PleinAir Salon oil paintings
"Tomorrow's Approach" by Riley Doyle, oil, 18 x 14 in., won the "Best Artist Under 30" category for the May 2020 PleinAir Salon

Congratulations to Riley Doyle (, whose work has been recognized in the PleinAir Salon, an art competition with many categories in which to enter your paintings and drawings.

Riley Doyle on the Painting “Tomorrow’s Approach”

“Tomorrow’s Approach” was painted, like most of my work, simply because there was something about that moment, and that scene and experience, that held me. It is an oil painting on an aluminum composite panel and was done from a photo shoot I did with my brother in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

After sorting through hundreds of images, only a few kept my attention. At the time, I didn’t know what they were trying to communicate, and that’s how I knew I had to explore them further.

After doing a photo shoot and selecting a small handful of images, I do color studies in paint to explore each image further. If it still keeps my attention at the color study stage, then I will typically paint it, though I give it a few weeks as a study to see if I get bored with it.

“Tomorrow’s Approach” was painted because I still had questions, and to a certain extent, I still do. I am finding that sometimes, if all the mystery or excitement of a potential painting is resolved in the preliminary stages of planning, then it doesn’t need to develop any further.

A lot of my final paintings are almost like artifacts of an intuitive process to embrace the mystery that keeps me coming back, as well as to celebrate that mystery. Once the painting is completed, I spend time looking at it and reflecting on what it might mean. I try to listen to it and title it based on what I feel it is saying. “Tomorrow’s Approach” is about looking towards the future not in despair, but not in rejoice either. The subject is looking toward the future with determination to do the hard work necessary to improve upon the relationship we have with our surroundings, whether that be with the environment, or with the people in our communities.

It’s funny how sometimes, when you follow your intuition, your work can be foreshadowing. This painting was finished in January, 2020. Since then, so many things have happened in our world. And it seems this painting is more relevant now, than even several months ago when it was created.

Additional Contemporary Realism Paintings by Riley Doyle:

Contemporary realism oil paintings
Riley Doyle, “Reconnect,” 48″ x 77″, Oil on panel, $10,000, Available through gallery
Contemporary realism oil paintings
Riley Doyle, “Valvoline,” 18″ 23.5″, Oil on acm panel, $1,340, 2020, Available through website
Contemporary realism oil paintings
Riley Doyle, “The Humming of Night,” 24″ x 36″, Oil on acm panel, $2,700, Available through gallery
Contemporary realism oil paintings
Riley Doyle, “Moment,” 28.5″ x 42″, Oil on acm panel, $3,800, 2020, Available through website


Other categories for this 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.

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!

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