Bill Sweeney is the winner of the Best Plein Air Pastel in the July Plein Air Salon! 

Delighted with the award he exclaims, “Any recognition gives the artist a sense of validation for their work. I often complete a painting that excites me but I’m also left with the HUGE question of whether any else finds it exciting or even interesting. I don’t paint to please other people but other people’s opinions do help to keep me grounded.”

And here’s Bill’s winning piece.


Bill Sweeney, "The Ivy Wall," pastel, 15 x 22 in. The winning entry!
Bill Sweeney, “The Ivy Wall,” pastel, 15 x 22 in. The winning entry!


Bill Sweeney uses Sennelier and Rembrandt soft pastels and works on Canson Mi-Teintes paper. To create the straight lines, Bill used the edge of 8 ½ x by 11 in plain copy paper and lined up elements in the painting such as the windows of the farmhouse. “I went back and smudged out edges here and there that break the lines. The results are images that don’t distract my eye from being misplaced. I also used brushes to remove pastel to help shape the images.”


Bill Sweeney working on location
Bill Sweeney working on location.


Bill’s inspiration? “The early morning sun highlighted the very top of the retaining wall that sits in front of the century-old Kuerner Farm House and seemed to breathe new life into a very old setting. The warm sunlight and cool shadows created a frame around the iconic image.”

Bill says he paints “what looks good to me. I look for the drama in shapes and shadows, in colour, in composition. If the viewer says “Oh my” and spends a little more than five seconds looking at my image, then I feel I’ve created a successful painting.”

Here are a couple more of Bill’s paintings.


Bill Sweeney, "Looking Up The Down Staircase," pastel, 24 x 17 in.
Bill Sweeney, “Looking Up The Down Staircase,” pastel, 24 x 17 in.


Bill Sweeney, "Balancing Act," pastel, 14 x 20 in.
Bill Sweeney, “Balancing Act,” pastel, 14 x 20 in.


Have you considered entering the PleinAir Salon competition? Bill Sweeney has this advice. “The best reason to submit to competitions is to learn from being rejected. Of course, you have to look at the quality of the accepted work and ask what it has that your painting doesn’t. I have found this to be a great learning experience. Sometimes your rejected work is as good as the accepted work which can propel you to stay the course.”

Well said! And if you’re feeling the pain of rejection, you may find this article helpful.

You can find Bill Sweeney on Instagram at bill.sweeney.9693 and on Facebook at BillSweeney Art. And be sure to check out more about Bill Sweeney here.



And July’s Plein Air Pastel Honourable Mention?


Deborah Darr grabbed the Honourable mention for the Plein Air Pastel category with this dramatic sky!


Deborah Darr, "Before the Storm," pastel, 9 x 8 in, July 2022 Plein Air Pastel Honourable Mention
Deborah Darr, “Before the Storm,” pastel, 9 x 8 in, July 2022 Plein Air Pastel Honourable Mention.


And how about you? Have you thought of entering the PleinAir Salon? The next deadline is 30th September so there are still two weeks to go! Why not give it a try? 

Be inspired by all the July PleinAir Salon winners here.

And that’s it for this time,



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