When talking about landscape painting, we
don't often consider the urban landscape for a plein air painting subject, but for those painters who live in
cities and urban areas, it can be a challenge to find any natural landscape to
paint at all. Resourcefulness and a bit of daring are sometimes called for when
the view is obscured by buildings or only visible from a structure located in a
|Landscape painting in the urban environs.
Although the photo
at the left was taken in a rare quiet moment, my location was a busy walkway on a
bridge spanning a major river in the Midwest. Because there is also a dam below
the bridge, there are hydro power plants and other industrial and city office
buildings blocking both shorelines. While it was an advantage to be able to use
this bridge to set up looking down the middle of the river, it was a
disadvantage to be on a busy pedestrian walkway on a heavily trafficked bridge.
Fortunately, there was a low concrete wall which protected me from the traffic
moving at 40 mph a few feet away, but the distractions of the traffic noise,
vibration, occasional honking created challenges to the concentration needed to
focus on the subject. Also, because I was partially blocking the walkway,
people had to slow down and sometimes stop to get around me. Comments or
conversations would naturally develop out of that.
situations, most people are pleasant - even interested to see an artist at
work, but constant interruptions can slow down the painting progress! It gets
hectic when the sun starts to go down quickly and only precious moments remain
to get those beautiful shadows just right.
My usual strategy
in these situations is to get on site early so that the lion's share of the
work can be put in before the critical elements must be nailed down. By getting
the composition and colors blocked in early, I can be relaxed about the
interruptions until the last few minutes. Sometimes I work on a smaller size,
if I arrive late, as was the case here. I try to be pleasant to passersby and
answer any questions or comments - even pass out a business card if asked for
one. I always meet interesting people curious about painting or art. They are
the ones who usually bother to stop and chat. And, surprisingly often, I meet
someone who wants to learn how to paint like I do, especially plein air.
Until now, I could
only suggest that they take one of our workshops during the year. But that
option isn't possible for everyone. After many months of development, we have
inaugurated a new educational outreach program to accommodate more people which
we call The
Artist's Road School. We are offering personalized mentoring
online, designed with a progressive system of learning exercises and personal
video critiques, available for a limited number of students. Our on-line
mentoring is more affordable than a workshop, more individualized, and students
can enroll month by month. We offer only watercolor instruction at present, but
will be offering oil painting instruction soon. Our hope is that this will give
busy people and those on a budget the opportunity to finally make their dreams
of creating beautiful art a reality.
If you or someone
you know is interested, go to The Artist's Road School by clicking here.
Check out The Artist's Road,
where you'll also find more great articles, artist interviews and unique artist
--John and Ann