5th Annual Skies Monthly Winning Artists – August 2021

The top five artists in each category were given awards in the 5th Annual Black & White international online art exhibition.  Below are the biographies and/or artist’s statements along with the artist’s websites or emails.

To contact these artists directly for purchase inquiries or to see more of their work, please visit the 5th Annual Skies Exhibition page for contact information.

Congratulations again to all the winners and thank you for sharing your talent with us.

Best in Show (Traditional) – Christine O’Dell-Ferguson – “Dancing Solo” – acrylic

I have considered myself an artist for as long as I can remember; I don’t recall not being an artist. I was raised in a rural area, and feel blessed to have had that life. It made me appreciate and understand nature and all of its wonders. I am constantly inspired by the forms in nature. It doesn’t matter if I am drawing, painting, sculpting, or weaving; organic forms intrigue me.

With each piece I complete, I cannot wait to begin a new one. I am lucky to be surrounded by my muse, and I have never gotten bored or tired of paying homage to it. I love sharing my work, and I can only hope that the viewer can feel the passion and reverence I feel for my subject matter. Whether it is waves, trees, a landscape, a creature, or an abstracted form I am looking at, the excitement I feel never changes. It is a journey I chose and I hope I never complete.

I have been fortunate in my career, and have been awarded, recognized, and published locally, nationally, and internationally. It has been a wonderful life.

Christine’s website is www.odellfergusonstudios.com

Best in Show (Photography & Digital) – Meg Wall-Wild – “Pacifica” – photography

I am Meg Wall-Wild, a photographer and writer based in Humboldt County, California. My eye is drawn to layers of light. The sky above my seaside home is constantly changing, bringing fog and clouds from the ocean, sometimes tinged with fire.

Years of struggle kept me away from cameras. I was fortunate to find myself the photographer for a community nonprofit. I loved mixing with the crowds to capture that perfect moment as they enjoyed themselves. I was able to indulge my love of architecture through historic preservation projects. I broadened my horizons with a move to rural Iowa, my palette provided by waving corn and a cold spring fed river.

I now turn my eye outwards, capturing fleeting moments of nature. A gust of wind changes the composition of the clouds, or the sun struggles behind heavy cover. An ever changing canvas.

Meg can be reached via her email.

2nd Place (Traditional) – Sylvia Audet – “Pleine lune sur ma ville” – acrylique

Native of Lac-Mégantic and now a resident of Victoriaville in Quebec, Sylvia has always lived surrounded by landscapes of water and mountains. From an early age, drawing and painting forged his interest in the arts. This passion was illustrated at university and then throughout his artistic career devoted to the arts and teaching at all school levels. She therefore practiced different techniques such as oil, watercolor, screen printing, etching, lost wax casting, batik on canvas, sculpture and finally, acrylic.

His figurative painting is part of a contemporary art context. She has won numerous awards and recognitions in Quebec, Canada, France, Spain, the Vatican, Belgium, Italy and most recently in the United States at Fusion Art.

Each painting becomes an apprenticeship, a motivation, an experiment in order to express the beauty of the environment and the hope of its sustainability. The subject itself becomes secondary, because it is imaged from the emotions and atmospheres suggested by the observation.

Her works thus testify to her concerns: “Indeed, I am influenced by the natural environment in which water and its vapors, whether mist, ice, snow or clouds, bathe my paintings. This choice comes from the environment in which I live, my passions and the respect I have for nature. Drawing inspiration from nature offers limitless figurative and abstract subjects “.

Sylvia’s website is http://sylviaaudet-artistepeintre.com

2nd Place (Photography & Digital) – Xindi Zhao – “Genting” – photography

From a very young age, he felt a connection with painting. At that time, he was just curious. He didn’t continue to pursue it until he started college. The focus of his work is landscape. His landscapes are done using oil paint on canvas or panels. His paintings are pictures of places he has visited.

The reason why he chose to paint landscapes is that he has been very fond of the combination of natural scenery and architecture since he was a child. At the same time, he is also very interested in photography.

When he was in university in China, he had the opportunity to study in Florence, Italy. His life experience in Europe inspired his curiosity in various knowledge, including sculpture, architecture, film, new media and animation. This also gave him a keen interest in art and painting, of which European architecture has the greatest influence. European architecture is very distinctive, and many buildings have traces of sculptures, which illustrate the evolution and process of history. This inspired his strong desire to understand them.

When he came to the United States from China, he set his goal even higher. He believes that urban architecture is the best representative of a place. It reveals the history and culture of a place, but also records the style and environment of this place.

He has been to many different cities. He likes the feeling of light very much. Light always brings warmth to people. At the same time, the light is dazzling. His paintings are roughly divided into two time points: sunrise and sunset. He believes that lighting is the most special of this era. Sunrise and sunset are very warm rays. This is a very different feeling.

Through his paintings, Xindi wants to show the audience how he feels about the combination of city and light so that they can also experience this feeling. Imagine a painting shining a warm light on buildings of different styles, arousing different feelings: this is exactly what he wants. He hopes that the audience can watch his paintings with an immersive feeling.

Xindi can be reached via his email.

3rd Place (Traditional) – Kathleen Bennett – “Dawn at Parker River” – oil

Kathleen Bennett is a self-taught artist from Salisbury, MA with a fascination for painting skies. While maintaining her professional career as a pharmacist, Kathleen enjoys oil painting in her spare time. Frequent visits to the coast to experience a sunrise, sunset or stormy clouds are the fuel for her passion to paint.

