Challenges 2023 – 2024

For Challenges before January 2023

2024 – April Challenge Color Wheel – Juror: Karen Zens

As previous jurors have said, this was really hard- there were so many wonderful and colorful submissions. But I finally settled on the winner:
Nan Raphael’s “colors of pride”, which recreates the color wheel in a fresh and lively way, capturing both color and movement.

And Congratuations to the Honorable Mentions:

Chartres Labyrinth II by Carolyn Rondthaler which transforms the color wheel into a beautiful, light-filled labyrinth;
The swirling beaded wheel captured by Marilyn Saks-McMillan; and
Fall Colors by Ragnar Thoresen, with its beautiful use of complementary colors.
Good luck, Nan, with the next month!

2024 – March Challenge Simplicity – Juror: Jenny Nordstrom

Thanks so much to everyone who submitted for the Simplicity challenge in March! You did not make my job easy, with so much beautiful work!
The winner is Karen Zens, with her stunning painting. I loved the color, the texture, the brush strokes, the minimalist lines and abstract feel. The single color keeps it simple, while also containing many fascinating details. Beautiful work!

Special kudos also to the runner-ups:

Tom Chabolla, for his outstandingly simple photograph of the stone and shadow. I thought this perfectly epitomized the theme, and was beautifully shot, with great texture, light, and color.

Steve Kunin, for his photograph “Dance,” featuring only a beautifully textured piece of barbed wire. Great technique and composition, as well as a compelling name.

Thanks everyone!

2024 – February Challenge Street Scene – Juror: Jane Mann

This challenge was certainly a challenge for me. Every street is different in its own inviting or evocative way. Adding people to the scene only makes it more complex. There were so many beautiful, fascinating entries that I wanted to have separate categories for humor, color, social commentary, most typical of the locale, best story…but I contained myself.

Winner – Jenny Nordstrom, Running Home. The color, the towering walls, and the narrow street lead the viewer from the claustrophobic alley onto the sunlit stairs. The young girl running adds motion and playfulness to the scene.

Honorable Mentions:
Matthew Gonzales, Tony Padilla and his red Mustang. The overall feeling is one of loneliness. The reflections on the Mustang and the haloes around the street-and stoplights are bright spots in the dark
night. But Tony’s pensive look make me think that, in spite of his beautiful car, he’s waiting for someone who will not come.

Mailyn Saks-McMillion, Piazza Navona. Seeing a multitude of cartoon character balloons against the Baroque architecture of the piazza just epitomizes the whimsy that we can find in street scenes and the competition between the modern tourist industry and historical places.

One final comment – I’m waiting for Elin-Whitney-Smith’s The Kingdom of God to be finished. The various media and the message are worth waiting for.

2024 – January Challenge Elements Juror:Elin Whitney-Smith

This was a challenging challenge. I was glad not to wrap my head around it but then came the juroring. I still didn’t know how to think about it. These are my reactions to the works submitted. It was a hard choice.

First place: Goes to Jane Mann’s First Snow. Here is ephemeral snow and fluid water in tension with the works of humans. But though the building seems solid is also ephemeral, lasting much longer than this snow but deteriorating – water and snow will be there and will come back – they are elemental. I also respond to the overall greyness of the picture and the red of the boat.

Second place: Goes to Karen Cohen’s First Frost. Sun/cold, color/whiteness of frost – Elemental contrasts and the contrast of forest tamed with paths marked by the post. The sense of early morning sunlight that will take away the frost gives me a sense of an elemental ephemeralness.

Third place: Goes to Rod Whyte’s Potomac Sunset. Unlike the other two it is sunny, cheerful, and hot. It makes me want to sit by the side of the river and bask hoping the sunset could go on and on.

Honorable Mention in no particular order: Marilyn Saks-McMillion Winter Window, Lindsey Ahert Love Aloha and Karen Edget Gone to Seed

2023 – December Challenge Coming Home – Juror: Nan Raphael

First off Happy New Year..I hope you all had a great holiday season.
This was a really tough call for me to make especially not being a competent critic of artistic technique in mediums I don’t work in. . What I really like about all of my choices is that the theme of Coming Home had very different interpretations.

First place goes to Elin for Ella and Alma her beautifully executed water color of two very important people in her life that are no longer with us. As Elin points out, home is where there’s love. I also loved her Home Before Dark..the beautiful winter scene as the sun is about to set.

Second place Erin Thompson for her detailed and beautiful rendering of a dog waiting outside on the porch for it’s owner. theres nothing like a happy dog waiting for the owner returning home after a long day’s work or other outing.

