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ARA students and faculty shortlisted in 15th International ARC Salon Competition

Join us in congratulating 20 of our students, alumni, and faculty who have been shortlisted as semi-finalists in the 15th International Art Renewal Center (ARC) Salon Competition, for a combined total of 28 shortlisted entries!

Of those entries, 20 moved forward to the finals, and from there we have a first place win and three honourable mentions!

The ARC Salon is billed as the most prestigious realist art competition in the Americas and perhaps the world. In 2020, the ARC received 4,941 entries this year from 83 countries, with the top 40% being selected for the semi-finals. The competition offers over $100,000 in cash awards and international recognition through partnerships with prestigious magazines, galleries, museum exhibitions, and a strong online presence.

Congratulations to all the artists! Keep scrolling to see the shortlisted work from ARA, and our sister school ARA Boston.

Click here to vote for the People’s Choice Award (you can vote for up to 10 pieces) until January 19, 2021.

First Place – Still Life

Julie Beck

The Hundredth Monkey
Still Life

“This painting started as homage to the classic composition and symbolism of Dutch still life paintings. It evolved, fittingly so, into a painting that touches on human exploration and evolution of understanding of our worlds. These worlds are both internally and externally, micro and macro scale, and the painting includes symbols of the five senses (how we intake information and experience the world outside us).”

Honourable Mentions

Lynne Crouch

Ma Cherie

“The challenge in painting ‘Ma Cherie’ was to portray an individual horse, not just a bay horse. The challenge resides in being scrupulous in the depiction of her colouring, her muscle definition and her body structure.Ma Cherie, an older mare, has been placed ahead of the darkness of a prairie storm which hurries her along threatening to overtake her.”

Eric Johnson

The Artist’s Daughter 

“This painting is of my only daughter Beatrice. Although only two years old, she has demonstrated a strong-willed thoughtfulness in the quiet moments between joy and laughter. This seemed most fitting for a painting, with plans for one to record each new year of her life.”

Anita Van Zeumeren

Failed Promises
Still Life; finalist in Fully From Life

“Those of us from European descent have had the tendency to look at treaties through the lens of the crown emphasizing the written text. (As portrayed through the flag, lamp, the written treaty and inkwell) Through this painting, I learned that an Indigenous view is much broader including not only the Creator but an understanding that by signing the treaty and solemnizing the process with the use of the sacred pipe, the ancestors of the Crown are seen as relatives in accordance with Indigenous laws of adoption.  

“No matter how egregious our failure to hold up Treaties with First Nations, an Indigenous view understands that the promises are never null or void. In the painting, I chose an owl’s feather for the pen. In Cree culture, an owl is a harbinger of death; a sign perhaps of a European lack of intention to honour our own written words?  There are raven feathers (symbol of honesty) running down the centre of Britain’s flag. Will we finally fulfill our solemn promises so maybe one day we will truly have an ‘enduring and lasting relationship’ with the First Peoples of this land?”


Laura Abbott

Fork in the Road
Still Life

“I love the mystery of old master still life paintings. This led me to pursue academic painting at the ARA under the guidance of Fernando Freitas. I love the hunt for old objects that speak to me for my set ups. I am very pleased with this painting and am compelled to continue my studies. The pandemic is a bit of a hiccup! I look forward to returning to the studio!”

Denise Antaya

Evening Portal

“The landscape I chose to paint is indicative of today’s troubles. The weeping willows, the scraggly reeds are all symbolic of the destruction and problems we face. But the bright setting sun coming through the trees is symbolic of better times, the opening into the light refers to a portal, to a way past these difficult times, to light and hope for our future. If we seek the light, past the darkness, good will prevail.” 

From the Tower

“From the Tower was based on a setting in Point Pelee National Park. It was sunrise and the picture on my computer screen was a guide. I did the drawing very carefully trying to get the right perspective. Plein air work is very important as it guides you in your studio practice. I also spend a great deal of time outdoors studying the colours and using oil studies as well as visual memory to create the effect I am after.”

Watching Over Us

“This painting is a tribute I did for my sister and my boyfriend who passed away a day apart due to Covid. The day after my sister died my boyfriend took me for a drive to cheer me up. I took this image on my phone and said, I’m going to do a painting for Mick, a tribute to her. Little did I know a few short hours I would lose him as well, so the tribute was for them both. The way the light was coming through the trees and reflecting in the rutted field creating such beauty and glow I chose the title ‘Watching Over Us’, because that was how it felt. Even though I used a photo once again, for a few weeks beforehand I was doing quick sky studies at sunset which were a great help.”

