Baran creates winning masterpieces

Art teacher Bruno Baran has notably been participating in and winning prestigious art competitions. Besides from teaching, painting is his biggest passion and he has been doing it for the majority of his life.


Photo Courtesy of Stephen Doherty

Art teacher Bruno Baran focuses on finishing his paintings at one of his competitions. He takes it very seriously and has done many contests over the years.

With exhausted, rainbow colored hands, art teacher Bruno Baran wipes off the bead of sweat rolling down his face as he waits for a judge to critique his artwork.

Baran participated in nine art competitions last year and has done six this year. Most recently he missed three days of school for one of the events.

“Last year I did so many [competitions] that I literally woke up forgetting where I was since I went to New York, Pennsylvania, and various parts of Maryland,” Baran said.

This year Baran has won three awards, and the shows he participated in were located in Havre de Grace, Solomon’s Island, and Ellicott City, where he received first place for two of his paintings.

The competition process is a complicated one, according to Baran.

“You have to submit examples of your artwork to even be chosen to participate,” Baran said. “Sometimes 300 people or more enter, but only 25 get in. Once at a competition, you are given food and then [you] get your canvases stamped to ensure nobody cheats and brings a piece of artwork that was previously painted. Then, for those three or four days of the competition, you can paint as many paintings as you want, even though you have to stay within a certain boundary. Only two or three can actually be entered in the competition.”

The entries are hung in galleries and judged by a jury, so nobody knows who won until the reception at the end.

The competitors usually paint cityscapes or landscapes, although it’s possible to do still life paintings. Two years ago, Baran received an award at Solomon’s Island for his still life of rain.

Baran annually participates in a contest at Easton, who offers a $15,000 reward for first place. “It’s the Mecca for painters on the East Coast,” Baran said. He has never won in that competition, but is hopeful that he will in the future.

Baran is a board member for the Mid-Atlantic Plein Air Painter’s Association, also called MAPAPA, and ceramics teacher Michael Gaudreau is also a member.

However, Baran doesn’t like judging. He gave it up 10 years ago even though he says people still ask him. He is only open to “critiquing” his friends’ work, since they do the same for him. “It’s a friendly competition, but very competitive,” Baran said. Every time he wins, Baran receives a monetary prize and a ribbon.

In November, Baran will be competing in Annapolis. Over 600 entries were submitted, and Baran was one of two competitors to have three paintings accepted.  His entries were judged by the editor-in-chief of “Plein Air” Magazine, M. Stephen Doherty.

Interestingly, Baran doesn’t keep his paintings, but rather sells them in and outside of JC. Baran has been painting since the 7th grade and describes his inspiration simply by saying, “You don’t know what your canvas is going to tell you.”


Lauren Fabiszak is an A&E Editor for The Patriot and