Plein Air Competition winners announced; art displayed in Art on the Square

Kenya Menjivar
Waxahachie Daily Light

On Friday, the Ellis County Art Association announced the winners of its annual Plein Air Competition and Show. The art pieces are on display at Art on the Square in downtown Waxahachie through June 30.

The Plein Air Competition began on April 1 and ended April 30, with artists from across the area painting throughout the county. 

"It was awesome," said Dave McSpadden, president of the art association. "It was an incredible event. It went on for a month."

The competition consisted of 26 artists, with at least 100 paintings submitted. Each painter could submit five pieces of work to be judged. This year's judge was Linda Wacaster. 

The first-place winner was Kent Brewer from Waxahachie, and second place went to Steve Miller from Grand Prairie. The third-place winner was Lynn LaRose from Maypearl.

Kent Brewer wins first place in the Plein Air Competition.
Second place winner, Steven Miller, showcased many of his art pieces.
Here is a bridge painting from third place winner Lynn LaRose.

"This is Steven Miller. He always wins and always paints with oil; he's super talented," shared Jim Witherspoon, a member of the art association. 

The best of show winner, Olivette Hubler from Dallas, submitted 13 pieces, winning with a painting of the window from the Atelier shop in Waxahachie. 

Witherspoon explained the difference between winning "best of show" and first place in the competition: "Kind of everything. The design, the effort they put into it. The depth ... color and composition. I always say, if you put magenta in something, it's going to win. People love that color," he said.

Shirley Riddle has been a participant in the competition since its inception. Riddle says she joined the art association about 14 or 15 years ago.

"They [the paintings] range in different prices. There are some oils and some watercolors, some mixed medium," Riddle said. "We started, what, 13 years ago ... We didn't do it last year because of COVID, and the year before that, I couldn't do it. I've been here since the annual Plein Air started." 

The pieces from this competition will be available for the public to view at Art on the Square until the end of June. 

Mini Show and Art Demo

In addition, on Monday, May 3, the Ellis County Art Association held its monthly meeting and mini art show, with demo artist Steve Vanderwolk. The mini art show began with members displaying their pieces of art. The attendees then voted on the pieces. 

After the show, Vanderwolk set up his work. He has been painting since 1993 and considers himself a self-taught artist, preferring to do portrait paintings. 

Vanderwolk is seen in action here live painting Jim Witherspoon.

"Painting from life especially. I don't even hang around a lot of people. I just like doing it. From the very beginning, that's all I've been interested in," Vanderwolk said.

He also gave advice for anyone who is interested in painting. 

"Do it. That's how I learned to paint. Going to open studios. At first I couldn't paint nothing, I was just terrible, but you just work at it. It's the process that I like. I really like thinking about it and doing it," he shared.

During the demonstration, Vanderwolk painted a live portrait of Witherspoon for about 40-50 minutes. He shared each move of the brush with the attendees and answered any questions people had about his painting. Vanderwolk has also recently gotten involved in pottery.

Anyone is invited to attend these monthly meetings and demos. To view more about the Ellis County Art Association in Waxahachie, visit .