Palouse Plein Air

Palouse Plein Air is an annual painting competition that takes place every September, with events including painting workshops and a juried exhibition at Moscow’s Prichard Art Gallery.

Historic Moscow, Idaho and the beautiful Palouse are the perfect destination for plein air artists, and the annual Palouse Plein Air painting event connects artists with the region’s landscape and arts culture. French for “open air,” the phrase “plein air” (pronounced plen-air) describes the act of painting outdoors. The outdoor experience on the Palouse is particularly rich, as its rolling hills, rivers, mountains, fields, farms, and homes tell the long history of the landscape.

Guided by the vision of the Moscow Arts Commission and University of Idaho art professor Aaron Cordell Johnson, Palouse Plein Air began in 2010, and the event continues to grow. A collaboration of community partners makes this growth possible; the City of Moscow, the Prichard Art Gallery, the LCSC Center for Arts & History, and the University of Idaho College of Art + Architecture work together to make a great event for artists and art lovers alike.

Palouse Plein Air is a painting competition open to all artists 18 years of age or older. All painting media are eligible for competition, including gouache, watercolor, acrylic, and oil. There is no limit on the number of painting surfaces participants can register, though participants may only enter a maximum of 3 finished works for exhibition.

Palouse Plein Air 2020 Event Details

Competition Dates:  September 12 - 17

Artwork Drop-Off:  September 17   10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Exhibition:  September 18 - October 3

Reception and Awards Ceremony:  September 18   5 - 7 p.m.   Prichard Art Gallery

Artwork Pick-Up:  October 4 - 5   10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Fees:  $25 per participant or $20 per student participant (18 and older)


This year’s guest juror will adjudicate the exhibition, awarding cash prizes in the amount of:

  • 1st Place     $500
  • 2nd Place    $250
  • 3rd Place     $150

Additional recognition awards included: Best Palouse, Best Downtown, Best Historical, Honorable Mentions, Student Awards, and the City of Moscow Purchase Award.

2019 Award Winners

1st Place   Gail Johannes, Rolling Hills of the Palouse

2nd Place   Julie Rumsey, Where the Wind Blows

3rd Place    Larry Arbour, Old Road Rails

Image of the 1st place Palouse Plein Air 2019 artwork by artist Gail Johannes
Image of the 2nd place Palouse Plein Air 2019 artwork by artist Julie Rumsey
Image of the 3rd place Palouse Plein Air 2019 artwork by artist Larry Arbour

Changes to the Rural Landscape    Kelly Knouff-Burk, Steptoe Battlefield Rosalia, WA 

Best Palouse                 Amalia Fisch, Rosalia Bridge

Best Downtown            Sharon Macy, Moscow Idaho 1887

Best Historical              David McGranaghan, Silos, Moscow, Idaho


Honorable Mentions

Jan Vogtman, Beulah Road

Simon Tate, Lone Pine

Amalia Fisch, Virgil Phillips Farm Park

Victoria Lock, Lunch Conference


Student Awards

Hailey Smith, Downtown Pullman I

Maria Marx, Foothill Road 

Micaela Petrini, Out of Potlatch

Emma Woolstenhulme, Clearwater National Forest

City of Moscow Purchase Award

Kelly Knouff-Burk, Moscow City Hall

Pat Tremaine, County Line