Oil Painting: Oil 70th Anniversary Competition Winners

Oil Painting: Oil 70th Anniversary Competition Winners

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We present the semifinalists in the oil category.

by Karen Stanger Johnston

(and the McCoy Pot)

by Ellen Buselli, 2006, oil on linen, 12 x 16. Private collection.

First Place: Ellen Buselli

Ellen Buselli’s favorite subject is the still life. She likes to paint flowers in season among other subject matter, using her own collection of antique vases, glass, and pottery acquired during travels to China, India, Europe, and parts of the United States. Buselli paints in a studio with northern exposure to get soft, moody light. “My procedure is traditional, and the painting develops by carefully observing how the light defines each object and the space around it, and then putting down the values and transitions of temperatures in color,” she says.

Buselli exhibits her work in galleries throughout the country and has received awards and recognition from Magazine, the National Academy of Design, Oil Painters of America (signature member), and American Women Artists (signature member). She has studied at the Art Students League of New York, in Manhattan; the Tyler School of Art’s program in Rome, Italy; and Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York, where she received her bachelor of fine arts degree.

For more information on Buselli, visit her website at www.ellenbuselli.com, or e-mail her at [email protected].

Second Place: Mel Greifinger

Coney Island
by Mel Greifinger, 2006, oil on gessoed Masonite, 24 x 18.

“Making pictures is all I ever wanted to do,” says New York artist Mel Greifinger, a freelance illustrator who has worked for publishers and advertising agencies for 30 years. “I paint now to see how good I can get, doing whatever strikes my fancy.” The idea for this painting came to Greifinger when a group of people of various ethnic backgrounds and ages caught his eye as he exited the New York Aquarium, in Coney Island, New York, and walked out to the benches facing the ocean. He took a photograph of the scene and painted it back in his studio.

Greifinger prefers to paint in oil on gessoed Masonite because he finds it safer and easier to handle than canvas. He also works in acrylic and usually makes an acrylic sketch of a subject before painting it in oil. “I try to work out all of the problems in the sketch before I start a larger oil painting,” the artist says.

In New York City, Greifinger attended the School of Visual Arts and the Art Students League of New York, where he studied with Robert Schultz. He received the Frank C. Wright Medal of Honor from The American Artists Professional League in 1999.

For more information on Greifinger, visit his website at www.melgreifinger.com, or e-mail him at [email protected].

Third Place: Katie Dobson Cundiff

Native Sun
by Katie Dobson Cundiff, 2007, oil, 18 x 24.

Floridian Katie Dobson Cundiff is primarily a landscape artist, painting almost exclusively en plein air. “The most difficult stage for me is facing a stark, white canvas,” Cundiff says. “Especially if there is a subject I am particularly drawn to. Putting down those first lines of paint can be the most challenging.” Once she gets started, however, she works quickly, becoming fully absorbed in the painting. “Although I usually have a clear picture in my head of how I want to paint a subject, there is a time when the painting seems to take me in, and all the elements are working together,” she says. “I feel almost as if I am on autopilot.” Cundiff says she is not afraid of using a lot of paint. She tends to paint larger en plein air than most artists, preferring a canvas that is at least 16 x 20. She usually does not work on an image after she brings it home, but the artist sometimes paints a larger studio piece from a smaller plein air painting.

Cundiff graduated with honors in 1971 from the Ringling College of Art and Design, in Sarasota, Florida. Her artwork has won awards in numerous plein air paint-outs throughout Florida, and it is in
private collections across the United States and in Spain and France. In 2004 Cundiff was the subject of
a solo exhibition at the South Florida Community College Museum of Florida Art and Culture, in Avon Park. She is an associate member of Oil Painters of America and American Women Artists, and is a
signature member of Plein Air Florida. She is represented by M Gallery of Fine Art, in Sarasota, Florida.

For more information on Cundiff, visit her website at www.dobsonart.com, her gallery’s website at mgalleryoffineart.com, or e-mail her at [email protected].

More Semifinalists

Grace Mehan DeVito

Hydrangeas and Tea
by Grace Mehan DeVito, 2006, oil on linen, 16 x 20. Private collection.

