13 Award-Winning Pieces of Acrylic Art You Have to See

Meet the Winners of the AcrylicWorks 7 Art Competition

Curiosity Distilled (acrylic on prepared panel, 9 1⁄2×121⁄2) by Joann McLean

Color and light have the power to capture attention, quicken the heart, and transport us to another place and time. The winning artists of the AcrylicWorks 7 Art Competition have successfully used acrylic paint to harness that power to magnificent effect. The 102 paintings showcased in the special publication, AcrylicWorks 7, evoke the very essence of color and light through a variety of subject matter and styles. Each artist employs a unique method for expressing these elements — light and dark, bright and soft, delicate glazes and bold impasto — to make their paintings sing. Accompanying commentary by each of the artists provides insight into the inspiration and artistic process behind their paintings.

There’s nothing that so inspires us as the light and color all around us. We hope that the incredible artworks collected here — just a sampling of the more than 100 winning pieces — will stir you to take note of your own inspirations and the breathtaking possibilities and versatility of this medium.

Floral & Still Life

Into the Blue (acrylic on canvas, 45×37) by Jana Leimane

Into the Blue by Jana Leimane

“Color and light are the most characteristic features in my artworks. I always use bright colors and a contrasting light-and-shadow ratio. I like to create paintings that are dramatic with dark backgrounds emphasizing bright colors — drama on canvas, I like to call it. When painting, I sometimes mix in neon colors to achieve maximum brightness. I usually paint from a photo, as almost all of my subjects are flowers, which can’t stand in a vase for long before they start to wilt.” — Jana Leimane

Ribbed Heirloom Tomato (acrylic on canvas, 231⁄2×203⁄4) by Paul Chapman

Ribbed Heirloom Tomato by Paul Chapman

“I was attracted to this tomato’s sculptural essence, brilliant color and near-perfect surface. I put it on a white plate and took it outside in the brilliant sun. Fifty photos later, I found one that nearly did what I was expecting. That photo went through the photo-editing software until it was even closer to what I had in mind. After that the painting took over, and I kept working until I had what I envisioned in my minds’ eye. The initial thin layers of color melded with the preliminary drawing in vine charcoal, shaping the edges of the object even before any serious painting had taken place. Next I applied many thinner layers of color. Each layer worked with the layers above and below. This way, I got to change the edges and the surface many times before I finally became satisfied with the truthfulness of my painting.” — Paul Chapman

Land & Sea

Montara Morning 2 (acrylic on hardboard panel, 12×18) by Scott Anthony

Montara Morning 2 by Scott Anthony

“I’m very fortunate to live within a couple miles of the headlands along the California coast between San Francisco and Half Moon Bay. It’s spectacularly beautiful virtually all year long, especially early in the morning and late in the afternoon when the sun is low, creating long dark shadows and bright colorful highlights. On this morning, I was struck by the incredibly bright green (with touches of orange) of the sunlit vegetation contrasted against both the warm and cool areas in shadow.” — Scott Anthony

Big Country (acrylic on canvas, 30×40) by Edward DuRose

Big Country by Edward DuRose

“The focus of this painting is the glowing golden light coming through the cottonwoods as the sun was setting. I also wanted to convey a feeling of the big country and the smallness of the person in it. The horse splashing in the water is the only thing disrupting the scenery.” — Edward DuRose

Urban Life & Architecture

This Way and That (acrylic on canvas, 24×48) by Lynette Cook

This Way and That by Lynette Cook

“During a morning visit to Portsmouth Square in the City by the Bay (San Francisco), I spotted the rising sun shining upon this building’s blue fire escape, transforming a typically static architectural scene into a complex pattern of light and shadow. As I scanned the details, I noticed that the angles of the shadows were juxtaposed with the opposite diagonal lines of the stairs, causing my eye to move back and forth — this way and that — across the surface of the building. It was hard to know where to focus since there was so much visual information to take in. Mesmerized by the intense blue color of the metal balconies and fascinated by the adjacent pink tones of the brick and stucco, I was inspired to create a painting that would celebrate the dazzling color and light, while also conveying the movement and energy I experienced.” — Lynette Cook

Another Good-Bye (acrylic on Masonite, 18×24) by Bob Gherardi_WO

Another Good-Bye by Bob Gherardi

“As a kid, I spent many weekends at my grandmother’s house in Ridgefield Park, N.J. I always knew that we were getting close when we turned right at the deli onto Main Street. Forty years later, I would take that same right turn to arrive at my future wife’s house—just a few blocks away from where my grandmother had lived. When I drove past the old house, I discovered that it had been remodeled almost to the point it was unrecognizable, except for the brick pillars my grandfather had laid. When my wife and I moved away a couple of years later, I said goodbye to Ridgefield Park once again as I drove past my grandmother’s house for the last time — the pillars were now covered with a stone façade. I continued down Main Street and turned left at the deli.” — Bob Gherardi

