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).
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.
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 webcamtaxi.com, hdontap.com, 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.
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.
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.
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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