8th Annual Leaves & Petals Monthly Winning Artists – August 2022

The top five artists in each category were given awards in the 8th 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 8th Annual Leaves & Petals Art Exhibition page for contact information.

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

Best in Show (Traditional) – Helena Cocentino – “BETWEEN THORNS” – oil on canvas

1s-BIS-62-trad.-Helena-Cocentino-–-BETWEEN-THORNS-.bHelena Cocentino was born in the Northeast of Brazil. Since childhood, she has always observed each detail around her, developing her visual perception. She always looked for the effect of light and shadow on surfaces through reflections, transparencies and textures, which are often not noticed.

Today, she develops realistic work with different themes, using her own photographs as a source of inspiration. Nature and flora have always attracted her with their beauty and contrast, like the delicacy of a petal and its surroundings; in addition to an infinity of options for a single element, depending on the angle and light.

To learn more about Helen or to see more of her work, she can be reached via her Email.  

Best in Show (Photography & Digital) – Roni Ben-Nun – “THE CROWN” – digital photo  

1st-BIS-66-dp.-Roni-Ben-Nun-–-THE-CROWN-.bRoni Ben-Nun was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and grew up in southern Israel. He studied architecture in Florence, Italy and later moved to the US, where he earned a BFA in Electronic Design & Multimedia from The City College of New York, an MFA in Digital Media from Lehman College and a Doctoral Equivalency from The City University of New York. He is fluent in English, Spanish, Hebrew and Italian.

Roni has been teaching art and design at Bronx Community College since 2003, first as an adjunct and later as a full-time faculty. He now serves as the chairperson of the Art & Music Department and the College Senate.

His artistic career goes back to the 1990’s, and over the years he worked as a designer, draftsman, photographer, illustrator, and freelance graphic and web designer. While still considering himself an amateur photographer, he enjoys photography and loves to capture the world around him through the lens of his camera.

To learn more about Roni or to see more of his work, please visit his website.  

Best in Show (3 Dimensional) – Sara Ussher – “SUNFLOWERS” – acrylic paint on stone

1st-Place-BIS-2-3d.-Sara-Ussher-SUNFLOWERS-.bMy passion is stones and stone painting, in that sense that I want to create a sculptural dimension by painting the stone just to highlight the stone itself and the qualities of that stone. I find it very fascinating and challenging to go for a realistic creation by paying attention to and at the same time make use of the form, the size, the consistency and the color shift of that particular stone.

The creative process thus starts with the stone itself and in this way the material is guiding me. By interpreting the “spirit” of the stone I am able to express myself and create meanings. I use crude nature stones – not processing them in any way – that I find in the surroundings. The “dull” stones out there, I feel, have a lot to offer.

To learn more about Sara or to see more of her work, she can be reached via her Email.  

2nd Place (Traditional) – Pauline Clay – “TOGETHERNESS” – colored pencil

2nd-Place-46-trad.-Pauline-Clay-–-TOGETHERNESS-.bPauline Clay has been working in colored pencil for about a decade but has had a love of drawing since childhood. She enjoys traveling and gardening, and frequently uses photographs from her travels as inspiration as well as the scenery near her rural Virginia home. She loves the outdoors and focuses primarily on capturing scenes from nature. Her goal is for the viewer to see something in her highly realistic artwork from a new perspective or with a new appreciation. She strives to give the viewer a “wow” moment or an emotional reaction. She is a signature member of the Colored Pencil Society of America as well as a member of the International Guild of Realism. Her artwork has been featured in Color magazine, Colored Pencil Magazine, CP Treasures 8, CP Hidden Treasures Vol. 4, Vol. 5 and Vol. 6, the book “Draw Seasons in Colored Pencil,” and in various international art competitions.

To learn more about Pauline and to see more of her work, please visit her website.

2nd Place (Photography & Digital) – Peggy Curtis – “BOWED TULIP” – archival pigment

2nd-Place-74-dp.-Peggy-Curtis-–-BOWED-TULIP-.bPeggy Olafson Curtis was born in Seattle, USA and grew up in nearby regions during the turbulent Sixties. Her love of photography began with a film camera and a high school course in photography—her first inspiration was a shot of her father removing a can of soup from a kitchen cupboard followed by his watery image looking back at her in the dark room developing tray.

Artistic inspiration followed a few years later during a two-year residence in Japan. There she became immersed in the Japanese aesthetic after visiting the Empress Meiji’s iris garden on a glorious rainy day. Before her stretched a row of shiny black umbrellas as visitors meandered along the garden path. Gardeners in black reflective rain gear waded among the iris plants snipping spent blossoms. She was hooked on beauty.

