Blakey Prize in Fine Art

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See the Winners

The ACCS national visual arts competition. For ACCS member schools.

Blakey prize logo Association of Classical Christian Schools (ACCS)

High school students (grades 9–12) from ACCS member schools compete with their peers from other ACCS member schools in a national visual arts competition. Each school may enter one student’s artwork in the drawing category and one student’s artwork in the painting category.

Note: Schools may enter the same student in both categories; however, different artwork is required for each category.

  • Deadline: Entry deadline is April 8, 2022. Member schools can find entry details in the Member Resource Center.
  • Grand Prize: $500 | Runner Up: $250. Awarded at end of school year.
  • Entry Signature: A school signature is required.
  • Entry Details: Your member school can provide submission materials and can find details in the Member Resource Center.

Blakey Prize in Fine Art Winners


Drawing: First Prize (Tie) 


Madison Gohlke, Annapolis Christian Academy (Corpus Christi, TX)
8.5″ x 11″, prisma color pencils

Drawing portraits has always been an opportunity for me to experience a person’s true beauty in both their physical traits and the emotion hiding behind their eyes. To portray the unique features of my friends has been both an artistic joy and a struggle. Finally seeing the finished product is exhilarating as I see how how it all works together. Van Gogh’s portraits have inspired me as he displayed a beautiful array of colors that seem out of place but still work together to evoke rich emotion and meaning. His use of unique contrasts and colors taught me to see even father behind the skin of my sitter to truly capture the human elements hidden inside. This whimsical approach to color and portraiture drives me to study faces with greater attention and to find in each face the beauty of the soul within.

Drawing: First Prize (Tie) 


Summer Gregg, Trinitas Christian School (Corpus Christi, TX)
11″ x 12,″ charcoal on Bristol

“While considering how to execute my piece of art well and in an orderly manner, I was influenced by a charcoal artist named Miroslav Sunjkic. He presented many new different ideas that I have found quite helpful. I used both vine and compact charcoal in my drawing after seeing the way he had used it. He also used a paint brush to blend the charcoal and an eraser pencil to get defined highlights which I also used to do the same. When choosing my source, I wanted to have a great deal of detail and also draw some type of animal. I used my own dog for this because of the texture that the fur gives the drawing and because of the lighting I was able to get on the fur of his face. Using charcoal really pushes the darks in a drawing and that is what I aspired my drawing to have as a whole. Because my source had dark shadows, using charcoal allowed me to get the shadows realistically dark.”

Painting: First Prize   

“Son of Dragons”

Ellia He, Annapolis Christian Academy (Corpus Christi, TX)
20″ x 24,″ oil on canvas

“John Singer Sargent’s portraits are just exquisite and are a great influence on the characterization, expression, and brushwork that I try to emulate. His painting The Lady Agnew of Lochnaw has interesting reflective color and texture that interacts with the figure and her surrounding background that I sought to explore as well, but what really triumphs over all his work is the capturing of the expression of his subjects, no matter what walk of life or character. Each of his portraits tell stories, troubled or serene, proud or broken, sweet or harsh, like characters out of a Dickens novel. This is a goal I strive to display in this painting of my father with the mixed up baggage that our lives reveal through the visual world. China has a long tradition of dragons playing an integral symbol to be revered in their culture, but during the Cultural Revolution, all manner of reverence and piety were stripped away in the wholly utilitarian state of government, breeding new hardened, steeled dragons, walled against weakness, bitter, strict, competitive, and full of strife. My father is the son of a long line of dragons, both benevolent and harsh, leaving behind in him the traces of brokenness and virtue, insecurities and authorities, struggle, poetry, and pride. As said in The King and I,

“This is a man who thinks with his heart,
His heart is not always wise.
This is a man who stumbles and falls,
But this is a man who tries.
This is a man you’ll forgive and forgive,
And help protect, as long as you live…”

Painting: Second Prize 

“Golden Days”

CJ Kaltwasser, Regents School of Austin (Austin, TX)
9″ x 12,″ oil on canvas

“With the end of my high school career just around the corner, I felt like I needed to take a step back, and reflect on the journey that has placed me where I am today. I really wanted to give tribute to the little me, the one who started my deep appreciation for art and creating realistic works today that strive to capture God’s creation. This painting is of an old photo of myself, working away at a drawing outside on the porch of our old house. I was drawn to this photo because of its warm, vivid, and bright colors that seem to reminisce of the days of childhood. My inspiration for this work came from Brunery who effectively uses light and shadow to create realism. I love the way he uses warm and cool tones to set the different moods for his paintings, as well as the bright contrasting colors that make many of his works pop. All of these different techniques that he used are what I try to incorporate into my artwork, so I can achieve a mood of happiness and warmth in this piece.”


