En Plein Air

Midway Art Association’s Annual Competition

Did you know that the largest plein air painting competition in Utah is held right here in our valley? Painting “en plein air” is really just the French way of saying “in the open air.” With an easel set up right on location, this process allows artists to paint directly in the landscape they are working to capture on their canvas.

For fifteen years now artists from all over Utah, and neighboring states, have gathered in our beautiful valley for Wasatch Plein Air Paradise, the signature event put on by the Midway Art Association (MAA). The MAA is a non-profit group that provides art education through demonstrations, classes, workshops, and competitions. This year’s plein air competition and exhibition was held June 23-July 4 and hosted 85 artists from eight states. Jerry Watterworth, MAA president shared, “The competition is open to artists of every level, from renowned professional artists to amateurs (those who have not received awards or sold paintings in the past).” In fact, in an effort to encourage amateurs, there are separate awards set aside specifically for them. The participants competed for over $20,000 in awards and prizes.

Wasatch Plein Air Paradise is broken into several competitions. The first and main event started June 23rd. You may have seen artists out and about honing their craft. Artists painted outdoors all throughout Wasatch and Summit Counties and were allowed to submit up to four paintings. Paintings were turned in on June 30th and judged by a panel of renowned judges, who are also artists. Awards were presented that same evening in the Midway Town Hall.

In addition to the main event, “Paint Out” competitions were also held. Blank canvases were stamped at 8:00 am in the morning and the finished paintings were due back at the Midway Town Hall at 2:00 pm the same day, giving the artists only six hours to work. Artists painted in or near Heber the first day and then Midway the next day.

Artists are also given a chance to share work they have previously created in their studios. Each artist may submit two paintings created at another time in-studio, rather than outdoors. Subject matter can vary, and does not have to be a landscape.

The various competitions ended with a “Quick Draw” on the fourth of July. Thirty artists had three hours to complete a painting right next to the Midway Town Hall. Afterward, those 30 paintings were auctioned off as the town hall transformed into an auction house, complete with a fast-talking auctioneer.

Aside from an auction house, the Midway Town Hall also became a gallery for a few days as the community was invited in to see all the amazing work created in such a short span of time. Natalie Shupe, who placed first in both the main event and in the studio work categories, said, “I love painting in Heber Valley! It’s very similar to my own Ogden Valley; mountains, rivers, and tress. I started painting in the Midway Plein Air about eight years ago. The organization and volunteers are truly amazing! The community is so supportive. I have met so many wonderful people through this event.” If you would like to stay posted on upcoming art events, or to become a member of the MAA, head to their website at midwayartassociation.org

Main Event

  • 1st Place: Natalie Shupe
  • 2nd Place: Trijsten Leach
  • 3rd Place: Bridget Barksdale
  • Honorable Mentions: John Poon & Rob Adamson

Heber City Paint Out

  • 1st Place: Steve McGiney
  • 2nd Place: Don Miskin
  • 3rd Place: Kimbal Warren
  • Honorable Mentions: David Dean & Steve Stauffer

Midway Paint Out

  • 1st Place by Don Miskin

Studio Work

  • 1st Place Natalie Shupe
  • 2nd Place Trijsten Leach
  • 3rd Place John Poon