PleinAir Salon figurative art -
Ron Gallo, "Chalk Walk," oil, 19 x 36 in., won the "Best Figure and Portrait" category for the April 2020 PleinAir Salon

Congratulations to Ron Gallo (, whose figurative art has been recognized in the PleinAir Salon, a bi-monthly art competition with many categories in which to enter your art.

Ron Gallo on His PleinAir Salon winner, “Chalk Walk”:

I’ve always enjoyed observing and painting people, especially people in groups. The way they relate to each other, the engaging variety of their shapes and sizes, facial expressions and body language have forever fascinated me. Yes, I have to admit, like so many other artists, I’m an incurable people watcher.

My home is in Sarasota, Florida, where there is an annual event known as The Sarasota Chalk Festival. The festival hosts world famous pavement artists who travel thousands of miles to create beautiful works of art on many of the streets, which are only open to foot traffic. My first visit to the festival resulted in the taking of hundreds of reference photos which were used for my painting, “Chalk Walk.”

The biggest challenge in preparing for the “Chalk Walk” painting was editing my reference material; with well over 200 photos to choose from it was a bit daunting, but after a few intense hours I was able to cull it down to a manageable lot from which I made my final selections. To be safe, I also included some “back up” choices to resolve any unforeseen layout/design problems that might materialize (as they usually do and did).

I had a pretty good idea of what I thought the final layout would look like, but as we all know, design is often an evolving process and I did make many changes.

Although the execution of the painting was fairly traditional, there were a few things I wanted to be mindful of. From past experience I knew that when working with so many figures – many in brightly colored clothing – color harmony was a real concern. Thankfully, I was aware of the pitfalls of assiduously trying to change a color that I thought was not working. Instead I found that often just changing the value of the color, not the color itself, was all that was needed.

Making sure that the all of the figures, especially their faces, had compatible light sources was something I did early in the selection process but somehow it was overlooked in three of my final selections. A few of the photos were taken as much as two hours apart and I now realized they did not match. Luckily, I had my “back up” choices and substitutions were quickly made.

Head sizes were my final concern. Altering positions of figures in a group – front row to back – can cause problems with perspective, as well as head size; again, minor adjustments were made. The final drawing was done in segments, which allowed me to facilitate any last minute changes.

After the final drawing was completed I let it sit overnight and reviewed it again in the morning with “fresh” eyes, then transferred it to a double primed #13 Claessens linen support, which was mounted on a birch panel. All of my preliminary work paid off, “Chalk Walk” was a joy to paint and was completed in about 12 five-hour sessions. My choice of oil paints were primarily Winsor Newton and Rembrandt, applied with an assortment of bristle brushes – Langnickel, the early Utrecht 209 series, and Robert Simmons, all filberts.

Ron Gallo On Entering “Chalk Walk” in the PleinAir Salon:

I had never entered this competition before and after reviewing some of the past award winners was truly inspired and impressed by their beautiful work. I found the PleinAir Salon’s entry process easy to navigate and am pleased that I finally stopped procrastinating and did enter. Recognition for one’s work is a wonderful motivator and very often a catalyst for success.

More Figurative and Narrative Art by Ron Gallo:

Narrative Paintings -
Ron Gallo, “Yesterday Is So Far Away”
Figurative Art -
Ron Gallo, “Shake and Bake”
Narrative Art -
Ron Gallo, “Saturday In The Park”
Narrative Art -
Ron Gallo, “Big Fish Little Fry”
Figurative Art -
Ron Gallo, “Separate Tables”

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.

PleinAir Salon art competition

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

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 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


  1. All of Ron Gallo’s work is beautiful and unique. His work breathes new life into many of his paintings. Congratulations, Ron!

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