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Virtual En Plein Air Competition

July 1, 2020 - August 23, 2020

 Virtual En Plein Air Competition

Call for artists

Organized by McMichael Canadian Art Collection
Supported by Central Counties Tourism

Competition Dates

July 1 – August 23, 2020
Application Deadline: Sunday, August 23, 2020 by 5 pm

Competition Description

In the time of travel restrictions and social distancing due to COVID-19, a personal and creative connection to nature has become even more important for health and wellbeing.

This year’s special virtual installment of the McMichael En Plein Air Competition invites artists to participate in this beloved annual tradition by looking to natural sites easily accessible from home. Locations could be a personal garden, where Group of Seven members J.E.H MacDonald and Arthur Lismer found inspiration, or an urban wilderness. After all, the famous Franklin Carmichael painting October Gold, is based on the artist’s sketch from the Lansing area, located just a few streets away from Carmichael’s home on Cameron Avenue in northern Toronto.

While for the last several years the McMichael’s grounds and the adjacent Humber River Valley have provided inspiration for the competing artists, this year’s virtual edition allows us to extend the competition to artists, and landscapes, around the country. For those who live close by, we sincerely hope that the valley as well as the gallery grounds will re-open to the public later in July. As soon as the grounds reopen, artists will be welcome to come and make art.

Artists are invited to produce works in three medium categories:

  • Works on canvas/panel
  • Works on paper
  • Digital photography


Awards and Exhibition

In the first round of jurying, up to 15 artists in each category will be shortlisted. All selected artists will participate in the virtual exhibition presented on the McMichael’s website.

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.

A special Young Artist Award will be given this year to an artist between 18 and 25.

Three special People’s Choice Awards will encourage visitors to participate online and to choose their favourite work by voting in each category.

The shortlisted artists will be announced on August 31, 2020. The award winners will be announced on September 4th, 2020.

The online exhibition will be displayed from September 18, 2020 to January 4, 2021. The display will include the artists’ statements and bio.

The winners will be responsible for providing a high-resolution photograph of their artwork that will be displayed in an online virtual exhibition on the McMichael’s website.


General Information

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.

The artists will be responsible for art supplies used during the competitions such as materials, easels, etc.


Application Process & Submission Requirements

Artists are required to submit all of the following:

  • A short artist’s bio (100 word maximum)
  • Artist Statement related that includes discussion of the location depicted in the artworks submitted (250 words maximum)
  • JPG images of maximum two completed works; 72 dpi, 1024 X 768 pixels, label image files with a number, your name and title of piece (ex. 01_JohnSmith_BirchTrees).

Only email submissions will be considered. Include all documents and images as attachments (no zip files). The subject line of your submission must read “McMichael En Plein Air Competition.” Email submissions to competitions@mcmichael.com by Sunday, August 23, 2020. 



Participants must be practicing artists, aged 18 years and older, specializing in landscape and/or urban scene genres.


Selection Process

The selection/advisory committee is comprised of practicing artists, McMichael art 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 Monday, August 31, 2020 and the second round ending with the announcement of awards on Friday, September 4, 2020.

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



Only shortlisted participants will be notified by August 31, 2020 by email.


Insurance and Publicity

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 selected applicants will be required to sign a release form for the use of images in promoting the McMichael En Plein Air Competition.


July 1, 2020
August 23, 2020
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10365 Islington Ave
Kleinburg, Ontario L0J1C0 Canada
1(905) 893-1121