delight in the mysterious shadows.  The drawing is superb, and the careful rendering is offset by the loose brushwork in the foreground.  Reminiscent of artists such as Chardin and American painter Emil Carlsen, this painting is a worthy choice for Best of Show.

NOAPS 2020 BOAS Farnsworth

“Stepping Out”, 16×20, Oil, by Bill Farnsworth”

The painting by Bill Farnsworth is an excellent example of atmospheric perspective.  The foreground is described by dark shadows and bright lights, while as the scene recedes the values are closer together along with more muted colors.  The viewer has a place to stand, and is given the sense of being part of the scene.  The composition is well constructed, with the linear elements and shadows on the left leading us to the chickens in the foreground.  Our eyes then move to the middle ground where the fence leads us to the background and back to investigate the shadows in the barn.  We have the sense of a warm, comfortable day, inviting us to linger and enjoy the peaceful scene.

NOAPS 2020 BOAS Hendricks

“Lunch at the Brown Dog, (Telluride, CO), 12×16, Oil by Laurie Hendricks

This painting by Laurie Hendricks is a great example of not only light and shadow, but also of warm and cool colors.  The cool colors of the interior contrast the warm light spilling in from the windows, casting the figures mostly in shadow.  The viewer can feel the cool air in the space as a moment in the busy day is captured.  The brushwork gives the feeling of movement, and as we view the painting we can imagine the next movement, the clink of the glassware, and the hum of lively talk at the bar.  The impressionistic style of the painting is a perfect choice to give the viewer just a glimpse of place and time.

NOAPS 2020 BOAS Hughes

“Rocky Creek”, 16×20, Oil, by Neal Hughes.

This plein air painting by Neal Hughes is a contrast of stillness and movement.  The peaceful pool of water allows us a place to rest after the rush of the stream above.  The artist used texture to give his focal point volume and movement, while the calm areas are smooth and flat.  We have a sense of light and shadow, with hints of blue indicating the sky above.  The stream comes flowing out of darkness, giving the feeling of a dense and damp forest, from which the water escapes with joy.  The trees create a framework for the composition, and the foreground rocks give the viewer a place to stand.  The colors on the rocks are anything but grey, with hints of muted blues, violets and pinks.  The sure strokes of the artist have given us a true impression of this fleeting moment, allowing us to share the beauty of nature as it hurries past.

Written by Patricia Tribastone, NOAPS President

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Capture the Best High Res Image of Your Painting

There is a wide variety of good information available on how to best photograph your own artwork, should you decide to do it yourself. A simple google search will direct you to several great sources. That’s not what this post is about. Instead, this article is about how to obtain the best High Res files to use for accurately reproducing and representing your artwork in print.

Also, since many painting organizations, including the National Oil and Acrylic Painters’ Society (NOAPS), pull the image submitted with the entry through Juried Art Services for printing the exhibit catalog, it’s important to upload the best High Res image you can when submitting to an exhibition.

Before we delve into the two basic methods for capturing a High-Res image of your original artwork, we first need to introduce a must-have accessory — the Color Calibration Chart.

NOAPS Blog picture 2 March 2020

CAPTION: Color Calibration Chart, front and back with color recipes listed.

Color Calibration Charts or Guides have been around for a long time but in today’s fast-paced technology-driven world, its use has fallen to the wayside. And that’s a shame because there really is nothing better to assist in color correction and adjustment.

How does it work?

First, the chart should be placed alongside your artwork (so it’s under the same lighting conditions) and included in all High Res images. Do not crop it out of the shot. The chart can be cropped out of images for use on websites and entry submissions.

The chart includes squares printed with 100% Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow ink, the inks used in most four-color printing processes, as well as 100% black, white and a value range between which is helpful in correcting for white balance and exposure.

The squares of color in the chart are a “known” and provide a frame of reference for use in adjusting an image for accuracy before printing.

Color Calibration Charts vary greatly in price, here are links to an affordable option, and a professional version available through Amazon.


Methods for Capturing High Res Images

High Res Scans

Scanning is by far the best option as far as image quality and clarity, every inch of the painting will be in focus and under the same lighting conditions. Scanning original artwork is not always practical especially if your work is large and has lots of thick paint creating a very textured surface.

300dpi is considered High Res, but when scanning a painting — I always scan at a higher dpi. How high? It depends on the capabilities of the scanner. My artwork is scanned at 1200dpi. Why so high? It offers more flexibility down the road with the option to reproduce it much larger or select a detail area for print and not have it pixelate as a result.

Remember, an image can always be reduced in size/resolution but not the other way around. Read “Answering the High/Low Res Question” for more on that topic.

The size of the painting isn’t a total deterrent to scanning because portions of the scanned artwork can be stitched together using Adobe® Photoshop® or a similar photo program.

