The Forgotten Coast, a relatively undeveloped stretch of Florida along its panhandle on the Gulf of Mexico, is the home of a 10-year-old plein air painting event, and for the competition’s 10th anniversary, organizers threw a bigger party than usual, with $12,000 in prizes. Who took home the ribbons? 

The big prizes were awarded at the Quick Draw, which was held on May 2, the first full day of the 10-day event. Joshua Rose named winners in two categories: Professional and Open classes. In the professional category, Morgan Samuel Price took home the First Place ribbon. The win earned her a full-page ad in Fine Art Connoisseur. Second Place went to Katie Cundiff, and Third went to Michele Byrne. Best Composition was won by Larry Moore, and Bill Farnsworth won Best Brushwork. Michele Byrne won People’s Choice.

PleinAir magazine’s Violeta de la Serna, Charlie Hunter, and PleinAir‘s Krystal Allen at the Florida event. Photo by Sand Grain Photography

In the Open class, Lydia Ellis took the top prize and a full-page ad in PleinAir magazine. Second Place went to Karen Leffel-Massengill, and Third was won by Connie Gaertner. The People’s Choice award was won by Debbie Boon. Best Composition was won by Chris Kling, and Best Brushwork by Dianne Hart. 

Morgan Samuel Price won First Place in the Professional class. Photo by Sand Grain Photography

Lydia Ellis won First Place in the Open class. Photo by Sand Grain Photography

At the Collector’s Gala, Greg LaRock won Artists’ Choice.

“Our 10th-anniversary celebration exceeded our expectations; we are all so pleased,” reports Joseph Taylor, the event’s organizer. “Our artists produced the most beautiful work, our collectors were engaged and made multiple purchases, our volunteers were energetic and professional, and our sponsors were all here providing product information and demonstrations and supporting the activities. Our special guests, Jean and Linda Stern, raised the level of arts education. Joshua Rose, the judge, delivered a standing-room-only keynote address. Master artist Donald Demers introduced the Plein Air Academy, a workshop/mentoring opportunity, and Molly Schmid’s demonstration and presentation were highlights of the event.”

Symi Jackson, of Rosemary & Co. Artists’ Brushes, talks with attendees at the Forgotten Coast Plein Air Invitational. Photo by Sand Grain Photography

More than 100 artists participated in the Quick Draw event. Registered professional artists numbered 30 at the Forgotten Coast Plein Air Invitational, and more than 300 pieces were created by them. 

Nanci King Mertz mentors a student during the event. Photo by Sand Grain Photography

Front Row: Michele Byrne, Peoples’ Choice and Third Place Professional; Chris Kling, Best Composition Open; Katie Dobson Cundiff, Second Place Professional; Karen Leffel-Massengill, Second Place Open, Joshua Rose, Judge, Editor, American Art Collector Magazine; Lydia Ellis, Judge’s Choice, 1st Place Open; Morgan Samuel Price, Judge’s Choice, 1st Place Professional. Back Row: Larry Moore, Best Composition Professional; Bill Farnsworth, Best Brushwork Professional; Diane Hart, Best Brushwork Open; Connie Gaertner, Third Place Open; Debbie Boon, Peoples’ Choice Open

Other activities included a nocturne session, a plein air portrait component featuring Hiu Lai Chong and Dawn Whitelaw, and a Lunch and Learn series in which artists discussed topics such as collecting (led by PleinAir magazine’s Violeta de la Serna), encaustics (Charlie Hunter), and Art in Motion (Shelby Keefe). “The event organizer Joe Taylor worked tirelessly to make sure that everything came off without a hitch,” reports Krystal Allen, a PleinAir magazine staff member who was in attendance. “The community came together to volunteer, including the mayor, Van Johnson, who was spinning records at the TGIF Party.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here