A friend of mine asked me about an old plein air piece I have up on my website, and it made me think again about my luck when I go out to paint.
On the particular day I was out painting, I knew I had limited time. Having dropped my wife off at work earlier in the morning, I had intended to set up and paint immediately after returning home, but I got a late start, and found myself with a very short time to paint. I set up along a seldom-used country road and began painting a crooked sycamore tree that hung over a small brook. Things were going well, and I was happy with how the painting was coming out.
Now normally, if I had to stop painting at, let's say at 2:00 PM, I'd paint up to about 2:05, then scramble for 5 more minutes trying to pack up everything so I could make it to where I needed to be at a reasonably prompt time. As I was happy with my progress, I knew I was going to stay as long as I could to finish this piece.
As I painted, I felt a presence behind me. It was a slow moving car going by on the road. I hadn't heard it approach because of my iPod. I continued to paint, the remaining time being so precious. Suddenly, I heard an indistinct shout from the car (the iPod still filling my ears), and the car sped up, and a McDonald's cheeseburger went whizzing by my head. A cheeseburger. A sad, partially eaten cheeseburger.
I felt so disheartened. I had already been so negative about my abilities before this day, and now I felt like a bad vaudevillian performer getting pelted with food. Next would be a hook to pull me offstage. Who was I to think I could be an artist?
I packed up and left, before my allotted time was entirely used.
Art critics are everywhere, and they can really get you down, but as I thought about this incident more, I became more positive about it. After all, with critics like this, I'd never be a starving artist! Nothing like painting in Jersey!
Eventually, I think I may go back and paint that spot again, but next time, I'll be watching those cars more closely.