Many printers offer High Res scanning and have large bed scanners.

High Res Photographs

Traditional film photography is rarely used these days so I am only going to talk about digital photography. Some things to keep in mind are:

Ask for the raw files in addition to the traditional images provided. Some photographers automatically include these while others do not.

Ask for the largest file size their equipment will provide. Some photographers, as a courtesy, provide 300dpi and 72dpi versions.

Ask for uncropped versions that include the Color Calibration Chart/Guide.

Most importantly, talk to the photographer about how you might be using the photos. High-quality giclée prints, exhibit catalog, promotional materials are all good examples. I say might because we don’t know what the future holds for us and often the High Res images are all we have after a painting has (cross your fingers) sold!

The bottom line, leave it to the professionals! With the cost of the equipment, their knowledge, and the fact that technology is always advancing, it’s worth it.


Using a Smartphone Camera

The entry deadline is tomorrow, there isn’t enough time to get the painting scanned or professionally photographed, so we snap a picture with our smartphone. Sound familiar?

I almost hate to mention this because it truly is not the best option but I’ve done it and I’m betting you have too — so let’s talk about the best way to do it.

Most smartphone camera apps take photos at 72dpi, with the only variable being image dimensions. My iPhone images automatically open in Photoshop® to 52×46 inches at 72dpi.

Creating a SMALL High Res from a LARGE Low Res Image

NOAPS blog picture March 2020

Before taking the photos, make sure the setting in the camera app is for the largest image size possible. Take photos of the painting and open in Adobe® Photoshop® or other photo editing software.

  • Crop the image to just
  •  the artwork, it’s important to make all edits before saving as a High Res image file.
  • Check the image size to
  •  see what the new height and width measurements (dimensions) are after being cropped.
  • Using a photo editing program,
  •  set the resolution to 300dpi and reduce the dimensions of the cropped smartphone image. A rough guideline to use is
  • 72dpi x width ÷ 300dpi = minimum reduced size.

In the above example, the math works out to be 72dpi x 20 inches = 1440 pixels ÷ 300dpi = 4.8 inches for the minimum reduction in size. Therefore the image would need to reduce to at least 4.8 inches wide or smaller at 300dpi for it to be an acceptable high res file.

This only works because you are shrinking a large size (height x width) Low Res image to a small size (h x w) High Res image. It’s not the best method but it works in a pinch. However, this method should not replace the more effective methods mentioned earlier for generating the best quality High Res image of an original painting.

Whether a painting has sold, been given as a gift, donated to raise money for a charity, painted over, or possibly damaged due to a natural disaster — in the end, photographs (or scans) are often the only visual record we have. As artists, we owe it to our future selves to capture the best High Res images we can today. And don’t forget to back up the files, computer’s fail too.

Written by Nancy Murty, NOAPS Publicity Director
If you found this post helpful and would like to learn more about reproducing your artwork head over to my blog, there are more great posts on RGB vs CMYK color reproduction, Getting the Color Right and on Answering the High/Low Res Question.

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Tim Breaux: A Tip and a Tool for 2020

Do you want to paint better in 2020?

Is that your resolution?

Well, you are not alone.  Whether you are a part time beginner or a full time pro some things are universal.  Deep down we all want to paint better.

Today I want to share one of my new tools and a useful tip that will get your new year off to a great start.

The Tool:
My 24 x 30 inch glass palette broke recently.  I had painted hundreds of paintings from it so it was really past its prime.  Years of scraping and cleaning left it scratched and pitted.

The untempered replacement glass cost about $13 from the hardware store.  This time I painted a nine step value scale on the back side using painters tape and cheap bottles of black and white acrylic paint. Since it was untempered I had to be very careful not to break the glass throughout the process.

Now I can place spots of color right on top of the value scale to test the value.  No more holding the palette knife or brush up to the painting and guessing.

The Tip:

Color is composed of hue, value and chroma. We typically name colors according to the hue component: red, green, yellow, brown, grey. That is how we are taught and how we are wired. But colors are actually the hue in the context of a certain value.

I Utilize this new palette to follow a two step process when choosing a color.

Step one – Name the hue of the color.

Step two – Name the value of the color by placing it in the correct value space.

Safety tip -If you do this yourself keep in mind that you will constantly be working with a large sheet of sharp and dangerous glass. Safety is paramount.

What if there was just one thing you could learn today that would allow you to paint the way you always wanted? That is my goal for all of the information I share with you in these newsletters. The truth is we usually need several “just one things” that build over time, eventually leading to revolutions in our work. I have had several of those a-ha moments over the years. They were hard fought battles at the easel, on the computer and through interaction with artists I admire and trust. I want to share that knowledge with you here.

Written by Tim Breaux.  To see more about Tim, visit his website at

For a copy of his free e-book on value and color, go to:

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