NCA Members Win Awards at January 2020 Sacramento Fine Arts Members Show

Four NCA members won awards at the January 2020 Sacramento Fine Arts Members Show. Deborah Hill won 1st place for her pastel work, “Elkhorn Slough North.” Shine Awards were won by Valerie Birkhoff, for her sculpture, “Lily,” and Kate Blue, for her oil painting, “Colonial Girl with Apple.” John Nichols won a First Place People’s Choice awards for his oil painting, “Yolo Reflections.”


Deborah Hill – First Place

Landscape pastel painting "Elkhorn Slough North"

“Elkhorn Slough North” by Deborah Hill, pastel

“Contrast, Color, Value, texture, Mix & Match. It is a very exciting time to be an Artist.  We have unlimited choices of Mediums, and how we create. I feel fortunate to be here now!”

Valerie Birkhoff – Honorary Shine Award

"Lily" ceramic portrait sculpture of a young woman in a dress, glazed in white

“Lily” by Valerie BIrkhoff, ceramic

“Lily” with her thoughtful smile hides her bouquet of flowers behind her back. The concept of this piece is what we hide things from other people. Why flowers, from whom, and why so thoughtful? She is the only one who knows. With sly “Lily” as my guide, this was an adventure into a different clay and a new finish. I used a soft, white color pallet, giving the sculpture a peaceful appearance. Whatever “Lily” is keeping out of sight it appears not be angry or vengeful. Perhaps the real attitude of this piece is that of resolve? Art is in the eye of the beholder so I’ll let you decide for yourself, because as an artist it isn’t my job to lead you, I will only offer you the journey.”

Kate Blue – Honorary Shine Award

"Colonial Girl with Apple" by Kate Blue

“Colonial Girl with Apple” by Kate Blue

Kate Blue is an artist living in Northern California originally from South Dakota that uses subjects from her street photography and intense landscapes to paint in an almost expressionist style.

“My paintings are complicated mosaics of directional broken color based strongly on Van Gogh paintings that I have studied for years. What they don’t show is as important as what they do.”

John Nichols – First Place, People’s Choice

Yolo Reflections painting by John Nichols

“Yolo Reflections” by John Nichols

For artists habitually drawn toward the outdoors, it’s no surprise that landscape painters in Sacramento Valley are creating a buzz for their interpretations of Northern California’s natural wonders. Especially when you consider the jaw-dropping beauty of the region, from the braided fields of the Capay Valley to the serene sky-scapes of the Sierras.

“I often paint the places I love to be. I strive to communicate with the viewer my interpretation of each venue, creating a sense of place.”

(Excerpts from American Spark.TV, available at http://www.AmericanSparkTV/Blog, Author May-Lilly Lee, Executive Producer, April 26, 2019)

John’s passion for painting stretches back to his youth when an influential high school art instructor motivated him to keep plugging away. In the ‘70’s he studied art at Sacramento City College. Since retiring from the construction industry a few years ago, John has been devoting his time to painting.

“Art has always been a part of my life. Retiring allowed me to focus on my art full time.”

Already accomplished in still life, in both oil and acrylic, John’s landscape subjects reflect his interpretations of the places he loves to be in the Northern California region. Plein air painting allows him to enjoy the outdoors while attempting to capture the atmospheric perspective, composition, value, edges, color and that often-elusive light onto his canvas.

“Many viewers say that my paintings portray peacefulness and tranquility. This confirms my attempt to communicate the mood of each scene I create.”

Besides creating art, John is actively involved in advancing the arts in his community through his membership in a variety of art affiliations, including Sacramento Arts Center. Selected art pieces are on display at his studio located in Studio 9, “ARTHOUSE on R”, 1021 R Street, Sacramento, CA 95818, as well as Blue Wing Gallery, 405 Main Street, Woodland, CA 95695; and of course, check out John’s website for more of his art at: or call (916) 600-0170.

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