"Serious Business at Cadboro Bay" (oil, 16 x 20 in.) by Renee Butler, won the "Best Figure and Portrait" category for the May 2021 Plein Air Salon

Realism Portraits > Congratulations to Renee Brettler  (reneebrettler.com), whose work has been recognized in the Plein Air Salon, a monthly art competition with many categories in which to enter your art.

On Painting “Serious Business at Cadboro Bay”


“Serious Business at Cadboro Bay” was inspired by my granddaughter Lilah Joan. The image itself is testament to a childhood spent immersed in the natural beauty of Victoria, British Columbia.

I love this moment! It so captures her intense concentration on the task at hand; surrounded by the beauty of the landscape around her.

For me, this piece is all about contrast.

I have always been fascinated by the use of Chiaroscuro: using a strong single light source to create depth and mood. Here, the light source is sunlight and the shadows cast by the main figure help create the drama. The deep blues of the water and sky and the bright orange of her bathing suit add yet another element of contrast. These complimentary colors help make the figure pop. A variety of textures and details add another element of contrast and visual interest.

I was very pleased to win “Best Portrait/Figure” in the PleinAir Salon. Winning an art competition is an achievement! It means my art will be seen and appreciated by more people.

I would definitely encourage other artists to enter competitions. They provide a wonderful opportunity to further develop your art career. Entering a competition can lead to more exposure and to possible exhibitions and/or publications … as well as boost your confidence.

Additional Realism Portraits by Renee Brettler:

Renee Brettler, "Another Whitehorse Winter II," pastel and colored pencil on ink and paper
Renee Brettler, “Another Whitehorse Winter II,” pastel and colored pencil on ink and paper
Realism Portraits - "The Girl in the Back Room" by Renee Brettler
“The Girl in the Back Room” by Renee Brettler
Realism Portraits - "Snowy Solitude" by Renee Brettler
“Snowy Solitude” by Renee Brettler
"Silent Sorrow" by Renee Brettler
“Silent Sorrow” by Renee Brettler
Realism Portraits - "Portrait of Earl" by Renee Brettler
“Portrait of Earl” by Renee Brettler

Other categories for the Plein Air Salon art competition include Best Building, Best Drawing and Sketches, and many more! Visit pleinairsalon.com 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 pleinairsalon.com, 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!

Related Article > Painting and the Search for Excellence