Congratulations to our Excellence-in-Craft Photography and Illustration Winners!

VOWA is pleased to present the winners of our 2020-2021 Excellent-In-Craft Illustration and Photography contest winners. Awards were presented and winners were announced at the September 25, 2021 VOWA Annual Meeting in Charlottesville. VOWA offers sincere congratulations to each winner and celebrates everyone’s outstanding work in this showcase


Ashley Unger
1st PlaceAshley Unger

Ashley Unger is an INFP (introverted, intuitive, feeler, perceiver) and Enneaggram 4 (an Individualist) who cannot get enough of animals, plants, rocks, and stars. She is a native plant enthusiast and true crime podcast-obsessed human who sits well with soft things and a cup of tea.

2nd Place: Rick Ridpath
“Blue Crab in Black and White
Rick Ridpath

Rick Ridpath’s earliest art was inspired by his grandmother, Virginia. She was a very talented painter, and whether at her house or at her grandson’s home, she would always take time to paint with Rick during visits. Rick’s parents provided further inspiration by taking him to the shores of the Chesapeake Bay every summer. Some of his happiest memories were made along those waters. As a teen, he often drew those scenes and felt a part of them.

Rick picked up the pencil again after his daughters became adults. While he worked some with watercolor and pastels, it was pen and pencil that brought his art back to life and is the medium he most enjoys. Most of his art centers on outdoor life in Virginia; and of course, the Chesapeake Bay. He still draws the scenes and feels a part of the places that he learned to love at an early age.

2nd Place: Rick Ridpath
Osprey on Watch

See Rick’s biography above.


1st Place: Sarah Blanchard
Sarah Blanchard

Sarah Blanchard is an elementary school physical and health education teacher by day and a nature and portrait photographer by night. She lives in Louisa County with her husband, Dave, and two miniature dachshunds and a beagle. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time outdoors, traveling, photographing wildlife, and exploring Virginia State Parks. Her passion is nature photography so she can show others the wonder and beauty nature has to offer. Some of her work has been published in the Virginia Wildlife Magazine and various local and national calendars. To see more of her work, visit


1st Place: Rick Ridpath
“Chincoteague Sunset”

See Rick’s Biography under “Illustrations”

2nd Place: Sarah Blanchard
“Eastern Bluebird”

See Sarah’s biography under “Published Photograph”

3rd Place: Ashley Unger
“Surprise Snow on Spring Holiday”

See Ashley’s biography under “Illustrations”

Honorable Mention: Ashley Unger
“Family of Fungi”

See Ashley’s biography under “Illustrations”


Special thanks to our Excellence-in-Craft sponsors: the Fly Fishers of VirginiaAppalachian Mountain Advocates and Mossy Creek Fly Fishing. We also send our gratitude to the many fine judges involved in this competition for their generous donation of time, patience, and expertise in judging our contests.
Special thanks goes to Robert Thomas for all of his efforts in chairing and organizing another successful EIC competition and for Marie Majarov and Lynda Richardson for overseeing the visual arts portion of the competition.