Plein Air Salon -
"Memories of Light" (pencil, 16.5 x 23.3 in.) by Milno, won the "Best Drawing" category for the April 2021 Plein Air Salon

Congratulations to Milno (, whose work has been recognized in the Plein Air Salon, a monthly art competition with many categories. Milno, an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), says, “After I started my art journey, I was finally able to like all of these traits that made me who I am.”

Milno: On “Memories of Light”

“Memories of Light” is a graphite drawing based on a photograph taken by Cayetano González, a photographer and director I greatly respect from Spain who is famous for his work specializing in natural light. I love his photographs, and I remember when seeing them for the first time, I was so incredibly moved by the beauty of them that I couldn’t move.

At some point in time, I began using a makeup brush that I previously used for blending as my main tool. This piece also utilizes a variety of brush types, ranging from thin to thick and from cheap to luxurious.

When I make graphite art, I always use a small piece of paper. I rub a 10B Mitsubishi Fude Pencil on the paper, which has a lead so soft it almost melts. I then put the graphite on a makeup brush and draw patiently using my own unique style; it’s like drawing with a brush rather than a pencil.

With few exceptions, I don’t start out with solid lines, so it’s easy to make changes and corrections with a kneaded eraser. You need a fairly high level of proficiency with a kneaded eraser for this.

I really like that there isn’t the graphite shine you typically see in pencil drawings, and no matter which angle you look at it from, the texture is soft and smooth.

Black and white portrait drawing
Milno, “Fragrance of Love,” 2020, graphite on paper, 21.6 x 16.5
Figurative art drawings
“A Story Without Words” by Milno

On Entering the Plein Air Salon

The reason I submitted my work to the Plein Air Salon was actually because of a good friend of mine, Mauricio Gonzalez, who is also an art collector and the Founder and CEO of ARTDATAintel.

I had little to no knowledge of the art world in August 2020, when he said to me: “Why don’t you apply to this contest called Plein Air Salon? They even have a Drawing & Sketches Category, where you will succeed!”

I applied straight away. To my absolute shock, I received the Best Drawing Award in the August 2020 competition. It was the first time in my life that something I’d created had received an award! I still remember how overwhelmed with emotion I was.

Today I have received other two Best Drawing Awards (January and April 2021) and I continue to submit my work every month.

My advice for others who are considering entering their work:

I am extremely averse to speaking in front of people. I often feel stressed and overwhelmed because my personality makes me too critical over all the little things. I often thought I was unfortunate to be born as an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person). I’m fundamentally an optimist, but I’m too sensitive, too delicate, too shy no matter how hard I try to fix it, I get emotional and cry over everything, I get carried away by my own imagination (very dangerous while driving!).

But after I started my art journey, I was finally able to like all of these traits that made me who I am.

What I realized when I began seriously working on the art that I so much loved, was that there are so many people who kindly support me all over the world. I feel like I discovered a gleaming treasure that I never would have found without starting to make art.

There may be a number of you who want to submit your works to art contests, but are afraid to do so. It’s truly joyous to receive an award through an art competition. You get recognition and feel proud. But, even if you don’t receive an award, it by no means lowers your value as a person, or the value of the wonderful things you create. You are perfect the way you are.

Please be courageous and take that first step forward. There is definitely somebody, somewhere, who will love your art.

I hope that your amazing art, so full of love and passion, will find its way to the eyes of as many people as possible. ~Milno

Additional Drawings by Milno:

Figurative art drawings
Milno, “Sleeping Beauty,” 2020, graphite on paper, 16.5 x 23.3
Black and white portrait drawing
Milno, “Portrait of Oleksandra,” 2020, graphite on paper, 23.3 x 16.5
Figurative art drawings
“Moon’s Drop” by Milno
Black and white portrait drawing
Milno, “Gekkou, Lunar Rainbow,” 2019, charcoal on paper, 23.3 x 16.5

Other categories for the Plein Air Salon art competition include Best Building, Best Portrait and Figure, and many more! Visit to view the complete list.

Why should a contemporary realist enter the Plein Air Salon?

Because this art contest is created by Plein Air 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.

The Plein Air Salon awards $33,000 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

If you’ve never entered, it only takes a couple of minutes to create your own account. Once you do that, just upload the images of your best work and select the categories you wish to enter – very manageable to do!

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 Plein Air 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


  1. Milno’s magic has touched my heart. Such beauty personified. I’ve become a most happy collector of this delicate flower.🙏

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