Drawing: First Prize (Tie)


Gabriel Crane, Rockbridge (Crownsville, MD)
10″ x 15″, graphite on paper

“I have always loved the medium of graphite and seeing how far I can stretch its realism. Graphite has always been my favorite medium for anything I try to replicate, and I love the contrast it can express in any scenario. This drawing was after a photograph taken in Italy, displaying the beauty and contrast of the columns and lights. Paul Cadden is an artist I admire for his great attention to detail. This brings each of his drawings together into a masterpiece. His lights and his darks contrast incredibly well, making an ordinary scene look stunning. These are all aspects of drawing that I try to incorporate into my drawings and try to grow and improve in.”

Drawing: First Prize (Tie)

“Dom’s Dodge”

Dominic Heater, Faith Christian Academy (Kansas City, MO)
7.5″ x 12″, ink (micron pens) and paper

“Georges Seurat influenced me as a young boy when I studied his painting called A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. When I was learning about how this painting was done with dots, I was intrigued by this style of art and wanted to try it someday. My current art teacher, Mrs. Van Wyk, gave me the opportunity to try stippling this year. This is a form of art similar to pointillism, but it is only done in black and white. I chose to do this car because my grandfather and I restored this rare vehicle together. This is a fond memory for me and I wanted to attempt to draw it using a form of art similar to Georges Seurat’s. We named the car “Dom’s Dodge” because he plans to someday give it to me.”

Painting: First Prize

“Steward’s Care”

Calvin Van Leeuwen, The Wilberforce School (Princeton, NJ)
11″ x 14″, oil on stretched linen

“Over the past year I have felt an undeniable call towards stewardship over creation and the deep fulfillment which comes through practicing it. I was searching for a way to communicate both the simple pleasure of taking care of plants, as well as a fundamental, God-given purpose that human beings have to care for the natural world. For guidance and inspiration I looked towards Bouguereau and Rembrandt. Bouguereau was excellent at capturing pleasant aspects of life. The way he bathed his figures in clear light, which makes the figures exude light, as well as the way he gave his figures a sense of presence and weight, influenced my layered technique of painting. Rembrandt’s impact on the picture is primarily found in the portrait, which emphasizes brushstrokes and shadow shapes. I chose direct eye contact with the viewer, for which his portraits are known, in order to encourage the viewer to interact deeply with the painting which could be overlooked due to the ordinary nature of the scene. Both artists’ specific and bold use of color encouraged me to open up my palette and use pops of color as compositional elements, in addition to value.”

Painting: Second Prize

“A Slip in Time”

Ava Grace Koele, Coram Deo Academy (Flower Mound, TX)
20″ x 16″, oil on canvas

“The artist that influenced my painting was G. Harvey. For years we have had a picture of a waterscape hanging above our mantle in our living room. I have always been attracted to the peacefulness of it. The mysterious but calm feeling of the painting and the boats on the water have caught my eye. I grew up spending time on the lake and it is a familiar subject, which is why I was drawn to painting a waterscape. This mood is reflected in my painting because of the serene feeling with the blues and muted colors that I used. Also, the stillness of the boats and the water contribute to the calmness of the picture.”



Drawing: First Prize


Emma Nasseri, Cair Paravel Latin School (Topeka, KS)
14″ x 18″, charcoal and conte

“When I first saw Caravaggio’s paintings, I fell in love with the deep, bold contrast between his lights and darks. My drawing attempts to capture that same beauty of in black and white, using chiaroscuro”



Drawing: Second Prize

“Soul Mates”

Hannah Hamilton, St. Stephen’s Academy (Beaverton, OR)
11″ x 14″, pastels

“I’ve always been a big fan of the realistic style of artwork. Though it does take time in order to get things as precise as wished, the finished product always comes out looking beautiful. The artist Adonna Khare has been a very big inspiration for me personally. It’s almost impossible to distinguish photo from drawing when it comes to the art she creates. I’ve always loved her style and continue to strive for the same level of realism she is able to portray, in my own work.”

