Art Inspiration: Wherever It Takes Me

Congratulations to Ann Moeller Steverson, whose work has been recognized in the PleinAir Salon, a monthly art competition with many categories in which to enter your art. We invited Steverson, who paints in the style of contemporary romanticism, to tell us more about her art and inspiration in the following guest blog post.

Art Inspiration: Wherever It Takes Me


Art Inspiration: On Painting “Along For the Ride”

Contemporary romanticism
Ann Moeller Steverson, “Along for the Ride,” 31” x31”, Oil on Copper; Available through

My inspirational path isn’t usually guilt, though travel often is. But on this occasion, I was inspired by both to make some imaginative paintings involving my daughters when looking at the elephants at the Museum of Natural history in New York.

My girls hadn’t been able to make the trip with me because of school, and I was feeling a little sad and guilty because they weren’t getting to enjoy the museum with me, so they were on my mind. I thought about how much we had enjoyed the children’s book, “I Know A Rhino” when they were little, and I decided it would be entertaining to paint them interacting with exotic animals they weren’t really with.

When I returned home, I started with a studio photoshoot where I told my girls they were “riding an elephant” (which was actually a large ottoman on top of a table). Through the magic of compositing, I explored many ideas.

Due to my immature sense of humor, the first version I had to paint was of an elephant’s backside. I decided my youngest wild child would end up riding this elephant backward off into the sunset. In the painting, she listens to music in gleeful abandon and is dressed in the rebel gear of a leather jacket and innocent bare feet.

The sky is a fiery sunset, and while I am not sure what will happen when the elephant reaches the water, I’m confident it will all be okay.

When I began the painting, I thought it would be titled “wherever it takes me” as she has clearly abandoned all control to the music and the elephant and is feeling just fine about it. I can sometimes be a little “type-A” and have trouble letting go of control, so I deeply enjoy this work’s emotion.

Dennis Perrin, my clever artist friend, was in my studio when I was finishing it and suggested “Along for the Ride,” which seemed to suit the painting even better, and so it stuck.

Art Inspiration: On Painting “Elephas Nimbus”

Contemporary romanticism
Ann Moeller Sterverson, ““Elephas Nimbus,” 29” x48”, Oil on Copper; Available through Galerie Fledermaus

My eldest daughter is a lover of all animals and has been since she could talk. She is my best hope to save our planet or at least to offer a significant contribution to caring for and protecting all the beautiful life in our world she can.

While she has a plethora of stuffed animals, her most treasured is one she has had since she was born, named Elie. In “Elephas Nimbus,” Katherine stands in a windy field, hailing a ride with Elie hanging from her backpack.

The sky looks like a storm is coming, and an ephemeral flying elephant appearing to form from the sky is approaching. It is once again being ridden by my youngest daughter Emily. I’m not sure where they are off to on “Elephas Nimbus,” but I feel that they are out to conquer the world together.

Through both works, I am filled with a sense of adventure for myself and for my girls and their future. They have also opened the door to fun and creative commissions reflecting the imaginative personalities of my clients’ children. Recent days have proven how unpredictable life can be, but I am optimistic about future brighter days and am along for this ride wherever it takes me.

Exhibition On View in Chicago: Surface + Depth

“Elephas Nimbus” is currently featured “Surface + Depth” through Galerie Fledermaus. The show features all works on copper.

From the gallery:

Fledermaus is pleased to announce “Surface + Depth,” a group exhibition featuring contemporary artists whose work embodies our vision of presenting art that transcends time and elevates skill and substance in concert with beauty.

Each participating artist is chosen with the conviction that their work will endure, outlast trends, and achieve a lasting historical relevance. Employing classic painting techniques and signature styles, the work of these artists reflects the contemporary landscape while honoring essential historical themes. They are in pursuit of the same philosophical truths as their forbearers, using craft and content as a vessel towards knowledge.

To underscore the classic quality, “Surface + Depth” features work painted upon Artefex copper panels. Prized for its durability, the use of copper as a substrate for oil painting dates back to medieval times. In melding contemporary work with this historical material, “Surface + Depth” hopes to alchemize a mystical union of past and present.

Plein Air Salon - Ann Moeller Steverson figurative art
Ann Moeller Steverson, “Mariposa,” oil, 36 x 21 in.

Steverson’s figurative painting “Mariposa” (above) won in the Best Oil category in the February/March 2020 round of the PleinAir Salon. Other categories for this art competition include Best Building, Best Drawing and Sketches, and many more! Visit to view the complete list.

Why should a contemporary realist enter the PleinAir Salon?

Because this art contest is created by PleinAir magazine, which features not only plein air paintings, but also studio paintings, all types of paintings are eligible and do not need to have been completed in plein air, but should originate from a plein air study or plein air experience. As we know, many studio paintings start with plein air sketches. Our interest is in rewarding great paintings.

Plein Air Salon art competition 10th Annual


The PleinAir Salon awards $27,000 in CASH each year! Learn more at, and enter your best work for your chance to win this art competition. Enter now – the next deadline is coming soon!

Enter Now

All of our awards are CASH, with the grand prize winner getting called up on stage at the Convention & Expo to claim their check for $15,000. That grand prize winner will also have their winning painting featured on the cover of PleinAir magazine (can it get any better?).

There are smaller cash awards, too, and you can find out all about them here. Remember, even if a previous judge did not select your painting, our current judge just might find it to be a winner!

Related Article > Painting and the Search for Excellence