Palouse Plein Air

September 11 – 17, 2020

Palouse Plein Air is an annual painting competition that takes place every September. In light of pandemic-related restrictions, the 2020 competition will proceed with adaptations designed to protect participants' health. For example, in lieu of canvas and paper stamping, participants will submit onsite photographs of their artworks via a Submittable form. Similarly, the exhibition will available to the public online. After the registration deadline, all artists will be provided with a link and instructions for uploading their finished artwork and onsite photographs. 

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, and the University of Idaho College of Art + Architecture work together to make a great experience for artists and art lovers alike. 

Important Dates 

Painting Period: September 11 – 17 

Artwork Submission Deadline: September 17 

Award Announcement: September 24


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, oil, and pastel. There is no limit on the number of painting surfaces participants can register, though participants may enter a maximum of 3 finished works in the online exhibition.

Registration and Fees: 

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

Online registration is available at:

Painting and Exhibition Guidelines

    Participants paint out-of-doors at any location of their choosing on all days of the competition or any combination of the competition days. No use of electronic, pictorial, or other aids is allowed. All work must be done on location by the individual artist. While Palouse Plein Air is typically limited to locations within Latah, Nez Perce, Whitman, and Benewah counties, this year’s conditions merit a relaxed approach to this requirement. All participants have the option to paint in their local setting, whether that be on the Palouse, another part of Idaho, or another state altogether. This will ensure that participants have the freedom to stay close to home if virus conditions make travel impossible or dangerous. 

    Participants are invited to share a maximum of 3 (three) images of finished artworks in the online exhibition. Artists will also submit a photograph of each painting at the site where it was made.

    Works may be offered for sale, and any sales and/or shipping will be facilitated by the artist and buyer.

    Event organizers reserve the right to determine suitability of all works shown in the Palouse Plein Air exhibition.

    Artists shall release the City of Moscow to use photographs and/or video of them and their exhibited artworks, for future publicity and promotional purposes without copyright, use fees, or charges.

Juror and Awards

The Palouse Plein Air 2020 juror is Katy Ann Fox, who will adjudicate the online exhibition prior to City of Moscow Arts staff’s announcement of awards. Katy is an accomplished oil painter and plein air artist.  She is based in Teton Valley, Idaho and has established herself as a studied and dedicated Jackson Hole artist and art professional.  She works at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in the Programs and Events department.  She earned her MFA in painting from the Academy of Art in San Francisco, California after her undergraduate degree at the University of Idaho.  Her soul and in turn her artwork is fed by rolling farmland, space to breathe and the color harmony of nature.  

View Katy’s work at:

Awards will be announced on September 24, 2020. Along with cash awards, special gifts chosen especially for plein air artists will accompany some recognition awards.


Palouse Plein Air Awards: 

1st Place $400

2nd Place $200

3rd Place $100

Best Palouse

Best Downtown

Best Historical

Best Onsite Photo of Artwork

Student Awards

Honorable Mentions

Purchase Awards

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

Watercolor of rolling Palouse hills in gold, green and brown with mountains in the background
Barn nestled in the Palouse hills below cloudy blue skies
Railroad lines overgrown with natural plants and green trees- oil painting

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