Nancy Calder

The Triplets
Still Life

“My painting ‘The Triplets’ is an allegorical comment on the weight, responsibility and evolution of raising a family. “

Rita Chlebus

Mysterious Apple Blossoms
Still Life

“The rare and mysterious red apple blossoms were the inspiration for this painting. I have a passion for flowers, gardening and nature. The white flower included in this composition for contrast is a dogwood flower.”

Number 24
Still Life 

“My inspiration for this composition came from my older brother, who is a master carpenter and violin maker. This piece is of his 24th violin that he hand crafted utilizing the Stradivari-method. I was inspired to capture the beauty of the instrument and the music of a classical period in time.” 

Louise Daoust

Books and Poison 
Still Life

“This painting is a tribute to the murder mystery genre. The transition from darkness to light shows how a murderous intent is transformed into a poisonous act. The viewer goes through the same steps as a reader who wonders why, how and who is about to perpetrate this crime.”

Emanuela De Musis


Juan Martínez

Still Life

“This was actually a commissioned piece, but with no real direction from the patron, so it was quite a relaxing process for me. The bronze Chinese Flying horse — the main ‘celestial’ — belonged to the client but other than that, everything else in the painting was put there to try and create the best composition I could come up with which would still focus on the figurine.”

Liliya Muglia

Bananas for You
Still Life

“This is a playful piece telling a story from a life of a dance performer that only an imaginative mind can plot what happens after the show. This piece was created using all historical paints and impasto medium that I purchased from Natural pigments. Intricate ways of using glazing (indirect way of painting) were used to make the colours glow.”

Maryna Nemynushcha

Figurative and Drawing

Marlene Peltoniemi


“This is a drawing of my friend and fellow artist, Lina Barratin. It is done on hand tinted paper with charcoal and white chalk. Lina has very generously, and patiently, posed for me many times over the years as I study the art of portraiture. I hope I have captured some of her strength and dynamic spirit, as well as her wonderful sense of humour in my portrait.”

Margit Sampogna

A Snail’s Pace
Still Life

“This painting took three years to complete from inception to completion —simply my response to a gloomy grey winter day. I needed colour badly and hence my response — like little critters hence the addition of the bee, snail and ladybug.”

Anita Van Zeumeren

The Face of the Future

“Colonialism has caused a deep disconnect between land and people. Land is seen as a commodity to be used and exploited for our use. If we have hope of a future for generations to come, we must find our way back to an Indigenous understanding of land. This is Norman Coleman, a traditional elder of Matachewan First Nation. In his gaze, I find the wisdom to stop, listen and learn.”

Bernadica Veselic

Sunny Harvest
Still Life

“As a painter in this still life I was mainly intrigued by correlations between light and shadow created by nearby trees. Presenting dfferent textures of materials like copper wood, laced drapery and perishables in their different stages of life were my main interest. Earthy palette sets mood of late summer or early Autumn sunny day that allowed me to create sense of air and space. I hope that this still life will inspire many warm memories.”


Robyn Clayton

Still Life and Fully From Life

“This painting was inspired by a ceramic Venus de Milo statue I found at a thrift shop. I love finding beauty in the ordinary.”

Louise Daoust

Tea Time 
Still Life

“A study in Red-Green depicting a humorous scene when your favourite tea time snack is about to be stolen.”

Christopher Laffin


“This portrait is of a friend and neighbour. He interested me as a man with intellectual and cultural pursuits who spends his days outdoors running one of the largest sheep farms in Ontario. I set myself the challenge of depicting all the details needed to make his image seem lifelike.”

Maryna Nemynushcha

Gifts of Spring

Francis Nguyen


“Pandemonium is the state of mankind in complete chaos, confusion and hysteria. I was inspired by a week-long trip to Italy to create the alter-ego of every idol, deity and hero as flawed human beings who have fallen from grace. Their continual descent into the depths of their own psyche reveals a terrifying fate – eternal damnation.”

Marlene Peltoniemi

Summer Respite
Still Life

“I wanted to capture the welcome relief of a cool, shady retreat from the bright, intense heat of a summer’s day, through the use of strong temperature and chroma contrasts, as well as other compositional devices.”

Bernadica Veselic

From the Heart

“This self portrait in oil was created from mirror observation and in many ways is autobiographical, hinting at my Slavic origins, modest personality, and love for painting. It represents an artist in her quiet moment during the painting process, just moments before dabbing into the paint or on canvas. The portrait is dressed up in a white linen blouse with laced sleeves and red ribbons that can often be seen in traditional Slavic attire.”

Kari Visscher


“Mentorship is a cornerstone in the process of becoming a physician. Learning medicine is a long arduous journey that involves as much self-discovery as it does studying facts. Having trusted mentors to offer advice in navigating the nuances, offer encouragement, and provide extra teaching is invaluable. This piece depicts one such mentor skillfully instructing a radiology resident physician during a chest biopsy of a patient in the CT suite.”