“Phototaxis” Takes First Place

Rose Frantzen has revealed her selections for this round of the PleinAir Salon monthly art competition.

Congratulations to the winners of the October 2022 PleinAir Salon!

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 PleinAir Magazine. Could you be the next winner?

“Judging a competition is a very difficult task,” Frantzen said. “Judging images of artwork only on the computer never quite feels satisfying and complete. So when I judge, I try to consider impression, scale, color, paint quality, difficulty, tools utilized, stylization tropes, drawing, composition, inventiveness/interpretation, process, and imitation.

“In this competition, I also tried to consider my potential bias in medium. I spent many hours with numerous entries that seemed quite equal in these regards and really had a very tough time choosing for this rather than that.”

PleinAir Salon, October 2022 Winners Preview:

1st Place Overall: “Phototaxis”

“The first place winner successfully mastered the landscape, the figure, the lighting, and the story. It is large, so most likely life-size, which presents a great deal of difficulty to master. It stood out to me, beyond or despite my preference of story, as a beautiful and extremely successful painting.”

PleinAir Salon - Marco Campos, "Phototaxis," oil, 60 x 40 in.
Marco Campos, “Phototaxis,” oil, 60 x 40 in.

2nd Place Overall: “View from Maison de Famille”

“The second place entrant benefited from submitting images of working on location. The location images revealed scale and interpretation but also to me more correctly the impression of the painting, rather than their submitted final image. I never forgot this painting. I like so many of the decisions, most of the paint application, and editing. The difficulty of the subject is a challenge and I believe the painting has a wonderful successful impression of it.

PleinAir Salon - Jill Basham, "View from Maison de Famille," oil, 47 x 47 in.
Jill Basham, “View from Maison de Famille,” oil, 47 x 47 in.

3rd Place Overall: “Back Bay Evening”

“I chose the third place winner because from my first pass through the 840 paintings I remembered this artist’s work. In each pass it remained, as well as several other of their paintings. The skill especially in color, edge and as it seemed to be plein air, conveying the feeling of the artist being there.”

PleinAir Salon - Jane Hunt, "Back Bay Evening," oil, 14 x 11 in.
Jane Hunt, “Back Bay Evening,” oil, 14 x 11 in.

Best Plein Air Landscape: “A Rhythm of Stripes”

PleinAir Salon - Abigail McBride, "A Rhythm of Stripes," oil, 30 x 40 in.
Abigail McBride, “A Rhythm of Stripes,” oil, 30 x 40 in.

Best Plein Air Still Life: “Levels”

Abigail McBride, "Levels," oil, 36 x 48 in.
Abigail McBride, “Levels,” oil, 36 x 48 in.

Best Plein Air Acrylic: “Happy Hour At The Riverside”

James Newman, "Happy Hour At The Riverside," acrylic, 12 x 16 in.
James Newman, “Happy Hour At The Riverside,” acrylic, 12 x 16 in.

Best Plein Air Oil: “Tin Soldiers”

Lon Brauer, "Tin Soldiers," oil, 14 x 18 in.
Lon Brauer, “Tin Soldiers,” oil, 14 x 18 in.

Best Plein Air Pastel: “Keyhole Panorama”

Aaron Schuerr, "Keyhole Panorama," pastel, 12 x 24 in.
Aaron Schuerr, “Keyhole Panorama,” pastel, 12 x 24 in.

Best Plein Air Watercolor / Gouache: “Fat Man and Little Boy”

John Preston, "Fat Man and Little Boy," watercolor, 10.5 x 13.5 in.
John Preston, “Fat Man and Little Boy,” watercolor, 10.5 x 13.5 in.

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

The next round of the PleinAir Salon has begun so hurry, as this competition ends on the last day of the month. Enter your best art in the PleinAir 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 PleinAir Salon:

PleinAir Magazine presents the 12th annual PleinAir Salon Art Competition. In the spirit of the French Salon created by the Academie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, this annual online competition, with 11 monthly cycles, leading to the annual Salon Grand Prize winners, is designed to stimulate artistic growth through competition. The competition rewards artists with over $33,000 in cash prizes and exposure of their work, with the winning painting featured on the cover of PleinAir Magazine.

Winners in each monthly competition may receive recognition and exposure through PleinAir Magazine’s print magazine, e-newsletters, websites, and social media. Winners of each competition will also be entered into the annual competition. The 12th Annual Awards will be presented live at the Plein Air Convention & Expo in May 2023.

Please Note: We are the PleinAir Salon because we were created by PleinAir Magazine, not because we are a strictly plein air art competition. We know there are a lot of plein air painters who paint in the studio as well as in other styles, subject matters, and mediums. Our magazine features all the artworks of these great plein air painters, and so we too allow non-plein air pieces to win as long as they meet the criteria of the category in which they enter.

Related Article > 3 Secrets to Winning Art Competitions


  1. I enjoy hearing the thought process of Rose Frantzen. – And appreciate the arduous effort to choose out of so many fine works. I hope we can continue to have insight into future judging decisions with more comments of the judges.

  2. I am not going to sugarcoat my response but the painting that won first place is 99% or more done in the studio. I feel the very definition of PleineAir painting is that the work is done outdoors. Am I wrong? I am not a sore-loser, I did not enter into the competition and probably will not in the future until the criteria for entry is better defined. I have yet to see someone paint a 5 foot x 4 foot piece during a 30 mph wind.


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