October 09, 2007


Mixed Media 70th Anniversary Competition Winners

by Karen Stanger Johnston

Lunch on 6th Ave.
by Paul Sullivan, 2005, watercolor and acrylic, 22½ x 15.

First Place:

Paul Sullivan uses acrylic paint to preserve the parts of his graphite drawing that might otherwise be lost when he applies his initial washes of watercolor. The Arizona artist paints the small, darker areas of a picture, such as folds in clothing, in transparent acrylic before applying any watercolor. “This is done only in small areas and at about 40 percent of their eventual values and intensities,” Sullivan says. “Since acrylic is waterproof when dry, watercolor can be washed over it without a problem.”

Read about the semifinalists in each category, and vote, by October 30, for the Readers' Choice competition winner on our message board, Artists' Forum.

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Colored Pencil
Grand Prize Winner

Having graduated from the University of Toledo, in Ohio, with a bachelor’s degree in fine art, Sullivan embarked on a long career in the business of producing advertising and sales-promotion graphics. He retired in 2000 and now paints full time. Sullivan employs a multistage process in creating his paintings, which can take months to complete. After taking photographs, he makes graphite sketches, half-size rough sketches— in both black and white and color— and a full-size drawing on tracing paper, which is transferred to his watercolor paper with a graphite sheet. He then begins to paint.

“I like to paint people doing the simple, routine activities of life, such as crossing streets, reading, or eating lunch,” Sullivan says. “One of my goals is to make my figures look as natural and candid as possible.”

For more information on Sullivan, e-mail him at .

Second Place:

Rush Hour
by Bill Dillon, 2006, paper collage, 15 x 17.

In creating Rush Hour, Michigan artist Bill Dillon says he was inspired by Matisse. “A friend suggested I try something different. She encouraged me to work in paper with cutout shapes in color like Matisse. I have always liked his work, but the more I looked at his approach the more I wanted to emulate him,” Dillon explains.

Dillon’s subject matter is usually something he has seen—an interesting architectural or natural shape or a person walking down the street, for example. “I see something that triggers a need for some kind of response,” the artist says. “It might take the form of a single painting or something more complex or involved like a triptych.” He usually begins with a few sketches. “It helps to get some shapes and values working in my composition,” he says. “Once those things find each other, the fun starts as I get to lay in the color. I think I have a comfort level with color that allows me to attack my pieces almost recklessly.” For Dillon, problem-solving is the most enjoyable part of the process. “It’s what makes me feel most alive and gives me the greatest satisfaction,” he says.

For more information on Dillon, e-mail him at .

Third Place: Donald Keith Montgomery

Consciousness of Belief
by Donald Keith Montgomery, 2006, acrylic and ink on paper, and found object on wood panel, 24 x 24.

Texan Donald Keith Montgomery is a mainly self-taught artist who works with acrylic and oil paint and found materials such as metal, wood, glass, copper, wire, and bone on wood panels. He also paints landscapes, seascapes, and figurative subjects on canvas and wood. Montgomery says his creations begin with an object or material he finds intriguing due to its shape, texture, pattern, or meaning. “My goal is to give life to all the elements to create a relationship between idea and structure,” the artist says. “Whatever viewers take from the piece is their contribution to the process.”

Montgomery says the idea for this painting evolved from a desire to work with the orange and interference blue colors using a surface texture created with acrylic gel and a found metal wire grid pattern. The panel sat idle for several months until he returned from a trip to California, where he had drawn the ink portrait on graph paper and found the crab shell. He initially used gel medium to attach the drawing to the panel, and in the drying phase the paper accidentally separated resulting in a “mirror” image. He cut the additional image vertically in half and experimented with its placement to arrive at the final composition. The other elements are all found materials that he felt fit the piece. “This was a true experimental process from start to finish because I had no preconceived idea other than the initial colors,” Montgomery says.   

For more information on Montgomery, visit his website at www.dkmfineart.com, or e-mail him at .

More Semifinalists

Linda Peyton Huff

A Search for Peace in an Age of War
by Linda Peyton Huff, 2003, mixed media and collage, 48 x 60. Collection Frank and Brenda Gallagher.

“I am an experimental artist with a passion for color,” says Texas artist Linda Peyton Huff. “Nature and symbolism are my inspiration, and my work relates to psychology, history, mythology, and cosmology.” Employing a variety of materials and techniques, Huff says her process is “all about discovery.”

This work began with layers of rice paper collaged to canvas with matte medium. She then poured paint on the canvas. “The colors went from light and cheerful to dark and somber during a time of intense media coverage of war-related issues,” the artist says. Next, she applied paint in multiple layers using at 2” brush. She later removed some of the layers using fine sandpaper to reveal fragments of earlier layers. Huff then added the spiritual symbol of the spirals. Finally, she applied ultramarine blue to balance the brown and orange tones. 

Huff studied at the Glassell School of Art, in Houston, the Art League of Houston, and with Dorothy Hood. Since she began entering her work in competitions in 2007, it has been accepted into the City of Houston Art on Loan Project, the Lawndale Art Center Big Show in Houston, and other national and local juried art exhibitions.

For more information on Peyton Huff, visit her website at www.lpeytonhuff.com, or e-mail her at .

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

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