If Connecticut artist Grace Mehan DeVito doesn’t have a still life subject in mind, she goes to a farmer’s market or flower shop for inspiration. Back in her studio, DeVito sometimes spends a long time setting up the still life, taking objects out or moving them around until she finds a composition she likes. “The challenge is to come up with a good overall design with a good value structure,” the artist says. Once she starts painting, she first masses in the big light and dark patterns and then blocks in the paint thinly at the right value and basic color. Later she adjusts the temperature and refines the details. She paints wet-into-wet, finishing as she goes so she can work the edges wet.

DeVito earned a bachelor of fine art from the School of Visual Arts, in Manhattan. It was there that she also studied at the Art Students League of New York and the Grand Central Academy of Art, and with Laurel Stern Boeck. In addition to still lifes of sumptuous foods and flowers, DeVito paints portraits. She is represented by Portraits South, Portraits North, and The Portrait Source as well as by Susan Powell Fine Art, in Madison, and Handwright Gallery in New Canaan, both in Connecticut. She exhibits her work regularly in Connecticut and New York.

For more information on DeVito, email her at [email protected].

Lynn Digby

Sharpie Chic
by Lynn Digby, 2007, oil, 20 x 16.

Ohio artist Lynn Digby usually begins a painting with a specific concept and modifies her process to convey that idea. “The excitement I get from painting is not in the act of painting itself, but to communicate something very specific that fires me,” Digby says.

In this painting she wanted to explore using a warm red underpainting for skin tones. First, she toned the whole canvas cadmium red. She then painted the mid tones around the eyes and balanced the color and value there before blocking in the larger shapes and refining them as needed. “I pay a lot of attention to edges, trying to soften any that are not needed for impact,” the artist says. “When certain passages got too wet, I let the painting dry for a few days before proceeding, but mostly I worked it wet-in-wet until it was finished.”

Digby earned a bachelor of arts in art education at Mount Union College, in Alliance, Ohio. In 2007 one of her oil paintings won best of show in the Canton Artists League Winter Show at the Canton Museum of Art, in Canton, Ohio.

For more information on Digby, visit her website at www.lynndigby.artspan.com, or e-mail her at [email protected].

Jack Montmeat

by Jack Montmeat, 2006, oil on linen, 28 x 22. Private collection.

Connecticut artist Jack Montmeat usually works from life, but because of the age of the sitter in this portrait painting he worked from reference photographs taken in a room with north light. After selecting the pose, he makes a full-size charcoal drawing on paper. “At this stage, I focus on drawing the subject as carefully as I can, cropping it later,” Montmeat says. Next, he transfers the drawing to a canvas he has toned with a gray or umber color. He then does a sepia-tone underpainting before beginning to paint the darkest, deepest colors and working into the half tones and lights. Montmeat says he likes to stretch his own linen, using rabbit skin glue to tighten it and applying a thin layer of lead white ground, which makes the painting proceed more quickly.

Since graduating from Columbus College of Art Design in Columbus, Ohio, in 2002 with a bachelor of fine art degree, Montmeat has been painting portraits and working from live models at the Lyme Art Association in Old Lyme, Connecticut. His work has appeared in 12 group exhibitions, including those of the William Benton Museum of Art at the University of Connecticut, in Storrs; Allied Artists of America, and The American Artists Professional League.

For more information on Montmeat, visit his website at www.jackmontmeat.com.

Richard Murdock

Three Magnolias by Richard Murdock, 2007, oil on leaded copper, 10 x 20. Courtesy Cavalier Galleries, Greenwich, Connecticut.

Connecticut artist Richard Murdock graduated from Pratt Institute in New York City only to discover that he wanted to pursue a more personal vision for his art. “I look for the uncommon in the everyday objects in my environment, whether it is the beauty of a blossom that has just passed its peak, a big, fat onion, or several eggshells from breakfast,” Murdock says. “Twice I’ve painted fruit that has started to rot, attempting to make repulsiveness beautiful.”

He usually starts with an abstract concept, such as time, beauty, death, or color, and explores one aspect in great detail. A painting might include various orange objects, for example, such as lilies, clementines, and hibiscus. Once he has chosen the subject, he does charcoal studies to work out values and color studies according to a color system developed by Graydon Parrish that allows him to mix any color with total accuracy. He then paints in oil on copper plates he makes himself, a method he says best suits his subjects.

