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Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks. Simonides

Jean Hildebrant

Jean Hildebrant

also  here and here

Born and raised in a small town in Oregon, Jean Hildebrant found herself drawn to the beauty of art at the exceptionally early age of three. With a love for art growing within, Jean spent most of her free-time drawing to develop her gift. As her personal style began to develop, she discovered that she especially enjoyed working in oil and pastel mediums. Specializing in portraits and figurative works.

As Jean continued seeking out ways to improve her talents, she attended workshops held by local artists and enrolled as an art major in the local college. As a result of her efforts, she won two scholarships to Scottsdale Artists School, based strictly on the merit of her work. She has studied with nationally known artists Albert Handell, Richard McKinley, Phil Beck, Bob Lemler, Ben Konis and Clayton J. Beck 111. Artists that have influenced her work include John Singer Sargent, Joaquin Sorolla and Anders Zorn.

Jean's favorite subject is the human soul. She desires to capture the essence and inner beauty of the human spirit through the use of light and color. She wants her paintings to speak to the emotions and spirit of each person who views them. She paints realism with the purpose of leaving an indelible impression.

Jean has exhibited and won numerous awards in local and national shows. Among these accomplishments are the Pastel Journal Magazine's 2006 “Pastel 100” competition placing first in the portrait/figure category; the Patel Society of America's National Annual Exhibition, New York, NY ( B. & V. Giffuni Purchase Award); Pastel Society of America's Master Pastelist and Award Winner Exhibition, Kentucky; Pastel Society of Oregon National Annual Juried Show, Purchase Award and First Place Award; Pastel Society of the West Coast Juried Exhibition, California,; Don Ruffin Memorial Exhibition, Phoenix, AZ receiving the Paradise Valley Community College Purchase Award and the Award of Merit and Arizona Artists Guild Juried Exhibitions receiving numerous awards. She is a charter member of the Pastel Society of Oregon and past Exhibition Chairman, a juried member of the Arizona Artists Guild and a member of the Fellowship of Christians in Portraiture. Her work is found in private, public and corporate collections. She now resides in Scottsdale, AZ with her husband.

Romel de la Torre

Romel de la Torre

Born in Cebu City, Philippines in a community of artists, Romel de la Torre's artistic interest started at a very young age. With the encouragement of his parents he began sketching the world around him. He started getting awards and recognition from school competitions and at age 10 appeared on TV after receiving a medal for his painting.

In the late 70's Romel and his family migrated to the United States where he began going to museums studying and learning on his own; works of famous artists like Sargent, Sorolla, Fechin, Mucha, and the American Impressionists. The exposure to these masters' paintings laid a strong foundation to his belief of what great art is.

He attended the American Academy of Art in Chicago, where he was awarded the President's Foundation Award and the Union League Scholarship Award. After graduating with a fine arts concentration, Romel continued to paint in the Chicago area and joined The Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Arts, where he began painting with nationally renowned artist Richard Schmid and a community of other painters. It was a turning point of his creative and artistic career.

"My painting is the world, channeled through my eyes, through the prism of my own feeling, emotions and preferences. It is a unity of the visual world and the internal, abstraction and realism..." the artist's says. A consummate artist in all media, Romel de la Torre is one of today's most highly regarded artists. His figures, landscape, portraits, and still life paintings display unparalleled technical skill, fluid style, and thorough understanding of light, color, form and design.

The artist has been painting full time and currently instructs advanced painting and portraiture at The Palette and Chisel Academy on Fine Arts, Chicago. He is a signature member of the Oil Painters of America & the Portrait Society of America; his oils, pastels, watercolors, and portraits are housed in private collections throughout the United States and several foreign countries. His paintings have been published in The Artists Magazine, Southwest Art Magazine, U.S. Art Magazine and the American Art Collectors Magazine.

Among his most important honors is the Oil Painters of America National Exhibition/ Grand Prize and the Artists Magazine Portrait Artist of the Year. His most recent award includes; 2007 Raymar Fine Arts Competition, 2008 Gold Medal & the People's Choice Award from the Palette & Chisel Academy of Fine Arts Gold Medal show and one of the top finalist in the 2007 and 2008 International Portrait Competition given by the prestigeous Portrait Society of America.

