FORT RUCKER, Ala. (September 20, 2012) -- Over 500 people competed in the worldwide Army Arts and Crafts contest hosted by the Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation, and one of Fort Rucker's own placed in the competition.

Helena Hennigan, Army spouse, won $200 as the second place winner in the accomplished pencil drawing category.

Inspired by nature, Hennigan likes to capture the moment in which she draws and paints.

"I like making my paintings or drawings of nature to look realistic. Nature doesn't last, it is constantly changing and even the same tree might look different the following spring. I also like telling stories with my pictures. So, instead of just looking at a picture the viewer is trying to figure out what is going on behind the picture to find its true meaning," she said.

She draws and paints as an outlet to express her artistic side and, although she couldn't pick a favorite piece of art she has done, she said she has a strong connection to each piece.

"I have several favorites in several genres that I have done. Some I don't have the originals anymore because they were commissioned pieces, but I love each piece I do, otherwise I wouldn't create them," she said.

Getting outside of their comfort zone or sphere of activities is something Hennigan said all Soldiers or Family members should do.

"I think this competition would be something that anyone and everyone could and should get into. It is fun to at least try, and you never know you might place or even win, but trying is what is important," she said.

There were nine categories, all divided into accomplished and novice groups. The nine mediums for the contest are ceramics, fibers and textiles, mixed media, digital art, glass, paintings, drawings, metals and jewelry and wood.

The contest is held every year along with its sister competition, the Army Photography Contest, which will begin in October. Fort Rucker submitted 27 pieces for the contest this year.

Fort Rucker also had an honorable mention in the form of Denise Honeycutt, program manager for the EDGE! program with child youth and school services, with her novice piece in the category of glass. Honeycutt learned how to prepare and construct glass art at the Fort Rucker Arts and Crafts Center.

Joan Varner, program manager of the arts and crafts center, said that many people enter the contest to express themselves.

"We have everyone from single Soldiers to Army spouses enter at Fort Rucker. The demographics of the competition are huge nationally and worldwide. People enter for a lot of reasons, but I would think most enter just for a chance for others to see their art in any medium," she said.

Hennigan said she enjoys other activities such as working out, but that by sitting and focusing solely on a single piece of art is calming.

"I love to do sports, but this relaxes me in a different way. It's one of the reasons why I participate," she said.

DFMWRs around the nation host many events to improve the quality of life of Soldiers and their Families, and Varner believes the art competition is just another way the military looks after the well being of its members.

"I think the morale of the Soldiers and their Families is a big reason they host the two competitions every year. It not only improves their quality of life, but it gives them something else to work towards, something fun yet constructive and positive," she said.

The Fort Rucker Arts and Craft Center has a woodshop, pottery, stained glass and ceramic areas, and an engraving and framing department, all of which Varner believes are highlighted through the competition.

"I think as far as the competition goes, it gets participants and the art centers out in the public eye more and it makes people aware of what the Army offers on posts. It pulls people out of their homes and into activates like this a little more," she said.

Being active at the art center brings both camaraderie and criticism to her pieces, both of which Hennigan said are welcome in the classes.

"You can bounce ideas off each other and motivate each other to complete a piece or help if they get stuck on which direction to take if they are struggling," she said.

The center serves as an avenue for artistic individuals to come together where they might have never met before and Varner said that is an invaluable asset.

"We can bring people together who might stay together as friends even after they leave Fort Rucker," she said.

The two groups for the competition are novice, which includes individuals whose art skills have not been gained in formal education leading to college credit or a college degree, and accomplished, which includes individuals who have gained skills and knowledge through formal courses.

Those who judge the competitions each year are leading jurors who are professionally involved in the arts as critics, curators, editors, educators, practitioners or the like.