Into Nature Plein Air Competition & Exhibition

This August, WBCA is inviting you to get outside and explore the world of outdoor painting during the Into Nature Plein Air Competition. En plein air, French for “in open air,” is a style of painting that began in the early 19th century, which asks painters to step outside of their studio walls and into nature. Plein air paintings are often done quickly, given the ever-changing nature of the natural world with light and shadows that morph in an instant. Being immersed in nature and capturing these fleeting moments is what draws so many artists to the practice of plein air.

This year’s Into Nature Plein Air Competition took place in the White Bear Lake area from August 1 to 10. Award winners and selected work will move into the Exhibition Hall August 28-Septmeber 29.

2023 Award Winners

Best of Show:

View from Matoska Park, Michele Combs

Award of Excellence:

Manitou After Rain, Christopher Copeland

Award of Merit:

Back of the Barn In August, Lisa K. Stauffer

Honorable Mention:

8:00AM – Dusk, David Nemo

Best Oil:

Summer Treats, Naomi Tiry Salgado

Best Acrylic:

Clark and Lake in WBL, Daniel Hendricksen

Best Pastel:

Reclaimed , Michael Farrell

Best Watercolor:

Cherry Pickers, Christian Derdoski

Colorful Cumulus:

Daybreak Reflection, Renee St. Leger

The Encore, Barb Casey

Lyrically Light:

Into the Woods, Julie Moore

Quintessential Cottage:

Peaceful Cottage, Patricia Undis

Delightfully Dappled:

Early Morning at Rotary Park, Allison Conyers

Rhythmic Renoir:

Sunrise Bridge, Susan McLean-Keeney

Effortlessly Effervescent:

4th and Washington, Judy Palermo

Mark Maker:

WBL Mahtomedi Beach at Sunset PA #14, Barb Gipple

Awesome Artifact:

At Anchor, Peter Borden

Musical Mosaic:

View From Lions Park, Mary E. Richey

Killer Composition:

Late Morning at the Orchard, Kurt Schulzetenberg

Impossible Impasto:

Corner of Memorial Park, Jason Kehrer

Into Nature Plein Air Exhibition

Selected Work and Award Winners

On display Monday, August 28-Friday, September 29 in the Exhibition Hall

Schedule & Events:

Pick Up Featured Artist Lanyard

Thursday, July 27-Monday, July 31 2023 (and throughout the week of the competition): Pick up a Featured Artist lanyard at WBCA. WBCA is closed Sunday.

Into Nature: Plein Air Competition Dates:

Tuesday, August 1-Thursday, August 10, 2023: Artists are welcome to paint where permitted throughout the White Bear Lake community and surrounding areas. Possible locations: The Gazebo at Matoska Park, Lion’s Park, Sucker Lake/Snail Lake, and the Pine Tree Apple Orchard.

Drop off work:

  • Friday, August 11, 10:00 AM-4:00 PM
  • Saturday, August 12, 10:00 AM-2:00 PM

Artists will bring framed entries to the Ford Family Gallery located inside WBCA.

Display of all submitted works in the Ford Family Gallery

  • Thursday, August 17-Wednesday, August 23

Artists are able to sell their submitted work during this time (see below for details).

Into Nature Community Reception and Award Ceremony:

  • Thursday, August 17, 6:30-8:30 PM, Award Ceremony at 7:00 PM

Come and view the results of the Into Nature Plein Air Competition. Visiting artist Joshua Cunningham will award $4750 in prizes and will talk about painting in plein air and his selection process.

*Notification of selected works will also be sent via email.

Artwork Pick Up

Artwork that was not selected for the Exhibition Hall can be picked up:

  • Thursday, August 24 , 10:00 AM-8 :00 PM
  • Friday, August 25, 10:00 AM-4:00 PM
  • Saturday, August 26, 10:00 AM-2:00 PM

Artwork Pick Up

Artwork that was selected for the Into Nature Plein Air Exhibition can be picked up:

  • Saturday, September 30, 10:00 AM-2:00 PM
  • Monday, October 2, 10:00 AM-8:00 PM


  • Paintings (oil, acrylic, pastel, watercolor or any 2-D medium) must originate from a plein air experience during the contest dates noted above and must be painted in White Bear Lake or nearby, surrounding areas. Works completed in a home or studio, will not be disqualified.
  • Submitted pieces should be framed and ready for display at the drop off, which begins on Friday, August 11. Floater frames are also acceptable and spacers can be used.
  • Unframed pieces will not be disqualified, but should be exhibit-ready, including a proper wire for hanging.
  • Maximum artwork size not to exceed 24" x 36."
  • Participants must be 17 years or older.
  • WBCA reserves the right to refuse any artwork for any reason.

Prizes - Cash awards will total $4,750!

$1,500 - Best of Show

$1,000 - Award of Excellence

$750 - Award of Merit

$500 - Honorable Mention

$250 - Best Oil

$250 - Best Acrylic

$250 - Best Pastel

$250 - Best Watercolor


Artists can choose to sell their work while being exhibited at WBCA. There is a 30% commission to WBCA.


Reasonable care will be taken in handling and displaying artwork, but no responsibility is assumed by White Bear Center for the Arts (WBCA) for loss or damage of any kind. Submission of work indicates acceptance of these conditions and agreement that digital or photographic images may be used for publicity purposes by WBCA, including on social media and the WBCA website.


Call (651) 407-0597 or email if you need assistance.