Thats the title of a book I read in 1992, which forever re-positioned how I dealt with fear. Along those same lines, my favorite quote is by Eleanor Roosevelt "Do one thing everyday that scares you". Well I had an ideal opportunity to deal with some real fears this past two weeks, painting in the middle of midtown Manhattan, en plein air. Sandwiched in Times Square, Bryant Park and 5th Ave. at 42nd Street (the NY Public Library), I was hired to paint the area - plein air only, for two weeks, 8 hours a day, part of a program offered to 4 selected local artists. My gig ended yesterday and I was featured on the cover of the New York Times today - very nice payback for the grueling schlepping in 100 degree heat.
My big fear was less the intimidation of being surrounded by huge crowds of people, it was more an artistic fear - how do you paint people that are constantly moving? I became acutely aware of why most plein air painters choose landscapes. Mountains, trees and rocks don't move. People don't stop moving. Lets just say I had no choice but to figure it out, the hard way - by doing it on the spot - with no place to hide.
As it turns out, I got pretty fast painting one minute poses, often thats all the time I had to capture someone before they completely changed positions or left altogether. Memorizing was key, as was sketching fast, and also reconstructing (mentally) the physics of how the human body is put together. Just like anything that is a great learning experience, it often happens at the expense of comfort. Well this wasn't comfortable on any level, and I learned more than words can say.
I will attach some of the paintings I did in upcoming posts. This one below was a 10 minute painting of people relaxing on the park lawn. They were not lying together like this, I just kept pivoting my easel around and capturing whoever was nearby.
New York, New York... if I can paint here, I can paint anywhere