Marc Dalessio was inspired by a cultural exchange experience in 2013 when he painted the piece that took the top prize in the October-November contest of the PleinAir Salon. How so?
“In October 2013, I participated in a cultural exchange with Russian artists painting in the little town of Plyos on the Volga,” recounts Dalessio. “Isaac Levitan painted there at the end of the 19th Century, and there is a museum today in his house that organizes this exchange every year. While we were there we looked a lot at the Russian plein air scene, and a piece from the 1950s really inspired me — Vladimir Gavrilov’s ‘A Fresh Day.’ So the next year, when the season was right, I wanted to try a similar subject of my wife standing in a natural setting and try to capture a breeze blowing. It was done using the sight-size method in about 10 sessions over the course of a couple of months. When I first started the piece in April, the grass was at my wife’s waist, but by the time I finished in mid-May, it was over her shoulder. Our landlord left that patch of field uncut so I could finish the painting.”

“A Fresh Day,” by Vladimir Nikolayevich Gavrilov, 1958, oil, 39 x 68 in. This piece served as the inspiration for Dalessio’s award-winning painting “Greguric Breg.”
Dalessio was trained as a studio painter, and he says that this background is partly responsible for his palette. “I use a limited palette and mix all of my greens,” says the artist, who lives in Zagreb, Croatia. “The palette is just three blues, three reds, three yellows, orange, and white. I try to keep everything pretty muddy, which gives me the muted colors, and then bring up the cleaner colors at the end. The idea comes from looking at Vermeer’s work, where everything is browns, greens, and grays, except for his little dots and strokes of clean, high-chroma colors. I’m very comfortable with muted colors, and outside I tend to exaggerate my higher-chroma sections a little bit for effect, like the blues in the mountains behind my wife in ‘Greguric Breg’.”

“Greguric Breg,” by Marc Dalessio, oil, 40 x 32 in. Courtesy of Constantine Lindsay Fine Paintings, London, England. First Place in the October-November contest of the PleinAir Salon.
He’s a devoted plein air painter, although Dalessio admits that in the winter he will do more enlargements in the studio of small plein air sketches. He prefers to paint outdoors, but studio work has its place. “I find with plein air work I feel something of a responsibility to be true to my subjects, whereas with studio paintings I feel I have much more freedom in creating a view,” says the artist.

“Road in the Snow, Les Plans, Switzerland,” by Marc Dalessio, oil on panel, 11 x 14 in. Collection the artist. Best Plein Air in the October-November contest of the PleinAir Salon.

His skill at plein air painting earned him a second award in the October-November contest of the PleinAir Salon: Best Plein Air. Dalessio tells the story: “That was from a small village in Switzerland. I was teaching a plein air course for the Alpine Atelier, and we had a week of fog, snow, rain, and low clouds. That was what the place looked like for most of the time.”
“It was very good practice for mixing one’s grays,” he says dryly.

“Entrance to the Musée Fin-de-Siècle, Brussels,” by Marc Dalessio, oil on panel, 12 x 8 in. Collection the artist.

“Beach Cart Near Durazzo, Albania,” by Marc Dalessio, oil on panel, 8 x 10 in. Private collection.
In April, the $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 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.

“Street in Dubrovnik,” by Marc Dalessio, oil on panel, 12 x 8 in. Private collection.
The winner of each bi-monthly contest is featured in this eNewsletter and profiled on Ken Auster will jury the current contest, which has a deadline of Jan. 31. Enter now at the Salon’s website.


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