Category Archives: Test your Skills

Fun Quizzes to test your knowledge of basic painting theory and the Certification program.

A New Year of Certification – Take the Plunge!

By Sue Pruett MDA, Certification Chair sue-pruett-close-upIt’s that time of the year when we start talking about Certification again! That’s because the deadline to order your Certification portfolio is February 28, 2017. If you have the desire to improve your painting skills, the Certification Program was been developed to help you do exactly that. If this is something you have been considering, but do not know enough about the program to get started, let me explain the program and why you should get involved. The Certification Program provides an opportunity for SDP members to submit work to be judged for Certification. Its goal is to create a climate for the improvement of painting skills and provide you with recognition of excellence. There are three levels of Certification. The first is Accredited Decorative Painter (ADP). The second is Certified Decorative Artist (CDA). The third is Master Decorative Artist (MDA). You may begin with the ADP level or CDA level. If you choose to start with the ADP level, you will need to also complete the CDA level prior to moving on the MDA level.
CDA entry from 2014 by Jung Eun Cho CDA

CDA entry from 2014 by Jung Eun Cho CDA

The ADP level is an excellent place to start. ADP was designed as an entry level Certification, and a stepping stone to Certified Decorative Artist (CDA), the second level of our Certification Program. This year, 80% of the ADP entries received a passing score. Below is a testimonial from Past President Wendy Watson, who received her ADP designation this year.
WendyWatson“I began my road to Certification in the early 90s. I painted what I thought was a beautiful still life and sent it in for judging. However, once I saw my entry hanging in the Certification display at the SDP Conference, I was so embarrassed. It did not look as good as I thought it was when I sent it in. I had a long way to go! I was very discouraged and convinced myself that I didn’t need those letters after my name to be a good artist, teacher and business owner. When the Accredited Decorative Painter (ADP) level was developed and introduced during my term as President of SDP, I felt that I should ‘lead by example’. Not only did I try for the new ADP, but I also sent in a CDA entry. My ADP still life entry in colored pencil passed! What a thrill to hear my name called during the Annual Meeting in San Diego. I had no idea how much those three little letters would mean to me! Upon receiving my critiques, I found out that my CDA stroke entry missed by only five points! Wow! Don’t let fear of failure stand in your way. I will be sending in another CDA entry this year. Will you join me?”
The Certification portfolio includes instructions, a line drawing of the design, paperwork explaining how the judging process works, and additional program information. In the ADP and CDA levels, you can choose from a still life/floral design or stroke design. The still life/floral design in the ADP and CDA levels can be painted with acrylic, oil, watercolor, pastel, or colored pencil. The stroke level has to be painted in either acrylic or oil mediums.
photo of portfolio

Components of the Certification Portfolio

All entries are judged on the following criteria:
  • Overall Effect
  • Color Management
  • Blending Skills
  • Stroke Control
  • Value Control, intensity Control
  • Linework and Detail
  • Background
  • Frame
  • Neatness
  • Finish
It is extremely important that the work you submit must be entirely your own. In preparing and working on the entry, you may not seek assistance or critique from anyone, including teachers, art students or friends. Other important guidelines and requirements are:
  • All designs belong to the Certification Program, and cannot be used for any other purpose.
  • All applicants are assigned a number. The number is to be painted on the back of your board, and the judges only know each entry by a number.
  • Each entry must be submitted on the surface provided in the kit. An exception is you may substitute a panel of comparable size and quality inside the frame provided. If you choose colored pencil, pastel or watercolor, you will provide appropriate paper as the surface; the official kit and frame will still need to be used.
  • A passing score is 75% based on the standard of 75% set in 1985.
  • The portfolio cost is $30 and surface fee is $50.
  • All applicants receive a written critique from the judging team.
  • Passing entries are announced each year at the Annual SDP International Conference & Expo.
It’s a lot to take in – I know! However, if you are looking to grow as an artist, this program is for you. If you have any questions, please email me at or call 760-721-1671 PT. On behalf of the Certification Committee, we look forward to receiving your entry! For more information, visit:

Answers to Quiz, a New Interactive Quiz, PLUS a video for you.

Answers from the last Quiz in the Certification Happenings Ezine that is mailed to all SDP Members have been posted, along with a NEW interactive quiz. Look for Quiz 5 under the 'Test your Knowledge' button on the top menu or click here. This e-zine is for all SDP members: those who are pursuing Certification, those considering the program, those who have achieved Certification, and every painter who wishes to improve her or his painting skills. (If you are participating in the Certification program this year, remember that your entry must be mailed and postmarked by April 18, 2011.) In addition to all of your favorite features, there are Tips and Techniques about Varnishing and New in this issue - The Perfect Stroke video by Gayle Oram MDA, VGM.  Watch as Gayle demonstrates how to pull a 'perfect' stroke in one continuous motion. You must be logged in to the Members Only section at the SDP website to view this wonderful video.  Select Certification Ezine - March 2011.

Test your Skills – New Quiz

Answers from the last Quiz in the Certification E-zine that is mailed to all  SDP Members have been posted, along with a NEW interactive quiz.  Look for Quiz 4 under the 'Test your Knowledge' button on the top menu or click here. You may share this quiz with your Facebook friends by selecting the Share button from the Quiz page.