View Full Version : Safe to Paint alone?
03-26-2002, 11:53 PM
I have painted outdoors many times in the past, but lately I am a little afraid of going out alone as I used to. I don't have a buddy to go with me and my husband would be too bored, so I got this bright idea to go to the local zoo and sketch some animals where I would be safe in a crowd of other people.
I am interested to hear how you handle the problem. Most my students work and the one who does not said she would go but would be too embarassed for someone to look over her shoulder at her attempts, so she would just watch me.
Interested to hear some of your experiences and ideas.
Thank You, Marcy
03-27-2002, 12:32 AM
If you don't have a dog of your own, can you borrow one from a friend? The dog doesn't have to be particularly protective; anyone who might wish you harm will assume that it is.
03-27-2002, 12:44 AM
I know how you feel. I get so into what I'm doing when I'm painting that I would never notice a suspicious dog or person approaching me. And, like you, I don't have a buddy. But, I always feel fine in a crowd of people-- a park with people around is good, or a campground, or even a hiking trail that is frequented by a number of people. It's only in the city that I get nervous-- so I've been painting from my car-- see my thread on stealth painting. :)
And, I LOVE the people that come up and talk to me. I've never had anyone say an unkind word. My favorite comment from an adult was, "LOOK kids, a REAL ARTIST!" One woman told me it made her day to see me out painting, and another said I was the most picturesque thing about the site, so she took my picture. But, the kids are the best-- they're all artists, too, you know, so we have a lot to talk about. At the conclusion of one conversation with a little girl about 10 years old, she said, "That's really looking good, but you know, there's a lot more blue in that walkway." I looked, and sure enough, she was right!
Do tell your friend to go ahead and bring her stuff to paint. People are very kind-- mostly just admiring that someone has the courage to get out and do what they want to, no matter how good they are. I think people realize that it's MUCH harder for a beginner to do that than an experienced artist.
03-27-2002, 03:45 AM
I can only point you to a previous thread on this subject which has much advise, not least that the Yorkshire Dlaes is a splendid place to paint.:D Here's the link:-
03-27-2002, 03:45 AM
Originally posted by Yorky
I can only point you to a previous thread on this subject which has much advice, not least that the Yorkshire Dales is a splendid place to paint.:D Here's the link:-
Sorry, hit the "Quote" button!
03-27-2002, 09:31 AM
Aside from the big paint outs I go to, I usually work alone.
Stay in view of the highway if you are in rural areas. Never go down dirt/paved roads that are isolated. Wear light or bright colors, easy to spot. Keep your cell phone in your pocket. Don't leave it in the car. Keep all car doors locked except the drivers, so you can hop in and lock it quickly. Tell others the general area in which you will be painting before you leave. Keep an extra set of car keys in your easel or supply bag. If anyone acts suspiciously, get in your car and drive away. You can always come back to get your equipment. Your life is more important than things!!!
Good places to paint:
Public Parks, Botanical Gardens, Zoos, Boat Ramps and Recreational areas, University campuses usually have park like settings, farms, public roadways. Historic neighborhoods, land preservation areas. Hospital grounds often have park settings and ponds. National Monuments.
Network with other plein air painters in your area to find new areas that you might not have thought of.
Start a plein air organization in your state as we did in Florida. Plein Air Florida acts as a clearing house for regional groups in our state. We send out info on good painting locations and announce paint outs, gallery shows, equipment sources, workshops,etc for plein air painters in Florida. We started with 2 painters and now have a membership of about 100 through out the state. Anyone can do this with a little effort, and I like to think it is helping many painters.
03-27-2002, 12:16 PM
Normally, if I am going to paint outdoors (a rare occurence as I am a weather wimp), it is in the mountains. My problem is not so much the human predators (so to speak) but the animal ones!
Someone should ask Rich Williams what he does, because I know he does a pile of plein aire work.
03-27-2002, 12:35 PM
Linda, great list!
If you love flowers, like me, ask at your local nursery if they would mind your painting there! I paint at my local park (lots of walkers/joggers/ballparks with folks) during hours when those folks are about. Paint in your yard or in the gardens of friends!
Your shy friend could take a sketch pad....and if someone approaches to talk, just close it gently and smile! Of course, that will leave you to talk to. I enjoy an occasional chat (yep, kids are the best!) but a constant interruption would be difficult. If it gets that crowded and sometimes it does at the botanical gardens where I paint...I just pack up and go home.
