6th Annual Leaves & Petals Art Exhibition Monthly Winning Artists

The top five artists in each category were given awards in the 6th Annual Leaves & Petals 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 6th Annual Leaves & Petals Exhibition page for contact information.

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

Best in Show (Traditional) – Xiaoxia Chen – “Lotus” – watercolor on paper

113-trad.-Xiaoxia-Chen-Lotus-bXiaoxia Chen is a Chinese watercolor artist.

At the end of August 2018, I started to study watercolor by myself, under the tutelage of a Chinese watercolor artist Youwei Huang.  In December 2019, the work “As bright as clouds” was selected as one of the top 70 in the world in the “Flower Category” of the Malaysia International Network Art Competition 2019.
In 2020, I have won numerous awards including the 43rd Houston International Watercolor Exhibition, the 208th International Annual Exhibition of the Royal Watercolor Painters Association RI, and the Richerson 75 International Still Life and Flower Competition.

Xiaoxia can be reached via her email.

Best in Show (Photography & Digital) – Merrilee Soberg – “Sunny Side Up” – digital art

87-dp.-Merrilee-Soberg-Sunny-Side-Up-bAfter retiring from a successful career as a professional potter, Merrilee turned to photography and digital art to fill the creative void. She honed her digital art skills in Sebastian Michael’s Photoshop Artistry online courses. As a result, she has been published in numerous editions of “Living the Photoartistic Life” magazine and was featured in the February 2020 edition. Many of the photos used in Merrilee’s compositions were taken at home on Vancouver Island on the west coast of Canada or during her world travels. She is passionate about photographing wildlife in their natural habitat. Since she lives at the edge of a wetlands, many other elements of nature find their way into her artistic creations. These photos combined with digital painting are the building blocks used to create inspired, unique works of art, which can be beautiful, intriguing, moving and at times thought provoking. Magic occurs when nature and art align.

Please visit Merrilee’s website if you are interested in seeing more of her work.

Best in Show (3 Dimensional) – Phyllis Mantik deQuevedo – “Forest Fountain” – bronze

2-3D.-Phyllis-Mantik-deQuevedo-Forest-Fountain-cPhyllis Mantik deQuevedo makes her home in Oklahoma City, OK. A native of Canada and a graduate of the Alberta College of Art in Calgary, Phyllis moved to the United States in 1981.She believes that her introduction to sculpture was by design. From early experiences of seeing an image take shape from a lump of clay, she has delighted in creating. Out of this personal joy, she realizes a responsibility; to create work that adds value to our existence, to evoke a smile; to touch someone’s heart and for a moment to capture an emotion. She sees the transforming experiences in life, such as tenderness, intimacy and spirituality as that which enables artistic growth and provides inspiration for her sculpture. To her, the most powerful art involves the human figure. The inspiration for her current figurative series is flora and focuses on representing botanical forms through metaphors as they relate to human forms and human experiences. Phyllis works in a design and marketing career along with her sculpture studies. She has been exhibiting and selling her artwork since 1991. Her sculptures are held in corporate and private collections throughout the United States and Canada.

Please visit Phyllis’ website if you are interested in seeing more of her work.

2nd Place (Traditional) – Marcia Pyner – “Seek the Light” – acrylic

2nd-Place-4-trad.-Marcia-Pyner-Seek-the-Light-bMarcia Pyner is an illustrator and fine artist who loves to showcase God’s handiwork with her own work. There is an incredible beauty and design to be found in the natural world; and, Marcia especially loves to display that beauty in flowers. She believes that they are silent messengers with voiceless lips; and that we have only to listen as we gaze.

Professionally trained, Marcia Pyner has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from East Carolina University and a Master of Fine Arts from The University of Illinois in Chicago, where she was inducted into The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. She has taught art at every level and was included in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers. As an illustrator, Marcia has created over thirty book jacket designs for such clients as Zebra, Ballantine, Dell, and Barbour Books. Other clients include The Williamsburg Foundation, The Washington Post, and Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich.

As a fine artist, Marcia has a list of awards and achievements on her website at www.marciapyner.com and highlights on her Facebook page at Marcia Pyner Illustration and Fine Art. She attained Signature Status recently with The International Society of Acrylic Painters. Marcia believes that acrylic is a versatile medium, lending itself to washes, solids, pouring, collage, and a whole host of other uses. She works realistically, with an illustration flair and sometimes uses impressionistic brush strokes. To be able to paint and develop her talent has been an incredible blessing and joy, according to Marcia. She has no idea where the next artistic step will lead her, but she is excited for the journey! As she has told her students… dream, pray, and take a step.

