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November Best of Show
Award Sponsor: RayMar Art

Pink Peonies and Lilies
by Stacy Barter
Oil 24 x 30

Entered in: 8th Annual Competition Month #8 - November 2014

Judge's Comments: Wow. What can I say? Think of the 19th century French painter Henri Fatin-Latour. Go check him out and then come back to Stacy’s painting. She may have done him one better. Stacy threw down a lot of paint and worked it alla prima in what appears to be within a short period of time. It is also obvious she had a great time painting it as well. And yet, we all know that when a painting becomes this thick and wet every touch becomes fraught with risk and things can skid out of control without warning. Edges can become mushy. Colors can chalk up. Transparent darks can be lost forever. If you have not looked at the larger image of her painting stop reading now and do so. Zoom in. Enjoy how Stacy not only uses her consummate drawing skills, she uses the inherent properties of paint itself to represent a level of form and detail that goes beyond rendering. Stacy clearly understands what paint can do, and when it is time to do it – when the suface is slick, when it becomes sticky and grabs, when to go thick, and when to keep it thin. This painting is a tour de force. Stacy shows us how adroit she is at responding to oil’s quirky foibles without overworking things. She loads her brush in many different ways and she is killer at hiding the presence of a palette knife. (Not that anyone has to hide the knife.) She also understands how dropping little jewels of color into neutral passages juice them up. Her edgework is simultaneously precise and happenstance, which imparts a sense of controlled abandon, and everywhere you look you find modulated color. There are hundreds, if not thousands of touches on the surface and none of them feel arbitrary or unnecessary. All are descriptive and unique, from the grain of the wood, to the straw of the basket, to the distinct differences between a peonie and a lily. And I can’t let this last part pass without comment: Stacy even articulates the bug-chewed stems and leaves of the flowers, a touch that connects them to the soil they grew in. There are entire worlds to be found in the smallest areas of Stacy’s painting and they all add up to a sum greater than their parts. It’s like what Quang Ho says, “A painting should include the micro as well as the macro”. And finally, I think Stacy’s ability to hold back on her impasto work until the very end shows an incredible sense of timing and self-control. It is always tempting to jump into thick paint too soon, or to mess around with a passage again because it felt so good the first time around. But Stacy didn’t do that here. She knew when to hit the finishing notes, when to drop the brush, and when to walk away. - Thomas Jefferson Kitts