Allie Zeyer crouched so her straw hat was level with Jacqueline Fairbain’s baseball cap, matching the angle of her view of the Tetons.

With her hand Zeyer traced the outline of the mountains and trees in the foreground, encouraging Jacqueline to survey the scene at Schwabacher Landing for the part that grabbed her attention most.

Jacqueline is a 10-year-old who was visiting from Broomfield, Colorado and Zeyer is one of the artists who participated in this year’s Plein Air for the Park event, an annual show that brings artists from all over the country to paint in Grand Teton National Park and around Jackson.

Four professional painters, including Zeyer, donated their time Thursday morning to teach kids about plein air painting during a workshop called “Morning with the Masters: Youth Paint Out.”

This is the second year of the workshop. It aims to provide youth with an opportunity to participate in the broader art show and to connect them with Grand Teton National Park and the natural world in general, said Bridget Bottomley, the event and outreach coordinator for the Grand Teton Association. “If there’s a connection there, then they feel invested and then they might become future stewards,” Bottomley said.

Fourteen kids, some from Jackson, others from out of state, gathered to learn from the plein air painting masters.

Painting “en plein air” describes painting outside, a technique pioneered during the French Impressionism movement of the late 1800s, when artists attempted to capture the sensory qualities of scenes in rejection of the fine-detail-oriented realism of their forebears.

Jacqueline spent the better part of half of an hour meticulously deciding which part of the landscape to render on her canvas, sketching mountains, trees and the Snake River lightly with her pencil before she dove into the acrylics.

She paints at home, but usually inside and usually scenes from her imagination, she said. Painting outside is harder.

“You have to use a few more supplies, like shade,” she said, referring to the umbrellas the artists set up to shield themselves and their canvases from the bright sunlight.

Thursday’s workshop was organized by the Grand Teton Association with the Jackson Hole Art Association and Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters.

The Grand Teton Association, a nonprofit founded in 1937, sponsors educational, interpretive and scientific programs that support Teton park. It gets 40 percent of the proceeds from the paintings that artists sell through Plein Air for the Park.

The workshop was open to kids ages 11 to 17 and cost $35. It was sponsored by Wild Tribute, a Salt Lake City organization that supplied scholarships, lunches and supplies. Mountain Resort Services donated a bus to transport the kids from town into the park.

Kai Gessler and Victoria Muse, both 12, attended the workshop together. Victoria recently moved from Jackson to Boise, Idaho, and was back for a visit. The two aren’t first-timers to the craft of plein air painting. Victoria said she often paints outside.

“It’s very soothing to me,” she said.

Kai’s mom is a local plein air painter and is participating in Plein Air for the Park this year. Kai prefers drawing with pencil, but, she said of her mother’s painting, “I do know her tricks.”

Adding green grass to the foreground of his landscape, Riley Biek, 8, stood no taller than the easel in front of him.

Riley’s previous art experience is mostly in pottery and sometimes painting Pokemon characters, he said.

He and sister Lizzie Biek, 12, were at the workshop during a family trip from their home in Arizona.

As she added the base layer of paint to the Tetons on her canvas, Lizzie said she was more accustomed to indoor painting. Creating art outside comes with its quirks.

“All the mosquitoes are hard, because if they bite me, I have to stop painting,” she said.

Plein Air for the Park organizers hope the workshop continues to grow, Bottomley said.

“Our goal is next year we have 16 [participants],” she said. “We’re going to keep reaching out, keep bringing kids in and keep trying to create memorable experiences.” 

Contact Frederica Kolwey at

Contact Frederica Kolwey at

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