Blakey Prize

ACCS Fine Arts Competition

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.

Are you an ACCS school?

Get entry details and forms on the MRC for your selected student competitor(s). Keep reading for contest overview.

Are you an ACCS student?

Talk to a teacher or administrator about entering. Each school can enter one student’s artwork in each of the following categories: Drawing, Painting, Apparel, and Stationery.

Interested in learning more?

4 Categories:

Drawings | Paintings | Apparel | Stationery

Classic Gallery:
Drawings and Paintings

Entry Deadline: April 5, 2024

Grand Prizes: $300 | Runners Up: $250

Prizes awarded in both categories.

The power of the Good has taken refuge in the nature of the Beautiful. — Plato

Digital Gallery:
Apparel and Stationery

Entry Deadline: March 8, 2024

Grand Prizes: $300 | Runners Up: $250

Prizes awarded in all categories.

The productions of all arts are kinds of poetry, and their craftsmen are all poets. — Plato

Entry Details: Each school may submit one entry for each category. Member schools can find entry forms and details in the Member Resource Center.

Note: Schools may enter the same student in multiple categories, but different artwork must be entered for the Drawing and Painting categories. Drawings or Paintings may be submitted to the Apparel or Stationery categories if altered to fit the unique specifications (see below).

Rules: Member schools can find details in the Member Resource Center. For more about Apparel and Stationery, keep reading.

Blakey Prize in Fine Art Winners


First Prize — Drawing

“Ivan Borzoisky” by Sophie Roberts, St. Stephen’s Academy, Beaverton, OR

In part of her artist statement, Sophie wrote, “I took inspiration (and my reference photo, with his permission) for this piece from Paul Croes, an animal photographer who has a whole collection dedicated to dogs…His works, as a whole, are so well composed that I would have considered it a crime not to take inspiration from him… I wanted to keep everything simple yet effective, so I kept the background minimalistic.”

Comments from the judges:

“The dog is amazingly done! He looks lifelike, like a photo, not a drawing. The artist beautifully captured the texture of the dog. It looks like I could pet him. Wonderful job!”

“Absolutely took my breath away! This artwork shows strong evidence of mastery of the materials, excellent recreation of inspiring imagery, and an advanced artistic process.”

Second Prize — Drawing

“Determination” by Bella Smith, Providence Preparatory School, Belton, TX

Comments from the judges:

“A beautiful piece that I can imagine hanging in frames to decorate many homes. This artist is clearly comfortable with their tools and captured the Great Horned Owl’s expression perfectly.”

“Simple, striking composition. Good job filling the frame with the subject. Good use of limited texture to create drama. Very nice textures.”

First Prize — Painting

“Feeding the Five Thousand” by Grace Haugland, Clear Lake Classical School, Clear Lake, IA

In part of her artist statement, Grace wrote, “I’ve always loved realism, so I wanted to… try to create something life-like myself. I chose to depict one of Jesus’ miracles of the feeding of the 5,000. The intricacy of trying to create the basket and the fish really intrigued me and I wanted to challenge myself.”

Comments from the judges:

“This piece displays a high level of technical skill. While the content is literal and straightforward, it is clear and meaningful. The painted texture of the bread, fish, and basket is exemplary. I would be able to understand the artist’s intent solely by looking at the work.”

“The fine detail & harmony of the bread, fish, and basket engage me. They are so well done. And, the soft focus of the background supports the image and message.”

Second Prize — Painting

“A Trail Less Travelled” by Bella Smith, Providence Preparatory School, Belton, TX

In part of her artist statement, Bella wrote, “This painting is a reflection of the beauty of the renewal of Texas (OMIT) in spring… The path invites the viewer in, beckoning them to experience and explore the world inside the painting. I chose to capture the Texas (OMIT) countryside because of the simple beauty it represents in our everyday lives.”

Comments from the judges:

“The composition and color harmony here are exquisite. This peaceful scene has a great illusion of depth with detail in the foreground and blurred edges in the distance.”