Later she completed a certificate program in photography from the University of Washington, studied at the Photographic Center Northwest, and continued her Japanese flower arranging classes. She has studied with the best of the best, including Sam Abell, J.P. Caponigro, Ben Willmore, Keron Psillas, and Charlie Waite in intensive workshops and mentorships.

Her work has been featured in Seattle and Santa Fe galleries. She is a member of NANPA (The North American Nature Photography Association).

To learn more about Peggy or to see more of her work, please visit her website.  

2nd Place (3 Dimensional) – Karen Ford – “CORNHUSK BOUQUET” – cornhusks, corncobs, rit dye, metallic paint

2nd-Place-3-3d.-Karen-Ford-CORNHUSK-BOUQUET-.vPreserving and honoring nature is what drives Karen’s artwork. On her three-acre homestead in Indiana she’s fallen in love with nature and found sorrow in its fleeting beauty. “Art” has become a means of preserving that beauty. She enjoys making 3D art because she feels it is a more accurate representation of natural items: there is less distortion because dimension is part of the medium.

Regarding her “Cornhusk Bouquet” sculpture, Karen says, “These flowers and leaves are made entirely from corn: some from the husks, others from the cob. The husk flowers are dyed with Rit fabric dye and the corncob flowers are painted with metallic paints. The leaves are made from dyed cornhusks.”

To learn more about Karen and to see more of her work, please visit her website.

3rd Place (Traditional) – Natalia Leigh – “LOOK FOR YOUR RAINBOW” – oil on canvas

3rd-Place-21-trad.-Natalia-Leigh-LOOK-FOR-YOUR-RAINBOW-.bNatalia was born in Europe and drew pictures from her childhood. She started to paint in oil on canvas since 1990. In 2005, she moved to the USA for a better life and started to display her Art in local Art Galleries of North Carolina since 2016.

Her distinctive personal style emanates love to the nature and optimistic attitude to life. As she explains, “Black canvas is like a beginning in life: plant a seed in the soil where it is dark and black. The seed will grow out turning into colors with sunshine, as goes the painting when I begin on the black canvas. The colors on canvas begin to emerge and grow into the picture of whatever is in my heart. The simple things that exist around us I use as symbols to tell the story of the spirit of life.”

Natalia’s artwork has been shown in her solo exhibition in Mooresville Art Gallery, Yadkinville, and Morganton North Carolina. She is award winner of several local art contests and shows. In December 2018, Natalia Leigh received President’s Choice award for outstanding work in the visual arts from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. Presently Natalia works as a nurse and painting pictures in her spare time in her own studio in Kannapolis NC.

To learn more about Natalia and see more of her work, please visit her website.

3rd Place (Photography & Digital) – Y. Hope Osborn – “DESIRE” – manipulated photograph

3rd-Place-16-dp.-Y.-Hope-Osborn-DESIRE-.bBlessed are the weird people: poets, misfits, writers, mystics, painters, troubadours for they teach us to see the world through different eyes. ~Jacob Nordby

My childhood home was troubled by abusive parents, so when able, I escaped outdoors. The beauty of landscapes of fields, woods, streams, rivers, clouds, and ever-changing growth contrasted against plain brown homes, forming in me a great love for and understanding of nature.

Even now, sitting alone in the woods with the rain or wind rustling in the trees, I realize a freedom from the usual constriction of anxiety. I relax and my lungs expand and head clears. Inspired, even as a child, by flora, fauna, and landscapes, I began carrying some camera, film to digital, with me. My technique was rough and uneducated until three years ago when I began learning about composition and my digital camera.

I am a work in progress, but in every shot, I know better the scenery that is just for me and that is for photo, too. As my health deteriorates, scenic hikes become less feasible, but there is always another waterfall, storm cloud, bubbling stream, or garden wonder to explore with camera and digital devices. I capture the beauty that to this day I crave and experience regeneration even in my homegrown and home-bound art education. I wish all, especially the troubled and traumatized, to find refuge in theirs or my photography and art in scenic drives, hikes, and gardens.

To learn more about Hope and to see more of her work, please visit her website.   

3rd Place (3 Dimensional) – Helen Wexler – “FLOWER POWER LAMP” – b-mix clay and low fire glaze

3rd-Place-1-3d.-Helen-Wexler-FLOWER-POWER-LAMP-.bMy pieces display a variety of techniques including wheel throwing, hand building, slab-construction, and hand-painting. But, a commonality in all of my pieces is the display of nature. My pieces are extremely influenced by nature, specifically the serenity and relief found through nature. Whether it be in the clay form, the color, the pattern, or the carving, nature is always a part of my pieces.

Sculpting and throwing clay is very organic, and for me including nature in my pieces is instinctual to this organic process. In every piece, I strive to capture what I feel when I am in nature; happy, blissful, thoughtful.

