Plein Air Southwest Salon 2014 submissions

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Entering art competitions is one of the things many of us artists do. They’re a good barometer for judging progress among one’s peers, and a good way to be seen by, and connect with, artists, collectors and galleries…all good things. C.W. Mundy advises artists not to take them too seriously because success is totally dependent upon the juror’s opinion…and opinions can sure differ from one judge to another. All we can do is put our best work out there and hope the juror judges in our favor. Ned Mueller’s advice to artists is to enter something a little more experimental and different from paintings that typically appeal to popular taste. “Most good jurors have seen it all and are looking for something different or unusual.”

All that being said, the first competition of year has arrived for me. Plein Air Southwest Salon 2014, which opens April 5th at Southwest Gallery in Dallas, will be a great show. I’m pleased to share with you my four submissions.

I was honored to win “Best of Show” and the “Southwest Magazine Award” in 2013 with “Left Behind”. What’s the possibility of winning again? Hmmm, the incredible list of artists has become even more incredible with the addition of Albert Handell, Marc Hanson, Kevin MacPherson, and Kathryn Stats. Not looking too good.

"Left Behind" - 9.75"x 15" - Oil  ('Best of Show' and 'Southwest Magazine Award' Plein Air Southwest 2013)

“Left Behind” – 9.75″x 15″ – Oil (‘Best of Show’ and ‘Southwest Magazine Award’ Plein Air Southwest 2013)

I admit to not being a very fast painter, and painting in plein air requires maximum concentration and speed in order to capture the rapidly changing light patterns. To overcome these challenges, I prefer painting on overcast days. In most cases, I’ll work on a piece over two or three sessions in order to achieve the degree of finish desired. Also, I attempt to capture what I see; that does not mean all the detail, for that is impossible. It does mean drawing faithfully the observed proportion and perspective of the subject, and capturing accurate value and color relationships. Otherwise, what’s the point? Many plein air painters would hotly debate this point of view, believe me.

Except for Along the Creek Bed, each of the other paintings were created during two painting sessions (same time of day over two successive days).

"Wild Blackberries" photo reference

“Wild Blackberries” photo reference

"Wild Blackberries" - 9.25"x 10.25" - Oil

“Wild Blackberries” – 9.25″x 10.25″ – Oil

Wild Blackberries  represents a spot near Dot and Jackie Courson’s property in Pontotoc, MS. They have hosted several workshops for me over the years. This is one I worked on after class. I find tree and fence lines intriguing because of the strong directional line they create, wide variety of contrasts, and their typically unkempt condition; always interesting. Accents and fine details for this piece were completed in the studio.


"The Red Gate" photo reference

“The Red Gate” photo reference

"The Red Gate" - 10.75"x 9.68" - Oil

“The Red Gate” – 10.75″x 9.68″ – Oil

The Red Gate  is a perfect example of interesting contrasts: thick/thin, bold/delicate, dark/light, intense/muted, hard/soft, rough/smooth, vertical/horizontal, red and green. I found this spot on my relative’s property in East Texas. The area remained in shade for an extended period of time, so I did not feel rushed.  A few delicate strokes added in the studio completed the piece.


"Along the Creek Bed" - 9.75"x 13.38" - Oil

“Along the Creek Bed” – 9.75″x 13.38″ – Oil

Along the Creek Bed  was painted from our driveway facing west. It was painted in one session; the process is more noticeable in this work compared to the others, as the work is less refined. The lighting on the subject remained pretty consistent throughout the painting’s creation. I was drawn to the impressive pine, and also the colorful leaves of the tree on the right against the dark, neutral background.


"Glory Days Have Passed You By" photo reference

“Glory Days Have Passed You By” photo reference

"Glory Days Have Passed You By" - 10"x 20" - Oil

“Glory Days Have Passed You By” – 10″x 20″ – Oil

"If you wait long enough, everything will take care of itself"....ha, ha.

“If you wait long enough, everything will take care of itself”….ha, ha.

Glory Days Have Passed You By  depicts the death of a once beautiful tree on our property. The tree was going to be cut down at some point (a lot of work, I thought). Knowing this, and loving the shape and colors of its deadness,  I wanted to capture it in paint before it was no more, so in late summer it was decided to take it on. I’m sure glad I did because in early December we experienced a severe ice storm, and there on the ground the next morning, uprooted no less, was that beloved tree. Laughingly, I think there’s a lesson to be learned here…If one waits long enough, everything will take care of itself. I wonder if that applies to painting? The wonderful title for this piece came from “Glory Days” by Bruce Springsteen.


Plein Air Southwest Salon 2014
Outdoor Painters Society


Coming next week: Twelve prominent plein air artists are asked three very important questions regarding painting en plein air. Don’t miss it.


John Pototschnik is an Art Renewal Center Associate Living Master
To view his art and bio, please click HERE


Scheduled Workshops for 2014

22-24 May  –  Dahlonega, GA

20-22 June  –  Lowell, MI

18-20 September  –  Jackson, MS

1-3 October  –  Portland, ME

(For details on each of these workshops, please click HERE)


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