The Yocum Institute for Arts Education and the Board of Directors are pleased to announce the 2019 recipient of the Coggins Award, Michele Byrne.

“I prefer to paint outdoors directly on site. I feel that it is the best way to capture the immediacy of the moment. It allows me to immerse myself in the subject,” said Byrne.

The artist from Reading said she is not the typical plein air landscape painter in that she enjoys capturing social situations and views of the urban landscape.

“Whether standing next to a busy café, an isolated beach or inside a jazz club, I know that it is not just the visual information that becomes a part of the painting. The sounds, the smells, the mood and the environment all become integral to the finished image,” she said. “My plein air paintings are meant to be mirrors of our lives. There is something magical and mystical about standing with your feet firmly planted on the earth, absorbing all the sounds, smells and conversations as well as the visual information and letting it all flow out onto the canvas. I become a part of the scene and the paintings seem to flow out of me.”

The 2019 Coggins Award Ceremony and reception honoring Byrne will be held at the Yocum Institute for Arts Education, 3000 Penn Ave., West Lawn from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Nov. 2.

The Michele Byrne Exhibit Showing runs from Nov. 2 to 30.

Established in 2006, the Coggins Award recognizes artists who embrace the values Jack Coggins exhibited: creativity, innovation, and service to the Yocum Institute and the community. The recipient is chosen from nominations submitted by members of the artistic community.

Michele Byrne is recognized for her figurative plein air work and in recent years for her dynamic palette knife paintings.

She lives and works in Reading. However, she travels extensively, painting in various locations including, Manhattan, Paris, California, Colorado and Key West, Florida. Michele was a Faculty Demonstrator for the Annual PleinAir Convention in San Francisco, Calif. in 2019 as well as Monterey, Calif. in April of 2014.

Byrne has won numerous awards in her plein air and studio work including most recently the President’s Choice Award, American Impressionist Society, 2018. Painting in plein air is not just a passion for her; it is a dedication. The artist must make decisions about time of day, direction of light and inclusion of figures despite that in front of you everything is changing. The decisions allow the artist to paint dynamically with light and air as a part of the final image.

“Painting plein air allows me to create a more fluid diary of the ever-changing activity of a café or street scene or beach scene.”

Her second instructional video was released through Liliedahl Productions in 2018 titled Palette Knife Painting with Michele Byrne. The video won the Liliedahl Best Selling video in 2018. A new video is in the works.

She has also had her works included in sales at Freeman’s Auction House in Philadelphia and she is a nominated member of the Salmagundi Club in New York City, a Signature Member of the American Impressionist Society and Oil Painters of America.

Byrne’s work was featured in an eight-page article written by Steve Doherty in the June/July 2013 Issue of PleinAir Magazine.

Tickets are for sale for the Nov. 2 ceremony honoring Michele Byrne online at or call 610-376-1576. Heavy hors d’oeuvres and wine will be served.

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