The 2010 Artist’s Magazine Annual Competition

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Portrait/Figure

First Place
Alejandro Rosemberg
Buenos Aires, Argentina • www.a-rosemberg.com
Victoria (oil, 28×20)

The year 2010 has been good for Alejandro Rosemberg. His paintings won prizes in exhibitions in Chile and Spain and were recognized in national contests in his home country of Argentina. Rosemberg’s work is influenced by the venerable Italian tradition. Of Victoria he says, “It’s a very classical image, and I wouldn’t be able to name only one or two artists as influences. I try constantly to be looking to great artists, not only the old masters but also contemporary ones.” As romantic in conception as it is classical, Victoria is characterized by ripeness of shape: The young woman’s features, hair and mantle all share a luxurious fullness. “She’s the daughter of a good friend of mine,” says Rosemberg, “and I found in her face an exotic beauty and strong character that made me want to paint her.”

Rosemberg paints in oil on canvas covered hardboard, which he primes with old fashioned gesso rabbitskin glue, calcium and zinc. “This preparation is very absorbent and can take a lot of oil,” says Rosemberg, “so I can work with many layers.” After preparing the surface for Victoria, he posed the model for photographs, working with natural light. Next, in preparation for the painting, he made several drawings, which he maintains is a vital part of the procedure. “If you decide to work from a photograph rather than a drawing,” he explains, “certain things will have to be corrected.”

For Rosemberg, simplicity of design and color is important. The composition of Victoria is triangular; the palette for the figure is warm. “The colors of the wrap are related to the colors of the skin,” he says, “which makes the image pleasing to the eye. A cooler, neutral background balances the warmth of the figure and mantle. “Simple solutions,” says Rosemberg, “are usually the best ones.”
Second Place
Gabriela Gonzalez Dellosso
West New York, New Jersey • www.gabrieladellosso.comMother’s Dresses (oil, 36×21)

Although almost entirely hidden behind the clothing she wears and carries, the woman depicted in Mother’s Dresses exudes a solid, no-nonsense personality, and her gesture is both evident and believable. Gabriela Gonzalez Dellosso, who used her mother as a model, says: “My mother has a fiery disposition and has always been able to juggle many things at once. Her strength inspired this work.” In fact, Dellosso has used her mother as the subject for many paintings. “As a model,” says the artist, “my mother has the ability to take on many personas.”

The off-balance pose, with the figure inundated by a cascade of colorful drapery, was impossible to hold, so the work required imagination and observation. “The piles and piles of clothing kept falling and not cooperating at all,” says Dellosso. “I was trying to prop them up using boxes and chairs—not an easy task. In the end I had to invent combinations of piles I liked.”

Dellosso paints on oil-primed linen and extols the way the luscious paint sits on this surface. She uses oil and alkyd medium, noting the convenience of its rapid-drying property. Of the many skills Dellosso has herself learned to juggle, she says, “Composition is so incredibly important. Color, shapes, contrasts, detail and hard and soft edges are all part of creating a successful design.” She considers drawing and painting from life to be essential when composing and “creating reality” on canvas. “Understanding anatomy and how the body moves,” she says, “is really helpful when creating gesture and believability in a painting or drawing.”

Third Place
Ho-Jun Lee
Daly City, California
Chrysalis No. 7 (oil, 30×48)

Speaking of his Chrysalis series, of which Chrysalis No. 7 is a part, Ho-Jun Lee says, “As a caterpillar undergoes metamorphosis inside a chrysalis before it becomes a butterfly, I believe that we are constantly striving for personal growth.” Lee tries to create images that convey human experiences such as departure and journeying; suffering and redemption; life, death and rebirth. For Chrysalis No. 7, he found inspiration in the timeless quality and emotional impact of the painting Job by 19-century French painter Léon Bonnat.

After creating preliminary studies from photographs taken in natural light, Lee made a careful charcoal drawing on a canvas stretched over wood panel. “I considered this stage critical to this painting,” says Lee, “because proportion, gesture, balance and anatomy are important in conveying human figures.” Next Lee created a monochromatic underpainting in raw umber thinned with a mixture of mineral spirits and linseed oil. With a limited palette, he then enriched the canvas with three successive layers of paint, working from head to feet. “I combined direct wet-into-wet painting along with a glazing and scumbling process,” says Lee. “My focus was not on the details but on the unity and mood of the entire painting.”

Employing three general values a light value for the figure, a middle value for the foreground and a dark value for the background allowed Lee to simplify the environment and concentrate attention on the figure. “The focal point, the left hand pointing to the ground, also draws in the viewer,” says Lee. “The ground represents the earth where we all grow.”

Honorable Mention
David Rivera
Newtown, Pennsylvania •
www.dcrartcommissions.com
Passages (oil, 20×15)

Using a full range of color, value and texture, David Rivera painted Passages on an oil-primed, wood panel. “The floating leaves allowed me to explore vivid color, whereas the portrait required a more subdued palette,” says Rivera. “The physical contrast of soft flesh against the dry but organic leaves, as well as the flat background paired with highly detailed objects, also interested me.” The result is a striking image of a young woman contemplating her mortality.

Influenced by 17th-century Dutch trompe l’oeil painters as well as modern hyperrealists, Rivera used photographs and color sketches as references, as well as a live model. He began the work with a monochromatic underpainting for the portrait, over which he added multiple glazes. To achieve the bolder leaf colors, he worked directly on the white ground without an underpainting.

“A work of art needs to possess an aesthetic balance of shape, value and color,” says Rivera. “I’m always searching for the most effective way to utilize those three elements.”

