Plein Air for the Park!

A sampling of "Plein Air for the Park" artwork. Paintings are created by members of the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters.
A sampling of “Plein Air for the Park” artwork. Paintings are created by members of the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters.

Cross my heart ~~ One of my defining moments as an arts writer and events producer has been my role as promoter for July’s annual Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters’ (RMPAP) “Plein Air for the Park” National Paint-Out & Show. Each year, dozens of TRUE plein air artists converge in Grand Teton National Park (GTNP) and the Jackson Hole area to paint their hearts out for two weeks. All completed paintings are exhibited and sold in a three-day event at GTNP’s Craig Thomas Discovery Center (CTDC), in Moose, Wyoming.

This summer’s closing events take place July 15-19th, at CTDC. The show’s Opening Reception, free and open to the public, is scheduled for Wednesday, July 15th, 7:00pm-9:00pm. The party and show is “the cornerstone of the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters event calendar and a highlight of GTNP’s summer season.”

What do I mean by “TRUE” plein air? Plein air painting is painting what is right in front of you, in nature, despite (or because of ) weather-related circumstances. The genre is extremely difficult to execute, and if you admire an artist’s plein air work, it’s because they’ve done their homework. Plein air artists are thoroughly schooled and practiced in classical art technique. Their work is largely realist, rarely abstract.  Erin C O'Connor, "On Evening's Edge," 18x24", Oil on Linen

Erin C. O’Connor, “On Evening’s Edge,” 18×24″, Oil on Linen

The most important point, however, is that they “paint in the moment.” True plein air painters do not bring along a photo to paint from, or a full sketch, or paint something that isn’t there.

All works will be for sale, with a portion of proceeds benefiting the Grand Teton Association, GTNP’s non-profit education and interpretive partner association.

Additionally, a “Quick Draw” will follow on Saturday, July 18 at 9 am, also at CTDC. The exhibition and sale will run through 4:00 PM Sunday, July 19th. A “quick draw” is just what it sounds like: artists gather and produce paintings in a short period of time. Those works will also be for sale, fresh and wet on the canvas they “came in on.”

Visitors check out a Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painter's "Quick Draw."
Visitors check out a Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painter’s “Quick Draw.”

It’s gloriously fun to go plein air painter hunting! Artists work for at least a week to create the paintings for July 15th’s Opening Reception. They’ll be out there beginning July 6th, so keep your eyes peeled!

Bill Sawczuk at work.
Bill Sawczuk at work.

Artists can be found anywhere and everywhere, from the side of the highway to a tiny forest clearing, to the shores of String and Jenny Lakes, to the Moose-Wilson Road and all the way north to Oxbow Bend. If you spot an artist, feel free to watch as long as you wish, and ask questions. Artists come from all over the inter-mountain West, and there’s strong Jackson Hole participation.

“Plein Air for the Park” is the finest and first event heralding the rebirth of plein air in our region. Plein air is cool! This is the event’s fourth year; since its first year, plein air events now spring up everywhere. Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks’ art histories are rooted in plein air.

To see the full “Plein Air for the Park” schedule and a list of participating artists, click here. To learn more about the Grand Teton Association’s important role in bringing arts to Grand Teton National Park, click here. Enjoy!

I’d be remiss not to tell you where you can find a full schedule of Jackson Hole 4th of July “fun things!” Your best source is Jackson’s Chamber of Commerce.

AND…don’t forget to check out my own website, the Jackson Hole Art Blog, for more “fun art things to do in Jackson Hole!”

Jackson Hole artist Kathy Wipfler at work.
Jackson Hole artist Kathy Wipfler at work.