FORT McCOY, Wis. -- A Soldier stationed at Fort McCoy placed second in the Novice Painting category of the 2012 Army Arts and Crafts Contest.

Sgt. 1st Class Cheryl Olsen, a Senior Human Resources noncommissioned officer with the 2nd Battalion (Logistics Support), 411th Regiment of the 181st Infantry Brigade, won with her painting entitled "Saving Our Ensign."

The painting depicts an eagle carrying a U.S. flag in its talons over a mountainous region. "After 9/11 there was a feeling the nation was ripped apart," Olsen said. "The eagle represents the military saving the country after 9/11."

Olsen, who has been painting for about 34 years, began painting patriotic/military-based themes after 9/11. She said she also enjoys giving her paintings as retirement gifts to military personnel.

"I do it so they'll remember me," she said. "If they remember me, then they'll remember a part of the military."

Olsen said she is inspired by photos she sees around her and in the media with patriotic and Soldier themes. Her winning painting was inspired by a photograph she had seen on someone's desk.

Olsen painted the picture around Sept. 11 of last year. It took her about eight hours during three sittings to complete the acrylic-paint painting.

This was the first time Olsen entered the competition. "When I found out I won I nearly fell out of my chair," Olsen said. "I was very excited."

Olsen was awarded a cash prize and a certificate that was presented to her by her battalion commander.

The Army Arts and Crafts Contest is an annual competition of artwork that recognizes the talent and originality of Soldiers, Family members and Department of the Army civilians.

A complete list of winners and their work is available at the Arts and Crafts page at

Fort McCoy no longer has an Arts and Crafts program, said Sheila Peterson, Community Activity Center manager, but the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation program ensures eligible patrons have the opportunity to compete in Army-level contests.

"We have some very talented individuals here on the installation," she said.

The next Arts and Crafts Program contest is the Digital Photography Contest. Submissions will be accepted from Oct. 15-Nov. 30.

For more information, including eligibility, rules, and submission guidelines, visit the website