Visual Arts Association holds online art challenge

Kathy Karol received first-place in the Visual Arts Association's online art challenge for her painting "Fall Fig Harvest."

Martha Ayotte enjoys a good artistic challenge, and thanks to the Visual Arts Association, she gets a new one each month.

“I’m very competitive,” said Ayotte, of the Village of Osceola Hills. “(This challenge) keeps me painting every month. With the different subjects, it’s great. I need a little initiative to keep painting.”

Ayotte entered the group’s first online challenge, and she ended up taking third place.

“I was happy,” Ayotte said. “Everybody did an amazing job. We have a lot of talented artists in our group.”

During September, the theme for resident artists to create a painting around was “Fall.” Out of the 22 entries, three were chosen for the top prizes.

“They were all beautiful,” group president Barb Justice said.

First place went to Kathy Karol for “Fall Fig Harvest”; second place went to Marcella Martin for “Wild Turkey”; and third place went to Ayotte for “What a Nutty Guy.”

“I am honored and humbled to have my painting selected,” Karol said in a note to the group.

Karol and her husband were taking a hiking trip through the Blue Ridge Mountains, visiting various farms in North Carolina and Tennessee.

At one farm, Karol took a photo of a pile of figs and a scoop. That scene brought back fond memories of the fig trees that were growing in her parents’ front yard. Those figs became the basis for her pastel painting.

Martin, who joined the VAA in March, created “Wild Turkey” by using watercolors on a special type of paper called Yupo.

“Because it’s made of plastic, it doesn’t absorb the watercolor,” Martin said. “It sits on the surface of the paper. The colors are bright, but at the same time you can lift the paint off real easy.”

The painting features a couple of turkeys running from right to left. Martin took some feathers and put their imprints onto the paper. She then noticed one feather resembled the eye of a bird.

“It came out kind of more abstract and wild,” Martin said. “It turned out to be great fun.”

Ayotte, who has been with the VAA for six years, went another route for her painting, “What a Nutty Guy.”

Using watercolors, she painted a chipmunk grabbing a bite to eat amongst the autumn leaves.

“I tried to do something a little different besides pumpkins,” Ayotte said.

She was looking through her photos on her computer looking for inspiration.

“When I saw him, it brought everything together,” she said.

She painted the chipmunk first, then added the leaves in the background. She was a little apprehensive about the leaves, but she said they turned out better than she expected.

Watercolors have been her go-to medium for her artwork for several years.

“It’s the hardest medium,” she said. “Once you put paint on it, it’s hard to get off.”

For members, the themes for October’s submissions, which were due Sunday, are “Harvest Moon” or “Villages Skyline.” The November theme is “Count Your Blessings.” Those submissions are due by Dec. 8.

Staff writer Michael Fortuna can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5273, or