How Artists Are Coping with Self-Isolation
Katharine Krieg's alla prima study for a larger work: "Spring at the Reservoir," oil on board, 6x8" (

As the country slowly begins to open up in different ways, we’re curious – how have you been coping with self-isolation? Overall, we’ve heard from some artists who are more than ready to be social again, and others who are content with their “artist in home residence” situation. Here are ways some of your peers have gotten through the past couple of months.

Also, know that we’re all in this together, and we at Plein Air look forward to seeing you all in person again at the Plein Air Convention and Expo (now in Santa Fe this coming August).


How Artists Are Coping with Self-Isolation

Cindy Harris

I am both a fine artist and a graphic designer working in the beautiful Finger Lakes area of NYS. My design clients are county tourism promotion agencies and I get to design beautiful publications encouraging visitors to come to visit our awesome area of the country. I am also an oil painter and have participated in a few Plein Air competitions, am an active member of a local gallery of artists, teach plein air painting, and I love to travel with other artists.

This has been a super creative time for me as I have been painting every day. I am grateful to be mentored by an amazing artist whom I admire, Lori Putnam. One morning while I was out for a walk, I had an idea (“Travel Through Art”) that could both showcase and educate about the Finger Lakes while integrating my painting and encouraging people to visit in the future being creative in both situations.


How Artists Are Coping with Self-Isolation
Diane Arenberg

The other day a photo I had taken of Table Mountain in Cape Town South Africa came up on my Facebook feed and a wave of nostalgia swept over me. When we visited in 2011, I loved watching the “tablecloth” of clouds roll in most afternoons over the majestic peak. My pang, I realized, was not only for the place: it was also feeling of loss during these months of self-isolation. I wondered if there was any way of seeing this remotely and the idea of live webcams popped into my head. Of course! I entered the search criteria into Google and I was off and running.

Anyone who works en plein air knows the beauty of working in real time. We’re not limited to a snapshot of a view: instead of a split second in time, we have hours to watch the evolution of a place. I asked myself, “Can webcams provide this feeling during quarantine?”

I entered into a whole new world. There are webcams in places I could never imagine. Granted, some of them aren’t so interesting, but I found many with beautiful vistas. Sites like,, and even YouTube host live feeds. Webcamtaxi is easy to use with maps and categories.

My first foray into painting from these sites was the Guglie Bridge in Venice. A local hotel hosts it. It was mid-afternoon there when I started my painting, 10:00 am my time. The sun was warm and lowering gradually. Even though I couldn’t escape how our world has changed (there were very few people walking around, and the ones that were had masks on), I was treated to shifting light patterns on the canal. The best thing was when the lights came on at dusk! I was hooked.

Since then I have visited Mykonos, Antelope Hill poppy fields, Puerto Rico, and the Norwegian Fjords. My collectors have shown a good response as two paintings sold immediately. For me, this will fill in until I can safely travel. It’s a fun way to do studies without leaving my studio.


How Artists Are Coping with Self-Isolation

Delores Pierce-Haugland

I’m an artist up here in Washington…we are supposed (Gov. Inslee’s orders) to stay home and only go out for groceries and necessities, and to keep 6 feet apart when we do. I live with my cat so I have been going a bit stir crazy. The other day I took my chair out to the parking lot (no traffic!) and sat there and did a sketch and took a photo, then took it inside and did an 8″ x10″ acrylic study, which I named “Quarantine no. 6.”

Before I just had to go outside, I had been doing little “Quarantine studies” of flowers in glass. “Quarantine no. 4” is of some of the Camellias in the patio (that way I didn’t have to go to the store!).

And…thank goodness for Streamline Art Videos! They are saving my sanity. I am so fortunate to have a wonderful art community here and online.


How Artists Are Coping with Self-Isolation

Patty Titcomb

As I’m an essential worker at a funeral home where I help families in need, so I’ve come to cherish the quiet time in my studio.

Just prior to the lockdown I had refurbished just about everything – my techniques, materials, and studio set up – so I’m excited to paint but can’t help but wonder what’s coming next.

I consider myself fortunate that I have employment when many do not, also that I was able to sell four pieces to a collector about two weeks before all this started.