2nd Place (Photography & Digital) – Ulrike Unterbruner – “Waterlily” – digital photography

2nd-Place-84-dp.-Ulrike-Unterbruner-Waterlily-bUlrike Unterbruner (born in 1953) is an enthusiastic amateur photographer living in Salzburg, Austria. Seeing the world through a camera has always fascinated her. At the age of 10, she got her first camera from her father, an amateur photographer, and was sometimes allowed to watch him in his darkroom. She can still remember the magic moment when the white paper suddenly turned into a photo. So photography also became one of her hobbies. But with the amount of new possibilities offered by the digital photography and Adobe Photoshop, the hobby became a passion. She finds her motives everywhere but has a strong relation to nature – flowers and trees, animals, landscapes, water, … Not only portraying the motives in an aesthetic way, but to capture their spirit is challenge and enjoyment for her. Since 2017, she is a member of the Salzburger Fotoklub (www.salzburger-fotoklub.com).

Please visit Ulrike’s website if you are interested in seeing more of her work.   

2nd Place (3 Dimensional) – Wenhao Hu – “In the Garden – Metaplasia” – photosensitive resin

2nd-Place-23-3D.-Wenhao-Hu-In-the-Garden-Metaplasia-bWenhao Hu is a Chinese artist. He received a Bachelor of Sculpture at Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts. After graduating, he enrolled as a graduate student in the Department of Sculpture, School of Art and Design, at the Beijing University of Technology.

Wenhao Hu can be reached via his email.  



3rd Place (Traditional) – Barney Levitt – “Vertigo” – oil on panel

3rd-Place-87-trad.-Barney-Levitt-Vertigo-bBarney Levitt is a Boston based realist oil painter whose paintings range in style from the traditional Dutch Masters, to more whimsical and humorous paintings; all in hyperrealist detail. Humor plays out in much of his work and he strives for a narrative that will capture the viewers’ attention. His paintings combine naturalistic detail with quirky offbeat compositions that often juxtapose ordinary objects in ways the viewer doesn’t expect. He has his Fine Arts Degree in Painting, and is a member of many National Painting organizations. His work has been shown nationally and internationally.

Please visit Barney’s website if you are interested in seeing more of his work.

3rd Place (Photography & Digital) – Mark Rein – “Monstera” – iPad drawing

3rd-Place-38-dp.-Mark-Rein-Monstera-cMark Rein is a part-time artist working out of his studio at home in Sydney. He has worked in the retail industry for 20+ years but after a recent reshuffle at work has found occasion to immerse himself in his creative side to a greater degree. He mainly works in oils or acrylics but is prone to hit the tablet for digital work.

His subject matter can vary greatly from photo-realistic digital work to traditional subject matter on canvas, to abstracts full of colour.

Mark can be reached via his email.   

3rd Place (3 Dimensional) – Yuliia Khovbosha – “Vicious Circle of Life” – polymer clay, wood

3rd-Place-20-3D.-Yuliia-Khovbosha-Vicious-Circle-of-Life-bI am a Ukrainian artist currently based in Kyiv. Born in a small town in Central Ukraine, I moved to the megapolis. After graduating as a Bachelor of Audiovisual Arts, I worked for several years as a TV director. It was sculpture and art that saved me while battling prolonged depression caused by frantic work pace and schedule. Art can heal. It can drive you through the most challenging times. This simple but so important fact follows me through my entire journey as an artist.

After discovering that power in my hands to create realistic forms, I’ve just jumped that train and never looked back. My sculptures are just as devoted to nature as I am. I was always trying to capture the beauty of an ordinary green leaf, flower petal, or mysterious mushroom using various mediums.

Started with creating high-realistic polymer clay flowers, I am constantly developing my skills and vision by discovering new techniques and materials. I continue to expand my portfolio with various nature inspired mixed-media sculptures.

I am always driven by nature’s creativity as my main source of inspiration. I transmit the moment, nature’s will, and beauty by expressing myself. Moreover, I also succeeded as an art tutor and never stopped experimenting. At the moment, I try my hand at ceramics and silversmithing.

Yuliia can be reached via his email.   

