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.

Promotional image for Palouse Plein Air 2019

Palouse Plein Air 2019

Competition Dates:  September 14 - 20

Exhibition:  September 20 - October 6

Reception and Awards Ceremony:  September 20   5 - 8 p.m.   Prichard Art Gallery

Fees:  $20 per participant or $15 per student participant (18 and older)

Artwork Drop Off:  September 19   5 - 8 p.m. & September 20   8 - 11 a.m.

This year's guest juror, Scott Gellatly, is a native resident of Oregon, where he currently lives with his wife and two sons. He is an artist and also works as a product manager for Gamblin Paints, a Portland-based maker of fine artist oils. To learn more about Gellatly and view his artwork, visit his website at, He will adjudicate the exhibition, awarding cash prizes in the amount of:

  • 1st Place ($400) sponsored by the City of Moscow
  • 2nd Place ($200) sponsored by the City of Moscow
  • 3rd Place ($100) sponsored by the City of Moscow
  • Changes to the Rural Landscape Award ($250) sponsored by Latah County Historical Society 

This award aligns with the Smithsonian Institution Museum on Main Street Exhibition entitled Crossroads: Change in Rural America. This exhibition runs from August 23 – October 4 at 411 S. Main Street, and is presented in a partnership between the Moscow Chamber of Commerce and the Latah County Historical Society. The exhibit explores how and why rural communities have experienced so much change over the last 100 years - demographically, economically, environmentally and more - as well as what towns are doing to survive or even thrive in the new millennium.

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

2018 Award Winners