Brungardt Wins Best of Show in Art Contest

Karen Brungardt pauses in her at-home studio. (Photo by LaVerne Kyriss)

Karen Brungardt’s best of show entry, Only shadows remember days of glory. (Photo by LaVerne Kyriss)

LaVerne Kyriss

In a blind judging, Karen Brungardt’s painting, Only shadows remember days of glory, won best of show in the advanced/intermediate category in the SaddleBrooke Fine Arts Guild’s One Image, No Limits contest. Judge and art instructor Laurie Brussells noted, “Good job, beautifully done, especially for watercolor. Composition is good and I like the way my eye moves through the painting. It’s very dramatic.”

“The photo chosen was good with bright colors and I liked the transparency of the glass. However, I thought the door itself was too fancy for the barrio,” Brungardt explained. “So, I decided to take a different direction. I added the shadows across the door but kept the bright colors and that led to the title of the piece.”

She added that the painting also led her to try a new technique. “I used a combination of different colors in spray bottles to help get the stucco feel on the walls. I built up the layers with the spray bottles, each with a different color and using wet and dry brush technique,” she explained. “I also took a lot of liberty with the door by using sticks instead of the wood panels in the original photo.”

Brungardt reflected that it took a while to come up with the approach. “I let my subconscious work on the idea and then it popped up to rusticate the scene. I think it added a lot of interest and I loved adding the texture. This is a painting about a place that had its glory days. It was loved and happy people lived here. As it’s aged, it needs repairs—it’s a lot like our lives today,” she explained.

As Guild president, Brungardt commented that she was really pleased with the number and quality of the entries into the contest and all the different interpretations. “Some entries were quite literal, only changing a few elements. Others were more inventive. It’s awesome that the same photo sparked such a variety of different worlds.”

“Our goal was to spark creativity among our members. There’s no wrong interpretation. The entrants shared their emotions and personal views in their work,” she commented. “We were trying to get our artists out of their houses and open up a friendly competition. I’m pleased that it drew in members of whom we don’t often see much of their work.”

To that end, and because the first contest was so successful, the Guild hosted a second One Image, No Limits contest in spring 2021. This time, the photo selected was a rodeo image by Guild member Gail Kolinda. Again, it featured strong composition, drama, action, and color. “These kinds of activities take the pressure off,” Brungardt said. “It’s not a juried show. It encourages beginners to give it a go and also entices our more experienced artists to try something different.”

Brungardt also noted that she hopes the SaddleBrooke community is enjoying seeing the contest entries hung in the Road Runner Gallery and perhaps will be interested in other works by those same artists. “We want the Guild to be a positive presence and to be able to bring art to people in our community.”

For more information about Guild activities, classes, events, and other ways to get involved, visit their website at