Painting: First Prize

“Sweetness”Seraphina Culp, Rockbridge Academy (Millersville, MD)
12″ x 12″, acrylic on canvas

“Earlier this year, I fell in love with trompe l’oeil. Trompe l’oeil is a style where objects of the composition appear to leave the canvas. In “Sweetness,” I was inspired to paint the “frame” directly on the canvas in the form of a box containing the oranges. Surprisingly, most orange varieties are ripe for picking in the winter months. I was amazed by how such freshness could be found in the bleakest time of year. It may be a reminder from God that there is goodness wherever you are, you just have to look for it.”

Painting: Second Prize

“Old Man”

Gadi Edwards, Logos School (Moscow, ID)
14″ x 11″, acrylic on canvas

“My younger brother and I both love portraits; he’s a photographer and I love to paint. He showed me this black and white portrait he had taken and I was immediately inspired to paint it. I mainly focused on capturing the expression rather than trying to capture the likeness”



Drawing: First Prize

“My Charlotte Portrait: Girl with a Watermelon”

Blake McEcheren, The Oaks: A Classical Christian Academy (Spokane, WA)
10.5 by 11.5, pencil on paper

“A lot of my art has been influenced by Allan Lee’s sketches. His drawings, though only using pencil are very alive and flowing. I wanted to capture this in my ‘Charlotte Portrait.’ My little sister is always so alive and happy, and I wanted to capture that, even in a little moment like eating a watermelon at the beach.”

Drawing: Second Prize

“Harvey Landfall, August 25, 2017”

Madison Gohlke, Annapolis Christian Academy (Corpus Christi, TX)
9 x 12, graphite pencil on paper

“Ansel Adam’s strikingly beautiful black and white photography of God’s creation inspired this drawing. His use of value in dramatic lights and darks creates a compelling composition that demonstrate the beauty and power of God’s created order. After Hurricane Harvey made landfall in my city, I walked around viewing the scene of destruction and felt compelled to capture it. As I took in the scenes before me, I began to see both truth, goodness and beauty in the midst of the destruction, not only in the ways people helped clean up the mess but even in the mess itself. God indeed redeems the chaos and destruction of this world.”

Painting: First Prize


Megan Sheets of Cedar Tree Classical School (Ridgefield, WA)
16 x 20, acrylic on canvas

“Paia is a painted illustration of a picture I took while in Paia, a small town on the northern coast of Maui. I was on a walk through a neighborhood with my father right after it had rained. The scent of rain and wet pavement was in the air as we strolled along and looked at the wildly beautiful plant life. We passed a bush adorned with hibiscus flowers and I couldn’t ignore it. As I stared at the delicate flowers, in that moment I was not inspired by any specific artist from past centuries. The only artist that deserved credit was God the Creator. During the process of painting, I may have borrowed techniques from multiple artists I learned about in my classes, but I did not consciously think of any names. I only knew that my inspiration came from the first artist that instilled art in me.”

Painting: Second Prize

“In Light of Christ”

Sarah Grace Sapp, Evangel Classical Christian School (Alabaster, AL)
10″ x 14 1/2″, oil on panel

“I was inspired to take this photograph of my one-year-old nephew one afternoon when I caught him looking out the window with such a look of innocence and wonder. Because of the composition and his expression, I chose it for the subject of this painting. I painted in black and gray to show what we are like without Christ, but when His glory and majesty shines on us (seen here in the light from the window), we are given true life. I used sheer layers of color where the light falls on my nephew’s face to symbolize this miracle.
I was inspired by the Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer, who is known for his paintings of everyday life. His focus on the purity of light, composition, and dignity of his subjects is exactly what my desire is in painting my nephew, who was born with Down’s Syndrome. I endeavor to show his purity, dignity, and worth in the light of Christ.”

Drawing Finalists: “Electrified”, Atiana Bruce, The Cambridge School of Dallas; “Girl in Thought”, Karoline Travoto, Rockbridge Academy; “Gilead”, Gresham Bergeron, St. Stephen’s Academy; “Haircut”, Luke Jackson, Veritas School (VA)
Painting Finalists: “Toy Elephant with Fruit”, Francesca Norman, The Cambridge School of Dallas; “Eternal Treasure”, Sepharina Culp, Rockbridge Academy


Peeling the AppleDrawing: First Prize

“Peeling the Apple”

Gadi Edwards, Logos School (Moscow, ID)
14″ x 17″, graphite on paper

“My mother was showing me drawings she did in art school. I was highly influenced by the black and white she did that were simple but still very powerful. That’s what inspired this drawing the most. I wanted to create something atmospheric and simple; charcoal worked perfectly for it.”

