Juried winners (left to right) Sheila Wissner, Linda Richichi, Jinseng Song, judge Vladislav Yelisleyev, Craig Reynolds, Sherry Collier, Barb Valentine, Manon Sander, and Frances Mangino. Photo: Pam Flaherty

Hosted between November 7-12, Paint the Beach in Fort Myers Beach, Florida, is — naturally — a fantastic fall opportunity for a plein air showdown. All told, the sunny skies and range of artistic talent left judge Vladislav Yelisleyev with tough decisions. Which artists had an early Thanksgiving feast?

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that Fort Myers Beach, Florida, is an excellent place to be in early November. What’s more, the coastal city hosts a vibrant plein air showdown annually before Thanksgiving that continues to draw talented plein air painters from across the country — and 2017 wasn’t any different.

Emerging artist winners (left to right) Carol Frezza, Christa Friedl, Rose Staat, Jeanne Salucci, judge Vladislav Yeliseyev, Donna Bergeron, Chairman Marie Crist, Christine Templeton, Diane Ruck, Judith Usavage, and Lisa Swift. Photo: Pam Flaherty

According to event organizers, “The weather cooperated with sunny skies after a bit of morning fog to challenge the painters. The Sundowner event held on the beach drew curious onlookers who enjoyed watching the painters working to capture the setting sun and environs. The reception with the exhibit of complete paintings drew a crowd to enjoy the festivities and purchase the art. Judge Vladislav Yelisleyev was impressed by the quality of the artwork and enjoyed handing out the numerous awards at the main event and quick draw. High school art students participated in their own quick draw event, learning the skills of participating in plein air events along the way.”

Artist Craig Reynolds with his First Place winner, “The Green Flash”
Artist Kathryn McMahon enjoys a short break while painting on the beach.

Sponsored by Santini Marina Plaza & PleinAir magazine, the First Place award was given to “The Green Flash” by Craig Reynolds. The distinction comes with a 1/3-page ad in the magazine. Second Place was also sponsored by PleinAir magazine along with Fish-Tale Marina, and it was taken by artist Frances Mangino’s “Sanding Her Down.” This award comes with a digital ad certificate. Third Place went to Gail Risner for “Beach Life.”

Kathryn McMahon, “Harbor Activity Matanzas,” oil (Honorable Mention)

Two Merit Awards were earned by artists Sherry Collier (“Docked for Repairs”) and Manon Sander (“Shrimp to Shore Store”). Honorable Mentions included “Harbor Activity Matanzas” by Kathryn McMahon; “After the Storm” by Jinsheng Song (which also won the People’s Choice Award); “Shrimp Dock” by Sheila Wissner; “Before Sunset” by Linda Richichi; and Joan Roberts’ “Sun.”

Artist Linda Richichi demos during the event.
The Sundowner event (artist Linda Richichi shown)

During the quick draw, Jinsheng Song earned top honors for “Sunrise on the Building,” while Craig Reynolds’ “Time Square Beach” took Second Place and Sheila Wissner’s “At the Pier” earned Third. Honorable Mentions included Kathryn McMahon’s “Family Outings” and Kenneth Fraser’s “Backyard Fixer Upper.”

Artist and event judge Vladislav Yelisleyev hard at work

During the Sundowner event on the beach, artist Manon Sander’s “Taking a Stand” took First Place; Linda Richichi’s “Before Sunset” took Second; and Fran Mangino’s “Junkanoo Bar” earned Third. To learn more, visit the Fort Myers Beach Art Association.

This article was featured in PleinAir Today, a weekly e-newsletter from PleinAir magazine. To start receiving PleinAir Today for free, click here.

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