6 Salon Stars from January 2022

Joseph McGurl has revealed his selections for the winners in the Plein Air Salon monthly art competition.

Congratulations to the winners of the January 2022 Plein Air Salon! McGurl shares his thoughts on some of the top winners from this round, including his advice for entering an art competition.

First place will receive a cash prize, plus all winners will be entered into the judging for the annual cash prizes, including the $15,000 grand prize for the best painting of the year, and they’ll see their painting on the cover of Plein Air Magazine. Could you be the next winner?

Plein Air Salon, January 2022 Winners

Choices and comments by Joseph McGurl:

1st Place Overall: Great Falls of the Passaic

Plein Air Salon - John Buxton, "Great Falls of the Passaic," oil, 56 x 35 in.
John Buxton, “Great Falls of the Passaic,” oil, 56 x 35 in.

The strong composition is what initially attracted me to this painting – the shapes and values are big and bold and so are the colors. The atmosphere is clear, but the artist still creates a sense of depth through a subtle moderation of color and value as the landscape recedes. The grouping, spacing, and posing of the figures also creates action and drama. I can almost hear the roar of the waterfall and the shouts of the fishermen.

2nd Place Overall: Couse House Poppies

Plein Air Salon - Chris Morel, "Couse House Poppies," oil, 11 x 14 in.
Chris Morel, “Couse House Poppies,” oil, 11 x 14 in.

I was immediately struck by the colors in “Couse House Poppies.” They are vibrant yet still retain a truthfulness to nature. It was also a bold choice to place the red flowers in the center of the painting, but there is so much movement in this composition our eyes don’t become fixated on the flowers but keep moving throughout the scene.

3rd Place Overall: Dusk Over Ephraim

Plein Air Salon - Carl Bretzke, "Dusk Over Ephraim," oil, 16 x 20 in.
Carl Bretzke, “Dusk Over Ephraim,” oil, 16 x 20 in.

When I look at this painting, I can imagine myself being there, hearing the traffic pass by and feeling the cool evening air. One of the main tenets of representational painting is to do just that – place the viewer in the scene. There’s a lot of information here with the cars, buildings, lights, trees, etc., but with only three big shapes, the overall composition is still strong.

Best Outdoor Still Life: Get Your Outside On

Kathie Odom, "Get Your Outside On," oil, 12 x 20 in.
Kathie Odom, “Get Your Outside On,” oil, 12 x 20 in.

Best Plein Air: It Takes a Village

Bill Farnsworth, "It Takes a Village," oil, 14 x 18 in.
Bill Farnsworth, “It Takes a Village,” oil, 14 x 18 in.

Best Landscape Painting: Winter Dunes

Brian Blood, "Winter Dunes," oil, 12 x 20 in.
Brian Blood, “Winter Dunes,” oil, 12 x 20 in.

If you are considering whether or not to enter a competition, I would lean towards doing it. It is important not to worry about winning an award. Jurying shows is very difficult because often there are paintings that are very close in quality, but only one can be chosen. If your paintings are consistently being recognized, then you know people are responding to your art. If your paintings are not being awarded, don’t give up – you will improve and eventually recognition will come. ~J.M.

View the rest of the Plein Air Salon winners at pleinairsalon.com.
Note: Judges are not provided with contestant names.

The next round of the Plein Air Salon has begun so hurry, as this competition ends soon. Enter your best art in the Plein Air Salon here.

New This Year! We’re now offering a People’s Choice Award in each monthly cycle, with a prize of $100! (When you enter your painting, you’ll be able to “promote your artwork” with a special link.)

About the Plein Air Salon:

In the spirit of the French Salon created by the Academie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, this annual competition, with monthly cycles leading to annual Salon Grand Prize winners, is designed to stimulate artistic growth through competition. The competition rewards artists with $30,000 in cash prizes and exposure of their work, with the winning painting featured on the cover of Plein Air magazine.

It is our belief that cash prizes provide further inspiration and an avenue for artists to thrive and create new work by helping alleviate financial pressure.

Winners in each monthly competition may receive recognition and exposure through Plein Air magazine’s print magazine, e-newsletter, and social media. Winners of each monthly competition will also be entered into the annual competition.

Related Article > 3 Secrets to Winning Art Competitions


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