The other day, I took a poll both here and on the WetCanvas forum. I asked plein air painters how far they typically walk for a painting. It's an interesting question, and beset by all sorts of variables. A painter's mobility is certainly an issue, but so also is motivation and, perhaps, common sense.
I had nearly 100 respondents. Only 10% said they usually painted from the car or the parking lot. Nearly 25% were willing to walk 100 yards. Another 25% were willing to walk up to half a mile. Surprisingly, 20% were willing to "walk as far as it takes"!
Here are some of the comments I received from the "as far as it takes" group:
It varies, but up to 15 miles - usually by accident. I am lured on for too greater distance by the prospect of a better view 'round the corner, then realise I have gone too far to walk back comfortably, so I get back to the car footsore and dog tired. Coast paths and river paths are the most dangerous for this.
I voted "as far as it takes!" I lose track of how long I've walked sometimes - or how long I've snowshoed. My gear is heavy, but I get used to it after a while. Though I'm often sore when I get back home!
My maximum in the mountains was 3 1/2 hours (& 3000 feet higher.) The problem is - if you are going too fast you have to change your wet clothes (sweat) before painting.
If I have time, I've driven 3hrs (each way,) hiked 8 miles (each way,) plus elevation gain. I love the places I've gone, but all that effort getting there really saps the energy levels to actually paint.
What puzzles me is that when you are going out further and further on a day looking for a subject and nothing seems to be good, but coming back when you have no time left and sore feet there are great pictures in every direction you look.
This made me count the times I've gone out only to sweat up hill and back down again for a painting spot. I've gotten bee-bitten, poison-oaked and nearly skunked in my efforts and they are the more memorable ones at that!Frederic Church wouldn't have made those great paintings of the Andes if he hadn't travelled all the way there to make a few color sketches.
By the way, the latest issue of Plein Air Magazine has my picture in it. Because you'll have to hunt for it, I've imaged the page below with my picture outlined in red. It's the ad for the Plein Air Convention & Expo coming up in April 2012. I'm honored to be one of the painters in the program.
And the studio sale continues!