Fine Art Today had the great honor of attending the 25th Annual Oil Painters of America National Exhibition this past week in Dallas, complete with artist demonstrations, a plein air competition, and more. The sun shone, paint flowed, and memories were made.
Writing about art and seeing the works in person are completely different experiences. The best photography always seems to miss something, whether it’s the exact coloring of a painting or sculpture, the subtle textures of the brushstrokes or fingermarks, or the shimmer of an oily finish as one moves about the gallery.

Huihan Liu, “At Mt. Tangulla Pass, Northern Tibet,” oil, 30 x 24 in. (c) OPA 2016

Walking into the lush Southwest Gallery in Dallas, Texas, one is immediately struck by its size. There are literally paintings stacked, hung, and propped from floor to ceiling — and every single one of them is magnificent. The space is like an endless maze of great art — it just keeps going and going. No wonder Oil Painters of America chose Southwest as the primary location for its 25th Annual National Exhibition & Exposition. This year’s juried exhibition received over 2,000 entries, with only 200 accepted into the show. Featuring old-timers, established masters, and several burgeoning talents, the show was a truly magnificent display of the high level of skill and creativity that exists in the representational art world today.

Artists Register for the Exposition and Plein Air Competition, (c) Photo Andrew Webster 2016

Artists kicked off their week in Dallas by registering at Southwest Gallery on Wednesday and entering into the “Best Little Plein Air Competition in Texas.” Once they received their materials and the green light, off they went into the beaming Dallas sun. Painters were invited to work all day Wednesday and Thursday on their canvases before choosing one entry for the competition on Friday.

Southwest Gallery was the perfect space for OPA’s National Exhibition, (c) Photo Andrew Webster 2016

Artist demonstrations and lectures began in earnest on Friday morning, with a compelling talk from Qiang Huang at the Crown Plaza Dallas Galleria. Huang was welcomed warmly, and detailed — among many other things — his choices for materials and lighting, and his five-step creative process. The afternoon featured Master Signature artist Jeff Legg discussing his professional journey, ways to brand and market oneself, and his legacy as a “masterful” artist.

Qiang Huang captivates attendees with his painting demonstration, (c) Photo Andrew Webster 2016

The weekend witnessed even more excitement as audiences were treated to a telling discussion about collecting art from an esteemed panel that included Tim Newton, chairman of the Salmagundi Club, Houston collector Tom Vining, and OPA board member Jim Bruce. Friday finished with the official opening reception for the exhibition at Southwest Gallery, where artists, collectors, and sponsors mingled, enjoyed delicious snacks and beverages, and soaked in the beautiful works. The evening concluded with an awards ceremony, which included a Master Signature Division, Associate Signature Division, and the Dorothy Driehaus Mellin Fellowship.

Attendees browse sponsor booths filled with tastey painting tools, (c) Photo Andrew Webster 2016

Artist Huihan Liu was awarded the Gold Medal in the Master Signature division for his breathtaking “At Mt. Tangulla Pass, Northern Tibet,” while Sherrie McGraw and Calvin Liang received the Silver and Bronze Awards, respectively. To view a full list of all the awards, visit here.

The opening reception for the National Exhibition was packed with the public, artists, and collectors,
(c) Photo Andrew Webster 2016

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.


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