Jim McVicker, the California painter who took the $15,000 Grand Prize last year in the PleinAir Salon, feels your pain. He entered his winning piece several times before the painting earned the accolades. His advice is to enter again.

Lead Image: “Plein Air Self-Portrait,” by Jim McVicker, oil, 18 x 14 in. Grand Prize winner in the 2015 PleinAir Salon

Perseverance pays off. McVicker’s “Plein Air Self-Portrait” took a circuitous route to the $15,000 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 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.”

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.

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

The next chance artists have to enter into the contests, and ultimately the $21,000 big annual payout, is right now, with the deadline for the October-November contest coming up fast on November 30. For that contest, PleinAir tapped the talents of Jim Peterson, owner of the Mockingbird Gallery in Bend, Oregon, as judge.


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