4th Place (Traditional) – Stephanie Lawing – “Firestorm Dahlia” – acrylic on canvas

4th-Place-109-trad.-Stephanie-Lawing-Firestorm-DahliabIn an increasingly difficult, loud and confusing world, I hope to express an experience that goes beyond current events – a universal desire to find a moment where the world fades away in favor of something simple, natural and beautiful. Macro floral detail in a cropped composition, engages the viewer very differently, highlighting a bloom’s delicate petal texture and color combinations. I magnify what nature has perfected, but often walked past. Flowers have a new and powerful voice when painted large scale. Viewers find themselves with a new awareness, noticing how each element interacts with others, and seeing details one would never notice otherwise. For me, painting is a meditative process (and I believe it is evident in the calmness of the florals I create). The quiet creativity has me working through issues and events in my mind. It’s an opportunity to simplify and break down what appears initially as complex, into a simpler shape, color or feeling.

My current work is a sharp contrast to the abstract pieces I created in school. I thought being an artist always meant being deep and existential. However, in reality, I now understand I craved a simpler feel and outcome in my paintings. Maybe it comes with age and a new maturity, I now use my energy for what I want to see, and not what I thought others wanted.

With the opportunity of an enormous exhibition put on hold due to the pandemic, I again found my own need for consolation in the color and structure of nature. Living in the Hampton Roads area, I have the opportunity to enjoy being outdoors in the Norfolk Botanical Gardens. It took on an ever-increasing importance, and satisfied a need to escape and relax. It was during quarantine that the spring and summer flowers began their bloom. I took the opportunity to slow down, let the mind and eye rest, and enjoy a moment of quiet beauty in a different light. My paintings celebrate petals that twist, turn and head in all directions as if in caught in a breeze. Their delicate folds, creases, hollows, and hills roll through the composition. Their color compositions range from muted creams and yellows, to the most vibrant and exciting colors nature produces. My hope is upon completion, my paintings might supply a stunning image to be considered and admired at length.

With so many things in this world out of our control, I try to capture what God made so perfect as close as I can to what is perfect for me. I paint nature and florals because of the form. I have been asked why don’t you paint birds, people or buildings. My answer always is, why would I? I have an unlimited variety of this subject matter. It’s vibrant, joyful and never-ending. Most importantly – It just makes me happy.

Please visit Stephanie’s website if you are interested in seeing more of her work.

4th Place (Photography & Digital) – Francesco Lombardi – “White” – digital


I am an amateur photographer based in Italy close to Torino. Photography is my escape and my passion and what is most relevant for me is the graphic qualities of the subject.  My favorite theme is nature and landscapes. For me photography is also a way to be creative.

Francesco can be reached via his email.   



4th Place (3 Dimensional) – Jacki Cohen – “Julius (Prickly Pear Cactus)” – glass

4th-Place-9-3D.-Jacki-Cohen-Julius-Prickly-Pear-Cactus-bI love color, vibrancy, and bold design. These are what ignite my soul and fuel my spirit. Whether it is a crimson sunset, a bold runway ensemble, or a fresh sprig of basil on a balsamic glazed Caprese salad, my passion is in transforming everyday objects into innovative glass designs through sensory observation, imagination and meticulous technique.

I’ve worked in painting, drawing, and ceramics. However, fused glass is the single medium that allows me the full expression of my unbridled creativity. My positive, energetic outlook informs my approach to both life and art, and my work speaks to the joy and exuberance I feel in my everyday surroundings and community.

Art enriches the soul and brings light to everyone. When someone connects to my colorful outlook on life, I want them to be able to bring my creations into their home, their office or share it with friends and family.

My custom work allows me to design pieces based on your unique take on the world. We can work within your chosen color palette and sense of design to create one of a kind pieces, wall hangings, installations or functional decor elements that reflect your individual style and spirit.

My studio door is open by appointment. I can’t wait to create art that engages your soul and speaks to your passion and imagination.

Please visit Jacki’s website if you are interested in seeing more of her work.

5th Place (Traditional) – Cher Pruys – “Dancing Light” – acrylic

Cher Pruys was born in Regina. Over the years she lived in many places including Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Fort Frances, settling into her present home in Devlin, on the banks of the Rainy River with her husband Mark, 4 dogs and 2 cats.

By age three, Cher was seldom found without a drawing tool in hand. She worked in pencil, charcoal and ink over the years, until she picked up a paintbrush at the age of 35. Beginning with oil paints, she found her chosen mediums in acrylic, watercolor and gouache.

Although self-taught, her dedication and talent has seen her work juried into 116 International exhibits, as well as exhibits in numerous non-juried shows. She has won 101awards for her work at the International Juried Exhibits. Her work has graced the covers of 3 books, 19 magazines, and has-been featured in over 76 international publications. Cher has had 14 solo exhibitions in Canada, and participated in 110 group exhibitions throughout Canada and the USA, as well as international online exhibitions.

Cher’s works have found a permanent home in numerous private and public collections worldwide. Cher’s artistic style can be described as Realism with a hint of Abstract in her latest works.

