Plein Air Jackson Hole

My plein air set up.

Jackson Hole provides many wonderful places to paint plein air. On a beautiful day I headed out in my car with my painting supplies looking for just one of these places. I didn’t have to go far and I found a beautiful view of Sleeping Indian Mountain with the Gros Ventre River in the foreground. And there was even a small parking area where I was able to set up.

Above can see how nice it worked out that I could paint right beside my car. The trunk even provided a nice shaded area and I was able to keep my supplies handy right there in the trunk.

Painting Sleeping Indian plein air.
Starting my painting with a neutral wash and a the drawing in oil paint.

I don’t think this is an official look out but the “parking area”, which was made of gravel, is big enough for half a dozen cars. Throughout the afternoon cars pulled into the look out and it was fun to visit with tourists who had traveled from all over. There was even a large bull moose out by the river for a long while and at one point there were probably 15 people with their cameras taking photos. That was a little distracting! But that’s the fun of painting plein air.

I didn’t talk too long to the people that stopped by because I had a painting to get done and the light always changes fast! Though it is good to take breaks, get away from my painting, and then back to the painting with fresh eyes. Below you can see what my view looked like.

My view of Sleeping Indian when I set up to paint plein air.
My view from where I was set up to paint.

I started the way I usually do: I stain the canvas with a turp wash of ultramarine blue mixed with burnt sienna oil paint. This just gets rid of all the white and gives me a neutral surface to start painting on. Then I do a quick sketch of the composition. This is an important step and I take my time with this, making sure all the elements I want to paint will fit on the panel in a nice composition. Then I lay in my darks and work towards my lights. So, the dark green trees first, then the far mountain (that’s Sleeping Indian), then comes some of the other trees and the river in the foreground.

My finished plein air painting of Sleeping Indian Mountain in Grand Teton National Park.
My finished painting of Sleeping Indian.

It doesn’t matter what the “darks” and “lights” are, they could be trees, a river, the sky: I just look at what color the shape is and go from there.

Sleeping Indian is another name for this mountain which is officially called Sheep Mountain and it’s part of the Gros Ventre Mountain Range in Jackson Hole, WY. Plein air in Jackson Hole has been wonderful this summer and I’m looking forward to more next summer.

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