PleinAir Salon landscape painting
Seth Tummins, "Beauty Mark," oil, 14 x 22 in. "If this painting is still in my possession come Fall," Seth said, "I will likely include it in the Coors Western Art Show."

“Beauty Mark,” an oil landscape painting by Seth Tummins, won Third Place Overall in the April 2022 PleinAir Salon. Here, Seth shares his inspiration, techniques, and more.

On “Beauty Mark,” by Seth Tummins

My Inspiration:

A small, graceful shadow slit on an otherwise fully-lit Wyoming hillside created an elegant balance between light and dark, mass and line.

My Palette:

Normally I use few colors, and that was the case here as well. A middle yellow, yellow ochre, a middle red, quinacridone magenta, burnt sienna (I only recently added this one), ultramarine, and some Indian yellow towards the end, and mostly lead white.

I will pull in raw umber or some premixed neutrals sometimes as well. Basically, a split-primary palette with earth colors is what I end up with.

I often return to yellow, red, blue, and white to regain my footing.


A small 8 x 12-in. sketch was made from a photograph taken somewhere between Sheridan and Ucross. Having confidence in my reference really helped me get over the fact that I couldn’t make a sketch on site, so I followed my original framing closely.

Sky or not? Angle lines more or not? Exaggerate anything? Loose or not? I did not work out every issue with my 8 x 12 sketch, so I experimented along the way on the larger effort.

It’s just paint. Nothing is precious. I added and removed elements to support the little shadow – angle more towards it, darken it, lighten something near it, connect it to other elements with color, etc.


Because I need all of the forgiveness I can get, I choose to use the C13DP gatorboard panels from Raymar. I can get back to the surface with no problem.

I use a mixture of “good” and “bad” brushes to apply paint. I have “painting” brushes and I have “scrub” brushes. The “painting” brushes are the still nice and neat ones that can still make clean marks. The others are scraggly and beat up but can still push and scrub paint around.

Everyone knows about Rosemary and Co. – and I use them – the evergreen series is nice.

For this effort, I used the knife and rubber tipped scraper a lot to add and move paint.


Letting go of some of my original intent was difficult to do. I had envisioned a greater difference between vegetation and dirt, but decided to let that go because it didn’t seem to serve me. In truth, I just wasn’t good enough to do it, but I kept returning to my first love: the arrangement. If I could focus on arrangement, everything would work out. ~ S. T. 


And so it did work out. Visit Seth’s website at to learn more about him and his work.

About the Salon: First place of the PleinAir Salon receives a cash prize, plus all monthly winners will be entered into the judging for the annual cash prizes, including the $15,000 grand prize for the best painting of the year, and they’ll see their painting on the cover of PleinAir Magazine. Could you be the next winner? Visit now to enter your best work and see the rest of our winners.

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