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En Plein Air Competition

Organized by McMichael Canadian Art Collection

Competition Dates
Sunday July 30 to Tuesday October 10, 2023

Art Submission Deadline
Thursday, October 12, 2023, by 5 pm EST

Project Description

The McMichael is thrilled to announce the return of the annual En Plein Air Competition. During the course of the competition, between July 30 and October 10, artists are invited to work en plein air anywhere on the McMichael grounds, in and around the charming Village of Kleinburg and in the historic Humber River Valley along the Toronto Carrying Place Trail, one of the most historically important Indigenous trading routes in North America.

Inspired by Tom Thomson: North Star, the En Plein Air Competition provides a lively testimony to the continuing relevancy of outdoor painting. In the spirit of this iconic painter, we encourage the artists to look beyond the picturesque, and to provide visual evidence how progressive climate change and growing urbanization/industrialization affect the natural environment.

From the unruly growth of invasive plants to the gradual change of the forest character from Boreal to Carolinian, the effects of human interference in nature cannot be ignored any longer. Let the 2023 En Plein Air competition become a call for action to preserve the fragile beauty of the natural environment.

Between Sunday, July 30, and Tuesday, October 10, 2023, any artists who are interested in participating are invited to set up their canvases on the McMichael grounds, in Kleinburg Village and along the shores of the Humber River.
Submitted artworks could use any two-dimensional medium, such as drawing, painting, printmaking or mixed media.

Finally, any artwork created within and depicting the Village of Kleinburg will be considered for the special Kleinburg Village Prize. It’s time to get out there and create your masterpiece. Best of luck to all!

Competition Process

Between Sunday, July 30 and Tuesday, October 10, 2023, artists will be encouraged to work on the McMichael’s grounds. We also encourage the artists to set their canvases in Kleinburg Village and along the shores of the Humber River.

Please note that during this period the artists will be provided with free parking and access to the grounds upon demand. However, access to the gallery spaces require a general admission ticket.

Please note that artists are responsible for bringing their own art supplies including materials, easels, seating etc.

The artworks produced during the competition will belong to the artists. The McMichael reserves the right to use image(s) for virtual exhibition and promotional purposes.

Competition Categories

Children & Youth Artists
6 to 18 years old

Children and youth are welcome to submit their works in two age-based categories

  • Children: 6 to 12 years old
  •  Youth: 13 to 18 years old

Only one work can be submitted per participant in any two-dimensional medium of the artist’s choice. However, please note that works on canvas/panel should measure 16 x 20 inches only and works on paper should adhere to following sizes only: 11 x 14, 14 x 18 and 22 x 28 inches.

Adult Artists
18+ years old

Artists 18+ years old are invited to produce and submit one work per participant in any of the two medium categories:

  • Works on canvas/panel (format 16 x 20 inches only)
  • Works on paper (format 11 x 14 or 14 x 18 inches)

Any size variation must be authorized by our staff. If for any reason you prefer a different size, please contact:  programs@mcmichael.com.

Deadline: Thursday, October 12, 2023, by 5 pm

Please submit entries for consideration using the online form: ARTWORK SUBMISSION.

Information required when submitting an entry:

  • Google account (image upload requires sign-in)
  • Artist’s full name
  • Artist’s age range
  • Artwork title
  • Artwork dimensions
  • Artwork medium
  • Artist’s statement (100 words max.)
  • JPG image, 72 dpi, 1024 x 768 pixels; label all image files in the following format: Number_Category_Artist-Name_Artwork-Title.jpg (ex. 01_Work-on-Canvas_John-Smith_Birch-Trees.jpg)


For the Adult Category participants must be practicing artists, aged 18 years and older, specializing in the landscape and/or the urban scene genres.

For the Children/Youth Category participants must be of age specified in their category and submit works that were executed without the third-party assistance.

Please note that the McMichael permanent, part-time, and contracted staff are not eligible for this competition.


The selection/advisory committee is comprised of practicing artists, McMichael Educators, and members of the Gallery’s curatorial team.

The committee will review applications in two rounds:

  • First round ending with the announcement of the shortlisted artists on Thursday, October 26, 2023
  • Second round ending with the announcement of awards at the celebratory event on Sunday February 11, 2024, at 1 pm

Selections will be made based on the artistic merit of presented artworks and how well they reflect the character of the competition.


In the first round of jurying up to 10 in each category will be shortlisted. The shortlisted artists will be announced on Thursday, October 26, 2023.

All selected works will be displayed at the Community Gallery and online from mid-December 2023 to April 2024.

The shortlisted artists will be responsible for providing high-resolution photography of their artwork to be displayed in an online virtual exhibition on the McMichael’s website and to deliver the physical work to the McMichael for the on-site exhibition.
The dates of the drop-off will be provided at the time of the shortlist announcement.

In the second round of jurying, up to three artists will be named First, Second, and Third Prize winners in each category through a jury comprised of the Gallery’s curators, educators, and artists from the community.

An additional Kleinburg Award will be awarded to the best artwork depicting the Village. Please note that no specific submission for this last award is required.

A People’s Choice Award will be awarded based on QR code polling of gallery visitors during the exhibition of the shortlisted works.

The award winners will be announced during an in-person celebration of this competition on Sunday February 11, 2024.

The selected applicants will be required to sign a release form permitting the use of their images in the virtual exhibition hosted on the McMichael’s website and promoting the McMichael En Plein Air Competition.

The artworks produced during the competition will belong to the artists. The McMichael reserves the right to use image(s) for a virtual exhibition and for promotional purposes.

Program Dates & Highlights

COMPETITION DATES July 30 - October 10, 2023
SELECTION PROCESS October 26, 2023
WINNERS ANNOUNCED February 11, 2024


July 30, 2023
October 12, 2023
Event Category:


10365 Islington Ave.
Kleinburg, Ontario L0J 1C0 Canada
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