I do look forward though to taking my gear back out en plein air.


How Artists Are Coping with Self-Isolation

Kathy Stutzman

I choose to consider myself an artist-in-residence. By focusing on the positive, I stirred myself up for action and creativity. I discovered that in front of my house I had a 25-foot blank canvas: my sidewalk.

I decided to give walkers and bicyclists something to brighten up their days, stimulate their brains, encourage them, and get their minds off the situation. Every few days, I sketched famous artists or their works and wrote, “Title?” or “Who is this artist?” I also included words/phrases of encouragement.

It worked better than I could have imagined. I met new people, forged stronger relationships with neighbors, and had a lot of fun. Curious walkers would see me drawing and would stop and start conversations. Others would ask to take photos. Several times 2-3 people would be gathered around the sidewalk trying to guess the answers (practicing social distancing, of course). Camaraderie grew as a result. Some told their friends who would then walk or drive by to view the art.

The artisan guild that I am a member of sent photos of the artwork in their emails as a guessing game. I got to know some of the members even better. Some would even phone me about them, offering their guesses.

It sure made the time at home go much faster and more interesting too, as I would research artists for the selection process.


Share your experiences with us in the comments below, and follow #covidart on social media to see more.

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  1. Hi, I coped with self isolation by plein air painting in my garden every day for 30 days. I put them all on Facebook and Instagram daily and called it “The Desperate Plein Air Painter Series “. This kept me in touch with friends and other artist friends. Naturally some days were better than others! Thanks for great articles regards Jane Zandi

  2. I have one friend who also enjoys outdoor art. Both of us are in the risk group for coronavirus. What we do is spend a couple hours here and there in safe locations (yards, parking spots) drawing, then sharing photos of our sketches and paintings with each other via email.

  3. I started a daily painting project. It’s a closely cropped look at faces. I have a gallery page full of them at Daily Paintworks. Having too much fun to stop now…….! Karen Cooper

  4. I host a group of artists who paint together in my teaching studio in my home twice a month for a full day. Well, now we can’t meet and so I started The Challenge Project to keep us all stimulated and learning. I choose a photo from my huge library of personal photos, they use the photo as reference for some creation. There are no other rules . They can use any style, concept, media, color, surface! I only ask that they think outside their usual box. We are now in the Third Challenge Project and the work presented is amazing! Everyone is excited and happy to be “in the loop” of sharing their creative results. I can certainly see growth in everyone’s skills and in their willingness to accept a difficult challenge and stretch their creative skills too. Sometimes we have Zoom Meetings where we share our work and our “safe at home” concerns all over a glass of wine with laughter. It’s good for the soul, for our careers, for our living to the fullest and for each other in this time in history. You can see the results that I post on Facebook.

  5. I began what I call Brown Bag Art. I was inspired one day by the brown grocery sacks that our little local grocery store uses. I cut it up, ironed the pieces flat, coated them with clear gesso and painted little pastel landscapes on them. Because they aren’t archival (neither am I), I don’t feel right selling them so I encase them in clear bags and put them in the little free library for some lucky reader to find, take home and enjoy. They are small 4×6 or 5×7 pieces.

  6. Dear Outdoor Painter,

    Thank you for publishing my 2 small pieces of”Quarantine” art. You made my day…what a nice surprise!!!

  7. Thank you so much for publishing my photo and story! I have been a subscriber to Plein Air Magazine for many years and every month savor the articles and paintings!
    I have had always dreamed about having one of my paintings in the magazine some day… Dreams can become a reality if you follow your intuition and keep working towards your goals. This is such an honor to have this published in this newsletter. I continue to work to develop my skill as a painter. If it is meant to be I may one day open the magazine and find a painting there as well. Cindy Harris

  8. I have used this time to experiment and take online zoom classes with instructors who normally would never be available to me due to distance/expense. I’m experimenting with mediums I’ve never used before and thinking about creative things in totally new ways. I’m so inspired, I can barely contain myself. Who knows what I’ll be making by the time we are out of this situation.

    My thinking is that this is a extremely unique time for art and artists. Trying to make the most of it!!!


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