I spent a few Saturdays in the summer and fall taking a step back in time in a nearby recreated mid-19th century American village. Plein air painting is a great challenge and even if you don't consider yourself a serious landscape painter there are several advantages that any artist could gain. Trying to capture a living scene in a limited amount of time with light conditions changing over the course of your session makes me work in a different manner than when I am involved with a piece in a studio setting. I work faster, trying to capture the overall feeling of the day and there is more careful observation of my subject matter constantly refining the painting as it evolves.
Dealing with people passing by is an entirely different issue. The two most often asked questions I get are:
Are you an artist?
What are you painting?
On my first ever attempt at plein air painting at the Olana estate I made two critical errors. Not packing my ipod (or just the headphones as a deterrent) and setting up right near the visitor's center where a coach bus with 50+ people would show up every 30 minutes. I now wear the headphones even if I forget the ipod!
My first plein air attempt. View from Olana, oil on board.