Plein Air is Plain Amazing!

Plein Air is Plain Amazing!

August 03, 2023

On August 1st, the Teton Plein Air Painters met at the Gros Ventre Cliffs in Kelly, WY to set up their easels and paint the diverse landscape surrounding them. The cliffs are depicted in oranges, tans, and reds, while the conifers inspire deep earthy greens. The river meanders through the landscape and the canvas, a refreshing body of blue that cools the artist while the brisk morning turns into a warm afternoon. Anne Newcomb and Mary Lohuis sit in camp chairs in the grassy clearing, catching up as old friends do after time apart. The two ladies have known each other since their children attended school together. Both have lived in Jackson since the early 60s, and are proud to call this beautiful place their home. Painting outdoors, or en plein air, is a passion of both of theirs. As we talk, the two stop and turn their attention to a dark bird flying high above us in the sky above us. They briefly discuss whether it is a raven or a crow, and mutually admire the soaring creature. Thus, the spontaneous magic of painting outside.

Anne Newcomb is an avid watercolor artist, and has had her work in three Teton Plein Air Showcases, including the one exhibiting right now in the Art Association of Jackson Hole’s Gallery. Newcomb loves seeing her fellow painting friends at every meet up, and she feels supported by the community of painters. Lately, her focus has been on patterns and values. She wants to capture the darks of the conifer trees and the lights of the cliffs.

Mary Lohuis explains that the Teton Plein Air group is an incentive for her to consistently paint. With weekly meetups in different locations and monthly critiques, the group is dedicated to growth and support. The group was formed around 11 years ago, and is continuously growing. 

June Nystrom used to teach elementary school art, and now paints with the Teton Plein Air Painters. Nystrom enjoys having people to talk to with similar interests, as well as the unpredictability of the landscape. A couple of boys jump off the cliffs she is painting which brings a smile to her face. 

A little ways away is Eliot Goss, a seasoned painter with a background in engineering. Goss also enjoys the community aspect of this group and the kindness that comes with it. The kindness is clear from the smiling faces the moment I arrive, to the offerings of water bottles and sun coverings as the day grows hotter. These folks care about each other, whether you have been a part of the group for 5 years or 5 minutes. 

Painting outside can be a mental and physical challenge. An artist must withstand the elements, transport their painting supplies to the site, while also minding the critters that live there. Some of the artists swat at mosquitoes that inhabit the riverbanks of the Gros Ventre. The mental challenge comes with attempting to create an art piece despite all the obstacles that come with painting on scene. Regardless of the mental and physical exertion, the immense pleasure and inspiration that comes with painting en plein air is what draws the painters back week after week.

Currently there is the annual Teton Plein Air exhibit in the Art Association of Jackson Hole’s main gallery. This year’s exhibition, Seasons in Plein Air, celebrates all the seasons of the Jackson Hole area as seen through the eyes of these artists. The show will remain on display through August 18th in the gallery. Stop by during store hours to view the hard work of the artists and even take home a piece of artwork! All of the work in the gallery is available for purchase and supports the Plein Air Painters.

 The Teton Plein Air Painters group is always looking for more creative individuals to join their community. To join the group, you must be a member at the Art Association of Jackson Hole, then you can request to be added to the email list for the Plein Air Painters. These artists paint in sun, rain, and snow. Take advantage of these final months of summer by painting under the sun with the Teton Plein Air Painters!