Palouse Plein Air

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 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. Palouse Plein Air is brought to the community by a partnership between the City of Moscow Arts Department and the University of Idaho College of Art + Architecture, with support from the Idaho Commission on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.  

2023 Palouse Plein Air

Exhibition: September 21 - October 6, 2023
Reception: September 21 from 5 - 7 p.m.

SAVE THE DATE to paint with dozens of fellow artists at any location in Latah, Nez Perce, Whitman, and Benewah counties from September 11 - 19, 2023. Each artist will have the opportunity to exhibit artworks made during the painting period at an exhibition at the Third Street Gallery from September 21 – October 6. The artist reception will feature an awards ceremony and locally-made refreshments.  

Here are the important dates:

April 28 - September 7: Registration Open

September 11 - 19: Painting Period

September 20: Artwork Drop-off

September 21: Artist Reception

October 9: Artwork Pick-up

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2022 Palouse Plein Air Awards

1st Place: Michael J. Lewis, West Whitman Hay AQI 156
2nd Place: Sydney Speck, Sonia’s Taco Truck
3rd Place: Maggie Keefe, Hay bales
Best Palouse: Nicole Monosky, For Kay
Best Downtown: Tara Oar, Hidden City  
Best Historical: Elizabeth Harwood, Elephant Tree
Best Watercolor: Ashleigh Streiff, Light through the Brambles
Student Awards: 
Megan Wood, Midnight Stroll
Sam Chadwick, Smoke Rings and Tree Rings
Honorable Mentions:
John Larkin, Blue Spruce
Tim Cawley, Half Mast Flag
City of Moscow Purchase Award: Amalia Fisch, Tekoa Morning 

2022_Palouse Plein Air_Juror_Photo_Melanie Thompson

FB: @MelanieThompsonArtist

Instagram: @melaniethompsonart

2022 Palouse Plein Air Juror

This year’s juror is Melanie Thompson of Richland, Washington. While studying graphic design at Washington State University, Thompson spent the summers fighting wildfires, developing a deep connection with the expansive views and untamed beauty of nature. After graduating, she took up a new medium—oils—and painted landscapes inspired by her experience as a wildland firefighter. Since then, Thompson has gone on to win numerous honors in competitions across the country. Inspiration for her work comes from hikes and road trips, and she paints as often as possible on location to better capture the nuances and mood of a place. Whether completed on location or in the studio, Thompson strives in her work to show the sublime beauty of the West’s open spaces. 

2021 Palouse Plein Air Awards

1st Place: Emma Woolstenhulme, Complementary sunset
2nd Place: Michael J. Lewis, Hay Waves
3rd Place: Deon Douglass, Wanderer
Best Palouse: Kitty Bendixen-park, View from Prune Orchard Road
Best Downtown: Rob McPherson, Crybaby Café  
Best Historical: Matthew Brehm, Forney Hall, University of Idaho
Best Sky: Virginia Shawver, Sheep Creek
Student Awards: 
Sam Chadwick, Mountain View Road
Seth Thomas Spencer, Construction past the Arboretum Barn
Honorable Mentions:
Carol Maddux, Palousey
Lindsey Davis Johnson, For Penny
City of Moscow Purchase Award:
Ed Robinson, Palouse Evening

2020 Palouse Plein Air Awards

1st Place: Denise Gilroy, Sunlit Marsh
2nd Place: Bobbi Kelly, In the Arboretum
3rd Place: Carol Maddux, Fields of Smoke
Best Palouse: Jean Arnold, East View
Best Downtown: Sharon Macy, Support your Police: City of Moscow Police Department
Best Historical: Cathy Gottschalk, Farm Life
Best On-Site Photos of Artwork: Pam Rogers
Student Awards: 
Kelsey Grafton, Moscow Farmers Market - Through the Rain
Emma Woolstenhulme, Smokey Rolling Hills
Honorable Mentions:
Ed Robinson, Autumn Haze
Virginia Shawver, Sun Through Smoke
City of Moscow Purchase Award:
Meg Antkowiak, Evening at Idler's Rest
Kelsey Grafton, Moscow Farmers Market - Through the Rain

2019 Palouse Plein Air Awards

1st Place: Gail Johannes, Rolling Hills of the Palouse
2nd Place: Julie Rumsey, Where the Wind Blows
3rd Place: Larry Arbour, Old Road Rails
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