If you feel one of your paintings is something special, don’t give up on it. That seems to be the message from Jim McVicker, the Grand Prize winner of the 2015 PleinAir Salon

McVicker made $15,000 on his winning entry, “Plein Air Self-Portrait.” One of the judges was past Grand Prize winner Shelby Keefe. “It was exceedingly difficult to choose the winners,” she says. “There were so many beautiful paintings that it was hard to pick one over the others. At a certain point it just got to where I had to pick what spoke to me, what my heart was telling me.”

McVicker’s piece took a circuitous route to the Grand Prize. “I entered that one four times,” says the artist from Eureka, California. “It had been seen by three other judges before Joe McGurl picked it. But I felt it was a good painting. Normally, if a painting doesn’t get picked, I let it go. But I was convinced that one of these judges was going to see what I saw in it.” (The Grand Prize and other finalists in the PleinAir Salon are chosen from the bimonthly contest winners. Visit the Salon page for more information.)

The takeaway, according to McVicker: “Never give up. Never give up on a painting that you think is good. Keep focused. Keep working. I’ve always done that with my painting, but it was interesting to see it work that way with the Salon.”

So, Jim, how does it feel? “I’m still digesting it, to be honest,” says McVicker. “I’ve had a great year — the paintings have been turning out well, and I’ve received some awards. It’s almost too much. I’m happy and I’m honored.”

“And I’ve enjoyed spending some money with these vendors here,” he adds with a grin.

“A Peaceful Moment,” by Mark Boedges, oil, 14 x 20 in. Second Place

Mark Boedges earned Second Place for his painting “A Peaceful Moment.” Jason Sacran took Third Place with “Highway 1 Revisited.” 

“Highway 1 Revisited,” by Jason Sacran, oil, 18 x 24 in. Third Place

Honorable Mention awards went to Marc Dalessio (for “Garden, Zvjezda”), Lori Putnam (“Down to the Sea”), and Dave Santillanes (“The Coming Rain”).

“Garden, Zvijezda,” by Marc Dalessio, oil, 14 x 11 in. Honorable Mention

“Down to the Sea,” by Lori Putnam, oil, 18 x 24 in. Honorable Mention

The PleinAir Salon consists of six bi-monthly contests, with the First, Second, and Third Place winners of each contest, as well as 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, and Best Artist Under 30.

“The Coming Rain,” by Dave Santillanes, oil, 32 x 24 in. Honorable Mention

The winner of each bi-monthly contest is featured in this e-newsletter and profiled on OutdoorPainter.com. The current contest has a deadline of May 31, at midnight. Enter now at the Salon’s website.