John P. Lasater puts down some paint in the Olmsted Plein Air Invitational event, held in April in Atlanta.

19th-century landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted is famous for his enchanting urban parks, and recently Atlanta celebrated his creations in that Southern city with a plein air competition focused on his six-part string of public places, dubbed Olmsted Linear Park. The inaugural edition of the Olmsted Plein Air Invitational attracted some top talent. 

Jason Sacran receives the award for Best in Show.

About 30 painters went down to Georgia for the event, which featured a selection jury composed of Nancy Franke, Jack Hannula, and James Richards, and with David Brenneman, Anne Blair Brown, and PleinAir magazine editor Steve Doherty serving as awards judges. 

Jason Sacran won Best in Show at the event, and Richard Oversmith won the Matisse Award of Excellence.

“Off North Ponce,” by Jason Sacran, 2015, oil, 20 x 16 in. Best of Show at the inaugural edition of the Olmsted Plein Air Invitational

Other winners include Woody Cyrus (Cezanne Best in Landscape), Yer Za Vue (Renoir Best Figure in the Landscape), Marc Hanson (The Francesca Kerpel Wenger Best Sense of Place), Camille Przewodek (REMAX Best Architecture), Chuck Marshall (Druid Hills Civic Association Best Use of Light), Jonathan McPhillips (Olmsted Best Sense of Mystery), and Hiu Lai Chong (Olmsted Best Nocturne).

Dawn Whitelaw paints the piece that won her the top prize in the Paint Quick competition

Hiu Lai Chong painting during the Olmsted Plein Air Invitational

Each judge also chose his or her own Award of Excellence. David Brenneman picked Lori Putnam’s “White Azalea.” Anne Blair Brown chose John Guernsey’s “Entering Springdale Park,” and Steve Doherty tapped Bill Suys’ “Old Soldier.”

Award winner Richard Oversmith works to capture an image.

In the “Paint Quick” competition, Dawn Whitelaw received the first place award and Ken DeWaard won an honorable mention.

Woody Cyrus took a break so that Scott Prior could paint him.

Chuck Marshall paints the Olmsted Linear Park in Atlanta.

Best in Show winner Jason Sacran tells us about his experience. “My winning painting was painted in a driveway that led up to an old work shed in the park. One spectator (a worker) asked me why I was painting that scene. I told him because I thought it was beautiful. He later said, ‘There’s nothing beautiful about that old shed,'” Sacran says with a laugh. “Anyway, it was a great event with lots of community support and enthusiasm. The organizers and patrons were all so excited. It was one of, if not the best, first events I’ve been to.”


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