Plein air painting is a joy. It’s great painting in the great outdoors (provided the weather’s good, of course!) One of the things about plein air painting that some artists don’t like is the fact that they’re not in a studio. When you’re in a studio, you can work in peace without anyone distracting you; you’ve got complete privacy and don’t have to deal with other people. When you’re out in the open, there’s a chance people are going to approach you and ask you things. So what can you do to feel comfortable when plein air painting?
The first thing to do is to make sure you’re prepared to speak to strangers. Even if you plan on going somewhere really remote to paint, there’s still a chance someone may stumble across you and strike up a conversation. Always be prepared to speak to people. Don’t think you’re going to have an undisturbed painting session; expect to be disturbed, so if you do get disturbed, you’re able to engage in conversation then resume your work.
The second thing to do is to be friendly. People are going to be curious if they see someone painting out in the great outdoors. If people strike up conversations with you, try not to shy away from them and end the conversation as soon as possible. Be friendly and try to keep the conversation going. People are taking time to inquire about your work, so satisfy them by telling them about what it is you’re doing. If you’re friendly to people, they will be friendly to you. Having a positive encounter with a stranger will do more to make you feel confident and comfortable than if you have a negative experience through not being sociable.
The third thing to do is to be self-aware. When you’re outside painting, dealing with people talking to you is one thing, but there are also going to be people who will simply watch you work. A lot of the time you might not even notice them; they might just watch you for a bit while passing by, for example. You’re putting yourself out there; people are going to be interested in you sitting there working. Be confident in yourself and don’t let people watching you make you lose focus.
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