The 6th Annual Prairie Plein Air Competition was held the first two weeks in May, offering prizes for top painters, and the event’s judge kindly shared her thoughts on the event and the winners. What did it take to win First Place?
 
Iliyan Petkov won the top prize in Schaumburg, Illinois, with the acrylic painting “I Like Monet.” Says judge Carol L. Zack, “Schaumburg is well known for its beautiful parks, which demonstrates an appreciation for our Midwestern landscape. This painting seems to echo the contribution these valuable parks can have in the lives of the people who live in the area. The repetitive patterns are the most important thing in this painting; they are captivating. A limited cool palette with some strategically placed warm yellow provides an appropriate focus and enhances the action. Adding people to a plein air painting isn’t often done, and it adds a sense of a real place. The figures draw you into the painting, making an empathetic statement most of us are familiar with.”
 


“Signs of Spring,” by Jeanne Clohisy, 2016, oil. Second Place

 
Zack also offered a word of caution about framing, suggesting a more traditional plein air frame for a piece such as this one. “Try never to compromise if at all possible,” she said. “Nothing should distract from the all-over beauty of your work.”
 


“5:00 Shadow,” by Christina Body, 2016, oil. Third Place

 
Second Place went to Jeanne Clohisy for “Signs of Spring.” Third was won by Christina Body for her oil painting “5:00 Shadow.”
 


“Spring Valley Farm,” by Edward Corkery, 2016, oil. Honorable Mention

 
Edward Corkery, Bob Holmes, and Michael Latala earned Honorable Mention.
 


“Path Less Traveled,” by Bob Holmes, 2016, watercolor. Honorable Mention

 
Zack went on to comment on the event in general. “It seems the paintings that rose above the rest were the ones that clearly balanced the subject matter with the painting medium,” she said. “The paint and the subject had to be enjoyable to look at in combination. One couldn’t be more important than the other. I felt there was a really good understanding overall of plein air painting and its connection to observation, creating a sense of place, and dealing with the skills needed for creating atmospheric perspective — a legacy from painters who came before, but still intensely important to how we see our world and define the world around us.”
 


“Volkening Heritage Farm,” by Michael Latala, 2016, oil. Honorable Mention

 
Paintings from the event will be on view through June 30 at the Herb Aigner Gallery, which is located inside the Prairie Arts Center in Schaumburg, Illinois.
 

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