Contemporary realism Portrait painting of a man
"A Day Like Any Other" (oil, 24 x 18 in.) by Nicole Moné, won the "Best Figure and Portrait" category for the April 2021 Plein Air Salon

Congratulations to Nicole Moné (, whose work has been recognized in the Plein Air Salon, a monthly art competition with many categories in which to enter your art.

“A Day Like Any Other”

By Nicole Moné 

My favorite paintings to create are those that are infused with inside jokes. My life is filled with such humor, and chances are if you have known me for more than an hour, then we’ve probably created one of these amusing moments between us that I’ll carry with me. When these funny moments make it to my canvas, I’ve been delighted to hear from so many people that they have been uplifted by these references. When these untraditional humorous subjects are widely embraced, I have found it incredibly affirming and gratifying.

The subjects of my painting “A Day Like Any Other” are my “other half,” David, and our beloved feline girls, Gretchen “the Owl” and Ernestine. One day during the pandemic, as David was wandering about the house, I could hear him speaking with the voice of a steely professional while on one of his business calls. I looked up expecting to see my normally clean-cut partner, but what I found instead was a man adorned in long ringlets and a thick beard, wearing a bathrobe, and sporting several finger puppets on each hand, while his “associates” (our girls) trailed behind. This delightfully absurd scene before me brought into focus just how deeply our “everyday” had become distorted. In that moment I saw this painting and began laughing as I imagined this respected lawyer tending to his “paperwork” (the cat paper-chains).

I considered entering the Plein Air Salon Competition last year after seeing many artists I admired submitting their paintings. When I finally took the chance and entered my work in the previous competition, I was very pleased to have two of my paintings named as monthly winners. I was especially thrilled to have “A Day Like Any Other” named “Best Figure/Portrait” for the monthly competition in April.

My advice to other painters would be to assess your best works and then submit them. You might just be surprised by the results!

Additional Works by Nicole Moné

Contemporary realism portrait painting of a man
Pandemic Head Study of David – 9 x 6 inches, oil on panel

Pandemic Head Study of David
Here you see the same model from “A Day Like Any Other.” I like painting various facets of a person’s personality, and what I captured in this picture makes this a particular favorite of mine. This one is destined for a personal time capsule as it really records an unforgettable slice of pandemic history for the normally clean-cut and clean-shaven David.

Painting of a man and black cat
Bookmark – 20 x 24 inches. Oil on Linen mounted on board

This is an older painting of mine with two of my favorite models in their pre-pandemic states. There is a mixture of ease, trust, comedy and managed chaos in every daily routine that includes cats. Anyone lucky enough to be blessed with a special feline will understand – sometimes you simply move part of the cat and continue reading. As a nod to the long-standing connection between artists and cats, I included Théophile Alexandre Steinlen’s iconic “Le Chat Noir” image in the background, and Pablo Picasso’s “Cat Devouring a Bird” on the mug in the foreground.

Head study painting of a man
Head Study of Matthew Innis – 18×36 inches, oil on panel

Head Study of Matthew Innis
This is a portrait of the Editor-in-Chief of Underpaintings Online Magazine, and one of my closest friends. We met long ago in New York City during a painting class at SVA in which the teacher often warned other students to keep their distance from the two of us. This painting is infused with random bits from sixteen years of inside jokes: It is an homage to a friendship rooted in art and doused in twisted humor, and I’ve never laughed so much while working on a painting.

Contemporary realism portrait painting of a man
The Road Not Taken – 12×12 inches, oil on panel

The Road Not Taken
In contrast to the playfulness and jokes woven into “Head Study of Matthew Innis,” this serious portrait of Matthew reflects that certain time in life when people contemplate those inevitable questions of what might have been.

Contemporary realism portrait painting of a young woman
Katie of the Lake – 9×6 inches, oil on panel

Katie of the Lake
When my model Katie was very young, she and her little brother James performed Monty Python sketches in my backyard. It was most enjoyable. I decided to portray her as Spamalot’s “Lady of the Lake” as a nod to that tiny girl with the grown-up sense of humor.

Other categories for the Plein Air Salon 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 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!

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