The 2018 Boston Figure Painting Competition

2018 Boston Figure Painting Competition Details

Participants will compete for 5 days from one sustained 30 hour figure model. One painting will be completed. Deadline for participation application is April 15th. Selected participants will be announced May 15th

2016 First place WInner: Cesar Santos

2016 First place WInner: Cesar Santos

2015 First Place Winner: Shane Wolf

2015 First Place Winner: Shane Wolf

Current Prizes:
First Place: $6000, Colorman Handmade Paint Set, The Brush Clip, $250 Michael Harding Gift Certificate

Second Place: $2000, $200 Natural Pigments Gift Certificate, Colorman Handmade Paint Sampler, $100 Trekell Gift Card, Nitram Prize Pack, The Brush Clip, $250 Michael Harding Gift Certificate, Rosemary Brush Bouquet

Third Place: $1000, $200 Natural Pigments Gift Certificate, Colorman Handmade Paint Sampler, $100 Trekell Gift Card, Nitram Prize Pack, The Brush Clip, $250 Michael Harding Gift Certificate, Rosemary Brush Bouquet

Swag Bags: TBD

Viewers Choice Awards: New Wave Palette, $250 Michael Harding Gift Certificate, Gamblin Paint Set (The Artists Oil Color Gift Set is valued at $95 and is made up of six professional grade oil colors and a tube of Solvent-Free Gel painting medium.  The set is packaged in a primed, ready-to-use painting panel handcrafted in North America from sustainably forested birch. 
The viewers choice award will be open for voting at the end of the working day on Friday and will close at noon on Saturday.

Dates and times: July 30th to August 3rd, 2018 10:00 to 6:00 each day. Model hours: 10:00am - 1:00 and 3:00 - 6:00. Participants will also be allowed two hours per day to work on their pieces without the model posing. The competition room will be open daily for public viewing from 1:30 - 2:30 pm.

Award Ceremony and Reception: August 4th at the Guild of Boston Artists at 1 PM. This will be open to the public. All 10 paintings will be on view for the awards ceremony at the Guild. 162 Newbury Street in Boston.

Medium and Support: This competition is for oil painters only. ARA Boston will provide an easel and a small working surface per participant. Maximum canvas/panel size is 24 inches wide by 42 inches tall.

Guidelines for BFPC 2018: At ARA, Boston our academic training allows us to render what we see to a great degree of truth. We are enthusiastic exponents of our atelier’s method and techniques. But too often, academicians fall in love with their skill to the detriment of their ideas. We begin to imitate the “heroes” of the past, not only in their style but in their antiquated subject matter.

2017 was a year of upheaval. A renewed political awareness led to massive protests not seen in decades. In Boston, the Women’s March filled the Common the day after the presidential inauguration. From #Metoo to Charlottesville, there is no doubt this is a time of change. There is a contentious dialogue taking place between pink pussyhats and Make America Great Again baseball caps.

The 2018 Boston Figure Painting Competition seeks to join that conversation.

This year's pose will be taken directly from a nineteenth century work by an academic master. It will be up to the competitors to give the pose a new context that will alter its original meaning and make it relevant to a contemporary audience.

One month prior to the competition, the competitors will be informed of the 19th century work chosen for the pose.

Judging Criteria - Round One:
The paintings will be judged on:

  • anatomical and proportional accuracy
  • gesture
  • likeness
  • body type
  • integrity of form

Round Two:

Those paintings achieving the above criteria will proceed to the second round where each will be judged based on the 2018 Guidelines.

Info About Our 2018 Judges

Vincent Desiderio

Vincent desiderio was born in 1955 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. He graduated from Haverford College in 1977 and later attended the Academia di belle arti in Florence, Italy, followed by four years at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He is a Senior Critic at the New York Academy of Art and has been a visiting professor at numerous universities both here and abroad, most recently at the Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts in China. He lives and works in Westchester County, New York.

