For Candace Mitchell, the timing could not have been more perfect.
The Newburyport painter was with her “two best artist friends in the world” when she found out she won Best of Show in the Newburyport Art Association’s Fall Members Juried Show, Part One.
“It couldn’t have been nicer to get the news with the two of them with me,” Mitchell said. “I was just so stunned, but so happy. My friends were just as happy, so it was just a wonderful moment.”
Her friends and fellow association members, Annalee Johnson and Linda Tasker, also have artwork in the show, which opened last week and runs through Oct. 26.
Mitchell won for her oil painting “The Great Marsh — Fall 2012.” A former associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston, Mitchell took up painting when she retired two years ago and just started working in oil last fall, after first dabbling in pastels and acrylics.
“I hadn’t painted since I was a little kid actually, but it’s bringing me great joy now,” Mitchell said. “I’m just one who loves beauty, color and light and enjoys representing them on canvas.”
For this particular piece, Mitchell was inspired by the shades of The Great Marsh in autumn.
“I love and always have loved my whole life the magical colors, the bright, intense colors that appear in the fall and particularly the grasses, which one would never expect to burst forth with such glorious colors,” said Mitchell, who worked from a photograph. “When you capture the color in the perfect light, it’s just spectacular.”
Juror Lauren O’Neal, director of the Lamont Gallery at Phillips Exeter Academy, said she picked Mitchell’s painting because it was one she felt herself continuously drawn to.
“It was a traditional subject matter, but it was done in a very contemporary way,” she said. “It was a lovely color palette that the artist had used. It had a real cohesion and vibrancy to it that struck me.”
O’Neal took her time examining all of the art for the show, spending more than three hours combing through the 193 submissions. Of the 131 accepted works by 115 artists, 83 are oil paintings, 20 are watercolors, nine are drawings, eight are sculptures, seven are prints and four are digital.
“I definitely look for diversity and variety in the work and subject matter and then style and approach,” O’Neal said. “I wanted to pick work that represents people at different stages of their artistic career.”
It was her first time jurying for the Newburyport Art Association, though she has juried other shows in the region. She will soon return to Newburyport to judge part two of the members show, which runs Nov. 1-23 and will feature acrylic, fine crafts, mixed media, pastel and photography.
“It was a fabulous opportunity,” O’Neal said. “It’s been great fun. It’s a really inspirational process to see everyone’s work and to be reminded about the artistic process.”
If you go
What: Fall Members Juried Show, Part One
When: Through Oct. 26. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Tomorrow, the association will be open until 8 p.m.
Where: Newburyport Art Association, 65 Water St.
More information: 978-465-8769 or www.newburyportart.org
Sam Sargent Best of Show: Candace Mitchell, “The Great Marsh — Fall 2012”
Mary Alice Arakelian Memorial Award for Work in Oil: Susan Sanford, “Fog on Marsh”
Newburyport Development Award for Work in Watercolor: Ann Jones, “Almost There”
Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank Award for Work in Printmaking: Niki Orphanos, “Lemons”
Strem Chemicals Inc. Award for Work in Sculpture: Henry Davisson, “Pregnant Torso”
Institution for Savings Award for Work in Drawing: Kathleen Burke, “Steeplechase”
The Provident Bank Community Foundation Award for Work in Digital Art: Patti Rae, “Sonato — Allegro”
Honorable mentions: Connie Rossetti, “Parker River,” oil; Lynne Clarkin, “Low Tide on Ipswich River,” watercolor; and Elaine Asplind Russell, “Numbers Pitcher,” drawing