Third place to Karen Cohen for her haunting photo collage of Bride Ghost.

Honorable mention to- Debbie Sease- for It Won’t be Long…a beloved tree that marked for her that she’s in the final stretch toward home.

Stay well and warm, Nan

2023 – November Challenge Me, My, Mine – Juror: Elin Whitney-Smith

This turned out to be a difficult challenge since only 5 artists submitted entries. They are all personal which makes them even more wonderful. Since they are personal and “heart challenging” I have included one submission from each artist. Other than the assignment of first all the others are in no particular order.

First prize goes to Nan Raphael’s “In my shadow” it express both that a dog is in one’s shadow and also acts as a shadow following and looking for what one is doing.

In many cases a dog serves as a second self which is also the theme of the paper box by Karen Zens. The medium and the subject are both reflection of the artist’s life during COVID and an homage to the dog Shamus.

Jane Mann’s “Ancestors”  The deed superimposed on the photo of the land reflects the theme in both that we are shaped by those who have gone before and their ties to their place and the life it imposes.

Ancestors shape us and we shape our children this is expressed in “Photographer’s Assistant”,  by David Mann – thus there is a continuity of what constitutes My, Me, Mine.

This sense of continuity is also expressed in “3 Rings” by Marilyn Saks-McMillion. Her wedding ring, an anniversary ring and a gift from her aging parent symbols of continuous love.

This challenge has been challenging to write and think about. It was, as it was surely meant to be, a source of self examination and reflection. 

2023 – October Challenge Fantasy – Juror: Steve Kunin

“Some of the submissions work so well together that I considered them as diptychs.
Worth mentioning:
Elin Whitney-Smith’s “Wolves Howling at the Moon” and “Alma and the Pups Wandering North….” Beautiful watercolors of a fantastical world. The best interpretation and rendering of the challenge, “Fantasy”.
Karen Zen’s “Fantasy” and “Fantasy #2” A wonderful pair of beautifully crafted 3D collages. They look to me like the life-fire that burns day (the orange background) and night (the blue background).
Marilyn Saks-McMillion’s “Shangri-La in Morning MIst”. A photograph of an atmospheric dreamy scene. Was it edited in post processing? Is that the view that the camera recorded or is it a landscape born from your imagination?
Nan Raphael”s “It’s a Fantasy to Hope for Unity”. An inspirational strong graphic image that would work well for a poster or T-shirt.

And the winner is…..
Elin Whitney-Smith’s “Wolves Howling at the Moon” and “Alma and the Pups Wandering North …”

Congratulations to the winners and thank you all for participating!

2023 – September Challenge Music and Poetry – Jurors: Karin Edgett and Camille Kouyoumdjian

Here are the winners of our September monthly challenge “Music and Poetry”.
First Place
Jazz Man by Steve Kunin

Honorable Mentions
Fern Hill by Elin Whitney Smith
All That Jazz by Victoria Lakes

2023 -August Challenge It’s Only Natural — Juror: Steve Mabley

To the participants in the August Monthly Challenge “It’s Only Natural“, thank-you for your participation and your artistic work! 
So, after much reflection and self-deliberation, I have the following report of which works most resonated with this juror’s aesthetic senses.

Technological Media
3rd Place: “On the Edge”, digital photograph by Jane Mann
The desolate mountainous landscape was a study in neutrals that seemed to be dramatically ruptured by the bolt of darkness presented by the deadwood and it’s shadow.
2nd Place: Digitally altered photograph from a trip to Maui several years ago by Nan Raphael.
The silhouette of a tropical shoreline overlain with another dimension of colored texture .
1st Place“Consciousness newly arranged by the light of orange nasturtium flower” by Karin Edgett
The mechanically altered capture of a flower produced a contemporary impressionist swath of colors allowing the viewer some choices on how to reassemble and reperceive the subject.

Hand-marked media
3rd Place: “Summer Garden”, by Karen Zens
The assembled construction suggests layers and intersecting spaces among the flowers of the garden.
2nd Place: “Little Falls Stream”, oil on canvas by Ken Bachman
A dreamy soft and calming space by a creek invites quiet reflection.
1st Place: “Still Standing”, collage on paper by Camille Kouyoumdjian
The layers and tiers of color and textures invoke a summer landscape inviting the viewer to wander.

Congratulations to all for your efforts!

