I recently had the opportunity to teach my “Plein Air 101” workshop to 12 folks who had limited outside painting experience. I am always humbled, honored, and Labrador Retriever excited when I get to help launch a fellow artist’s outdoor painting adventure. Watching someone paint their first outdoor painting never gets old to me. The folks in this class made teaching easy. They asked all the right questions.
Invariably, the topic of where to paint came up. How does a painter get an active rhythm started to paint every day or more days than not? Where do you paint Jay? It’s a great fundamental question.
What’s your plan?
My former Project Manager (when I had a day job) used to say, “Plan your work, and work your plan”. If you don’t have a plan, you probably won’t get outside and sling the paint because this, that, or the other will get in your way. Let me say it again, you have to plan your week. Be intentional with what little time is available to paint. I’m fortunate because I plan my week around painting. Painting is first is my personal rule. Even though I volunteer, run my house, cook all the dinners, run to the bank, the dry cleaners, groceries, and sometimes even take my mother in law to the doctor. Painting is first informs how I plan my week. I am intentional about where I’m painting each week.
What’s a typical week look like?
I’m sharing in the hope that maybe it will help spark an idea of how you too can plan your own paint activity. My office wall is a white board so each week I write where I plan to paint that day as shown in the photo.
You could use a piece of paper, iPhone or your wall (just make sure you can erase it). It doesn’t matter where your plan is written down, the key is that you WRITE it in the first place. Once it’s written, it becomes a personal contract to yourself as to where you will paint that week. You begin to focus your week.
I learned this habit when I used to work out first thing in the morning. If I put my gear by the back door the night before I was more prone to actually going to the gym. Transferring that to my “Where’s Jay Painting? wall” I find the same habit is reinforced.
That’s all good but I still don’t know where to go.
Here are FIVE public places where I’ve painted in the Nashville area. If you choose to try one of these locations, please be safe. I recommend having a paint partner with you, remaining situationally aware of your surroundings (people, animals, weather) and leave no trace behind you after you’ve painted. The public is always curious about what the plein air artist is up to. We are a curiosity magnet. Be ready to interact with the public when you go:
- Marcella Vivrette Smith Park: http://www.brentwoodtn.gov/departments/parks-recreation/parks-trails-greenways/marcella-vivrette-smith-park
- Warner Park: http://warnerparks.org
- Germantown: https://styleblueprint.com/nashville/everyday/germantown-nashville-tn/
- 12 South Neighborhood (Servier Park): http://www.friendsofsevierpark.org
- Nashville Marina https://www.nashvilleshores.com/public/marina/index.cfm
I’m not ready for painting in public. Where do I paint?
Fair question. If you are not ready to have folks look at you while you’re painting (and yes, it still can be hard for me at times because I can’t fully zone out when in public due to safety) then you should try a week of painting in your own backyard. It’s a great place to start. I’ve painted for a week in my own backyard and not gotten bored. I have my music, my water, my bathroom, and no one to interact with. It’s quiet. Maybe that’s where you can find yourself this coming week. (No, not in my backyard. Your backyard.) Start small but save the above list for when you are ready to try painting a little further away from home.