Artist's statement:
"I find spiritual beauty in all the things that I paint. The innocence of a child's face, the endlesss blue color of the sky, the smell of flowers in the garden, the sound of raindrops falling on the roof. These gives joy in my heart, inspiration, and gratitude...... of being an artist."

Nancy Seamons-Crookston

Nancy Seamons Crookston

Nancy Seamons Crookston has gained a broad following over the years creating images of women and girls in flowing Old World peasant dress and quiet pastoral settings. Her paintings evoke the warmth of family and the restfulness of a time less complicated than our own.

Growing up in a small-town in Utah, The daughter of a nurse/poet mother and a schoolteacher father who played a trumpet in a big band, she looks back now and sees a childhood infused with openness and creativity in many forms. She had a fascination with drawing women even then. Marriage and a family of her own cut her college art days short, but that did not curb her passion for painting. She would fit short sessions of painting between family duties and by the time her children were grown she had her art in several galleries and international collectors were actively seeking her work.

Besides sheer determination, a significant factor in her career was a series of workshops with renowned Russian-American master painter Sergei Bongart (1918-1985). Trained in Russia in a strongly academic environment that stressed the fundamentals of drawing and painting, Bongart was an exacting teacher and a sometimes scary critic. Those able to endure his merciless appraisals however, were likely to come away better artists.

She persevered and soon her works were among those chosen by the teacher for a table displaying the paintings considered the best each week. These workshops, she reflects, were a small part of her life in terms of time but a huge part in their impact. They helped set her on a path that has led to exhibitions in Japan, a Best of Show award at the Oil Painters of America Show in Carmel, CA and most recently, the honor of being designated a Master Signature Member by the OPA group.

Crookston continues to paint largely from life, as her mentor did. As her emptied nest allows more time for art, she views her work with renewed vigor. I'm always learning, and I can't tell you how thrilling it is when I realize I'm just barely touching the tip of the iceberg, Crookston says. I loved being a mom, but I always wanted to paint, and now I'm a full-time painter. Now the gas pedal is on the floor!

Nancy is an artist with innumerable accolades and awards. She was juried into the prestigious Oil Painters of America. Later she achieved the Master Signature level of OPA. She was voted into first place of OPA and honored with the first place National Award of Excellence. Nancy has also graced the cover of fine art magazines, notably Southwest Art Magazine on which she was featured front and center. Most recently she was chosen to judge fellow OPA members in their prestigious national award competition which is the highest honor within OPA.

Undoubtedly inspired by her close relationship with her children, her tender seaside moments have garnered numerous awards. Nancy is a gifted artist who is able to capture not only the feeling of the moment but also the spirit of the person. Her paintings are timeless and as stated by one collector “This will be passed on to our children and probably,one day, on to theirs as well”.

Nancy Seamons-Crookston grew up in Utah with a mother who was a nurse/poet and a father who was a schoolteacher as well as a musician. This childhood fostered an environment of creativity and she remembers it fondly. She then went on to college but it was cut short by marriage and a family of her own. Nancy still found time to follow her passion and eventually she was able to study with Sergei Bongart, a renowned master Russian painter. These workshops put Nancy on the path to sold-out exhibitions in Japan and a few select U.S. galleries.


Clayton J. Beck III

Clayton J. Beck III

After graduation from the American Academy of Art in Chicago, Clayton studied at the Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Arts with Richard Schmid. Clayton’s career began while still at the American Academy, exhibiting at Jody Kirberger’s Talisman Gallery and winning awards from the Midwest Pastel Society, the Palette and Chisel and the Pastel Society of America. He began teaching Saturday classes in Chicago after graduation from art school.

Artist Statement: “My love for painting has always been enhanced by my love to teach. Any artist who thinks they understand painting should try teaching. They will soon realize how little they know. I have always felt that I have a responsibility to teach because I have been given a generous gift from my teachers (i.e. Bill Parks, Ted Smuskiewicz, and Richard Schmid) and it should be passed on to the next generation of painters who share this love of art.

Birthplace: Illinois


American Academy of Art, Chicago, IL
Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Art

Selected Awards:

Portrait Society of America
Salon International Annual Exhibits
Award of Distinction, Northern Indiana Arts Association Award of Excellence
Municipal Art League, Chicago
Silver Medal Award for Watercolor, Palette and Chisel
Pastel Society of America
Oil Painters of America
Midwest Pastel Society


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