Please visit Cher’s website if you are interested in seeing more of her work.

5th Place (Photography & Digital) – Rochelle Berman – “Glow Petals” – digital photography

5th-Place-78-dp.-Rochelle-Berman-Glow-Petals-cArtist Biography: Rochelle Berman was born in Brooklyn NYC and currently Lives in Miami, FL. She spent her youth studying the Visual Arts, including classes in Life drawing and Painting. She always loved to draw and paint. In college, she discovered her passion with photography.

Classically trained in black and white film photography at ASU Fine Arts, Tempe, Arizona, she learned to utilize creative film techniques such as solarization, double exposure, photomontage and many creative darkroom techniques. She was employed as a portrait photographer while still in college. Rochelle assisted her professors in the History of Photography course and was inspired by diverse Masters of Photography such as Henri Cartier Bresson, Man Ray, Abbott,Brassaii and more modern (portrait) favorites include Phillips Halsman, Annie Leibowitz, Barbara Morgan, Arnold Newman Andre (Experimental photography)- Kertesz, Skoglund (Travel Documentary), Jim Zuckerman and Steve McCurry.

Rochelle has exhibited and sold her work locally and internationally. She enjoys creating certain “Dreamscape” type effects through envisioning the final result and employing the many varied Digital Darkroom techniques. Rochelle especially enjoys creating experimental portraits, nature studies and travel and architecture inspired images.

Well-travelled Rochelle Berman attempts to capture the immense beauty of our world as seen throughout many countries, peoples and landscapes. She likes to capture the special moments and underlying essence of a scene, the Timeless. Totally in love with Color and Pattern, her artworks are electrically vibrant, simple and direct in composition and emotionally rich.

Artist Statement:  My intention is to capture and create images that show the beauty and magic of our world! I hope to inspire and share the happiness that I feel when in the presence of nature and her wonders. Also, I am intrigued by our unique human ability to communicate and express in such diverse ways. It is my hope to touch hearts and inspire minds through my fine art photography work. As a spiritual truth seeker, my art helps me to break through traditional thinking to discover new ideas and feelings. The greatest joy lies in sharing the present moment’s magic with others and exploring dreams and intuition as tools for creative and spiritual discovery. I love to create Dreamscapes where I start with the inherent beauty in nature, places and people and take a creative leap from there.

Please visit Rochelle’s website if you are interested in seeing more of her work.

5th Place (3 Dimensional) – Kim Bernadas – “Vase with Nine Tulips” – bronze

5th-Place-10-3D.-Kim-Bernadas-Vase-with-Nine-Tulips-bAs a sculptor, I am striving for that balance between great intensity and delicate sensitivity. When I sculpt, an unbelievable force leads me towards yet another discovery. To capture what I see both on the outside and inside of my subject is my driving force, my grandest challenge. Each sculpture is a new beginning, a journey to unearth what makes each one of my subjects who he is, revealing his mood, his essence. My desire is to bring out all that is incorporeal, and the qualities we all treasure about ourselves, in a manner that suggests dignity. Strength and gentleness, beauty, and even sadness connect us all. It is in this simplicity that I am inspired to reveal the secrets within each portrait and figure. Finally, I wish to hold true the meaning of the term Fine Art, and to pursue the thought that my work must continue to reach toward its worthiness of that definition.

My sculpture “Vase with Nine Tulips” offered in this competition was sculpted as a memorial to a mother and a wife, who loved tulips and was commissioned by her husband. Each tulip represents each member of the family; a dropped petal from the wilting tulip symbolizes the matriarch. If asked about my work over the past 20 years, I cannot begin to express my endless joy in the search to discover the essence of each subject. I would describe my work as that of a neo classic style, using gesture, proportion and uniqueness of each subject to capture the spirit of each study.

My artistic training began at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts in 1991, where I presently teach Portrait, Figurative and Animal Sculpture. Other workshop locations are regularly scheduled throughout the Southeast, Eastern Shore Art Center, and Bascom in North Carolina. Most recent public art collections in bronze include the monumental work depicting 4 of 9 Greek Muses, flanking the Jefferson Performing Arts Center, Mother and Child Collections at the Tulane Medical Center, and Birth of a Muse as the first post Katrina dedication to revitalize the City of New Orleans, among others.

I am a member of the Women Artists of the West, Portrait Society of America, and National Sculpture Society as well as most honored to receive the award of Honorable Mention for my portrait Tasha for the Portrait Society of America Members Competition in 2014.

Kim can be reached via her email.   


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