LoyaltyDrawing: Second Prize


Ethan Miller, Cary Christian School (Cary, NC)
9″ x 12″, colored pencil

“The classical artist that influenced my artwork is Peter Paul Rubens. His realistic, expressive interpretations of lions in “Daniel in the Lion’s Den” inspired the realistic illustration of my loyal dog. I strove to capture the immense detail of each strand of fur as well as the expression of loyalty I see in my dog’s face every day.”


PraisePainting: First Prize


Emma Hankins, Evangel Classical Christian School (Alabaster, AL)
16″ x 20″, oil on panel

“My painting “Praise” is in celebration of present day mission work and is inspired by both Christian and portrait paintings created in the fifteenth century by early Flemish painter, Jan van Eyck. In my painting, I tried to capture van Eyck’s detailed style of portraiture by working in layers, the same way he painted many of his works. My painting portrays a young man by the name of Bheki Motsa praising God on the mission field in Swaziland, where my fifth grade teacher and her family, whose work in missions also inspired the content of my painting, lived for several years. I believe Christian artists can use their gifts in many ways to glorify God. Capturing worship through painting is a great place to start.”

UnwrappedPainting: Second Prize


Jeremy Crawford, Rockbridge Academy (Millersville, MD)
16″ x 20″, acrylic on canvas

“In painting class, we were instructed paint a still life through the lens of contemporary realism. I was immediately drawn to the color and joy presented by these Tootsie Pops. I loved the reflection the lollipops had on the jar and the bright but unique color each lollipop gave off. When I was painting, I couldn’t help but notice how happy the painting was—it gave off such innocent joy and there was a bit of an inherent sense of story in the unwrapped yet unfinished candy sitting by itself. I have been greatly influenced by the contemporary still lifes of Michael Naples, as well as by the work of 18th c. French painter, Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin. I love how they each use light to navigate the observer through their paintings. Moreover, both have a clever and ingenious way of producing life and a story through ordinary objects. In the same way, I strive to make my artwork more than just paint on a canvas, but a story worth telling, so that, even by means of a favorite childhood candy, my observer might feel moved, intrigued, and delighted.”

Drawing Finalists: “Left Alone,” Wren Lovett, Annapolis Christian Academy (Corpus Christi, TX); “Margaret,” Amber Nissley, Veritas Academy (Leola, PA)
Painting Finalists: “To Find a Home,” Megan Salesman, Veritas Academy (Leola, PA); “Facing the Sun,” Megan Sheets, Cedar Tree Classical School (Vancouver, WA)


To Have and To Hold Association of Classical Christian Schools (ACCS)Drawing: First Prize

“To Have and To Hold”

Emily Jordan, Westminster Academy (Memphis, TN)
20″ x 14″, graphite on paper

“This piece is a graphite representation of a photography that I took of my grandparents. First and foremost, it was inspired by the subjects themselves, who have consistently demonstrated through their lives and character what it means to live and grow in love and virtue with the Lord and with one another. The concept employed within my reference photograph was drawn from the work of the Italian photographer, Gianfranco Meloni, whose unique and move portraiture is well suited to my own artistic style.”


Joy Association of Classical Christian Schools (ACCS)Drawing: Second Prize


Lia VanderPloeg, Cedar Tree Classical School (Vancouver, WA)
14″ x 11″, graphite on paper

“This piece is drawn with graphite pencil. It, and all my portraits, are inspired by Michelangelo’s sculptures, but more specifically, their faces. Through art and art history classes, I’ve been drawn to the amazing accuracy of proportion and expression in his sculptures. Because his sculptures have no color—only value—they reminded me of graphite sketches. This particular piece incorporates variety in value, unusual facial expression and angle, just as seen in Michelangelo’s sculptures.”

Composition in Light Association of Classical Christian Schools (ACCS)Painting: First Prize

“Composition in Light”

Heather Thompson, Evangel Classical Christian School (Alabaster, AL)
14″ x 18″, oil on panel

“I composed my piece as part of a seven-month master study in Flemish oil painting. Painting this still life of a cow and deer skull using Flemish technique involved three distinct layers. By using repeated layers of paint and a series of thin oil glazes, Flemish painting aims at a high degree of detail and realism while maintaining smoothness and subtlety. I have endeavored to capture the elegant structure of God’s design within these creatures.”