“Love the depth and lovely perspective. Colors are lovely and give a quiet peacefulness.”

First Prize — Greeting Card

“Francis” by Mia Moore, Faith Christian Academy, Kansas City, MO

In part of her artist statement, Mia wrote, “Recently I have been really inspired by the intricacies of birds. I wanted to attempt one of the most complicated and beautiful birds I could find, and so I landed on a peacock… I love the simplicity of pencils that can result in some amazing contrast and detail that you can’t find with any other medium.”

Comments from the judges:

“Beautiful. The detail lends to this eye-catching piece. I can see this on cards, journals, and maybe other items as well. This is both artistically excellent and well-suited to its purpose.”

“The skill of this drawing is impressive, the execution is excellent, and the subject compelling.”

Second Prize — Greeting Card

Anniversary Gift of Bodie Lighthouse” by Hannah Bumgarner, Rockbridge Academy, Rockbridge, MD

In her artist statement, Hannah wrote, “I have enjoyed the lighthouse paintings of Edward Hopper, but my style is different. I was hoping for realism and I strove to have accuracy and excellence in every part of this painting. It was painstaking and a joy to complete. I took this photograph while visiting Bodie Lighthouse in Cape Hatteras with my sister and my parents. It was their anniversary and I wanted to paint it as a gift for them.”

Comment from the judges:

“I can feel the warmth of the sun, and am able to imagine a day exploring the lighthouse and countryside. The painting gives a sense of completeness, but also of adventure and exploration waiting to happen.”


First Prize — Drawing

“Brothers” by Maria Daniels, St. Stephen’s Academy, Beaverton, OR

In part of her artist statement, Marie wrote, “Drawing can be almost painful at times for me because my references are too impossibly beautiful to capture in full. God has placed such incredible intricacy and life in His creation that I can’t help wanting to imitate his work.”

Comments from the judges:

“This piece is stunning. The colors, the layers it took to get it to blend so beautifully. The values and contrast along with the composition are outstanding.”

“Excellent work. Colored pencils, such amazing texture, form, and tonal range.”

Second Prize — Drawing

“In Reflection” by Jon David Gibson, Westminster Academy, Memphis, TN

In part of his artist statement, David wrote, “My white pencil drawing is a self portrait of myself in dramatic lighting. The white charcoal on black paper was chosen to highlight the emotions of the face and to not distract the viewer with the background. The eyes are shrouded in shadow to ensure the viewer’s attention stays on the face as a whole. I took great inspiration from French photographer Claude Gassian as he truly understands the use of shadow to highlight the emotions rather than physical features.”

Comments from the judges:

“Mature choices as to what to omit and what to emphasize. Great execution and skill. Excellent artist statement.”

“Great shadows and value! The composition and structure of the piece is magnificent.”

First Prize — Painting

“After Nap Snack” by Elizabeth Laughlin, Westminster Academy, Memphis, TN

In part of her artist statement, Elizabeth wrote, “The act of peeling and eating an orange has a playful, messy, joyful air about it. It is a sensory experience that is childlike in nature: the fiery orange catches the eye, the citrus smell demands attention, the hands get sticky with the fruit’s juice, the tongue is hit with a sharp sort of sweetness, and the remnants of the peel stay under your fingertips for the rest of the day. In order to convey this experience I chose to portray an orange atop a whimsically patterned plate in the process of being peeling, moments before enjoyment.”

Comments from the judges:

“Just a stunning display of the classical realist tradition. It’s obvious the amount of time that went into pure observation of the still life, as well as thoughtful placement of the composition—the segments of oranges, the curvature of the bowl’s edge, and the contrast in color. A well-deserved winner.”

“Beautiful and skillful arrangement of subject. Colors work well together. Excellent technical skill rendering the subjects.”

