I always love this time of the month when I announce the winner of the PleinAir Salon’s Best Plein Air Pastel award. September’s winner is Lamya Deeb for her close look at an insignificant patch of grass and ditch. Ahhh… the artist at work has shown us the beauty in this small piece of land.

And here’s the winning piece!


Lamya Deeb, "Tranquility," pastel, 8 x 8 in.
Lamya Deeb, “Tranquility,” pastel, 8 x 8 in.


Lamya Deeb says she was inspired by “a peaceful summer day at a favourite painting spot, the water flowing gently through the irrigation ditch, embraced by grasses, reeds, and wildflowers. This was the essence of tranquillity.”

I wanted to know more so I asked the artist a series of questions. 

Q: I love the simplicity of this scene Lamya! Were you tempted initially to add more? 

“There were many more flowers and other plants in the scene that were tempting to paint. How many cattails to put in? How many sunflowers? I decided on just a couple of accents in the focal area. It was important to convey the calm, blissful feeling of my time at the location. Too many elements would have disturbed that tranquillity.”

Lamya says that once she spotted the scene, she “pounced and immediately laid in the simple composition of the ditch reaching back into the field. The deep red-brick colour of the Art Spectrum paper gave a nice complement to work over with the greens and yellows of the scene.”

Q: Were there any particular challenges when doing this piece?

“In the summer of 2021, when this piece was painted, among the challenges we faced was the heat and persistent smoke in the air from wildfires. It was deeply disturbing to witness and compounded my feelings of grief due to recent personal loss. It was challenging just to get out and paint. Thanks to a dedicated painting buddy, I managed to keep going out pretty regularly. On this particular day, my buddy gave me a piece of Art Spectrum pastel paper to try. I love trying new things, so rather than feeling challenged by a different surface, it gave me an energy lift, and I painted with great pleasure.”

Ohhh I hear you about the overwhelming feeling related to the wildfires (and all the climatic disasters) and that compounded by personal loss. Not easy that’s for sure. I’m glad to hear you have a buddy who got you out painting….and look at the result – a lovely painting and a WIN!


Lamya Deeb, Glare and Glimmer, 2021, pastel on a birch panel prepared with clear gesso over grey gesso, 8 x 6 in. Done en plein air.
Lamya Deeb, “Glare and Glimmer,” 2021, pastel on a birch panel prepared with clear gesso over grey gesso, 8 x 6 in. Done en plein air. This is another view of the same irrigation ditch at Crane Hollow that was my subject for “Tranquility.”


Q: I know a lot of my students worry about how to choose a subject. I’d love for you to share your thoughts about this.

“Paint what turns you on, rather than the thing you think you “should” paint, or what you’ve seen everyone else do. My favourite paintings have been inspired by subjects that just grab my attention, often by surprise. I call them “moments of unexpected beauty.”  If I get excited by something, and it really pulls at me, I know it’s worth the effort and will be a blast to paint. See if you can give the painting a simple title before you start; that will let you know if you’ve got a solid concept.

Love that advice Lamya, especially the part about giving the work a simple title before you begin!


Lamya Deeb, "August Haze," 2021 pastel on Pastelbord, 8x10 in. Done en plein air.
Lamya Deeb, “August Haze,” 2021 pastel on Pastelbord, 8×10 in. Done en plein air.
Painted at Crane Hollow in the late afternoon. The atmosphere that summer was heavy with wildfire smoke.


Q: Do you regularly go out painting on location? And if so, are there specific places that draw you again and again? Or are you always on the lookout for a new place/view?

“I have gone out painting on location regularly since I fell in love with the practice years ago. We are fortunate to have accessible, protected natural areas around where I live, in Niwot, Colorado. Returning to familiar places helps me feel grounded, and I get inspired by seasonal transitions and the effects of weather and light happening in those places I know well. That said, I do also get very excited to paint in new places.”


Lamya Deeb painting on location at Sawhill Ponds, working with a Heilman pastel setup.
Lamya Deeb painting on location at Sawhill Ponds, working with a Heilman pastel setup.


Q: What’s your setup for going en plein air?

“I paint in both oil and pastel, so I have a couple of set-ups. I keep most everything in my car so it’s easy to make a painting stop while I’m out and about. I’ve tried a variety of pastel plein air gear and currently use a simple, compact Sienna box with a tripod. With a small utility bag for miscellaneous supplies, I’m good to go.”


Lamya Deeb, "Morning Waltz" onsite with pastel set up
Lamya Deeb, “Morning Waltz” onsite with pastel set up


Lamya Deeb, "Morning Waltz," 2022, pastel on Pastelbord, 12 x 9 in. Done en plein air.
Lamya Deeb, “Morning Waltz,” 2022, pastel on Pastelbord, 12 x 9 in. Done en plein air. I painted this on a beautiful morning at Walden Ponds, while participating in a paint-out with members of the American Impressionist Society who were in Boulder recently for the AIS National Show. I included this piece in the show’s Wet Wall exhibit. The title refers to the dancing clouds and buoyant feel of the morning.


Q: And finally, what advice would you give others who are thinking about entering the PleinAir Salon? 

“First off, I want to say that I’m stunned and grateful for the prize! I’m also happy that my beloved painting found a collector who purchased it.

Regardless of winning prospects, it feels good to share one’s work. Just getting it out there eases anxiety about doing it, so that’s a good challenge for oneself. When people can see your work, it has a chance of touching someone’s life in a way that is deeply rewarding. 

When entering, I print out a list of the categories and then browse through photos of my paintings. I pick out a few that call out to me. The Early-Bird date for submissions [always the first two weeks of the month]  has really helped with the cost and has become my new deadline for entry. 

Do it! It’s a great challenge for oneself. What have you got to lose? You just never know.”


You just never know indeed!



Time to enter the PleinAir Salon! 


Speaking of the PleinAir Salon, you heard Lamya Deeb – “What have you got to lose?”  There’s still time to enter the November monthly Salon. To inspire you, check out all the September winners.

You can get all the details about entering here.

Ready to enter? Just do it! 


Image for PleinAirSalon
Why not enter November’s PleinAirSalon?


And that’s it for this time!




Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here