PleinAir Salon, Best Drawing, February 2023: Agnieszka Kotarska (Spain), "Girl without a Pearl Earring," graphite and charcoal, 23 × 18 inches
PleinAir Salon, Best Drawing, February 2023: Agnieszka Kotarska (Spain), "Girl without a Pearl Earring," graphite and charcoal, 23 × 18 inches

On Entering Art Competitions and Winning > A PleinAir Salon winner explains her realistic self-portrait drawing, “Girl without a Pearl Earring.”

By Agnieszka Kotarska

My Process

The creative process of this work was carried out entirely in my studio. The photographer has taken dozens of photographs of which I have chosen one as the perfect reference. With this being a self-portrait, it helped me a lot to look at my own reflection in the mirror, which helped me achieve the perfect shadows and lights. It was created with the hatching technique, working the different layers successively creating more realism, highlighting the contrasts to create a dramatic atmosphere. The last layers were drawn with a very sharp graphite tip (1.3 inches), which allowed me to achieve a hyper-realistic final artwork.

The Challenge

The biggest challenge I have faced when creating this piece has been trying to capture on paper the message that is hidden behind the figure represented.

The shape of the plastic bag resembles a sea shell, but without the beautiful pearl that they used to keep inside when the seas and oceans were not polluted. Today the aquatic systems are full of garbage and there are no more shells or beautiful pearls, there is nothing to make beautiful earrings and ornaments because we have destroyed everything, all the beauty of the earth. The only thing left for us is to decorate ourselves with garbage, which we use to make shapes that resemble elements of nature.

There is only a hole in my ear without a beautiful pearl.

Even small acts in our lifestyle can make a big difference. This artwork is an invitation to be more aware of the problem and be part of the solution, not of the pollution.

How I Felt Winning the Drawing Category of the February PleinAir Salon

The happiness I felt after knowing that my work had been awarded was immense. I understood that you never have to give up. I have participated in the previous contests several times and was not recognized. This has motivated me to continue creating and never lose faith.

When you love what you do, work, and persevere to achieve your goals, recognition comes.

My Advice to Artists

I encourage all artists who believe their work is valuable to enter art contests. It is a great opportunity for your art to be recognized and reach a wider audience. It is very rewarding to be promoted in magazines, multiple websites, and social platforms. It is an excellent opportunity for those who dream of starting to exist and be visible as artists, delighting the world with their talent.

Agnieszka Kotarska at work on a realistic portrait drawing
Agnieszka Kotarska at work on a realistic portrait drawing

Connect with Agnieszka Kotarska:
Instagram | Facebook

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 $46,000 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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