Patricia Burford Ryan, winner of the July 2022 PleinAir Salon
Patricia Burford Ryan, winner of the July 2022 PleinAir Salon

We’d like to congratulate Patricia Burford Ryan for winning Overall First Place in the July 2022 PleinAir Salon, judged by Michael J. Ruple, Director of aux gallery.

Patricia Burford Ryan, "Marmalade Sky," oil on panel, 24 x 36 in.
Patricia Burford Ryan, “Marmalade Sky,” oil on panel, 24 x 36 in.

“‘Marmalade Sky’ represents the direction I’m headed now with my art, so I was delighted when it took first place in the July Plein Air Salon competition,” Patricia says. “That win feels like a validation that I’m on the right track.”

Michael adds, “‘Marmalade Sky’ was an immediate first choice as soon as I saw it. I was initially drawn to the cinematic high chroma palette, but it was the subtle additions of modernity that kept me in the painting. It’s not heavy-handed like some industrial landscapes or cityscapes, to be honest it’s almost ordinary, something we’ve all seen driving along the outskirts of a city. I think it’s really special when you can discover beauty in the unexpected, and for that reason I would consider it a great example of the contemporary landscape.”

On the Making of “Marmalade Sky”

By Patricia Burford Ryan

My Inspiration:
“Marmalade Sky” was inspired by my memory of the change of seasons in western New York, where I used to live – especially November, when there’s that resigned chill in the air as autumn gives way to winter. Despite the cold and the increasing starkness of the landscape, I’ve always found that time of year to have a certain poignant appeal. I think if we can move beyond commonplace notions of what makes a scene “paintable,” we can see beauty everywhere.

My Palette:
From the beginning, I visualized a scorching sunset to warm up the scene and serve as a contrast to the neutral-colored trees and ground. My goal was to make it look as if the sky was on fire, which involved multiple layers of paint.

The Composition:
I don’t always utilize the Rule of Thirds in my compositions, but in this case I wanted to emphasize a sense of quiet harmony, so I went that way. Likewise, the ground and the bare trees own distinct blocks of real estate in the rectangle. The power lines prevent the painting from looking too static by dividing that vivid sky into dynamic segments, just as the dirt road with its icy rivulets breaks up the bottom third of the painting.

The Challenges
My challenge was to make what could have been a dreary landscape visually exciting. When I was studying art in college, my painting teacher put a big truck crankshaft in the middle of the studio and told us to paint it. She said it’s easy to make beautiful art from something that’s already beautiful. A real artist, she said, can make anything beautiful. That concept had a big impact on me.

My Tools:
I love silicone color shapers because of the unique effects they can produce, and because they’re so satisfying to manipulate. I used them to apply all of the paint except for the trees, which were done with small brushes. A firm surface seems to give the best results with color shapers, so I painted this on a cradled panel.

Connect with Patricia Burford Ryan: 
Website | Instagram

See more of the July PleinAir Salon winners at our sister site, And, browse more winners here.

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 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.

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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