Lisa Skelly,
Lisa Skelly, "Rock Steady," pastel, 8 x 10 in., PleinAir Salon October 2023 Best Pastel

Congratulations to Lisa Skelly, whose pastel painting “Rock Steady” has been recognized in the monthly PleinAir Salon® art competition.

Inspiration for My Pastel Painting, “Rock Steady”

I am inspired by coastal seascapes and the energy of the ocean crashing against the rocks along the shore. Everything about it is exhilarating. The colors of deep water versus shallow water where you have lighter colors and transparency is breathtaking. The patterns in the surf with kelp, sand, and rocks below the surface make for ideal conditions to design a compelling composition which I can then lead the observer through the painting to my chosen focal point.

I constantly challenge myself to design better and more interesting paintings that transport the viewer to escape to the seaside with me.

My Painting Challenges

My challenge in this piece was to thoughtfully design the water movement below the rocks and still have the energy you expect to see. It was also important for me to have areas where your eyes can rest and where there are areas of peacefulness beyond the high drama of crashing surf.

My process of creating dynamic seascapes in pastel is to start with a featherlight touch so that I don’t fill up the tooth of my Pastelbord. I usually start with my darkest darks and save the magic of the lightest sparkles of splashing surf for last. There need to be enough darks to really make the whitest parts of the surf stand apart.

On Winning “Best Plein Air Pastel Painting”

This award was really a special one for me. I almost didn’t enter. I was going up against some of the best plein air pastelists I know. They are also my friends and extremely talented. (I represent a few of them as well at the Huse Skelly Gallery).

Then I thought I needed to see how my work compares against the best pastelists with an impartial judge. So I took a chance and what a surprise to win this particular month. I am deeply grateful and humbled.

My Advice

I really encourage anyone who wants to reach higher levels in their work to enter especially the PleinAir Salon. There are many of the top artists entering the monthly competition. It’s great motivation to work harder and continue to evaluate your work. I will never be done learning and working harder to become the best artist I can become. This competition helps me to push myself to new levels.

Worth Noting

For me, plein air galleries are a source of inspiration and motivation. I encourage everyone to keep studying and honing your skills as an artist, and to visit your favorite galleries and museums.

If you’re in Newport Beach, I hope you’ll come visit me at the Huse Skelly Gallery.

About the PleinAir Salon:

In the spirit of the French Salon created by the Academie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, this annual online art competition, with 11 monthly cycles, leading to the annual Salon Grand Prize winners, is designed to stimulate artistic growth through competition. The competition rewards artists with $50,000 in cash prizes and exposure of their work, with the winning painting featured on the cover of PleinAir® Magazine.

Winners in each monthly competition may receive recognition and exposure through PleinAir Magazine’s print magazine, e-newsletters, websites, and social media. Winners of each competition will also be entered into the annual competition. The Annual Awards will be presented live at the next Plein Air Convention & Expo.

The next round of the PleinAir Salon has begun so hurry, as this competition ends on the last day of the month. Enter your best art in the PleinAir Salon here.

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