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    Round Hill artist awarded honorable mention in international plein air competition

    Hillis’ painting “Curacao Copa Cabana” was one of only three to receive awards for the Quick Draw competition. Photo Courtesy/Catherine Hillis

    A Round Hill artist recently was the only American artist to receive honors at the Plein Air Curacao International Art Festival, held March 9-18.

    Catherine Hillis, a watercolor painter, won an honorable mention for her painting in the Quick Draw competition.

    In the Quick Draw competition, artists had to complete a painting on site in the town of Willemstaad in three hours.

    Her painting, “Curacao Copa Cabana” was one of only three awards presented during the contest.

    Peter Trippi, editor of Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine, judged the competition.

    The artists who were selected to participate in Plein Air Curacao were from all over the world. They were taken all over the island to paint from Feb. 27 until March 7. The artwork they completed during the week was exhibited for sale in a gallery in Willemstaad.

    Plein Air is a French term meaning “in the open air” and refers to artists who work outdoors and on site.

    Plein Air competitions are becoming popular around the world and are attracting some of the world’s most accomplished artists, along with major prize money, savvy collectors and memorable exhibitions.

    Artists have always painted “en plein air,” but the French Impressionists brought attention to outdoor painting, helped along with the invention of manufactured tubes for paint and the portable easel.

    Paintings created on-site are lauded for the technical ability of the artists, who generally create art among the elements, and the art is generally noted for its freshness and emotive quality.

    American icons John Singer Sargent and Winslow Homer painted outdoors and French Impressionists Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro and Pierre-Auguste Renoir advocated the importance of painting on site.

    The resurgence of plein air competitions and major exhibitions in the United States began in California and there are now events in nearly every state.

    Hillis is a nationally recognized watercolorist who has been published in many venues and has accrued numerous awards regionally and nationally. She is a respected instructor, speaker and exhibition judge.

    The artist has been invited to travel in early April as one of 15 top plein air painters in the Southeastern Plein Air Invitational at the Gadsden Museum of Art in Gadsden, Ala.

    She will also participate as one of 30 national artists in the Winter Park Paint Out at the Albin Polasek Museum near Orlando, Fla., in late April.

    Hillis’ work can be seen locally at the Gateway Gallery ( in Round Hill and at Everyday Elegance ( in Purcellville. Her classes, workshops and exhibits are listed on her website at

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