Art Competitions - Elena Degenhardt (Cannes, France), "The Essence of Summer," pastel, 9.5 x 12 in., Water Honorable Mention, January 2024 PleinAir Salon, judged by Lisa Skelly
Elena Degenhardt (Cannes, France), "The Essence of Summer," pastel, 9.5 x 12 in., Water Honorable Mention, January 2024 PleinAir Salon, judged by Lisa Skelly

Motivation for Entering Art Competitions > Congratulations to Elena Degenhardt (Cannes, France), whose pastel painting “The Essence of Summer,” was an Honorable Mention in the ‘Water’ category of the January 2024 PleinAir Salon, judged by Lisa Skelly.

Here, Skelly shares her comments on why “Essence of Summer” placed in the PleinAir Salon, and her advice to artists on entering art competitions.

“Some of the characteristics that I’m looking for when judging an art competition or even curating paintings for the gallery have a lot to do with an emotional response,” Skelly said. “When a painting takes my breath away and makes me want to explore it even further, that is a painting that speaks to me. After my first emotional response, I need to look further and see how the artist has handled their composition, values, brushwork, edges, and perspective, including atmospheric perspective and accurate depiction of forms.

“Experienced and skilled artists will have all of these fundamentals expertly handled. After I consider the skill with which the fundamentals were handled, I look for that magical, soulful unique viewpoint and passionate quality that makes it stand apart from other entries.

“I completely understand when an artist hesitates to put themself out there. It’s a vulnerable place to open yourself to being judged. But the rewards can be much greater than winning. If you put aside any ego and really seek to become a more skilled artist, entering art competitions is a great way to gain insight into improving areas of your paintings that need more work. When you really dive into award-winning paintings and learn what makes them great then apply that to your own work, you are bravely taking the necessary steps to becoming a more skilled painter.

“Keep painting and practicing, then be brave and enter your best paintings. Enjoy the process of creating what speaks to you and know that you are continuing to grow as an artist. And as cliche as this sounds, you are winning when you’re growing.”

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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