Second Prize — Painting

“More Through Less” by Emma Leeman, Rockbridge Academy, Crownsville, MD

In part of her artist statement, Emma wrote, “In my painting, three women are surrounded by color and rhythm. For the background, I was inspired by Claude Monet’s depictions of nature. I employed a similar impressionistic style with the vinery that subtly climbs up their clothing. Not only does nature recede into the background, but it tethers to them. This portrays the figurative wealth that these people have. I juxtaposed this with a realistic depiction of the women. These people are real, and they are beautiful. Although they encounter hardships, as portrayed in their facial expressions, there is still beauty and fruitfulness throughout their culture. The woman on the right carries a baby on her back signifying the loyalty and love these people have for one another. The woman on the left is enraptured by a butterfly that hovers above her finger. Her soft and curious stare captures the wonder and delight these people encounter as they live in nature. I often assume that material goods will satisfy me, yet these people have truly found more through less.”

Comments from the judges:

“This piece is absolutely breathtaking! The expert use of color, impressive texture, and a balanced composition in which every element is valuable is stunning, to say the least.”

“Shows so much personality and humanness! Love the fabric texture and the vibrant color. I can almost feel how warm it is there!”

First Prize — Greeting Card

“On The Dragon in Townsend, Tennessee” by Eli Chandler, Paideia Academy, Knoxville, TN

In his artist statement, Eli wrote, “My influence in this Astro-Photograph style is Dan Thompson. Over the last two years I have learned the Lightroom processing of this image as well as stacking images. This photo was taken in a deep – astrophotography approach such that the foreground has an accurate placement of stars and is shot at blue hour and light painted. It is then composed with an accurate placement of the Milky Way – shot the following day, which itself was a stack of 50 images in a darker sky located – On The Dragon in Townsend, TN.”

Comments from the judges:

“The beauty captured in this photograph is stunning! Excellent use of long and multiple exposures, which is very difficult to execute well.”

“This image makes me think of J.R.R. Tolkien’s description of the Lothlorien forest in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The light blue of the waterfall contrasted against the dark green of the trees, and the burst of stars in the night sky makes me wonder at the beauty of creation and the magnificence and love of the creator who made it. The image is restful to the eye and mind, and yet has enough detail that I could study it over and over again.”

First Prize — Greeting Card – Tie

“Smidy Hunting” by Caleb Woodward, Faith Christian Academy, Kansas City, MO

In his artist statement, Caleb wrote, “For my art project, I was inspired by what used to be. Growing up, going on fun adventures, I wanted to draw from the perspective of a child’s imagination. The title Smidy Hunting reflects back on a mysterious figure named Smidy, with the bridge representing the endless adventure ahead of us. Adonna Khare has inspired me throughout my artistic journey. She draws beautiful nature and action pencil drawings and has inspired me to try and make similar drawings.”

Comments from the judges:

“[Smidy Hunting] is beautiful and makes me want to jump into the picture. I think it correlates nicely with the Tolkien quote as it looks like a nice ‘wandering’ hike but with a destination.”

Second Prize — Greeting Card – Tie

“Simplicity and Beauty” by Hope Sawyer, Faith Christian Academy, Kansas City, MO

In her artist statement, Hope wrote, “I’ve always enjoyed painting, and the simplicity and beauty of flowers is inspiring. I focused on the color and detail of the tulip, and attempted to compose it in a way that is pleasing to look at. In doing so, I found my own art style that I love. This painting was inspired by the greatest artist of all: our God who created the whole world.”

Comments from the judges:

“[Hope’s piece] is simple but exquisitely clear in its message. I would buy these to use as thank-you cards, and if I received one, I would feel like I had been given an actual flower as a thank-you. Well done! Also, I love the uniqueness of using a Cicero quote!”

Winner — Apparel

“Old Entish” by Hudson Carr, Paideia Academy, Knoxville, TN

In his artist statement, Hudson wrote, “I have developed an artistic style mixing Celtic artwork and Tolkien’s fantasy art with an emphasis on Logo style for this piece.”

Comments from the judges:

“This piece reflects my own sense of ‘The Ents’. I like the overall simplicity combined with the detail of the lines. The student did a great job of creating this artwork for its intended purpose and I’d love to see it in production!”

