Artistically inclined Dopers, do you make art outdoors?

Strange title, couldn’t think of anything better.

Basically, I want to draw something, but I’m not having any luck in my apartment because I don’t feel like drawing shoes or cats. Or my hands or feet. Or sitting in front of a mirror. I might find good subjects outside, but I’m not exactly an exhibitionist when it comes to my art.

My main problem is I must see something to draw it. I can draw fairly well from my imagination, but it never has quite the right look because I must see something to get the correct shading and such. I really envy those who can draw from imagination.

So, do you ever go out and about with your sketchbook? Do random strangers accost you and try to engage you in conversation, praising your drawings or lamenting about their lack of talent? I foresee many situations I’d rather avoid if I sat down by the waterfront drawing sailboats.

Yes. People will constantly hover around you and peek at your art with varying degrees of surreptitiousness. The few people who say anything about it will say glowing things though (at least they all have with me).


I don’t draw outside very often now, but a few years ago I did a lot of landscape/seascape work at the zoo and down at the harbor. People do sometimes talk to you, but if you’re wearing big headphones (you don’t even have to listen to anything- I like to hear what’s going on around me while I work) is an effective off-putter for the majority of passers-by.

You do get a lot of “oh that’s so good!” no matter what it looks like (my seascapes were terrible), but if you just smile, nod, whisper “thanks” and turn back to your work, they’ll leave you alone. If you can get your back to a wall or tree, that will help you avoid over-the-shoulder surprises. Whatever you do, don’t tell them that your piece isn’t as good as you’d like- that opens a conversational door that won’t close until the passerby gets tired or hungry and wanders off.

I really didn’t like the interaction at first, but I had to keep at it for some classes, and it helped me lose some of my self-consciousness about my work. Also, little kids are a hoot.

If you want to draw nature scenes but are worried about the public critique, have you thought about drawing from photographs? I like to paint and I am a bit of a photo nut so I tend to go out on with my camera and take pictures specifically to paint from.

That way I don’t have to worry about light changing, or not finishing a painting and having to come back another day where everything looks different.

I do draw from photographs occasionally, I just don’t have a great camera right now. I’m kinda pissed because I had an awesome photo I took of a train station in England that I had displayed in my living room, that would be perfect for what I want to do (I need a couple more pictures to decorate with, so I’ve got a couple of 18x24 frames I want to fill). But a friend spilled a drink all over it and it’s ruined. I took it with a friend’s camera, she developed it, so I don’t have the negatives.