As an artist, she believes the endless beauty of our sky illustrates the limitless possibilities in life. Her goal as an artist is to inspire others with her skies and that the viewer may feel a sense of peace and joy, as she felt while creating her artwork.

Kathleen’s paintings may be seen at NOA Gallery in Groton, MA, Post Road Framers Gallery in Rowley, MA and is an active member of the Oil Painters of America, Newburyport Art Association and Greater Haverhill Art Association.

Kathleen’s website is http://kgracefineart.com

3rd Place (Photography & Digital) – Zephyr Ivanisi – “Brainstorm” – photography

Zephyr Ivanisi is a New York City based fine art photographer. After discovering a love of photography at a young age, she studied at Parsons School of Design in Paris and graduated from School of Visual Arts in New York. Working against the backdrop of New York City, her work often depicts the tranquil moments within the tumultuous urban environment – and in contrast, the textured chaos found in natural environments.

Zephyr’s website is www.zephyrivanisi.com


4th Place (Traditional) – Lessa Clayton – “Sunset on Yaquina Lighthouse” – oil

I have been a painter all my life though only full time in the last few years. I started painting with acrylics, the drying time and quick clean up appealed to me then. I have since switched to oils. I don’t mind the time needed now for the painting to dry between sessions. The change to oils let me experiment with layers of glazes. This is something you can’t really achieve in acrylics. I love the color depth you get with layers of transparent colors. Landscapes are my favorite subject. In addition, Oregon provides every kind of landscape. I travel around taking photos and then use my photos as the basis for my paintings.

Lessa’s website is http://paintings.lessaclayton.com

4th Place (Photography & Digital) – Garret Demarest – “Morning Light” – digital photography

Garret Demarest of Palm Springs, CA, developed these photographic art images. Garret’s work has evolved over time through the manipulation of original photographs into images resembling paintings of the “Color Field School” brought to life by Mark Rothko and artists of the New York School in the mid-20th Century.

In his early adult life, Garret was mentored, coached, and encouraged to pursue his passion for all things photographic by a family friend, New York Industrial artist Robert G Neubauer. After viewing the 1978 Retrospective of Mark Rothko at the Guggenheim, Garret knew the direction his passion must take.

With a lifelong interest in photography, he became enamored by clouds, cloud formations, sunrises and sunsets as well as various color configurations that would catch his eye from airplane windows as he traveled around the world pursuing his career as a leadership and organizational development consultant. Taking photos of clouds and skies opened up the opportunity to develop the image, which incorporated its context including the theme of the location. His original photographs were then submitted to the computer with its photographic manipulative tools and transformed into digital works of color field/abstract impressionism, thus blurring the lines between photography and painting in a unique creative process.

In the last ten years, his subject material has extended to photographs of nature including plants, animals, and other objects or settings that incite his emotional response. The images seen here are derived from his original photos of sunrises, sunsets, and clouds either from an airplane window or a water horizon line. They are here for the viewer to feel and to allow the image to impact the heart and soul in whatever way it draws value from the experience. Light, color, patterns, textures, and reflections are about seeing the world in new ways thereby allowing the creational and transformative process to take place. These photos are about the power of the human soul to connect with the heavens and the space beyond our being, growing in meaning.

Garret’s images have been accepted into numerous juried regional, National, and international shows at the San Diego Art Institute – Museum of the Living Artist, as well as several other local, regional, and international gallery and museum competitions. Lately, these recognitions have included virtual competitions. He has self-published 4 books of his images. His images have been collected by patrons around the world.

Garret’s website is www.innervigorations.com

5th Place (Traditional) – David Gallegos – ” Empyrean # 6″ – oil on canvas

I am interested in capturing the sky the way we see it changing rather than the way a static photo stops the sky at a point in time. Having received my MA in 1979, I have come back to painting the sky my entire life. The sky never ceases to amaze and wonder. Colors of the sky are the most intense at dusk or dawn, while soft and pastel like at the same time.

David’s website is www.davidgallegosart.com


5th Place (Photography & Digital) – Nancy Sloane – “Close Encounters” – digital photography

Nancy November Sloane picked up a Polaroid at 7 years old and began her formal photography training in high school. She graduated with honors from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications / Photojournalism.

Upon graduation, she worked as a news photographer for four years before starting her own marketing firm and has since been shooting lifestyle photography for many of her clients’ marketing materials in conjunction with her outdoor fine art photography.

Nancy has won numerous awards from the Florida Press Association. Her work is privately collected and has been shown in several gallery shows and art exhibitions throughout the U.S.

An avid hiker and outdoor enthusiast, she is inspired by nature and enjoys photographing landscapes and animals in their natural habitat. Nancy is also an abstract contemporary artist and often uses her photographs as inspiration for her abstract expressionist paintings.

At times, the reverse is true and her painting influence her photography in layered abstract digital depictions of the outdoors.

Throughout her work, she is driven by the light to capture that decisive, Cartier Bresson moment in time. A conservationist and climate change activist, Nancy is passionate about inspiring others through her Instagram feed to protect our wild places.

For more information, go to novembersloane.com, Instagram.com/nnovembersloane, or email her at novembersloane@gmail.com.


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