PleinAir Salon Winner Spotlight > Even if an Eric Bowman piece is done in the studio, it is utterly informed by his work outdoors.

Take, for example, his painting “Be Thou My Vision,” which won the October-November 2016 contest in the PleinAir Salon. “That painting was conceived from several plein air sketches and drawings from a recent painting trip to southern Utah,” Bowman says. “Some of the color is borrowed from notes from Oregon and Northern California territory as well, so it’s really an amalgamation of geographical highlights from places I like to paint. The challenge was to arrange the various shapes and elements into a pleasing composition without looking too contrived.

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

“Plein air painting is fundamentally important in landscape painting; I derive most all of my information from life. Although I may alter the composition in the field or in the studio, all of the color, value/atmosphere, and shapes are referenced directly from painting outdoors. Nature is always the best teacher!”

“Night Brings Good Counsel,” by Eric Bowman, oil on linen, 16 x 20 in.
“Night Brings Good Counsel,” by Eric Bowman, oil on linen, 16 x 20 in.

But one must not slavishly follow the teacher. Art is self-expression. “Composition and design is everything,” Bowman says. “Often nature needs a little rearranging to make a better visual impact, and I think it’s the responsibility of the artist to take every opportunity to do so. Paintings that literally translate the scene without editing usually fall short of making a successful picture, so I believe in always considering the visual options we have as artists — it’s really the only way to make a personal statement in paint.”

“Twilight’s Brief Moment,” by Eric Bowman, oil on linen, 18 x 18 in.
“Twilight’s Brief Moment,” by Eric Bowman, oil on linen, 18 x 18 in.

Bowman advises changing up one’s color palette occasionally — and paying attention to brushstrokes. “I appreciate surface manipulation over smooth application,” he says. “Spontaneous and lively brushstrokes, when successful, convey more realism than carefully rendered paintings do. The life is in the stroke and varied thickness of paint; this is something the impressionists figured out 100 years ago, and it still holds true when measured against all other representational schools. Of course, watercolorists have to pull it off optically, but if you’re painting with oil or acrylics, you’re really cutting yourself (and your audience) short if you don’t take advantage of a medium that affords so much interest in textural application alone. Don’t paint so safely — take chances.”

And foremost in Bowman’s mind is beauty. “I hope that my paintings inspire people with something pleasant to look at; there is enough ugliness, shock, and controversy in the world, so I’d rather concentrate on something positive,” Bowman says. “As a young person I was (and continue to be) inspired by the work of other artists, so I hope some of my work might inspire other artists as well.”

“Yamhill Valley,” by Eric Bowman, oil on linen, 8 x 10 in.
“Yamhill Valley,” by Eric Bowman, oil on linen, 8 x 10 in.

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. Those culminate in the grand prize winner being revealed on stage at the Plein Air Convention & Expo (PACE) each year. That grand prize winner is selected from the pool of artists who win during each bi-monthly competition. The more paintings you enter, the better your chance of winning!

“Bird Rock,” by Eric Bowman, oil on linen, 8 x 10 in.
“Bird Rock,” by Eric Bowman, oil on linen, 8 x 10 in.

The grand prize winner not only gets the cash, their art is featured ON THE COVER of PleinAir magazine — just imagine what could happen to your art career if YOUR artwork was on the cover of a major art magazine. You can enter more than one painting and you can enter in multiple categories — whichever you prefer. The more times you’re in the pool, the higher your chances of being selected as an annual winner.

The next deadline is approaching soon. Enter the PleinAir Salon now.

Related Article > Top 10 Reasons to Enter the PleinAir Salon

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