Plein air painting events - winning artists
Front row - Rachel Dow’s, Kathleen Gray Farthing, David Seward. Back row. - Jerry Smith, Kyle Ragsdale, Roy Boswell.

After missing 2020 due to the pandemic, the 22nd Annual First Brush of Spring (FBOS) recently concluded in New Harmony, Indiana. The event is jointly sponsored by the Indiana Plein Air Painter Association (IPAPA) and the Hoosier Salon and its gallery in New Harmony. Over 120 artists descended on the Wabash River town in Southwestern Indiana, competing for over $20,000 in prizes and purchase awards.

More from the organizers:

Donna Shortt, an artist who participated, stated, “The weather was great, and it was good to see everyone after a year off. In a way, I was glad last year’s event was cancelled. It helped recharge my batteries. It made me more grateful for the opportunity to paint and see all of my friends.”

Four separate and distinct events took place during this four-day festival. Elizabeth Pollie from Harber Springs, Michigan was the judge for all four events in 2021. The event includes a gallery show opening on Wednesday, a Quick-Draw competition on Thursday and a paint-out competition held on Saturday. A Nocturne Competition on Friday evening was new this year.

The gallery show opening on Wednesday at the Hoosier Salon New Harmony Gallery is titled “Field to Finish.” Usually, field studies stamped at the previous year’s FBOS are submitted alongside a studio version completed during the year. However, since the 2020 event was not held, artists could use any field study and present it along with a studio version. Awards were given to Pam Newell, Donna Shortt, Jerry Smith, Mark Burkett and Ann Feldman. The Best of Show went to Wyatt LeGrand.

On Thursday evening, 50 artists competed in a 75-minute Quick Draw. Awards went to Roy Boswell, Jerry Smith, Kyle Ragsdale, Rachel Dowd, Kathleen Gray Farthing, and David Seward. This year, in addition to cash awards, the winners were presented with a coveted pin/badge honoring Larry Rudolech, who passed away early in 2020. A beloved fixture at all of IPAPA’s events, he was an accomplished plein air artist who won the Best of Show Award in 2018. The badge features a self-portrait of Larry.

The first Nocturne Competition on Friday evening drew an impressive number of artists. Awards were given to Troy Tatlock, Beverly Bruntz, Lon Brauer, and Roy Boswell.

The final and most prestigious event was the paint-out competition on Saturday, April 27th. A total of 23 works were recognized from a field of 120. Best of Show was awarded to Lon Brauer for “Gray House.” Wyatt LeGrand won 1st Place for “Fool on the Hill,” Justin Vining was awarded 2nd Place for “In the Grass,” and 3rd Place went to Jason Bailey for “Side Tracked.”

Plein air painting
Plein air painter Lon Brauer with “Gray House”

Elizabeth Pollie remarked, “As the awards Judge of the 2021 First Brush of Spring and the Hoosier Salon, Field to Finish competition, I had no idea what to expect. The judging was not easy given the large variety of strong talent. I was happy to see that the subject matter was broad and that the artists were given free rein to choose their sites and employ their unique style. With every event being well organized, it allowed me the very important time to study and privately deliberate. In the end I felt very settled on my choices and also admiration for all who made the time and effort to participate. While any good plein air event needs to include more value than just the awards, this one has a number of very nice cash awards. For hard working artists, this type of award is always the most prized.”

She added, “IPAPA’s First Brush of Spring and The Hoosier Salon’s Field to Finish and Nocturne Competition not only brings art to a small iconic town, but also offers collectors a wonderful opportunity to add to their collections, discover the magic of New Harmony and experience the return of spring in all of its small-town glory.”

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