Sunday, May 7

A Sunday runner takes a break under one of the many beautiful bridges on the Schuylkill River. We often take a family bike ride around the river drives. I am the slowest member of the group, always bringing up the rear. Mostly because I can't help leaping off my bike every few miles to take pictures. These are known as "Mom's little pit stops." and everyone is very accustomed to the drill.

Of course, what I REALLY wish is that I could paint here at the river. But there are so many people, a constant stream in every direction. I did try it once, but there were way too many people coming up to chat and telling me all about their great-uncles who paint, their sister who paints, their best friend from high school who paints etc etc. Although I know people mean it only as a friendly bridge to conversation, from the perspective of the captive audience (the painter), the dozens of such tales of talented relatives can become a little discouraging over the course of a two hour painting session. As well as just being distracting. My favorite type of spectator is one who pauses quietly behind me at a little distance, then moves off murmuring "Lovely!" or some such kind comment with no expectation of engaging in conversation.

However, if you avoid a crowded scene and try to paint in a secluded spot there are safety issues to consider. You are pretty vulnerable really, standing there alone, concentrating on something in the distace. A friend of mine was out painting in a fairly deserted area when a group of teenage boys with pit bulls stopped by and shook her down for money. She only had a dollar or two so there was a lot of threatening and macho posturing before they moved off to another victim. Scary. I was also out painting that day, but had chosen a spot closer to a more public area. I had seen the gang of boys and dogs in the distance. So you kind of have to choose, safety or interruptions?

Once when I was painting at Olana I had the very best kind of spectator. Someone kept coming back quietly to watch me paint several quick views of the river. Then when it became apparent that I was starting to clean up my gear they stepped forward and asked to buy one of the paintings. Now THAT was a real compliment.

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