Saturday, June 30, 2012

Painting in Public

I don't mind if cows watch me and,
you know, critique my 2-color palette.
The last time I painted outside in a public space, a family stood behind me for several minutes watching me block in the underpainting. Then as they turned to leave, the woman said doubtfully "Well, I'm sure it will be very nice when it's finished."

LOL! Thanks too much, lady!

It's a real conundrum when passers-by want to engage with me while I'm painting, or even just watch me. On the one hand, I don't want to give painters the reputation of being curmudgeonly, and you never know if that's a potential customer hovering at your elbow, or maybe someone beginning a passionate interest in painting.

On the other hand, I'm not there as performance art—I'm enjoying the park in my own way just like anyone else, and it distracts me to have an audience. I'm not comfortable with it: it's no more enjoyable than for someone to stand three feet away watching me read a book!

The worst experience I had (so far...) was with an adorable, inquisitive little girl who wanted to ask me a million questions about EVERYTHING. I bore with it as long as I could, then eventually told her, as gently as possible, "I'm sorry but I can't paint and talk, I can only do one." She ran away from me like I had thrown scalding water on her! Yep, I'm great with kids.

Arrgghh. I feel terrible about that. Parents, be warned: don't let your children approach strangers in a park.

Is anyone else bothered by on-lookers, and what do you do about it?


  1. At keast the lady said something nice! I've had p;eople criticize my paintings while I'm working.

    Painting in a group helps. like in a class. People are more likely to leave you alone if they think you are "workiing" and not "playing."


  2. You are braver than I am. I don't enjoy plein air, but when I have to do it, I always look for an isolated place to paint, just for that reason.

    Just keep on painting and ignore the comments!

  3. I wear earphones, which may or may not be plugged into anything. Then I can pretend I don't hear people.

  4. I alway get a chuckle out of serious comments from people obviously unfamiliar with painting, especially when I've created a nice loose impression and get the "nice start" comment.

    I love it when they talk about painting. Just don't paint in a touristy spot. Every time someone approaches you get excited because they might talk about your painting, only to be let down when the ask where the museum is.

    Best outrageous moment: a mother and daughter pair commented that they liked my painting in progress because it matched the color scheme of the bathroom they had just redecorated, and said they would like to see it when it was done. I told them I was actually about to pack up and the mother said "nonsense! I'll finish it for you" and motioned to grab the brush out of my hand.

    I was too quick for her, but part of me will always wonder what she would have added.


I love to read your comments - thanks for your feedback!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...