Ever since lower school visual art has been my favorite activity, and every day, I just want to get back to the ceramics room and work. Visual art is my passion and ceramics is a wonderful medium that I really enjoy.

To learn more about Helen and to see more of her work, she can be reached via her Email.

4th Place (Traditional) – James A. DePietro – “(19) REMEMBRANCE: THEY WILL NOT GROW OLD” – mixed media

4th-Place-28-trad.-James-A.-DePietro-19-REMEMBRANCE-THEY-WILL-NOT-GROW-OLDTelling a story or stating a message about our world is a pivotal part of this artist expression. Essentially a visual storyteller who has been using his aesthetic voice by utilizing a series format approach with his artwork, his unique and imaginative point of view on a variety of contemporary sociopolitical themes is evident in his oil / acrylic paintings which explore a wide range of topics. The artwork submitted for this show come from two of his series: The Stream of Consciousness Series and Objet de Art. James combines multiple images with his realistic figurative imagery contrasting against abstract fields of colorful backgrounds to convey his personal statement to the viewer.

Solo exhibitions include the Hunterdon Art Museum, the Nurture Nature Gallery, and Nazareth Center for the Arts. His paintings have been juried into many group shows including the Maryland Federation of Art, the Kemerer Museum of Art, Exhibizone International in Toronto, Canada, Art Against Racism Show in Newark, NJ, The State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg, and The Salmagundi Club in NYC. He also participated in the Boz’art en Baz’art Invitational Exhibition in Vichy, France, representing the USA with my artwork.

To learn more about James or to see more of his work, please visit his website.  

4th Place (Photography & Digital) – Ulrike Unterbruner – “DAHLIA” – digital photography

4th-Place-75-dp.-Ulrike-Unterbruner-–-DAHLIA-.bUlrike Unterbruner 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, 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).

To learn more about Ulrike and to see more of her work, please visit her website.

5th Place (Traditional) – Ashwini Sadekar – “KEEP YOUR SUNNY SIDE UP” – oil on canvas

5th-Place-36-trad.-Ashwini-Sadekar-–-KEEP-YOUR-SUNNY-SIDE-UP-.bBorn in West-Central India, Ashwini’s paintings are influenced by her colorfully rich and diverse cultural heritage of art, architecture, dance, music, and languages. A multidimensional persona Ashwini holds a Graduate degree in Electronics Engineering from Carleton University in eastern Canada. She is now based in the Seattle area, and her passion is to capture the ethereal colors of the changing seasons in paintings. Ashwini’s paintings are a detailed scientific study of how adjacent color influences light perception. Through direct observation under the sun, she expresses the geometry of nature. As a colorist, Ashwini examine flowers, fruits, faces, and forests using a full spectrum palette. Her inquiry is to use oil-bound pigments to recreate the phenomenon of natural light on canvas. Ashwini starts each painting by looking at the color relationships that produce the illusion of light. Her artwork is practically abstract at this point, with a pattern of large color forms. She constantly scans and compares each color note in the composition to the others by considering the lightness, darkness, intensity, neutrality, and temperature of the hues. She continues to subdivide these geometric shapes, as if engraving diamond facets. The ultimate result is a seamless color veil with a uniform surface quality. While these technical qualities help to develop the painting, the color choreography across the surface is a pure delight. Ashwini’s paintings are a lively dance between Impressionism and classical realism, combining a conscientious dedication to the atelier tradition with a modern aesthetic that depicts nature’s geometry.

To learn more about Ashwini and to see more of her work, please visit her website.

5th Place (Photography & Digital) – David Lee – “NATURE LOVES COLOR” – digital

5th-Place-83-dp.-David-Lee-–-NATURE-LOVES-COLOR-.bDave Lee is a digital artist who creates artwork, using the latest computers and graphics software available today. As a lifelong resident of Indiana, he has been creating art since his early years in Indianapolis.

As Dave experimented with various art-creation mediums over the years and enrolled in various art classes, he struggled to find a style and medium that would enhance his natural art abilities. His attempts to paint with watercolors, acrylics and oils ended with unsatisfactory work and results.

In the early 1990’s, he purchased his first personal computer to use in graphic design work. This was at a time when virtually no one owned a personal computer. Over the years, as his skills improved, Dave realized that today’s computers and software were the perfect tools for him to use as the new “brush and canvas” combination for digital art creation. With more than 24 years of computer experience, he uses these components to create popular, digital artwork with qualities that far surpass the art he created long ago.

Currently, Dave is inspired to create his digital art based mostly on nature, rural scenes and architecture, and he continues to experiment with different subjects and styles. Today, art creation is Dave’s passion and he’s blessed to have considerable time to devote to his efforts.

To learn more about David and to see more of his work, please visit his website.  


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