Desiderio has received several grants and painting awards among which are the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant; Two National Endowment for the Arts Grants -1987 and 1991 and the Grand Prize of S.A.S. Prince Ranier III, Thirtieth Annual Show of Contemporary Art in Monte-Carlo, Monaco in 1996. He was the first American to receive that award. In both 1984 and 1986, he was awarded a studio at P.S.1 MoMA. He is the recipient of honorary doctorates from both the New York Academy of Art and the Lyme Academy. In 2007 Desiderio was invited to be Artist in Residence at Dartmouth College. This year Desiderio was awarded a fellowship from the Chinese government through the One Thousand Talent Program and will be an adjunct professor at the Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts in Tianjin, China. In 2016 Desiderio’s painting SLEEP was used as the basis for Kanye West’s video, FAMOUS.

His work can be found in many important public collections, including: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Galerie Sammlung Ludwig, Aachen, Germany; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; The Albright Knox Museum, The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts Museum of American Art, Philadelphia, PA; The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City; and The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.

Adam Adelson 

Adam Adelson has grown up in the Art World, under the supervision of his esteemed parents, Jan and Warren Adelson of Adelson Galleries (est. 1964).  Seeing the inner workings of his parent’s gallery piqued Adam’s interest in the Art Business at an early age.  Before graduating cum laude with a degree in Art History from Boston University, Adam completed an internship at Grogan&Co Auction House in Dedham, MA, which gave him further insight into the current trends in the art market.   In 2012, with the help of his sister, Alexa Adelson, Adam opened Adelson Galleries Boston, on 520 Harrison Avenue, in Boston’s SOWA Arts District.  The gallery represents emerging and midcareer artists, and has quickly become one of Boston’s most well respected venues for exhibiting Contemporary Fine Art -  responsible for placing several artworks in Museums and major collections around the world. 

Jared Bowen

Executive Arts Editor Jared Bowen is the Emmy award-winning host of the weekly television series, Open Studio with Jared Bowen, which takes viewers inside the creative process, offering a blend of profiles, performances, and contemporary exhibitions by artists in Greater Boston, New England, and across the country. He is a contributor to WGBH-TV’s nightly news magazine program, Greater Boston and appears regularly on 89.7 WGBH, where he covers the latest happenings in the region’s theater, art, music, dance and film on WGBH’s Morning Edition and Boston Public Radio.  He also serves as a coach/judge on the choir competition show Sing That Thing! and is the moderator of the Boston Speakers Series at Symphony Hall facilitating conversations with everyone from world leaders to Oscar-winning actors. He is a member of the Boston Theater Critics Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association and he serves on the Board of Governors for the Boston/New England Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Jared is also a contributor to the PBS NewsHour and Art New England magazine. Jared has produced five news documentaries for WGBH and the first three seasons of the public media company’s Eye on Education initiative. He has won two New England Emmys and an Edward R. Murrow Award for his arts reporting and is a recipient of the 2013 Commonwealth Award, recognizing achievement in the arts, humanities and
sciences. Jared began his career at Dateline NBC in New York, and is a graduate of Emerson College where he also won several Associated Press Awards.

Graydon Parrish

Graydon Parrish is a realist painter living in Austin, Texas trained in and an exponent of the atelier method which emphasizes classical painting techniques. His parents, collectors of American and European nineteenth-century art, exposed him to painting at a young age and influenced his choice to pursue an academic figurative style.

Parrish attended the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and graduated in 1988. Unable to find further classical art training, he learned of the newly formed New York Academy of Art in the summer of that year created by Andy Warhol and Stuart Pivar. There, Parrish joined other students who have become leading figures in the classical art revival. It is also at the New York Academy where Parrish met his mentor Michael Aviano, a student himself of illustrator and muralist Frank J. Reilly

Since then Parrish has remodeled color theories by Albert Munsell and Josef Albers to fit traditional painting methods. In some ways, he and his colleagues share the reformist attitude of the Stuckist movement in England and are likewise often at odds with mainstream critical taste.

Cindy MacMillan

Academy of Realist Art, Boston, Founder and Director Cindy is a practicing artist who divides her time between working in the studio and superintending ARA Boston academy operations. One of the first graduates of this program in Toronto she completed the rigorous program under the tutelage of Michael John Angel in 2002. She went on to earn a masters degree from the New York Academy of Art in 2007. Cindy has been the recipient of scholarships from the Art Renewal Center and the New York Academy of Art. Her work has won numerous awards and is collected internationally. 

