Artist Jim Wodark
Jim Wodark, holding his $15,000 check from the Plein Air Salon

Last week I had the pleasure of watching Jim Wodark ( accept the Plein Air Salon art competition Grand Prize Award in front of around a thousand fellow artists at the Plein Air Convention & Expo (PACE). Also on stage were Plein Air Publisher Eric Rhoads and the finalists for the award. Audience members included the likes of David Leffel and Alvaro Castagnet, both of whom received lifetime achievement awards.

After Jim and I had a chance to enjoy several days of painting demonstrations, art marketing discussions, plein air paint-outs, and connecting with others at PACE, we sat down in a quiet hallway to talk about why he participated in the Plein Air Salon.

Jim Wodark oil paintings
Jim Wodark, “Prairie Sundown,” 2018, oil, 24 x 28 in., Grand Prize Winner of the Plein Air Salon, Collection the artist, Studio

“I find that art competitions make me paint better because I look at all of the paintings that are entered and chosen, and they’re just great paintings. It inspires me to try harder, and then,” he added with a laugh, “I like to make money, too, of course.”

He went on to add that “if you sell the [original] painting, online competitions are one way to make more money off of that image in addition to the initial sale of it.”

On behalf of the Plein Air team, I’d also like to congratulate the winners and finalists who were celebrated at PACE:

Second Place – “Hometown Boat” by Michael Situ
Third Place – “Packing Out” by Tom Hughes

Honorable mentions:

“Mountain Stream” by Zhoa Tianya
“Desert Bouquet” by Dave Santillaines
“December Morning” by Carl Bretzke


One of the best competitions today is 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 this annual art 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. Next April, the annual prizes will be awarded to the annual winners at the 2018 Plein Air Convention & Expo, in San Francisco, California.

The next deadline is May 31, 2018, and the judges are Ulrich Gleiter and Erik Koeppel. Enter your best work in the art competition now.

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  1. Why is it that many of the prize winners in the PLEIN AIR painting competitions sponsored by this magazine are NOT painted en plein air ? I realize that these paintings are usually really good paintings, but there are many competitions that one can enter studio work. I strongly feel that paintings entered into PLEIN AIR competitions need to be painted EN PLEIN AIR . Will you please let me know what the rationale is behind this ? thank you for your time


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