Each year, PleinAir magazine gives $21,000 to artists through the PleinAir Salon. The last chance this year for artists to enter is mere days away, but past winners aver that the money is the least of what they get from winning in the Salon.

Few artists would see $15,000 as chump change. The money associated with the PleinAir Salon’s Grand Prize can buy a lot of painting supplies for a lot of years. But when we talk to past winners in the Salon, we hear mostly about things outside of the money.

“There’s a certain celebrity status associated with it,” 2014 PleinAir Salon Grand Prize winner Stewart White says. “When you go into a gallery, they say, ‘I know who you are. I’m familiar with who you are.’ That’s pretty cool because you don’t have to do a lot of explaining.”

Eleinne Basa, the 2012 winner of the PleinAir Salon, added, “I was doing some good shows, the California Art Club, the Maynard Dixon Country event in Utah, the Salon International, but when I won the PleinAir Salon, other shows invited me, including the Door County event, the Gilcrease Museum miniature show — and 10 calls came from different galleries,” she said. “It gave my career a kick. As Eric Rhoads [publisher of PleinAir] told me, ‘Everybody knows you now.’ Before, I had to call people, show my website. Suddenly, if I called someone, they knew who I was.”

Basa is currently represented by four galleries, and she says two of them were clearly influenced by her win in the PleinAir Salon. “I capitalized on the win,” says the New Jersey artist. “I sent an e-mail blast to my list. One prestigious gallery — one of the hardest to get in, had talked with me, but after I won the Salon, they contacted me and asked me to ship a couple of paintings to see. Now I’m represented there.”

White says he stretched the win further by advertising in art magazines. “I followed up with an ad every once in a while to keep that going,” he says. “I try to downplay the single-painting aspect of the win. Because really, the Salon is an ongoing thing, and you get selected out of all the finalists. The point is, it’s worth doing because there are so many ways to get your piece in. You can win the bimonthly contest or just one of the categories. In general, the way I see it is that if I spend a little over $100, the payoff can be pretty great.”

In April, $21,000 in prizes will be awarded to the annual winners at the 2015 Plein Air Convention & Expo. 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 each 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, and Best Artist Under 30. Past Grand Prize winner Shelby Keefe will serve as one of the jurors for this year’s Grand Prize.

The winner of each bi-monthly contest is featured in this e-newsletter and profiled on OutdoorPainter.com. Again, the current contest has a deadline of March 15, at midnight PT. This is the last chance for painters to become eligible to win the grand prize for 2015. Enter now at the Salon’s website.


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