The Deadline Is Coming. Are You Ready?

The deadline I’m referring to is the last date to enter OPA’s competition for the 27th National Juried Exhibition of Traditional Oils to be hosted by the Steamboat Art Museum in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The focus in the jurying process will be to select paintings which show the highest quality in draftsmanship, color and composition, emphasizing a diversity in representational style and subject matter. Online entries must be received no later than Friday, January 26.

Each year OPA receives approximately 2,100 entries and jurors must carefully choose 200 paintings to be included in the exhibition. As always, the goal is to assemble the finest display of representational oil paintings.

This annual national competition is one of the most important endeavors of the OPA mission to promote representational painting. Awards for this annual competition total approximately $100,000 so there is good reason to enter. That said, every artist entering should understand the jurying process and what criteria is used to determine the paintings that are included in the competition.

OPA selects a jurying committee comprised of 5 OPA members. Three are Signature members of OPA and two are Master Signature members. The make-up of the committee is different for each exhibition and jurors do not know who else is jurying with them. The Jurying Chair always attempts to get jurors that represent a variety of painting styles and that are located in different parts of the country. Jurors are asked to use the criteria below in making their selections.

    I. Design:

  • Is there a dominant value?
  • Is there a dominant harmony?
  • Is there a clear center of interest?
  • Is there balance?
  • Do the shapes and lines lead the eyes to focal points within the picture plane?
    II. Execution:

  • Is the drawing accurate?
  • Are the value relationships convincing?
  • Are the color temperature relationships consistent and believable?
  • Is there an appropriate variety of hard and soft edges?
  • Is the paint application varied and interesting?

III. Expression/Idea:
Does the painting’s intent or execution demonstrate a unique, compelling or worthwhile idea?

There are two rounds of jurying. For the first round, jurors are asked to evaluate each painting and assign it a “yes” or “no” vote. Yes means that the juror believes that the painting meets some or all of the criteria and warrants a second, more critical evaluation.

The second round is usually comprised of approximately 600 – 700 paintings. In this round, jurors are asked to vote using a scale of 1 to 7. It is important that jurors are consistent and use the following scoring system when making their selections.

  • A one represents a painting that is weak in all or almost all of the above.
  • Two represents a painting that is weak in most areas.
  • A three represents a painting that may be competent in a few areas but, overall, is a
    weak painting.
  • A four represents a painting that displays knowledge of the fundamentals but overall
    is mediocre.
  • A five represents a painting that is competently handled in most areas.
  • A six represents a painting that is skillfully executed in almost all areas.
  • A seven represents a painting that is outstanding and is skillfully executed in virtually
    every area. These are the top 1-3% of entries for this show.


  • Very Weak
  • Weak
  • Some Competence
  • Average
  • Competent (top 15 – 25% of entries)
  • Excellent (top 10% of entries)
  • Outstanding (top 1– 3% of entries)

After the jurors have completed voting, the scores are tabulated and artists receiving the most points will be accepted into the exhibition.

Again, the last date for you to enter is Friday, January 26th. I hope that you will enter the annual competition. Your paintings cannot be selected if you don’t enter, so do so today and use the criteria that the jurors will use to select your entries. Present your very best painting. Follow the entry rules and use the criteria the jurors will be using to judge your painting against the best paintings entered into the competition. And best wishes to each member of OPA. The competition is stiff but it is worth the effort to participate by submitting your entries before the deadline!


James W. Bruce, Jr. OPA
 Chair, Jury of Selection Committee

James W. Bruce, Jr. OPA

Chair, Jury of Selection Committee

James W Bruce Jr has been pursuing art since he was 14 and still seeks to grow. He believes that art competitions organized by OPA provide wonderful opportunities to learn and hopefully get your paintings included in the show. He is a Signature member of OPA. In September 2016, Bruce and Scott Christensen had a two person exhibition in the Patrons’ Gallery at the Salmagundi Club in New York City. In addition to his love of painting, Bruce has pursued a significant career in banking. After retiring from Banks of Mid-America, the largest banking company in Oklahoma, he acquired controlling interest in American Bank Systems. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of American Bank and Trust Company of Tulsa, Oklahoma and InvesTrust of Oklahoma City. He serves of several boards of the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma City University, Canterbury Voices, and Oklahoma Arts Institute. In 2006, Governor Brad Henry awarded him one of the prestigious Governor’s Arts Award. A retrospective of 25 of his paintings was held in the Governor’s Gallery at the State Capitol in recognition of this award.

Upcoming OPA Events

Eastern Regional Exhibition 2021 Eastern Regional Exhibition
The Eastern Regional Exhibition will be hosted by the ArtCenter Manatee, located in Bradenton, Florida, September 28 through October 22, 2021. Learn More!
OPA Fall 2021 Online Showcase OPA Fall 2021 Online Showcase
The Fall 2021 Online Showcase is from November 1 - December 15, 2021 and will be open to Signature and Associate members only. Learn More!
Western Regional Exhibition 2021 Western Regional Exhibition
The Western Regional Exhibition will be held October 15 through November 27, 2021 at the Mary R. Koch Arts Center (Mark Arts), located in Wichita, Kansas. More details to be announced as they become available. Learn More!
31st Annual National Juried Exhibition 31st Annual National Juried Exhibition and Convention
The Thirty-first National Exhibition and Convention will be located in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The Convention will be from May 31 through June 5, 2022. The Exhibition will be from June 3 to August 27, 2022.