Open-air painting is inspiring for many reasons:
Inspiration from a convenient and attractive still subject that is consistently and widely available; a variety of scenes that can allow practicing particular techniques repeatedly to improve skill; offers creative stimulation from the surrounding people and activities; and the healthful benefits of spending time outdoors.
Historically painters have gathered in the Montmartre section of Paris famous for its association with painters and writers who lived and worked there. Loutrec painted the famous “At the Moulin Rouge” painting in the outdoors in Paris, which conveys a lively excitement perhaps stemming from the crowd gathered in the cafe central to its composition.
Painting in public spaces has a lengthy history, and famously includes the post-impressionistic era of the late 19th century and can still be seen in centers of artistic talent globally. From Sante Fe, New Mexico’s public square, to New York City’s Greenwich Village, and Tuscany’s Piazza Del Campo, artists continue to gather and create art inspired from the surroundings, people and natural landscape.
For some full-time artists, spending time in the outdoor populated spaces is a welcome departure from spending time alone, which is a challenging aspect of the job for many. Working in an office or other traditional employment setting gives most people the requisite social interaction necessary for social human survival. Whereas, Vincent Van Gogh is thought to have spent an unnatural level of time alone, and without enough human contact went mad. Often professional artists need to incorporate creative methods for socializing into the day’s activities. Painting outdoors is an efficient way to combine both.
While the recreational painter may not need the social stimulation of open-air painting, it is a different type of interaction because the painter is observing a scene and the activities of people. A meditative concentration on a landscape can also improve skill as the light, people and other compositional features in a scene change.
Most people never have the opportunity to paint in a public square. It can be exhilarating to exhibit one’s enthusiasm for art and align oneself with the craft before the public eye.
However, in the event you can’t set up to paint ad loc, you can always snap a picture and later on finish the painting at home by projecting your photo onto a wall or canvas with a fantastic Kwik-Draw KD200 Artists’ Opaque Projector!