Murdock is represented by Cavalier Galleries in Greenwich and Susan Powell Fine Art in Madison, both in Connecticut; Klaudia Marr Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico; and ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries in Coral Gables, Florida.

For more information on Murdock, visit the artist’s website at www.richardmurdock.com, or his galleries’ websites: www.cavaliergalleries.com, www.artnet.com/gallery/181897/susan-powell-fine-art.html, www.klaudiamarrgallery.com, and www.virginiamiller.com.

Edward J. Reed

by Edward J. Reed, 2007, oil on linen, 80 x 40.

“Few paintings, no matter how beautifully crafted, captivate me unless they contain a strong central idea,” says Virginia artist Edward J. Reed. “The core idea for this painting came from the subject’s personality. John, an 81-year-old World War II veteran, fell on hard times after the war, then worked as a merchant marine and an engineer before becoming an artist himself. Time has deprived John of many things, from physical mobility to loved ones who have passed away. For me, this painting is about dignity in the face of loss and isolation.”

When painting people Reed works from life whenever possible, developing the large shapes first. “Not sweating the details early lets me remain loose and expressive, which breathes life into my work,” he says. Unlike many classically trained portrait and figure artists, Reed avoids grisailles. “I plunge in with meaningful color from the first stroke,” he says.

After graduating from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, in 1986 with a minor in art, Reed pursued a career in law until a disability forced him to give up that career in 2000. In 2001 he started taking classes at The Art League School in Alexandria, Virginia. He taught a few classes there in 2003 and was asked to join the faculty in 2004.

For more information on Reed, e-mail him at [email protected].

Linda Tenukas

Morning Light
by Linda Tenukas, 2006, oil on wood panel, 18 x 24. Private collection.

The reference photograph for this painting was taken in 1980 when Connecticut artist Linda Tenukas was renting a room at a boarding house while attending a photography workshop in Maine. “The print sat in a drawer for more than 25 years,” says Tenukas. Fast forward to last year when a book about glazing oil paint over a grisaille inspired her to take out the print and use it as the basis for a painting. “I thought, why not start out with a black and white image where you have no idea of the original colors and see if you can realistically paint it—sort of like doing a full-color painting from a charcoal sketch,” the artist says. “Redrawing it would allow me to correct distortions and change anything I didn’t like, while using colors that were appropriate for the period.”

Tenukas says the skills she learned as a medical illustration major at Ohio State University, in Columbus, in the 1960s helped her two decades later when she decided to take up oil painting. Her work has been exhibited in nationally juried art shows and is in private and public collections throughout the United States and Canada.

For more information on Tenukas, e-mail her at [email protected].

Robert P. Zerwekh

Vanitas 2005
by Robert P. Zerwekh, 2005, oil on gessoed panel, 16 x 12.

Kansas artist Robert P. Zerwekh has been creating highly realistic trompe l’oeil oil paintings since the early 1970s. Essentially self-taught, Zerwekh says he has been influenced by a variety of 19th- and 20th-century realist painters, particularly William Michael Harnett. “Beyond simply depicting subjects in a realistic way, I hope that my paintings have elements of abstraction, can be enjoyed at different levels of artistic sophistication, and occasionally have a touch of humor,” the artist says.

For Zerwekh, the most challenging part of the painting process is creating a finished work that completely matches his initial vision. Unlike most still life painters, he rarely works from a setup. His compositions come primarily from his imagination and most of the objects are pure invention.

Zerwekh’s paintings have appeared in approximately 50 juried and 30 invitational shows and have been the subject of numerous articles. They have received many awards and are in collections throughout the United States. Zerwekh is represented by Kinion Fine Art in Sedona, Arizona, and Roy’s Art Gallery and the Lawrence Arts Center Gallery Shop, both in Lawrence, Kansas. In his principal career, Zerwekh is a professor of engineering management at the University of Kansas, in Lawrence.

For more information on Zerwekg, visit his website at http://zerwekh.hypermart.net, or e-mail him at [email protected].

American Artist would like to thank the following sponsors for making our 70th Anniversary Competition a success:

Blick Art Materials
General Pencil
Hartford Fine Art Framing
Jerry’s Artarama
Legion Paper
Savoir Faire

Watch the video: Oil Painting for Beginners - Basic Techniques + Step by Step Demonstration (July 2022).


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