A Painters Vacation

As a professional watercolor painter vacations are extremely important for the main purpose of recharging my batteries and allowing a break from the normal routines. I get inspiration, motivation, stimulation and relaxation by going to new locations and seeing new cultures. But each artist approaches vacations in a different manner and for different purposes.

Many painters like to go on vacation and take along a small set of painting supplies to sit there in the midst of it all capturing the mood, atmosphere and energy they feel at that moment. Others like to take along sketch journals to capture scenes with quick sketches and notes that are useful when they return home to work on finished pieces. Some like to set up their gear right in the middle of the action to paint and interact with the people around them. Still others organize their vacations around painting workshops that are being conducted in the locations where they are headed.

Because being a full time watercolor painter is a 24/7 job, I approach vacations from a different perspective. I mainly use vacations to recharge my batteries and get away of the daily routines. I like to relax and forget about painting for a while. I stop being a painter and become an observer. I become part of the crowd and see what it is that makes up the character of a place. Is it the people, the architecture, the flora and fauna, the locale, the culture or a combination of these things that creates the essence of a place?

With my I-phone camera I take lots of photos. I like to capture image of people, buildings, animals, plants, flowers, street scenes, the activities of locals, whatever captures my fancy at the time. I will look into people’s backyards, down side streets and alleys, into buildings, into people’s home (with their permission), into work places. I’ll walk past the end of a beach to see what is around the corner. I’ll walk into bakeries, restaurants, bars, stores, construction sites, and hotel courtyards. Basically I’ll go into anyplace that I don’t get kicked out of or I’m denied access when asking permission. The purpose is to look for interesting shots that I feel are part of the ambiance of place and may become an interesting painting later on.

I feel I get to enjoy the vacation more this way. It is easier to relax without feeling the pressure of having to get some painting done. I am part of the crowd and get to experience many aspects of the place rather than a few chosen spots that I would see if I was plein air painting. With the camera I can study and observe without any interruptions. When I paint on site there are always the people who want to come up to you to talk and pull out there cell phones to show you the art they created back when. They mean well but do not realize how disruptive and distracting they can be. I like to focus on my work when I’m painting!

Once I arrive back home, I simply download and sort on my computer the many photos I have taken. This can be the source of many watercolor paintings over many years. Once the painting process starts I am right back at that vacation locale with all the emotions and experiences that I felt while there. Being primarily a studio painter, the studio is where I do my best work and with the archive of shots to work from I get back to work feeling inspired and rested.

-Ronald Pratt July 20, 2017