The Final Choices

NOAPS Paula Holtzclaw Spring Camellias 20x24  “Spring Camellias” 20×24 by Paula Holtzclaw from the 2017 NOAPS Spring Online International

The deadline for entries into the 2017 NOAPS Best of America Exhibition is quickly approaching, and many of us are making our final decisions on which paintings to enter, or we may be putting the final touches on our pieces.  The choices can be difficult; we may have our favorite paintings for reasons that are very personal.  The paintings we choose could be the ones we worked on the longest, techniques or subject matter that we have recently mastered, or images that we have painted many times in different ways.  These reasons have their validity, but the question is: do others relate to these paintings as well?

NOAPS Kay Witherspoon Leaving Winter Behind 14x22  “Leaving Winter Behind” 14×22 by Kay Witherspoon from the 2017 NOAPS Spring Online International

NOAPS Linda Lucas Hardy The Beginning Not the End 30x48  “The Beginning and Not the End” 30×48 by Linda Lucas Hardy from the 2017 NOAPS Spring Online International

The best tool to help us choose our finest paintings, is of course, the self-critique.  We can never predict a judge’s choices, however we can help ourselves by considering some very important points when making our decisions.  Although self-critiques can be readily found on the Internet, for your convenience I will give you a condensed version from plein air artist and teacher Sara Linda Poly:

  1. Do I have a story in my painting, and is it clear?  Is it understandable and not too complicated?
  2. Is my composition strong, with a foundation of values that hold together?
  3. Do I have a clear focal point, and is it positioned well?
  4. Do I have an eye path that leads the viewer around the painting, and doesn’t lead the viewer’s eye out of the picture plane?
  5. Is the direction of light clear, and does it make sense?
  6. Is there some repetition, but not overdone?
  7. Do I have a color scheme, and have I used the colors and neutrals effectively?
  8. Have I used strokework or texture in my painting to add interest, but not overused it?
  9. Do I have drawing errors that are obvious?
  10. Have I controlled my edges, leaving some soft and some hard?
  11. Have I left something to the viewer’s imagination, something the viewer has to finish?
  12. Is there movement in my painting, a rythymn that is dynamic?
  13. Does the painting work from a distance, and pull the viewer in?
  14. Have a used my chosen medium well, and does the finish look professional?
  15. Have I chosen a frame that enhances the painting, and does not overwhelm or detract from it?

Take time to sit with your paintings and evaluate them with an objective eye, asking yourself these questions.  This is time well spent, and will help reveal to you your very best work.

NOAPS Carol Lee Thompson Ready 12x12  “Ready” 12×12 by Carol Lee Thompson from the 2017 NOAPS Spring Online International

NOAPS looks forward to seeing all the outstanding paintings, and thank you in advance for your entries!  To learn more about the entry process, visit, or visit

The 2017 NOAPS Best of America Exhibit will be held at the Castle Gallery, Fort Wayne, IN from October 16-November 11, 2017.

By Patricia Tribastone, NOAPS Blog Director

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