2023 – July Challengs Signs of Patriotism – Juror – Jim Huttinger

First Place:”Finish the Job!” by Steve Mabley. The first amendment of the US Constitution grants us “freedom of speech and the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Second Place: “Capitol Hill vibrant neighboring rowhouses with UK, US and Ukraine flags” by Marilyn Saks-McMillion. US and UK’s exhibits patriotism in supporting Ukraine’s protection of its democratic freedoms

Third Place: “Icon” by Jane Mann. The military oath of enlistment “I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”

Congratulations to all the winners and thank you everyone for participating!

2023 – June Challenge Black and White – Juror – Elin Whitney-Smith

Black and White proved to be a very popular theme which made picking winners very difficult. As it is I couldn’t narrow it down to three. I did manage to get it to four.

First Place:

Jim Huttinger’s “15 & L Street NW WDC” black and white Analogue Photo.
I loved the Escher/Hogwarts feel of this photo. My eye goes from walkway to reflection and back again. I especially like how the topmost walkway is continued in the reflection of the second walkway. And the reflection of the building connects the reflection the lowest walkway to the top walkway reflection. I also appreciated how the lights inside the building echoed the stripes in the railings of the walkways and looks like a ladder that might lead somewhere else entirely.
Nice noticing nice photo.

Honorable Mentions in no particular order:

Steve Kunin’s “Tree Abstract” (digital photo) gives me the same kind of feel as Jim’s photo but with a more “organic” focus. I am free to follow the maze of branches at will. There is also a nice crisp way that the black background makes the fine detail of the tree stand out.

Rosa Vera’s “Jigsaw” The concentration of the people comes across and their connection over the puzzle at hand. I like to think they are father and daughter. The father perhaps getting past it and the daughter finding things to that they can do together. The somberness of the black and white palette adds to my sense of ending whereas the light coming in illuminating the table and the people gives the piece lightness and perhaps love.

Karen Zens’ – “Cataclysm” mixed media collage: Though Cataclysm suggests destruction there is also hope in this work. The black strips look like the ashes of a cleansing fire and the net and the ruffled edges suggest a wedding – hope and love coming out of destruction



2023 – Challenge Flights of Fancy – Juror – Kathleen Zeifang

This month’s challenge provided the opportunity to interpret “flights” as
ascending movement, creatures adapted to flying, and perhaps aerial visions.
It also provided freedom to interpret “fancy”, something perhaps humorous
or otherworldly. A wonderful range of creative pieces were submitted for this challenge. It was difficult to choose only three for awards from this group of very talented CHAL members.

First Place
Starry, Starry Night and Sunset by Elin Whitney-Smith is a bold interpretation of Van Gogh’s Starry Night. The deep blue/black in the foreground juxtaposes against the fiery sunset traveling over the middle of the photographic image. The use of watercolor in delicate star patterns bleeding into the sky is highlighted by the thin swirling lines bringing the upper sky close overhead as the sunset retreats. The reflection of the stars into the water finished the composition by bringing the movement in the air into the other moving body, the water. This is a work to contemplate.

Honorable Mention
Morning Yoga by Alexandra Treadaway-Hoare. This watercolor painting exudes uplifting movement and joy in the dance of this bird, wings extended, head pointed to the sky, one leg causing a ripple as it leaves the water to take flight. The happy mood is enhanced by the sparkle of the fanciful stars coupled with fresh but spare brushstrokes of bright colors overlapping one-another in the water and marshland. The whole painting is a Flight of Fancy.

Honorable Mention
The unnamed photo by Julie Byrne captures seven seagulls traversing from the dome of the US Capitol Building. There is an ominous quality to the scene as the birds fly toward us, the viewers. The gull on the left squawking at the others. Are they escaping political turbulence? The muted atmosphere, barren tree limbs and flag at half mast suggests that might be the case.

Congratulations to all the winners and thank you all for participating!

2023 – April Challenge Construction Deconstruction – Juror Camille Kouyoumdjian

First Place: “Origami Gone Wild”, by Kathleen Zeifang

This painting really intrigued me as soon as I saw it. Achieving such energy through use of line and color harmony is no easy feat. I admire the workmanship that went into the planning and execution of this beautiful work of art. Like an architectural design, it must have required planning from the ground up: design and placement of the “bones” and structure, carefully taping and painting each angle, and time for drying in between. I imagine it came together, and was “constructed” layer by layer. I can see how it resembles an 3-D origami structure, with its intersecting folds and planes.

Honorable Mention: “Rooftops”, photomontage by Jane Mann
This photo captures some key principles of painting and bridges the artistic divide between photography and painting. The shapes of the rooftops and some windows are enhanced with straight and squiggly lines, which reveal the basic shapes of the buildings. When painting, we’re often told to find the geometry in the subject matter, whether it’s a traditional landscape, figure, or abstract concept. This image deconstructs the architecture and in so doing, becomes art.

