At the recent Realism Live virtual art conference, Eric Rhoads and Peter Trippi announced the finalists and top winners of the 2020 Artist and Selfie Painting Competition, which featured $44,000 in cash and awards. We’d like to congratulate all of the top finalists and winners, including our First Place winner, Ernest Vincent Wood, III.
We invited Wood to tell us more about his oil self portrait painting, “Vulnerability,” which, as part of the prize, will appear on the front cover of an upcoming issue of Fine Art Connoisseur magazine.
BY ERNEST VINCENT WOOD, III
Recall when the pandemic started. There was so much uncertainty and fear. When this mysterious illness struck our shores in a significant way our lives instantly changed. The loss of many simple practices like going to a restaurant, a movie, a church service, or even a dear family member’s home were lost. From the perspective of a Midwesterner, I watched the virus closing in on Kansas. The stories of powerlessness and tremendous loss from New York frontline workers was hitting the news cycles. Each day from the coasts a new case appeared in adjoining states in its unstoppable conquest. The dread of inevitability was very real. When will it hit Kansas? Sedgwick County? Of my friends and family, who will be the first to be affected? Or will it be me?
The uneasiness, and frankly, the bizarre reality in which I found myself, led me to a desire to capture my own feelings in April 2020. This was the first intentional self-portrait I had painted in 10 years. I didn’t want to create something novel, I simply wanted to remember.
At the time many people asked of me and of other artists, “How’s the virus affecting your artwork?” “Are the times changing the subject matter?” “What are you making in response?” The questions, while from a heart of genuine interest and support, missed the mark. My intentions in art-making have never been overt or overbearing current events commentary.
If the painting is read as some sort of commentary on epidemiology, the point has been lost. I want to touch on the human experience, gathering all the feelings of the present moment. My goal in art making has always been light, beauty, truth, redemption (and a little lightheartedness) in the face of a world that is dark, broken. Those themes are enduring and perhaps more needed than ever.
Probably the most insidious thing to come with the virus and its contractibility was the trust it brought into question in our most foundational relationships. “Are you safe?” “Has this person been compromised?” “Can I trust you?” became the questions I found myself asking internally with my most precious relationships. It’s heartbreaking. As the title suggests, we all understand a new level of vulnerability. Who are the people we can unmask before? Human relation thrives on knowing and being known. Could the most intimate act between individuals in our present day circumstances be the removal of masks?
On Painting the Self-Portrait “Vulnerability
The portrait was mostly completed in a couple of painting sessions. After those layers dried, I completed the work by adding a couple of subtle color and value shifts in semi-transparent layers. (I would hesitate to call them “glazes.”)
Utrecht oil colors thinned with Lavender Spike Oil from Chelsea Classical Studio. Varnished with a blend of Gamvar Satin and Gloss. Painted on Raymar painting panel L64C.
On Entering the Artist & Selfie Painting Competition
On the whole, I try to enter art competitions as often as I have work that I’m satisfied with. Most artists would agree that that can be hard as we are the hardest critic of our own work. This misguided approach causes me to refrain from entering simply because I feel like I don’t currently have a piece that I really want to showcase. It’s foolish really.
Don’t second guess yourself! Enter even when you don’t feel like it! “Vulnerability” was a painting I made for me. I didn’t have grand plans for it. When I received the emails for the Artist & Selfie competition, I thought, maybe. As the procrastinator that I am, I waited and entered on the deadline date. It took me that long to consider “Vulnerability” as a good fit for the “selfie” category. And then, wow! ~EVW III
Additional Contemporary Realism Oil Paintings
by Ernest Vincent Wood, III
About the 2020 Artist and Selfie Painting Competition
Watch the full online award ceremony below: