What is the PleinAir Salon Online Art Competition?

The PleinAir Salon was created by PleinAir magazine publisher Eric Rhoads, and we are celebrating our 13th year. In the spirit of the French Salon created by the Academie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, this annual online competition, with 12 monthly cycles, leading to the Annual PleinAir Salon Art Competition, is designed to stimulate artistic growth through competition. The competition rewards artists with $50,000 in all cash prizes each year, and exposure of their work, with the winning painting featured on the cover of PleinAir magazine.

Winners in each monthly competition receive cash prizes, 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 13th Annual Awards will be presented live at the Plein Air Convention & Expo in May 2024, where the winner will be presented with a $15,000 check!

Why We Do the PleinAir Salon

Years ago our founder and publisher, Eric Rhoads, was visiting Elaine and Peter Adamas at the California Art Club, which is over 100 years old. They told him the story about how the club had become old and sleepy and near death when they came into membership. When elected to be the president and director of the club, they realized that one of the reasons the club was not succeeding is because the quality of art had fallen enough that collectors and buyers were no longer drawn to the art club shows.

The Adamses made a goal to elevate the quality of their shows and of the membership of the club. They determined that an art competition was the best way. Though it took several years, by having juried shows with competent judges, the overall quality of paintings and sculpture in the club rose to a higher level of excellence. They discovered that when people compete against other artists, they work toward being their best and elevating their own quality. Of course today the quality of the show is very high.

When Eric started PleinAir magazine, he noticed the same thing. There were a few good painters and a lot of substandard painters. To many, the term “plein air” came to stand for low quality, because so many were doing it outdoors but with poor quality. The goal of the PleinAir Salon is to help artists elevate quality.

The result has been spectacular. The difference in quality of paintings entered today versus the quality when we started, is night and day. Today the majority of paintings entered are high quality, and those who are entering are motivated to keep trying to win, and thus, watching what wins and working to elevate their own quality.

PleinAir magazine cares deeply about its reputation, which is why we engage the highest quality professional judges. This keeps us from having a role in the selection of winners of the monthly competition. We are trying to keep driving quality forward and offer artists recognition for their hard work of developing great paintings and striving to get better every year. It’s also why we launched conferences, video training and more, to continually elevate quality. It’s also why we feature plein air and non plein air, because most artists do both. Therefore we want to encourage excellence in studio painting, and in the many subjects, styles and approaches artists pursue. We don’t wish to lock out entries. Artists who are working to elevate their quality in many areas of interest deserve recognition too.

12th Annual PleinAir salon Online Art Competition Grand Prize Winner Kimball Geisler holding his $15,000 check