Schaumburg Plein Air competition takes art outdoors

Schaumburg’s 35th annual Prairie Arts Festival returns Memorial Day weekend, May 25 and 26, outdoors on the village’s municipal grounds, but artists who want to take part in the accompanying plein air competition need to get started soon.

The deadline to enter the 13th Prairie Plein Air art competition is Sunday, April 21, with the works to be completed within the village limits between April 26 and May 10. The entry fee is $40 and the application can be made at

Submissions will be exhibited for potential sale in the Herb Aigner Gallery of the village’s Al Larson Prairie Center for the Arts from May 14 to June 23.

Under the rules of the competition, the paintings or drawings must be done within the defined time frame anywhere outdoors in the village, and with at least 90% of the work completed during direct observation of the subject matter. Working from photographs or doing more than minimal adjustments in a studio afterward isn’t allowed.

While Schaumburg boasts a variety of outdoor locations and subjects, participants are cautioned that nearby Busse Woods isn’t among them.

The submitted art may be done in any painting or drawing medium, but the unframed work cannot exceed 20 inches in any direction.

Before starting work, artists must bring their blank canvas or paper to Blick Art Materials, 500 E. Golf Road in Schaumburg, to be stamped and authenticated during the competition period. The stamp must be visible at drop-off by removing the frame backing or cutting a hole in the back of the frame to ensure the art was created during the designated time frame.

The top three places in the 2023 competition were done at the Volkening Heritage Farm at Spring Valley Nature Center.

Richard Laurent's oil painting “Old Timer” was done at the Volkening Heritage Farm at Spring Valley Nature Center. It won first place in the village of Schaumburg's 2023 Prairie Plein Art competition and show. Applicants are now being sought for the 2024 competition. Courtesy of village of Schaumburg

Of first-place winner Richard Laurent’s oil painting “Old Timer,” judges said, “The artist achieved a compelling balance of painterly background and tight execution on the subject, which draws the viewer into this moment. His contrast of red to green and loosely defined background ensures that the viewer rests on the subject, noticing marks which suggest wear, age, and a hint of nostalgia.”

Honorable mentions were received by works done near the Al Larson Prairie Center for the Arts and of the water tower at Woodfield Mall, while Amy Liu’s painting of St. Peter Lutheran Church won the new People’s Choice Award.

An artist reception will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, May 23, in the gallery. After the exhibition, artwork must be picked up between June 24 and June 28 or it will be donated.

For more information, email Roxane Benvenuti at or call (847) 923-3605.

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