The Bennett Prize

What is Figurative Realism?

Margo Selski, detail of A Quest for My Muchness, oil and beeswax on canvas, 30 x 40 in.
Margo Selski, detail of A Quest for My Muchness, oil and beeswax on canvas, 30 x 40 in.


For the purposes of The Bennett Prize, a "figurative realist painter" is one who paints in a style in which the realistically depicted human figure is central to and a principal focus of the work. Included within this definition are portraits, figure studies, nudes or scenes depicting human beings in which the focus of the work is the human or humans so depicted. The work need not necessarily be portraiture in the sense that it depicts identifiable persons or faces. Many strong examples of figurative realism may be found at the website for The Bennett Collection

A fine art painter, for purposes of The Prize,  is a woman artist who applies paint to a flat, generally two-dimensional surface to create an image or images. In this context, "paint" includes any form of pigmented material including oil paint, acrylic paint, egg tempera, encaustic, pastels, colored pencils, watercolor, etc. It does not, by definition, include drawings made with natural graphite or monochrome pencil, conte crayon, or charcoal, nor does it include photography, sculpture, or installation, video, or performance art (even if the installation, video or performance includes painting or some application of paint within it).

Given that The Prize is meant for those who apply paint to flat, generally two-dimensional surfaces, painted sculpture is not included within the definition of "painting," but painting on canvas, panel, plaster, or other generally flat surfaces is included.

Interested in learning more? These links provide definitions and context: