For more information or to purchase a piece contact Jane 435-313-5008

ILLUME GALLERY OF FINE ART • ST. GEORGE, UTAH 

What is Oil Painters of America?

Oil Painters of America is a not-for profit organization founded in 1991 whose primary mission is to promote and advance the cause of representational art through exhibitions and educational events.

OPA was founded by a Shirl Smithson, who lived in a suburb of Chicago. At that time, she was extremely disappointed (to put it mildly) that the curriculum being taught in the art departments around the country had moved away from teaching what she felt was so important she took it upon herself to start up the organization reaching out to the best artists across the country and Canada to join her.

While Shirl Smithson passed away in the late 90’s, her successors took up the cause and now Oil Painters of America has become one of the leading art organizations in North America (US, Canada, and Mexico).

OPA now stands at approximately 3,600 members – most of whom are professional artists who have spent years of training and honing their painting skills. Many have attended rigorous art programs at some of the finest art institutions across the country whether it be a university, art school, or atelier. Others might have taken a more unconventional approach and learned how to paint by attending workshops taught by some of the best painters in the country.
The organization has approximately 3 to 5 exhibitions annually across the country.

Details of Membership in OPA

The organization is comprised of 3 different levels of membership. Artists who join become Associate members of the organization. Most of our members are in this category. After competing in a number of exhibitions artists are eligible to become  Signature members based on the quality of their work and number of shows into which they have been accepted. Finally the 3rd membership category is the Master Signature category. This category is reserved for a select group of artists who have achieved a certain level of excellence in all subject matter. We have approximately 55 members in this category.

How are the Artists Selected to Exhibit?

Oil Painters of America is one today’s leading art organizations in North America representing over 3,600 artist members living in the United States and Canada. Being accepted into the Western Regional Exhibition is extremely difficult, and artists selected to exhibit will vie for approximately $11,500 in awards including a top prize of $4,000.  

To enter, artists are asked to submit entries for consideration. A jurying committee comprised of 5 artists – 2 Master Signature members and 3 Signature members are charged with selecting the show based on a ranking system. This year there were approximately 750 for the National Exhibition, of which only 145 were accepted (not including Masters).

Master Signature members do not need to apply to compete in OPA exhibitions. The organization believes it benefits everyone to have these well-known artists participate as much as possible and so we look forward to including them whenever possible. We are very pleased to note that there will be 19 Master Signature artists participating in this year’s Western Regional Exhibition.