Town squares are nice painting spots too. Gives you a lot of interesting people and architecture to focus on. We have a lot of small towns in Georgia with an open square in the middle of town...lots of flowers, statues, big trees, and folks on park benches!
And I paint in the same places all thru the year...the changing seasons offer an entirely new color scheme!
03-27-2002, 12:39 PM
and on the subject of protection...I keep my cell phone handy but my car keys are also nearby. If someone looked suspicious..I'd hit my panic button on my keys. You could always keep pepper spray in your bag too for those menacing dogs.
but, if I felt really uncomfortable...I'd leave.
03-27-2002, 05:01 PM
Thank all of you so very much.I am encouraged to get out there in some of the places you suggested, get my cell phone(I just got one recently and had not honestly thought of it...) put on my sunglasses and paint. I would have to borrow a dog as mine is now 18 years old and just loves everyone she sees and she cannot hear a thing. And yes, I do like to visit with people who look over my shoulder and sometimes they really have a good idea. My husband for instance who could care less about art, occasionally notices something and amazes me with his critique!However he is strictly an "indoor" critic. Ha Ha
Doug, I tried to pull up the link you suggested, but could not get it as I was advised to try later....so I will.
I live on the west side of Phoenix and the east side is the really "ARTY" side....all sorts of gallery's and schools and packed with artists....now on this sice, we got our first art supply just within this last year as I had been driving at least 15 miles in heavy traffic unless I ordered from Dick Blick or whatever. But I do know of an art association on this side and I may see if any of them would care to join me if forming a plein air group.
The "painting out doors" season is very short here as out temperatures in the summer reach to umbearable degrees.
Thank you for your encouragement and ideas. Marcy
03-27-2002, 10:51 PM
The "painting out doors" season is very short here as out temperatures in the summer reach to umbearable degrees.
I know what you mean about weather conditions. I have painted here in Tucson in full heat (usually about 5 degrees less hot than Phoenix) but only mad dogs, Englishmen & plein Air Painters go out in the midday sun.
If you can consider painting without an easel, you could set up inside your car. I have done so & kept the car running with A/C or heater going. I know many folks could not get comfortable in the car & this is only for the most determined, but I thought I'd offer this as an alternative.
03-28-2002, 03:04 PM
Thank you Frank, For your response. As a desert buddy, you have experienced first hand the extreme weather we endure here and I could use the car as a mini-studio as you suggest.When we first moved to the valley a mere 13 years ago, I had a buddy who told of painting in the desert...she said her worst fear was gila monsters and snakes, so she stood in her pick up truck bed and used the top of the cab as her easel. She said she was dreading the day her husband got a birds eye view of it...as she said he would go balistic to see the paint mess up there. Ha Ha They moved several years ago I wonder if he ever found the results of her painting. :rolleyes: Sincere,Marcy
03-26-2004, 02:08 PM
I recommend the book "Trail Safe: Averting Threatening Human Behavior in the Outdoors" by Michael Bane. It is intended for hikers, campers, and backpackers, but the principles apply to plein aire painting.
I go have no qualms about going alone in the outdoors, but i am not a woman. This book can give good ideas to consider.
03-26-2004, 06:04 PM
If you are taking along your cell phone...check to make sure that you are getting a signal. I walk my dog at a nature center (5 miles or so around) and there are certain areas where the hills are high and the phone doesn't work well--of course, anyone trying to get at me with an 85lb Chesapeake Bay Retriever with me would be fairly insane--but suppose you fall and injure yourself? Also, if you can have use of someone's minivan--they are great for painting out of the back. Don't forget to listen to that inner voice...if something doesn't feel right--don't go or leave immediately even if it seems silly. If you find a group to paint with, remember that people will often split up and you are still alone--some folks will stick together but many don't.
Most people who will approach you are just curious and many will just watch from behind you.
03-26-2004, 06:58 PM
Thank You Kathy for your good suggestions. It is so hot here in the Phoenix dessert and I always have such good intentions of getting out more .But sadly I report that lately I have been just being so lazy and settle for going out and taking photos and sitting and getting a "feeling" for the area that I pray will come through and assist me in the comfort of my studio. Ha Ha
I am teaching 2 classes a week and just love every minute of it. It never cease to be amazed at the great work they are doing.I did not think that anything could come close to the great feeling of painting something that came close to saying what I intended. I was wrong. Teaching is extremely fulfilling.
I have suggested we all go on location and paint.....no takers yet. There was a means to my suggestion....I would not be painting alone would I?
