Robin Caspari,
Robin Caspari, "The Edge," oil, 12 x 10 in.

Help us congratulate Robin Caspari, whose oil painting, “The Edge,” won first place in the May 2022 round of the PleinAir Salon.

“I responded to [‘The Edge’] at first glance,” said juror Karen Hagan. “It has a movement that’s very exciting, taking the eye around and around the painting. When I’m jurying a show, I don’t look at titles or even size.

“In this painting, I saw great composition and sense of place paired with varied brush work. I loved the depth of field and the foreground detail leading to the gray mistiness of the background. Mostly it’s the movement that the artist captured that got my eye! It’s an exciting painting, one I’d like to see every day in my home.”

On Painting “The Edge”

by Robin Caspari

My Inspiration

The rushing water over the rocks and portraying the feeling that man didn’t, or couldn’t, belong in this space was the inspiration behind the painting. I wanted viewers to feel the raw power of water and rock colliding. My goal is to paint a large piece of this design to really enhance the “fear factor” or adrenaline rush that comes with encountering nature in its dangerous and raw state.

My Palette

What is mostly unique about my process is my “Valor Palette.” This simple invention allows me to work the value scale and the color wheel simultaneously while I paint. I slowly invented it over the years, and shared it with my students. Once I added the color wheel around the perimeter, it just popped! We all love it because it’s information at our fingertips, and allows us to get into the flow of our painting instead of wasting too much energy thinking about value and color.

I keep my palette simple with the three primaries of Quinacridone Red, Ultramarine Blue, and Cad Yellow Light, and Titanium/Zinc White. I then mix my secondaries from my primaries. I have been adding in some radiants by Gamblin so that I can shift value and color at the same time. It’s just a time saver. At this point, I have eliminated all browns and neutrals that are from a tube. Not because it’s better, but because that’s just where I am right now. I’m loving how clean my darks are without using dark browns.

When I limited my palette to the primaries and secondaries I noticed an immediate harmony to my work. Recently, I have been playing around with a VERY limited palette, and it has been magical to understand the large band width I still retain, and the harmony is on steroids seemingly. So much to learn in this game of painting!

My Composition

I spotted the composition within a larger photo reference I had taken while visiting Point Loma, CA. I zoomed in, and then began playing with shapes. I painted three or four small studies until I found the one that was most powerful.


I see painting as a juggling act. You have all these balls in the air that have to move in rhythm together. If one ball falls at any time, the whole painting falls apart. The artistic flow is of utmost importance. I do see a difference in training and performing.


I like to use a variety of brushes when I work so I can achieve interesting strokes. I tend to like angles and filberts as my go to. My all-time favorite workhorse brush is the Catalyst by Princeton #6. It was given to me by a vendor when the Plein Air Convention & Expo was in San Diego. I teach with this brush because I can make a million shapes with it on many different paintings.

Derek Penix introduced me to the Shiraz Filbert by Rosemary. The #10 is a great brush for large strokes with some control.

Carolyn Anderson introduced me to Rosemary’s Ultimate Pointed Round #4. I use it to make interesting smaller shapes and start a painting. I also love Rosemary’s Extra Long Filberts. They are great for all around use.

(Editor’s note: Listen to Carolyn Anderson’s interview with Eric Rhoads here on the Plein Air Podcast, episode 190)

In general I hold the belief that one should use the biggest brush possible in the space they are filling with paint. I’m sure I used all of these brushes while making “The Edge.”

View the rest of the PleinAir Salon winners soon at
Note: Judges are not provided with contestant names.

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.

New This Year! We’re now offering a People’s Choice Award in each monthly cycle, with a prize of $100! (When you enter your painting, you’ll be able to “promote your artwork” with a special link.)

About the PleinAir Salon:

PleinAir Magazine presents the 12th annual PleinAir Salon Art Competition. In the spirit of the French Salon created by the Academie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, this annual online 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 over $33,000 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 12th Annual Awards will be presented live at the Plein Air Convention & Expo in May 2023.


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