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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Painting in Public

I got over my fear of painting in public years ago. It was a big hurdle for me, but I still prefer solitude and I usually seek out places where I won't encounter too many people. All but one of the townscapes I've done to date have been painted from photographs, and the one that I did do plein air was purposely on a quiet, off-season weekday morning. But that's about to change:

The Artists' Gallery co-op that I belong to has partnered up with the Kalmia Club this year for the 11th annual Hidden Gardens of Lambertville Tour - a self-guided walking tour of private gardens in the town of Lambertville. Several of the gallery members will be painting at these gardens as hundreds of people take the garden tour, and I agreed to take part. We'll have a fall exhibit at the gallery where we'll donate part of the sales to benefit the Kalmia Club's community efforts.

It'll be an interesting experience, and for a good cause, but I do have a few reservations:

  1. Obviously the large number of people - I don't know if it will be hundreds, but it will be a lot more than I'm used to. I really don't mind an occasional break to talk to a passer-by - I usually enjoy that. But I'm worried that with too many onlookers, I won't be able to concentrate on the painting. You only have a very short time in which to capture a scene before the light changes it completely.
  2. I'll be painting on unfamiliar ground. I'll have more than a dozen gardens to choose from but I've never been to a single one before. What if I don't find one that inspires me to paint? I'm sure the gardens will be beautiful, but I sometimes have a hard time finding a painting even in the prettiest spots. It's not unusual for me to go somewhere to paint, do some exploring, then head somewhere else because nothing was calling out to be painted.
  3. I almost always paint wide open spaces. Here I'll be painting small gardens, and from what I hear, some of these gardens are very small.
  4. The dreaded 'ugly stage' - as I've mentioned in my 2 demos here, the early stages of painting can look pretty dreadful. I know where it's going, but to everyone else, it'll just look like an ugly painting.
So, I may end up doing an ugly painting of something I really don't want to paint, as hundreds of people stream by politely saying "that's nice". Okay, that's the worst case scenario. Hopefully I'll have found a great spot to paint, met lots of nice people, turned out a good painting, and have gotten over my fear of painting in busy places. I'll let you know how it goes.

The garden tour is on Saturday, June 9 from 10 am to 4 pm, rain or shine. Please visit The Kalmia Club website for information on where to get tickets for this event. If you enjoy visiting gardens, and if you want to put some more pressure on me, please come out this Saturday!

1 comment:

  1. Joe- the THOUGHT of doing this would scare me to death.
    The exciting thing is the challenge, which I feel certain you are up to. I can't wait to see how the final painting looks.



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