I need to visit Wet Canvas more often and see what all you lovely people are talking about!
03-27-2004, 09:43 AM
Taking photos and getting the "feel" of the area is a start to getting out there...I'm sure when you have the time, you will.
Oh, I'm so glad you are enjoying the teaching! I've been approached to teach a drawing class and am looking forward to that. I'm not sure when it will start--the powers that be are still planning a lot of things--but that's fine--gives me plenty of time to plan and research!
03-27-2004, 10:58 AM
Having seen the dark side of human nature while painting outdoors, I feel the need to respond to the original question.
I take a bear-size can of pepper spray with me whenever, wherever I paint and leave it, ready to go, at my feet or in its holster on my hip. It's about the size of a small fire extinguisher. This goes everywhere with me and works on dogs, other animals, and most of all people. I have never had any problems with 4-legged animals while out painting or hiking, but enough trouble with humans to be cautious. Doesn't matter if you're parked along a highway like I was...had some idiot try to rape me there, in daylight, along a busy state highway!! Luckily my dog was with me and that (and me putting up a fight) made him leave.
I use pepper-spray because I can't always have my dog with me when I paint alone. A stun-gun allows creeps to get too close to you. And with pepper-spray, you don't have to have stellar aim to stop a person in his/her tracks. Mine also has a range of 25 feet. The size and color of the can that I have can act as a deterrent too...I had a couple of boys in their late teens threaten to rape me while on a hiking trail near Seattle. I took out the spray, aimed it at their faces, and asked them if they wanted to see what it was like. They ran off down the trail, away from me, at quite a clip!
If you don't have pepper spray, get some! It really works. Outdoors stores will sell the big spray can that I have. It was designed to use on bears, hence the size and range.
I have heard that quite a few plein air painters here in the western US, men and women both, pack firearms when they paint. Again, not for the animals but for human problems. Some of these guys have some wild stories about the occasional problems they have had with people.
Yes, I still paint outdoors. Sometimes alone and sometimes with friends. Don't let potential creeps keep you inside, just prepare yourself.
03-27-2004, 04:46 PM
Nancy, those are scary stories indeed. I try never to paint alone, but sometimes I go to a location and nobody else from the group shows up! I'm definitely going to get some pepper spray. That's a great idea. I can't take my dog with me because within an hour, he's whining to go home, and his diminutive size wouldn't scare anybody away in any case!
Most of the places we paint are out of cellphone range. When I'm alone, I try to find an interesting spot to paint in a highly visible area---not always easy to do.
03-27-2004, 06:49 PM
OMG, Nancy--those are frightening! I'm thinking about taking my dog with me tomorrow even though I will be with a group....she does get itchy to go home but will stay with the car. I can certainly see why some folks opt for carrying a weapon...yikes. What a world we live in.....
03-27-2004, 11:42 PM
Nancy, recently I had a brief scare at a park located by the river but, two park rangers came up and talked to me.
I have often wondered about safety and know that when I go out on secluded hikes, I will take my dog. I took her a lot last year. I also carry my cellular phone and let my daughter know where I am going by calling her at work. Usually I call from the area I am painting in. My town has a river with lots of trails running through it. So there are plenty of secluded areas to be unsafe in. My dog is one who will rip a person to shreds if anyone tries to harm me or even come close. All I have to say is she will attack you, so you need to stay back. :clap:
Anyway, I would suggest anyone who is painting by themselves to have a dog with them as a safety factor. We have lions that roam around in and by the rivers but the lions are the most dangerous animal on the trails.
Keep safe and be smart and aware.
03-28-2004, 12:40 AM
I am sorry to here of the fears out there
the fear of men, foremost
I am a loner, almost never paint with anyone else,
I do like to paint from a local that has few or no people around
this Island is very safe, Europe seemed very safe for painters
I am more paranoid when in the States though,
I have been treated with basic respect by everyone that bothers to look
at the work
I like the bear spray idea!
I also would like to say hello if I ever saw any of you painting(without getting shot or bit or maced)
03-28-2004, 12:54 AM
well Dan, just yell and I'll muzzle my little Daisy dog and invite ya over :D .
But really, it is not safe for women to be alone in secluded areas where the chances of being in trouble could happen. Some looking to cause trouble at seeing a lone person could and have done so. It is just better to be on the safeside than to be sorry. I have been vunerable before and won't be letting myself in that position ever again if I can help it.
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