Other Finalists

Other finalists include: “Christmas Truck” by Eli Chandler, “Beyond the Light” by Grace Schwartz of Faith Christian Academy, and “May the Wind” by Rebekah Booth of Delaware Valley Classical School.


First Prize — Drawing

“Alas, Poor Yorrick” by Claire McNeill, Trinitas Christian School, Pensacola, Florida

In her artist statement, Claire wrote, “My charcoal drawing, entitled “Alas, Poor Yorrick”, is an illustration of Act V scene I of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. I chose white charcoal on a black paper background because it lends itself well to dramatic lighting and causes the subject to stand out. It almost creates the appearance of the spotlight, fitting the theme of a drama. I was particularly inspired by the contemporary artist Matt Fussell. I referenced his white charcoal tutorial in the creation of this piece, and I was inspired by his use of negative space and shadow to create realistic portraits.”

Comments from the judges:

“The student has illustrated meaningful content and mastery of medium, demonstrating use of design and technique to create a beautiful and classical drawing.”
“This piece is both striking in the design of the piece and in its execution. The variety of textures that were created through value was well done. The anatomy of the human form is remarkable.”

Second Prize — Drawing

“Through the Mask” by Katie Colombo, Cair Paravel Latin School, Topeka, Kansas

In her artist statement, Katie wrote, “For my art project, I was inspired by Caravaggio’s depth and emphasis of light throughout his work. I based my drawing on a picture of my dear friend, Emma. Given that I had a mild case of Covid while working on this piece, I was reminded of the meaning behind the mask. In just two years, it has grown to symbolize more than any anticipated. I hoped to capture her emotion and smile through the mask, just like each of us have learned to do.”

Comments from the judges:

“The value from light to dark and highlights are phenomenal. I love that you can see the expression even though the face is covered.”
Detail is “perfect, from the kind eyes, to the stitching on the mask edge, to the wispy hair around the head.”

First Prize — Painting

“Long Reach for the Almond” by Charis Falcon, Annapolis Christian Academy, Corpus Christi, Texas

In her artist statement, Charis wrote, “I was a freshman when the American artist, John James Audubon was introduced to me. I was already absolutely fascinated by the beauty of nature and Mr. Audubon’s depictions of life-size birds in their natural habitat captured my imagination and my attention. His dramatic scenes embodied his subjects with a story-like quality as well as his use of color and realism, while still maintaining an ornithological illustrative quality. From parrots to finches to predatory hawks, he captured God’s amazing design in the natural world. Audubon’s love of birds mirrored my own love of animals, thus he was a perfect inspiration and role model for my own life-size replication of a Scarlet Macaw from Costa Rica. I hoped to capture the drama of this beautiful bird through color contrast, saturation and sharpness. It was a long process of layering to create the color intensity of this stunning bird. I hope to capture my audience’s imagination with the drama in this moment. It was a joy to study this elegant creature through the art of watercolor.”

Comments from the judges:

“Strong compositional elements, vivid color, and intriguing detail. A lifelike, relatable piece. The watercolor is expertly handled, allowing the light of the paper to show through creating copellince luminessence.”
“Great range of color! Feather and leaf accuracy are excellent — really gives a sense of place.”

Second Prize — Painting

“Uh-oh” by Nathan Kawecki, Rockbridge Academy, Crownsville, Maryland

In his artist statement, Nathan wrote, “Acrylic paint has grown to become one of my favorite mediums over the past couple of years. In this painting, I focused mainly on mood, composition, and realism. One artist that has always inspired me is Dutch Golden Age painter, Pieter Claesz. His attention to detail drove me to focus on the refractions and reflections in the glass. I was also inspired by the composition of his still lifes, and the dark mood they conveyed. The composition leaves the reader to interpret the story of the painting and inspire the imagination. I hope my painting does the same for its viewers.”

Comments from the judges:

“Great technical skill. The fabric folds are impressively rendered, especially considering the difficulty of accurately depicting a pattern in the folds.”
“This piece shows space through the use of clean lines and detail toward the foreground and the blurred edges of the fabric in the background.”


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.