Application process:

Deadline for application is April 15th. Participants will be announced May 15th.

Email arabostoncontest (at) with the subject line of 2018 ARA Boston Figure Painting Competition.

Include in your email: Full Name and Phone Number. Title, size, year of completion, and medium of your three images. Attach 3 figurative images to your email. Each image should be in jpeg format. File name should be formatted: lastname_firstname_title.jpg 

About Our 2018 Sponsors:

New Wave Fine Art Products: At New Wave® our goal is simple; produce innovative products that help you paint more effectively.   We offer a unique selection of palettes that have been redesigned to meet the standards of today's artists.  We are sure to have a palette that caters to your style of painting. 


Michael Harding Paints: I started making oil colours back in 1982 while I was studying Fine Art. I had always been inspired by Rembrandt’s paintings in the National Gallery and I wanted to try and recreate his paint effects and glorious colours in my own work. If at first you don’t succeed... Not surprisingly, after a number of aborted attempts, I realized something was missing. It wasn’t just his genius that I lacked but the actual materials I was using. They would not behave in the same way as the paint in his work, and the colours had a totally different appearance. My quest began. I was determined to get what I needed – oil paint that was of the same quality and consistency as that used by the Old Masters. After a number of months doing intensive research I turned my flat into a small oil paint factory.

Natural Pigments: Natural Pigments is a limited liability company based in California. We manufacture and distribute rare and hard-to-find materials for fine artists and decorators. We specialize in supplying artists' materials that were used in historical painting since prehistoric times up to and including the nineteenth century.

We constantly search for materials and products of the finest quality so that we can bring them direct to you from the source. To do so, we travel the world to find materials specifically for use by professional artists and decorators. We obtain minerals from mines in Afghanistan, Chile, Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan, to name a few places, processing these into natural pigments. We purchase resins, gums and plants from India, Kenya and Malaysia to make natural varnishes and painting mediums.

Our mission is to provide the largest variety of natural pigments, paints and other professional artists' supplies, enabling us to bring you a selection that makes shopping for rare and hard-to-find art materials easy. Our objective is to promote the education and use of these materials among artists by providing detailed information for their employment in encaustic, fresco, oil, watercolor and tempera painting.

Artist and Craftsman: On December 30th 2016, we completed the transition to become a 100% Employee Owned Company. Artist & Craftsman Supply began the journey to become an ESOP in 2009, when 48% of the Company shares were purchased from Founder and President, Larry Adlerstein. In the closing hours of 2016, we arrived at the important milestone of 100% Employee Ownership, and now the journey continues.

With a family of stores and a dedicated crew, Artist & Craftsman Supply is poised to continue our tradition of offering the highest quality service and materials for creative communities, now and into the future.


Gamblin Colors: At Gamblin, our mission is to lead oil painting and printmaking into the future. To us this means crafting materials as they ought to be, not just as they have been. Our luscious colors and contemporary mediums are true to historic working properties, yet safer and more permanent.

We also believe in giving artists more and asking for less.  Artists deserve to be able to use color freely, without hesitation or reservation- to get in the flow of their painting, unencumbered by expectations or doubt. This is the other half of our work, helping artists select and master the materials best suited to their artistic intentions.


Trekell: Brian Trekell was backpacking through Japan when he was first inspired by the art of brushmaking. That spark led to an interest that blossomed into a passion. Soon after, he traveled to Bechhofen, Germany to fine-tune his skills. After mastering the discipline, he returned to America and began his business, one with a commitment to excellence that deserved to be given his name. Things started small: Brian used his Brea, California apartment as the first base of operations. He worked hard, never forgetting his original inspiration and to always put quality first. The company grew steadily and he moved to California's spacious High Desert to accommodate it. 

That was 1984. Three decades later, Trekell is an established name in art, known for exacting standards, earned experience, and the virtuosic skill behind the design of every product. Trekell has grown from one man's calling into a leading manufacturer of the highest quality supplies. Created with care and compassionately priced, Trekell's wide selection of tools are made by artists for artists. So, when you explore Trekell's catalog, know that you'll be dealing with people who are as passionate about their craft as you are about yours.