Parisian Painting Wins PleinAir Salon, January 2024

Lisa Skelly, plein air artist and owner of Huse Skelly Gallery, has revealed her selections for the winners in the January 2024 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?

“Some of the characteristics that I’m looking for when judging an art competition or even curating paintings for the gallery have a lot to do with an emotional response,” Lisa says. “A painting speaks to me when it takes my breath away and makes me want to explore it even further. After my first emotional response, I need to look further and see how the artist has handled their composition, values, brushwork, edges, and perspective, including atmospheric perspective and accurate depiction of forms. Experienced and skilled artists will have all of these fundamentals expertly handled.

“After I consider the skill with which the fundamentals were handled, I look for that magical, soulful unique viewpoint and passionate quality that makes it stand apart from other entries.”

View the winning paintings from this round below, including Lisa’s comments on the top three winners.

PleinAir Salon Winners Preview:

1st Place Overall: “Parallel Parking in Paris”

PleinAir Salon - Brian Blood (Pebble Beach, CA), “Parallel Parking in Paris,” Oil, 12x16 in.
Brian Blood (Pebble Beach, CA), “Parallel Parking in Paris,” Oil, 12×16 in.

On “Parallel Parking in Paris” > This painting feels like it belongs alongside the French Impressionist paintings at the Musee d’Orsay. Brian has expertly composed this scene like one of Vivaldi’s masterpieces.

The exciting play of light behind this historic bridge guides us through the arches and playfully envelopes the long boat that is waiting to take us on a cruise down the Seine River. We can escape into Brian’s painting because he has expertly orchestrated a masterpiece with wonderful light throughout the scene. I wish this one was in my own collection.

2nd Place Overall: “Icy Brook and Powder Banks”

PleinAir Salon - Derek Penix (Laguna Beach, CA), “Icy Brook and Powder Banks,” Oil, 30x30 in.
Derek Penix (Laguna Beach, CA), “Icy Brook and Powder Banks,” Oil, 30×30 in.

On “Icy Brook and Powder Banks” > This piece by Derik Penix is a gorgeous peaceful snowy scene. The skill with which he has designed this composition keeps you exploring the painting, especially the delicate, subtle shifts of values in the snowy banks.

This painting is incredibly nuanced with his beautiful brushwork and the decisions he made to guide your eye to explore this dreamy place. Derik masterfully painted this snowy wonderland. Even if it is a cold day, he has painted the warm sun so well that you can feel the sun on your face and it invites us to stay longer and enjoy this magical place.

3rd Place Overall: “Paris Cafe”

PleinAir Salon
Daniel Marshall (Denver, CO), “Paris Cafe,” Watercolor, 12×16 in.

On “Paris Cafe” > I chose this piece by Daniel Marshall for his exquisite drawing skills and dynamic composition. It has a restrained beauty and it is also what he leaves out of the painting that really allows the viewer to create a story and imagine themselves in this beautiful Parisian Cafe.

This expertly painted piece transports you on an adventure where there is sure to be amazing food, wine, and music. Incredible!

Best Plein Air Landscape: “Beach Trail, San Clemente”

Rick J. Delanty (San Clemente, CA), “Beach Trail, San Clemente,” Acrylic, 48x48 in.
Rick J. Delanty (San Clemente, CA), “Beach Trail, San Clemente,” Acrylic, 48×48 in.

Best Plein Air Acrylic: “Killiney Hill”

Steve Browning (Dublin, Ireland), “Killiney Hill,” Acrylic, 16x24 in.
Steve Browning (Dublin, Ireland), “Killiney Hill,” Acrylic, 16×24 in.

Best Plein Air Oil: “Coastal Cadmium”

Aaron Schuerr (Livingston, MT), “Coastal Cadmium,” Oil, 12x16 in.
Aaron Schuerr (Livingston, MT), “Coastal Cadmium,” Oil, 12×16 in.

Best Plein Air Pastel: “Keeping the US Afloat”

Nancie King Mertz (Rockford, IL) , “Keeping the US Afloat,” Pastel, 16x16 in.
Nancie King Mertz (Rockford, IL) , “Keeping the US Afloat,” Pastel, 16×16 in.

Best Plein Air Watercolor / Gouache: “Foothill Dusting”

Daniel Marshall (Denver, CO), “Foothill Dusting,” Watercolor, 12x16 in.
Daniel Marshall (Denver, CO), “Foothill Dusting,” Watercolor, 12×16 in.

On Entering an Art Competition: Lisa’s Advice

Let me say that I completely understand when an artist hesitates to put themself out there. It’s a vulnerable place to open yourself to being judged. But also, the rewards can be much greater than winning. If you put aside any ego and really seek to become a more skilled artist, entering competitions is a great way to gain insight into improving areas of your paintings that need more work.

When you really dive into award-winning paintings and learn what makes them great then apply that to your own work, you are bravely taking the necessary steps to becoming a more skilled painter.

Keep painting and practicing, then be brave and enter your best paintings. Enjoy the process of creating what speaks to you and know that you are continuing to grow as an artist. And as cliche as this sounds, you are winning when you’re growing.

Enter the PleinAir Salon Today

The next round of the PleinAir Salon has begun so hurry, as this competition ends on the last day of the month. See the rest of this month’s winners and enter your best art in the PleinAir Salon here.

Become a better outdoor painter today when you get the FREE e-Book for artists, “240 Plein Air Painting Tips.” [click here]

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