Eric Bowman took the top prize in the most recent contest of the PleinAir Salon, a competition that awards more than $31,000 in prizes each year. He has some words of advice for artists thinking about entering such things.

“The value of online competitions like the PleinAir Salon is the exposure they afford — and like live plein air competitions, it’s not so much about being ‘competitive’ but more about community involvement and camaraderie with your peers,” says Bowman. “Painting is often a solitary experience, so getting involved in forums like this can really add some fun while getting your work in front of a broader audience. Of course, prize money doesn’t hurt either!”

“Be Thou My Vision,” by Eric Bowman, oil on linen, 20 x 24 in. Winner of the October-November contest in the PleinAir Salon
“Be Thou My Vision,” by Eric Bowman, oil on linen, 20 x 24 in. Winner of the October-November contest in the PleinAir Salon

The PleinAir Salon consists of six bi-monthly contests, with the First, Second, and Third Place winners of each contest, and the category winners, automatically entered into the annual competition. First prize in the annual competition is $15,000 cash and the publication of the winning image on the cover of PleinAir magazine, along with a feature story. Second Place earns an artist $3,000 and an article in the digital edition of PleinAir magazine. Third Place yields $1,500 in cash. Three additional finalists win $500. Aside from First, Second, and Third Place overall, categories include Best Oil, Best Pastel, Best Watercolor, Best Acrylic, Best Plein Air, Best Building, Best Figure in the Landscape, Best Floral, Best Landscape, Best Outdoor Still Life, Best Nocturne, Best Water, Best Vehicle, Best Sketchbook, Best Artist Over 65, Best Student (Over 18), and Best Artist Under 30.

Did you know that the PleinAir Salon got a little richer in prizes in 2016? There have long been big annual prizes, but now artists earn cash for the top prizes in the bimonthly contests. The First Place winners in the six yearly contests each earn $1,000, with $500 going to Second Place and $250 going to the Third Place winners. The winner of each bi-monthly contest is also featured in this e-newsletter and profiled on In mid-April, the $21,000 in annual prizes will be awarded to the year’s winners at the 2017 Plein Air Convention & Expo in San Diego, California.

The next deadline is January 31, and Jean Stern is the judge. Enter now.


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