(Pictured above, "Rita's Back Yard", watercolor)
A lot of painters use a method called "plein air" - which means to bring your paints and paper and set up outside in front of an inspiring view and paint it on the spot. In my travels, I've seen this a lot. Florence, Paris, London, San Francisco, New York City - you see artists in all sorts of places like this, set up in the middle of a crowded square doing their thing.
This has not been my method of choice. Firstly, I'm a little shy about people watching me work. If I were to do plein air painting in Chicago where I live, guaranteed there would be some people watching. Maybe this is something I should work to get over, but for now, eesh. Secondly, what do plein art painters do to record a winter scene? Or a night scene? or a rainy day? I don't believe in suffering for art.
I prefer to use photography to record scenes that move me and then paint later, in the comfort of my own home. Two paintings finished recently, both derived from photos I took while visiting my Aunt Rita in Pittsville Wisconsin last spring. It was cold, wet when I took these photos, but I completed them in warmth, privacy and security, in my living room.