June 1, 2011

"Silver Creek Farm" 8X10"

As I continue to paint in the great outdoors, I have conversations with more and more painters around why they do not bother.  The reasons are many, and they run all the way from mosquito problems to dealings with distracting passersby.  The biggest reason I hear is "I never like anything I paint outdoors - I'm no good at it".

I think outdoor painting has got to be the most challenging of all subjects, except maybe painting from the live model.  That's why we avoid doing it, and that is why we don't get better at it.  The hook for me is that I don't just get better at "it", i.e. outdoor painting, I get better at painting period from merely engaging in the attempt of painting outdoors.  My eye sharpens, my concentration sharpens, my color mixing skills improve, precisely because it is a difficult process and I am challenging myself, much in the way we build muscles by overloading them.

It's an art "work out".  No paint no gain.


  1. The comments that you mention are so sad. For me painting outside is the most interesting and fun way to paint.

    A landscape architect friend of mine explained that in the added constraints lies the appeal of a remaking a city block over starting with a blank sheet of paper. I guess the added constraints of moving sun, moving subjects, and bugs, makes it more fun for me. And of course, as you say, the practice painting small and quick is invaluable.

  2. I had to chuckle... "I'm not good at it" is the reason I've been doing it this summer. You're doing very well at it.