Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Daily Painting Practice- Tips for newbie plein air painters - avoiding crowds

When I paint plein air I enjoy having friends or fellow artists around me. I may not be able to walk and chew gum at the same time but I can talk and paint. However, this was not always the case. Like most artists when first venturing out to paint in public I was uncomfortable with people coming up behind me and watching. So here are a view tips I'll share with you plein air newbies.

Approach number 1:
Try concealing what you are doing.  Don't give up your personal space. keep everything close to the vest... or chest in this case.

Pick a location that normal people( people other than artists) would find hard to get to. Be ever vigilant in the woods though, hikers like to sneak up on you.

If you are in the open try looking a little... how do I put this? deranged! People keep there distance if you look like a nut job. Squint constantly. Not only will this help you control the values in your painting but it makes people uneasy and helps to keep them at a safe distance. ( wearing weird shoes helps too)

Here's a neat trick. Set up an empty easel. Pretend you are in the process of cleaning up or just staring out  at the horizon ...but actually you can be painting a small color study holding the canvas in your hand...( Artists must be creative in so many ways.)

Finally, stand in a place where they have no way to get behind you. Also dressing like a tourist  and pretending to be lost while you are sketching is a good disguise.

I hope this helps any of you who are worried about  getting out there and painting plein air. Of course you could just decide to enjoy the day and paint. One of the benefits of having people come over to check on you is....they might buy something.


Karen Winters said...

I actually like having people come around and watch, unless they want to have a long conversation about their aunt who took up painting when she was 80, or how they can't draw stick figures or a straight line ... or one of the other top 10 opening gambits.

Julie Bloch said...

I attempted my first outdoor painting session last week while on vacation at Padre Island. I luckily didn't have anyone staring over my shoulder, but I certainly found it difficult as I was aware of all the different aspects and different tools of the trade. Your post was great info for a newbie, and will keep at it.

Frances Buckmaster said...

I love your blog! Art work in process and finished, useful information, lots of our true artist's angst expressed... and, usually somewhere in the text, (healing to an artist like me:) it's often delightfully funny!!

Another tip: winter cityscape painters: Think layers of over-sized carefully mis-matched thrift shop clothes,a warm doofus hat, plastic bags worn over your wool sox inside your hiking boots (foot warmers)... and, the piece de resistance: leave your empty coffee cup on a paint rag in front of where you're working. For some reason people rush by...though it's not fool proof: an occasional person will stop long enough to drop a quarter in your cup for some reason.

Celeste Bergin said...

Excellent and fun post! But you left out a really good one.. earphones! I am a sociable person, so when I am outside painting I'll talk to all the passersby if they talk to me. It was a problem because I then became so distracted. I finally learned to "plug in" with an ipod and all the banter came to a screeching halt! No one will talk to you when you have earphones in. It works like magic. If you don't remember earphones..another tactic is to try to look angry. That works too (I did it once, but then felt guilty for being mean! lol) said...

Thanks for the tips

This comment has been removed by the author.

What a RIOT!!! I love this! As some of us are rather shy about painting in public, I have found your tips quite basically, look a little nutsy and folks will leave you alone to create in peace. I think my neighbors must look at me much the same way as I stand enlessly in the middle of my garden just breathing the air and watching the light...and the insects, birds and flowers. Then when I take out my camera and begin zooming in, while in my very similar attire as yours, "croc" shoes and all, I'm sure they're peering out their windows saying, "There she is again!" Thanks for the very entertaining tips...and actually I found them very comforting to know I'm not the only one! When my very formal sister and mother show up and I'm looking silly in my attire and/or habits of study, I'll simply say, "Well, I AM an artist," and happily, no reply. It's a handy excuse for a lot of things.... ;o) Jeanne

Anonymous said...

This addresses my main problem with outdoor painting. Thanks for the tips. When I get around to applying them, I'll let you know how it works out.