Painting of zebras - Plein Air Salon winner
"On the Plains of Kenya" (oil, 11 x 14 in.)  by Karon Tucker won the "Best Animal" category for the January 2021 Plein Air Salon

Congratulations to Karon Tucker, whose work has been recognized in the PleinAir Salon, a monthly art competition with many categories in which to enter your art.

On the Plains of Kenya by Karon Tucker

Feeling like I had won the lottery, riding through the African plains, watching the truly wild animals, not behind a chain link fence, was beyond exhilarating to me.

I realized that it was a rare privilege to see these creatures in their habitat. Each animal was so unique. The zebras’ stripes are so graphic with their highly contrasting markings. My challenge was painting these interesting curves and swirls and still have them look like living beings.

It is always a roll of the dice when deciding what to enter into the PleinAir Salon. One theme that ran throughout the artists’ instructional video interviews was to paint what moves you and hope that others will be drawn into the story you are trying to convey.

Art Supplies

I enjoy painting with Gamblin paints but, I have several rogue brands mixed in that may have a specific color that I like. Winsor Newton Mauve Blue Shade (on Matt Smith’s workshop supply list) is a nice lavender and ShinHan Compose Blue is a beautiful aqua.

The paint brushes that seem to work the best for me are the sturdier brushes like the Winsor Newton Brights and Silver Grand Prix. I am experimenting with the Rosemary brushes #279 Series. They are soft and fluid. It’s always fun to try new products.

During this past year of hibernation (as in Covid) I have watched countless hours of Streamline painting videos. As varied as all the artists’ techniques have been, I have tried to harvest the basic, “golden rules” of painting. The trick is incorporating “the basics” into our own style and interpretation of our subject. But, that’s fun!

Art Inspiration

When looking into the eyes of an animal, I know they have a story to tell, such as how they have managed to survive. I was so moved when watching two lionesses, probably sisters, watching over four young cubs. It was hard to tell which was the mother because both lionesses were taking part in protecting the cubs. Curiosity would get the best of the cubs and they would dart toward our vehicle. A barely audible urging from the lionesses would stop them in their tracks and bring them back for a sweet nuzzle. One of the lionesses had a scar showing that her upper lip had been completely torn apart. I knew she had a story to tell.

Not all animals have dramatic stories of survival but, they all have their own personalities and stories to tell. When I paint, I want to convey that soul that lies behind those eyes I’m peering through.

Just as each creature has its own beauty, each landscape has its own beauty as well. A dusty, scraggly desert trail is just as beautiful as a stream flowing through a lush meadow.
There is inspiration everywhere, we just have to slow down to notice. ~K.T. (

Additional Paintings by Karon Tucker:

Still life painting of lemons
Karon Tucker, “Lemon and Olive Oil,” 12 x 12 in., oil
Painting of a lion
Karon Tucker, “Hiding in the Grass,” 11 x 14 in.
Oil painting of an ostrich
Karon Tucker, “Ostrich,” 12 x 12 in., oil

Categories for the PleinAir 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 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.

The PleinAir Salon awards $50,000 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!

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