For some reason, people like to holler this question out of car windows along with “Get a job!” and other pleasantries.
You may have noticed that I don't list prices on this site. To give you an idea of the range, an 8 x 10 painting in a simple frame is priced at about $825 and a 24 x 30 in a gold leaf frame sells for around $5000. Prices for my work are consistent at all my galleries and from me.
Anywhere from one to five hours on location for plein air work. For larger studio paintings, as few sessions as possible so that the initial idea and feeling is more likely to stay intact. The term "alla prima" describes starting and finishing a painting in one session. I'd do them all that way if I could.
Occasionally. Contemporary plein air painter Silvio Gagnon compared painting from photos to painting from life this way:
“The first is like going to the library and reading a book about Paris, the second is like going there for two weeks with your girlfriend.”
The view outside is infinitely rich and detailed. When it comes to atmosphere, color, shadow, light, inspiration, can you beat standing in nature? Paintings done exclusively from photos are often easy to spot. The shadows are too dark, the lights are too light, and both lack color. That said, experience in the field can enable a painter to better “read” a photograph and adjust for the shortcomings of typical point-and-shoot cameras. I won't say I never do it.
I love painting outside in the winter. The atmosphere is so crisp. The colors on a sunny day after a snowfall are so vivid. Russian watercolorists are known to splash vodka in their watercups in order to keep working outside in cold weather! To stay warm, I simply dress for the elements and use small, disposable, heat packets (found in hardware stores) in my gloves and boots. The paints don't freeze — they're made from oil — but they sometimes thicken a little bit. I like the stickier consistency, but a couple drops of linseed oil in each pile on the palette helps to keep them malleable. In cold weather, thinly painted layers set up well, allowing thicker layers to be dragged over top. Fat over lean. It can benefit the painting as well as the cold-weather painter.
Because the time needed to cover the board or canvas (typically 8 x 10 to 16 x 20 inches) is all you have before the light changes too much. Wind is also a factor. I've seen photographs of Willard Metcalf, Childe Hassam, and John Singer Sargent working large out in the field. Must've been dead calm. On windy days those nice, linen canvases become nice, linen sails.
Not nearly as much as the bugs bug me! A painter out in public, with easel, umbrella, and wide-brimmed hat (all essential) tends to attract attention, so I'm accustomed to the occasional audience. Luckily, I usually can manage to carry on light banter while I paint. Heck, sometimes I need a break and really want to chat. It tends to be a solitary job. Desperate for human contact, I've been known to waive down passersby with a "Hey you! Wanna come look at my painting?" (Warning: Not all painters are as desperate for attention as yours truly. Some really do want to be left alone. When in doubt, ask.)
Do you have a question you don't see here? Please send it. Like I said, it's a lonely job. I'd love to chat.