Ken DeWaard certainly enjoyed himself last week in Wisconsin, winning Best in Show and Artists’ Choice at the Door County Plein Air Festival. What does he have to say about his awards?

“The Magical Hour,” by Ken DeWaard. Best of Show and Artists’ Choice

“Winning the big prize as well as the Artists’ Choice is an absolute thrill,” says DeWaard. “It doesn’t happen much to any of us, so naturally I am thrilled and very honored to have been chosen. It’s the luck of the draw; anyone could have won that show. There were a lot of great painters there, to say the least.”

“Ephraim View,” by John P. Lasater IV. First Place

“Highway 57 Harmonics,” by Dawn Whitelaw. Second Place

DeWaard won with his painting “The Magical Hour.” “The ‘magical hour’ was and always has been such an elusive time to paint,” says the artist. “The light is so fleeting and so much softer than during regular painting hours. The values are much closer, not as spread out. One cannot just lean on one’s darker values. There really is a magical quality to the light at that time, and I was thrilled to find a compelling scene at that time of day that had a great play of light on it. It is definitely more about the play of light than the actual subject matter — subject matter is usually why people respond to a painting. So all in all I was absolutely thrilled to have been selected.”

“Tickets!,” by Marc Hanson. Third Place

Gary Millard

He goes on, “As far as the scene goes, I had just come from Easton the week before Door County, and after participating in the Easton event for 10 years, I felt a little challenged to find something new and different. I felt like a kid in a candy store up in Door. I hadn’t been there in years and everything was absolutely beautiful, new, and inspiring.”

“Ostensible Nocturne — Fish Creek,” by Charlie Hunter. Honorable Mention

“Light Fog,” by Eleinne Basa. Honorable Mention

John P. Lasater IV won First Place with “Ephraim View,” Dawn Whitelaw took Second with “Highway 57 Harmonics,” and Marc Hanson won Third with “Tickets!” Honorable Mention awards were earned by Eleinne Basa and Charlie Hunter.

Ken DeWaard. Photo by Gina Ward

Basa is a tonal painter. So how does that work in a time-sensitive plein air competition? One usually associates tonal paintings with thin layers of color, applied over time. “I usually try to get up really early and paint till sunset, with breaks during the middle of the day,” explains Basa. “I always aim to paint a tonal piece, but sometimes I can’t time it right. Especially in the mornings, I’m often just a bit late. But if I had a choice, I would always paint a tonal piece. In plein air events, I count how many sunsets and sunrises I have. You can always just do another painting with whatever light you have at that moment, or move on to another spot.”

Marc Hanson, Ani Espriella, and Debra Joy Groesser. Photo by Gina Ward

The show from the festival will be on view through August 15 at the Peninsula School of Art, the organizer of the event. It’s located in Fish Creek, Wisconsin.


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