The Top 5 Portraits of the Past 5 Years


Each award-winning painting tells a story about the subject on the canvas, as well as the painter behind it. See what sparked the artists’ imagination and get inspired to submit your best paintings to the 39th Annual Artists Magazine Art Competition.

Best portraits: I am everything (2017 Artists Magazine Annual winner)
I Am Everything (oil on linen, 24×18) by Sarah Marie Lacy

2017 First Place Portrait Winner

I Am Everything by Sarah Marie Lacy

“The title I Am Everything challenges the idea that this woman is a one-dimensional stereotype. She is complex, rich. She contains multitudes. She is everything.”

See the rest of the 34th Annual Art Competition winners in Artists Magazine—free for members!

Best portraits: The Calling (35th Artists Magazine Annual Winner)
The Calling (oil on linen, 24×24) by Helen Bouchard

2018 First Place Portrait Winner

The Calling by Helen Bouchard

“The Calling depicts the moment one discovers a life passion. A young girl sits by a window overlooking Oregon’s wine country, representative of prosperity. While drawing, she’s visited by a mockingbird that deposits seeds representing potential and the growth that she can achieve through study and hard work. She’s unaware or uninterested in a text on her cell phone as she ponders her future.”

See the rest of the 35th Annual Art Competition winners in Artists Magazinefree for members!

Best portraits (Mind in Two, 36th Artists Magazine Annual Winner)
Mind in Two 251A (oil on aluminum, 48×78) by D. McGarren Fla

The 2019 First Place Portrait Winner

Mind in Two 251A by D. McGarren Fla

Mind in Two is part of a series about calls I’ve experienced as a paramedic. The phrase ‘mind in two’ refers to schizophrenia; ‘25A1’ is a dispatch code used by Emergency Medical Services that indicates non-suicidal abnormal behavior. The woman represented in my painting was feeding and giving water to two children she imagined to be living in her closet. I painted the children, reflected in a mirror, as seen from the woman’s mind frame. But in reality, the food she’d left had rotted, and no children were there.”

See the rest of the 36th Annual Art Competition winners in Artists Magazinefree for members!

Best portraits: Emily and the Ram "Conjuring" (37th Artists Magazine Annual Art Competition Winner)
Emily and the Ram “Conjuring” (charcoal sanded into paper, 63×42) by Annie Murphy

The 2020 First Place Portrait Winner

Emily and the Ram “Conjuring” by Annie Murphy

“This piece was a labor of love. I saw the ram at an antique store, and the owner let me take photos of it after closing. I took at least 100 pictures of my daughter wearing an antique dress and posing with the ram. When I looked at the photos afterward, I knew this was the image I wanted to draw. There’s a look of wonder on my daughter’s face. The image captures her tentative reach toward the ram and his “surety of self” as he stares at the viewer. I didn’t want to hide the fact that he’s taxidermic, which led me to compose the image as though the touch of Emily’s hand could bring him back to life—thus the ‘conjuring’ nod in the title.”

See the rest of the 37th Annual Art Competition winners in Artists Magazine—free for members!

Best portraits: Deliverance (Winner of the 38th Artists Magazine Annual Art Competition)
Deliverance (oil on canvas, 36×36) by Teresa Elliot

The 2021 First Place Portrait Winner

Deliverance by Teresa Elliot

“The children depicted in Deliverance had abandoned their mothers’ rules about staying clean—completely losing themselves while playing in a gully of muddy water after a flash flood. As they thrashed around, I yelled, ‘Stop!’ They became still for just a few seconds, and I captured the moment in a 4×4 reference photo that carried a message so strong this practically painted itself. I miss simple childhood experiences like this one, which entailed nothing but a rainfall, mud and total freedom to play. Kids have this natural ability to feel connected to the world.”

See the rest of the 38th Annual Art Competition winners in Artists Magazine—free for members!

And the 2022 First Place Portrait Winner…

…could be you! The Artists Magazine 39th Annual Art Competition is now open, and we’re eager to see your artwork!

Meet the Juror

This year’s Portrait/Figure category is juried by Lea Colie Wight, whose work has been featured in various art publications and has won numerous awards. In fact, Wight herself was a winner of Artists Magazine’s 28th Annual Art Competition back in 2011, which just goes to show how the competition can be a steppingstone toward building recognition and gaining visibility in the art world.

Best portraits: The Embrace
The Embrace by Lea Colie Wight, Portrait/Figure Juror of the 39th Annual Artists Magazine Art Competition

“Painting is like climbing a mountain,” says Wight. “You get to the top of mountain and you think you’re there, but then you see the next range ahead of you. And then you start on that journey, and you have to enjoy the journey.”

Here’s to taking the next step on your journey, artists!

Enter the 39th Annual Artists Magazine Art Competition


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