Honorable Mention:”Islamic Doors”, paper construction by Karen Zens
I love the intricacy of the 3-D design. I wish I could touch it and explore the many “doors” in person. Within each “room” there are more hidden gems to explore. Its constructed walls and ceiling are left open, allowing the viewer to enter and exit from many angles. Each room is different, painted with intricate designs. Deconstructed, each could stand on its own as a design.

2023 – March Challenge – Oceans of… – Juror: Karen Cohen

Thank you Jane Mann for choosing my photograph Memories for last month’s challenge. I have always loved Jane Mann’s photographs. We both love to digitally manipulate our photos. Jane’s In the Depth photograph montage is a deep ocean blue with mysterious shapes and a background of peeling paint… Amazing as always, Jane. That image stopped me in my tracks but I decided that Jane had won a prior month’s challenge and I would move along to the other images. She does get a “special mention award”!

  • First Place: Camille Kouyoumdjian’s Raging Spring. Camille’s use of poured acrylic paint hit the mark on this ocean theme perfectly. The sky, the water, the land are divided into 3 sections and the paint roars on the right side in a big wave of all 3 colors. The motion is the ocean! This is a winning work of art  that I would love to see in person.
  • Second Place: Steve Kunin’s Olympic National Park. This is a panoramic photograph with contrasting orange skies and sand against the turquoise blue ocean. Serene and powerful. Don’t you just want to set up a beach chair and watch the tide go in and out as the sun descends? I do. 
    Gorgeous, Steve! Steve is another one of CHAL’s amazing photographers. His travels have taken him all over the globe. I read he has a solo show at Dr. Halim’s right on Capitol Hill on 6th Street. I hope you all stroll over there, a great neighborhood where I bet all the spring trees are blooming (my old neighborhood), take in Steve’s wondrous photographs there. The receptions at Dr. Halim’s are always fun, too, scheduled for April 21. 
  • Third Place goes to  artwork, unnamed by Steve Mabley, a brand new member of CHAL. Welcome Steve! Silhouetted figures stroll the beach as one person stops to take in the beautiful sunrise/sunset over the ocean. The yellow/orange sky has that glow that is hard to capture with paint but Steve has done it! Congrats Steve. 
    You will love being engaged in the artworld with CHAL. 

Thanks to all who entered March’s challenge and I can’t wait to see April’s submission. 

Keep Creating!
Karen Cohen/photoartist

2023 – February Challenge – Memories – Juror: Jane Mann

Fellow Artists, I want to thank all the entrants for their wonderful interpretations of their “memories”.

  • Winner: I congratulate Karen Cohen for her digital photograph, Memories. The monochromatic colors with just a hint of blue, especially in the eyes of the doll, allow the textural elements to stand out. They look like neurons allowing our brains to capture and recall memories. The cardboard box that holds these memories gives the image a twist of humor.
  • Honorable mention: Carolyn Rondthaler’s Bluebird with Cruet Set is a charming reminder that “things” can have real importance in returning us to a cherished event or person. Again the neutral and blue colors are soothing. The outlines of the subject make me reflect that, although we say some memories are crystal clear, they become less substantial each time we retrieve them.
  • Honorable mention: Karen Zens gives us Roma. I can’t help but think that anyone who has been in love with or in a location will always treasure both the place and the time. The individual images were well executed. The little windows were a perfect metaphor for recollections shut away until opened.

Thank you again, Jane

2023 – January Challenge – Deep Midwinter – Juror: Carolyn Rondthaler

These are my choices for recognition in the January Challenge.

  • First—Jane Mann for “Village Cemetery.” I think this best fit the theme of “Deep Mid-Winter” and it is an excellent composition with a good range of values. It gives me the chills to look at it.
  • Second—Steve Moen for his collage with the “cuppa.” I didn’t see a title, but it definitely conveyed the warmth of being inside and maybe enjoying the time with a friend
  • Third–Victoria Lakes for “Walk on the Brooklyn Bridge.” The subject looks very cold and very determined and the setting is memorable
  • Honorable Mention–Ken Bachman. I didn’t see a title, but Ken’s work is always strong. It is a good composition and strong colors
  • Honorable Mention–Steve Moen for the haiku paired with the painting. Very creative..”gathered on the Bough….”

I hadn’t realized how hard it would be to choose as all of the entries were interesting. It was fun, though, to take a good look.