Portrait & Figure

Shades of Love, Shades of Glory (acrylic on paper, 22×30) by DebiLynn Fendley

Shades of Love, Shades of Glory by DebiLynn Fendley

“This painting was quite a departure for me. Although bright color attracts my attention, I seldom use it in my paintings, preferring earth tones instead. I had chosen the subject matter — a father and daughter — when I observed the two having a touching moment together, but the photograph on which I based the composition was deficient in detail. I use Photoshop quite often to alter and manipulate my source photographs, but typically ignore any resulting bright colors. This time, however, I was intrigued by the play of negative space I saw on screen and the colors that worked hand-in-hand with it, so I kept both the color and the negative space in the image when I painted it. The father in this piece is a Vietnam veteran, a subject I paint often.” — DebiLynn Fendley

Deep in Thoughts (acrylic on canvas, 15×20) by TaiMeng Lim

Deep in Thoughts by TaiMeng Lim

“I’ve always loved the imaginative world of children brimming with fun plots and twists, good versus evil, story and magic. Deep in Thoughts is a piece that captures a child in the midst of a play moment, pretending to be a flower princess. I painted a backlit effect to bring focus upon the young girl while using light and dark shadows to represent imagination and mystery. Warm and cool color tones were used to further create contrast and to represent hope and darkness. My process began with an outline drawing. Then I applied an underpainting to establish the initial value and details of the figure. I continued applying multiple layers of acrylic paint to develop the colors and accurate value of the figure and the background. I also used palette knives to create some dynamic touches and further harmonize the color temperature of the painting.” — TaiMeng Lim

Pets & Wildlife

Rudy (acrylic on canvas, 16×20) by Melanie Anderson

Rudy by Melanie Anderson

“I have a special connection with dogs and have been painting them for about 15 years. Dogs enrich the lives of their humans, and I love having the opportunity to capture their spirit on canvas. They have such big, bold personalities — and that’s how I choose to paint them. I worked hard to capture Rudy’s colorful personality in this painting. My own furry muses, Rizzie and Penny, also provide me with endless inspiration.

“Acrylic is my favorite medium. I use fluid, regular and Golden open acrylics to create different textures. I start with a colorful underpainting and then drybrush many thin layers of color until I achieve the desired effect.” — Melanie Anderson

The Last Grayling (acrylic on canvas, 58×38) by John Megahan

The Last Grayling by John Megahan

“The arctic grayling was a popular sport fish, once well established in Michigan. By the early 1900s, however, fishermen and biologists began to observe worrisome signs of declining populations. The last recorded arctic grayling was caught in 1936 on the Otto River in Michigan’s upper peninsula. Despite several attempts at reintroducing the species, no arctic grayling has been seen in Michigan waters since then. They’re not endangered, nor are they considered threatened, but they no longer inhabit Michigan. There’s a variety of reasons for this, but a primary factor is habitat loss due to logging and development.” — John Megahan

Curiosity Distilled (acrylic on prepared panel, 9 1⁄2×121⁄2) by Joann McLean

Curiosity Distilled by Joann McLean

“After a long Canadian winter, the earth reawakens, and everything is about color and light. I observed and then photographed this curious chipmunk exploring in a locust tree in late April. The fresh spring green of new leaf shoots tipped by sunlight, the dappled light on the evergreens behind, the shadows and textures of lichen and bark, plus the mischievous glint in the animal’s eye all make for an irresistible composition.

“I enjoy completing the puzzle that is a successful realism painting using both heavy- and soft-bodied acrylics. Dabbing, sponging, spraying and brushwork techniques are some of the methods I use to recreate the textures and beauty of nature.” Joann McLean

Abstract & Nonobjective

Windows Into Lilies #5 (acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 24×24) by Dominique Vanzini

Windows Into Lilies #5 by Dominique Vanzini

“I love to travel and I always take lots of pictures. I get my creative energy and inspiration from traveling, visiting museums, attending dance classes and adding to my ever-growing collection of art books. I’m fascinated by close-up photos of nature — especially flowers, trees, leaves, water and the sky. When you look closely, there’s so much texture and so many hidden details to be seen. My artwork is about exploring the interaction between photos, acrylic, texture and color harmonies. Each painting consists of about 15 layers of acrylic, photos and gels on a canvas. A lot of planning goes into the composition and choosing the right colors.” — Dominique Vanzini

Sanctuary (acrylic on canvas, 30×30) by Wendy Fee

Sanctuary by Wendy Fee

“By definition, a sanctuary is a physical location that provides refuge and safety. However, a sanctuary may also be a composite of feelings and locations — real or imagined healing places — where each individual soul can find the serenity or escape they seek. Living on a boat for months at a time has been a great inspiration for my subject matter. Sanctuary holds a particular significance for me because I painted it while my husband and I were cruising the turquoise waters of the Bahamas. While there, I discovered that my own imagined sanctuary could actually be found on a map. The texture of the underwater reefs was created with palette knives. I used multiple layers of fluid acrylic washes to achieve the effect of filtered light reflected through the water. Whether I’m traveling or in the studio, I use acrylic paints because of their versatility and eco-friendly characteristics.” — Wendy Fee

To see all 102 of the AcrylicWorks 7 Art Competition Winners, check out the the special publication, AcrylicWorks 7, on newsstands now (or get the digital edition here).

We would like to extend a special thanks to our competition sponsor, BLICK Art Materials for their ongoing support for artists!

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