As we get closer to the April announcement of the $15,000 Grand Prize in the PleinAir Salon, more and more artists are entering the Salon’s bimonthly contests with their best work of the year. Congratulations to the newest batch of winners. Gary Haynes, the owner of Haynes Galleries, chose the award winners in the December-January contest, and here they are.
First Place was won by Ardith Staroska for his oil painting “Picked Pears.” Second Place went to Paul Keysar for “In Hope of Spring,” and Third Place was won by Timothy Horn for “Ohio Winter.”

“In Hope of Spring,” by Paul Keysar, oil, 16 x 12 in. Second Place

“Ohio Winter,” by Timothy Horn, oil, 24 x 24 in. Third Place

“Canyon Sunset,” by Matt Sterbenz, oil, 16 x 32 in. Best Artist Under 30

Neal Hughes won Best Plein Air with his oil “Night Light.” Best Artist Under 30 went to Matt Sterbenz for “Canyon Sunset.”

“Castle Lake Evening,” by Scott Anthony, acrylic, 20 x 30 in. Best Acrylic

“Allegory: Persephone,” by Matthew James Collins, oil, 27 1/2 x 39 1/4 in. Best Oil

Best Oil was won by Matthew James Collins for “Allegory: Persephone,” Best Acrylic went to Scott Anthony for “Castle Lake Evening,” Best Pastel was won by Jude Tolar for “Primal Scream Daylily,” and Yun Charm Leung won Best Watercolor with “Water Dance.”

“Primal Scream Daylily,” by Jude Tolar, pastel, 11 x 14 in. Best Pastel

“Water Dance,” by Yun Charm Leung, watercolor, 36 x 54 in. Best Watercolor

“Night Light,” by Neal Hughes, oil, 12 x 16 in. Best Plein Air

In awards given by subject matter, Mukesh Thapa won two — Best Figure in the Landscape for “The Silent Friend” and Best Outdoor Still Life for “Shade.” Kristie Bretzke won Best Building with “Marnay Sur Seine.” Best Nocturne was won by Hillary Osborne for “Twilight on Mill Pond.” Best Water went to John Buxton for “Spatterdock & the Alien,” Best Landscape was won by Lori Putnam for “Brilliant Inclination,” and Best Floral went to Kyle Stuckey for “Blue Hydrangeas.”

“Marnay Sur Seine, by Kristie Bretzke, oil, 18 x 24 in. Best Building

“The Silent Friend,” by Mukesh Thapa, oil, 34 x 29 1/2 in. Best Figure in the Landscape

“Blue Hydrangeas,” by Kyle Stuckey, oil, 24 x 36 in. Best Floral

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.

“Brilliant Inclination,” by Lori Putnam, oil, 12 x 16 in. Best Landscape

“Twilight on Mill Pond,” by Hillary Osborn, oil, 24 x 30 in. Best Nocturne

The winner of each bi-monthly contest is featured in this e-newsletter and profiled on In April, the $21,000 in prizes will be awarded to the annual winners at the 2016 Plein Air Convention & Expo, in Tucson, Arizona.

“Shade,” by Mukesh Thapa, oil, 23 1/2 x 31 1/2 in. Best Outdoor Still Life


“Spatterdock & the Alien,” by John Buxton, oil, 11 x 14 in. Best Water

The next chance artists have to enter into the contests, and ultimately, for the $21,000 big annual payout, is right now, with the deadline for the February-March contest coming up on March 31. This is a crucial contest, because it’s the last one before judges choose the Grand Prize winner in April. For the February-March contest, PleinAir tapped the talents of Catherine Saks, owner of the Saks Galleries in Denver, as judge. Enter here.


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