Aug 6, 2015

Beware: 5 Health Hazards of Plein Air Painting!!!


Yes I know, You think I am crazy!

What could possibly be bad about Plein Air Painting??

Fresh clean air

 relaxing atmosphere

away from the hustle and bustle of life

Being "At One with Nature" !!
I am tucked in close to the cliffs, out of the wind but note that foot!!
I have just got back from a 3 weeks trip, painting up a storm: 
on the beach
 in the forest
 on the bluffs
 painting everywhere!!

However, You will be amazed at the Hazards!!

Part of the problem I think is that artists are crazy people.  As artists you get all excited at some of the goofiest things: the light falling on the water; waves pounding on the beach; the tall, old growth firs standing quietly on the trail.  You grab your gear, set up and start to work.  Your family knows you are lost for hours, maybe even days!! 

But are you prepared??

1.    Sunburns - (Probably the first thing you would think of) Even if you start in the shade the light will change and sooner or later you are in the sun.  I am usually pretty careful: hat, long sleeves, shady spot but watch out for your feet. I was working away and quickly shifting when my work was in the sun but who thinks of your feet!  My sandal feet got burnt!!

I was lucky when I worked on this forest scene - no mosquitoes!!  
2.    Bug Bites - I am more a spring to fall Plein Air painter so the bugs are out when I am out!! You never know when those guys will get you.  Again, those sandaled feet, sitting on a log and painting; who knew there were such things as sand fleas!!  Later, Sitting on the rocks, surf is pounding in, painting a lighthouse.  Medium breeze off the water so no bugs right?  Well, except for the few hiding behind my ears out of the wind!! Let me tell you, their bite meant business!!

3.    Eye Strain - This is an issue - Sunglasses or no Sunglasses?  I am in the sunglasses camp.  When I paint, I am usually there for hours and the glare off the paper and the scenery can be brutal. Yes, I do agree that sunglasses change your colour perspective a bit.  Definitely not the time to have those rose coloured glasses.  I find if I start the picture with sunglasses it is better to finish it with them.  That way the colours are consistent!!

Yes that is Rusty sitting on my lap.  This weekend he turns 19.  He still likes to curl up and keep me company when I paint.  However, he sleeps for more than 1.5 hours now!!  We were both in trouble!!

4.    Muscle Strain - So easy to do!!  You find your spot, set up and you are away!!  Who pays attention to time!  You are in The Moment!!  Hours can fly by and you haven't really moved.  Your arms, back and feet can scream their head off but you know what it's like.  "I will just finish this spot, then break, wait, I need to darken that spot, okay, no that line is too sharp . . ." 
I have been lucky.  My dog Rusty, paints with me.  Either on my lap if I am sitting or at my feet.  He has a 1.5 hr limit and then he says we need to stretch.  He is soooooo right!!
Easy to forget time here!!
5.     Heat Stroke/Frost Bite/Dehydration - Again this is so easy to do!!  Remember, we are in The Moment!!! Am I thirsty? Cold? Hot? Who thinks of these things when the light is changing!! The excitement of moving in on a picture is all you feel.  Then suddenly you are done, you step back to admire your work and OMG!!!  "I am cooking and I haven't had a drink for hours!!"  Like I said, part of the problem is Artists are crazy people!!

      Of course there are more hazards: bear bits, cougar attacks, . . .  When Rusty got restless and wanted to go I realized the coyotes were vvvvvvvery close!
  (Actually I realized they had been making a noise for some time, I just hadn't really paid any attention)   We got out of there very quickly!! 
Douglas Firs on the Trail - 5 x 7 - Ink

BUT despite the hazards the adventure is worth it!!

Spending time observing and painting life is and experience like no other.  Every picture definitely has a story!!
Rough Waters - 3 x 7 - Watercolour

Head out and paint but remember, like any outdoor adventure you need to be prepared!!
Tell me about some of your adventures.
Have a great day,

See Lots more info on my  Plein Air Page


Sea Dean said...

I'm a plein air cheat. I paint plein air on my balcony. I paint plein air in my car. I paint at the local park 1/2 a block away, which has spectacular trees, flowers, games areas, waterpark and mountain views. One day I may get brave enough to do a plein air hike, but I'm too busy cheating to get around to it.

Brenda Hill CDM said...

Wendy, you make it sound like so much fun!... the art is splendid

Wendy Mould AFCA said...

Hey, if you are in your car or at the park you are half way there. Start small with a sketchbook, you will be surprised how quickly you will want more!

Wendy Mould AFCA said...

Brenda, for me it is great fun. I love the challenge to try and capture that moment and I love to be "out there". I am not much of an urban sketcher but I totally understand why Emily Carr wondered around BC and did what she did, even though the world did not support her.