Honorable Mention
Shaun Downey
Toronto, Ontario •
www.shaundowney.com
Green Mug (oil, 33×25)

Of his oil-on-canvas painting Green Mug, artist Shaun Downey says, “This particular piece involves one of my favorite themes, the untold story.” Downey painted his wife, Kelly, seated in the kitchen of their first apartment, an image that evokes nostalgic memories for him while at the same time allowing the viewer to formulate an imagined narrative. Numerous photographs and a detailed drawing prefaced six months of work on the painting.

“I like the subjects of my paintings to live in an unknown time,” says Downey, “with elements of the modern world coexisting with hints of the past.” Indeed, the interior, decorated in retro colors, includes household objects from various decades in the 20th and 21st centuries and takes a design approach from an artist of an even older era: Vermeer. Says Downey, “I’m very inspired by Vermeer in my use of vertical and horizontal lines from doorways and windows to divide canvases into pleasing geometric arrangements.”

Honorable Mention
Dean Mitchell
Tampa, Florida
Sounds of the Crescent City (watercolor, 15×11)

Dean Mitchell’s masterly handling of transparent watercolor and his appreciation for the power of abstraction are evident in Sounds of the Crescent City. His approach is to sketch the composition in pencil on hot-pressed Crescent watercolor board and then establish the values delicately with light watercolor washes. He subsequently builds his midrange values, eventually painting the darkest shades wet-into-wet with both warm and cool colors, the better to simulate the complex tones of skin. “The difficulty is to find a balance of rich colors,” says Mitchell. “A watercolor can easily be overworked when you’re trying to get deep fleshtones.”

The painting is part of an extensive series chronicling the lives of New Orleans artists, in this case a jazz musician playing on the street, his dynamic movement framed by a geometrical background. “My idea,” says Mitchell, “is to portray the rich legacy of the people who have made New Orleans so great.”

Jerry N. Weiss teaches studio art at the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts and is a contributing editor of The Artist’s Magazine. To learn more visit his website at www.jerrynweiss.com.

Finalists
Keith Adams
Johns Creek GA

Iakov Afanassiev
St. John’s NL

Jonathan J. Ahn
San Francisco CA

Lee Alban
Havre de Grace MD

Erin Anderson
Mountaintop PA

Scott E. Bartner
Maastricht The Netherlands

David Beal
Overland Park KS

Candice Bohannon
Applegate CA

Anne Bridge
Foxboro MA

John Buxton
Allison Park PA

Maggie Cao
Timonium MD

Kathy Coe
Redding CT

Susan Congdon
Prescott AZ

Jim Connelly
Jenison MI

Ellen Cooper
Media PA

Rita Curtis
Baltimore MD

Alastair Dacey
Chelmsford MA

Susan D’Amico
Bandon OR

Marina Dieul
Montreal QC

Regina J. Dunne
Northville MI

Andrea Cianci Fenn
Farmington CT

Marcel Franquelin
Monmouth Junction NJ

Star Galler
Sugar Loaf NY

Tanja Gant
Hurst TX

Jeff George
Mission Viejo CA

Vincent Giarrano
Washington Depot CT

Sam Goodsell
Bronx NY

Adrian Gottlieb
Los Angeles CA

Trent Gudmundsen
Logan UT

Russell Z. Harris
Chicago IL

Timothy W. Jahn
East Brunswick NJ

Bill James
Ocala FL

Julia Jandrisits
Bellows Falls VT

Joel Kieckhefer
Madison WI

Rita Kirkman
New Braunfels TX

Stanka Kordic
Bedford OH

Olga Krimon
Hermosa Beach CA

Dana Levin
Reading MA

Cheng Lian
The Woodlands TX

Jonathan Linton
Ashburn VA

Daniel Maidman
Brooklyn NY

Douglas Malone
Royal Oak MI

Leah Mantini
Athens GA

Kathryn Manzo
Memphis TN

Paul W. McCormack
Glenham NY

Sydney McGinley
Center Valley PA

Derek McGowan
Baltimore MD

Adam Miller
Brooklyn NY

Rich Nelson
Tryon NC

Katie O’Hagan
Beacon NY

Marci Oleszkiewicz
Willow Springs IL

Catherine P. O’Neill
Hamburg NY

Sherry Pettey
Carthage MO

Christopher Pierce
Shushan NY

Gail Postal
New York NY

Tim Reilly
Sanford FL

Thomas Reis
Atlanta GA

Julio Reyes
Applegate CA

Danielle Richard
Lévis QC

David Rivera
Newtown PA

Pauline Roche
Tucson AZ

Kate Sammons
Los Angeles CA

Nicole McCormick Santiago
Williamsburg VA

Chris Saper
Phoenix AZ

Marc Schimsky
Commack NY

Kyla Shackelford
Valley Village CA

William A. Schneider
Vlg. of Lakewood IL

Tenaya Sims
Seattle WA

Linda Sperruzzi
Wading River NY

Kyle J. Stevens
Redding CT

Terry Strickland
Pelham AL

Justin Taylor
Provo UT

Marla Thirsk
Ucluelet BC

George Thompson
Doylestown PA

Raymond Thornton
Schererville IN

Vilas Tonape
Lakeland FL

Hsin-Yao Tseng
San Francisco CA

Marco Tulio
Vancouver BC

Alexandra Tyng
Narberth PA

Kun Wang
Beijing, China

Chelsey Wood
Jamaica Plain MA

CJ Worlein
Beaverton OR

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