A Walk in Fredericksburg Association of Classical Christian Schools (ACCS)Painting: Second Prize

“A Walk in Fredericksburg”

Samantha Wilmot, Annapolis Christian Academy (Corpus Christi, TX)
22″ x 18″, watercolor on paper

“Walking around Fredericksburg, I came across this staircase and was immediately drawn to the charm. My painting technique was influenced heavily by John Singer Sargent’s vibrant colors and the blurring of hard and soft edges he used often in his watercolor paintings. The wall, too, has an assortment of bright color, but underneath lies a unifying blue-brown tone that lends coherence to the painting, modeled after Sargent’s technique when painting non-human subjects.”


Drawing Finalist: “Floral Study,” Kialynn Palpant, The Oaks: A Classical Christian Academy (Spokane, WA)
Painting Finalist: Summer Lemonade,” Emma Feeney, Rockbridge Academy (Millersville, MD)


Afield Association of Classical Christian Schools (ACCS)

Drawing: First Prize
Drew Griffith
Rockbridge Academy, Millersville, MD

“My drawing represents a desire in my work to portray realism and accuracy like that of modern artists such as JD Hilberry, whose amazing graphite works I wanted to emulate. Our art teacher showed me how such contemporary work was rooted in the artists of the Realism movement of the 19th century, who sought to depict their subjects with an unvarnished truth and clarity. Later artists, such as 20th century realist Edward Hopper, continued in this tradition while emphasizing strongly defined lighting and mood. Hopper’s work often has a sense of eerie stillness, a mood which I also tried to create by framing the lonely figure in the composition and by using strong value contrasts. In previous projects, imitations of pointillist technique modeled after Georges Seurat disciplined me to observe how carefully planned moves of shade and shadow can bring even greater realism to my work, regardless of the medium.”

Happy Association of Classical Christian Schools (ACCS)

Drawing: Second Prize
Gresham Bergeron
St. Stephen’s Academy, Beaverton, OR

“Artists are often drawn to styles and techniques employed by master artists in their previous work. The inspiration for my pencil drawing of an old man came from the work of Andrew Wyeth. Andrew Wyeth’s works are mostly scenes of everyday life, especially of country and farm life. He also painted and drew many portraits of individual people. I especially admire his use of low lighting to bring out highlights in the subjects of his painting. His attention to detail is quite remarkable, and his portraits not only capture the features of the people being painted, but also their expressions at the time they were drawn. I tried to replicate this in my drawing, using the man’s hard, glassy eyes and wide smile to show him in a moment of sudden happiness. Also, I believe some of Wyeth’s attention to detail comes through in the wrinkles and individual hairs on the old man’s face. Wyeth was a painstaking artist, and his work has influenced my own style.”

Swimming at Dawn Association of Classical Christian Schools (ACCS)

Painting: First Prize
“Swimming at Dawn”
Madison Mier
St. Stephen’s Academy, Beaverton, OR

“This piece was influenced by the artist who created the designs for the federal duck stamp hunting license which began in 1934. While no particular artist influenced the style of this piece individually, it was intended that it would portray a moment in time, capturing waterfowl in its natural habitat, as if it were a photograph. Using a reference photo composed by Tim Bernard, a Northwest Wildlife photographer who gave me reference photos to use for this project, this acrylic painting works to establish a desire to conserve the creation God has provided for us.”

Ponte Santa Trinita, Florence Association of Classical Christian Schools (ACCS)

Painting: Second Prize
“Ponte Santa Trinita, Florence”
Jay Wallen
Rockbridge Academy, Millersville, MD

“After an amazing trip to Europe, I wanted to capture something of the mood and feel of some of my adventures, in the manner of the great American watercolor artist John Singer Sargent. I admire the way he used color and clarity to indicate the focal point of his pictures, although his style is much looser than my own. I used a more exact style of watercolor painting to communicate the beautiful structural detail of the buildings and the bridge while retaining a certain smooth and transparent feel overall. However, like Sargent, who painted beautiful scenes during his own European travels, I also wanted to capture something of the warmth and color of the light on the buildings of Florence, using a variety of my own photographs for reference.”

Note: Each student must submit a written statement that identifies the artist(s) who have influenced their painting and how this is reflected in their own work.