I love living in Arizona. Really I do. Yes – I get it – it’s like a billion degrees living here during the summer, but honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I grew up here in Peoria much of my life (I’ve lived in other towns including Glendale, Whitman, and Phoenix) but regardless – having lived here much of my life, I have no inclination to move.
As you can imagine, this can make some interesting challenges being an artist here. Creating Arizona based abstract art means I have to deal with a number of elements when creating it.
I’d like to share them here for two reasons:
- For my fellow beginning artists who want to make art here and things to think about
- To give you a glimpse of “behind the scenes” for my process, so to speak.
I’ll break this down into a few chunks:
- Deciding Where to Paint
- Indoor Challenges and Advantages
- Outside Challenges and Advantages
Deciding to Where to Paint
This isn’t just an Arizona thing – this is an every artist thing. I totally get that. But here I’ll discuss a few things that have to be taken into consideration when deciding where to paint your abstract art (or maybe it’s not abstract, applies either way).
One thing you have to consider is the size of your paintings. I tend to create medium to extra-large paintings. My definitions of these sizes are medium being 2’ on any side, large being 4’ or more on any side, and large as 6’ or more on any side. These aren’t hard and fast rules, just what I use.
Obviously if you’re doing small and medium paintings, you won’t need much space. Maybe a table or single easel will do. Just think Bob Ross. He made small paintings on the same easel over and over again.
If you’re making something above medium, than you might want to consider a longer kitchen table, counter top, or even the ground if need be. If you create your paintings vertically, a common thing to do is to mount a few screws to the wall and hang the painting on that while you paint it.
Temperature is another factor. Aside from temperature, which we’ll cover in a second, you also have to consider fluctuation. This is definitely a fun challenge to deal with.
If you paint inside, it’s not as big a deal, since you can control the temperature (for the most part). If you paint in your garage, or a shed out back, you’re going to have a tougher time with controlling how fast your paint dries, so keep that mind.
Or worse yet, you can be like me – and paint outside – which has even more obstacles. I’ll come back to that.
One final thing to think about is not only the painting or art itself, but also the supplies you need to create that art.
Whether you create abstract art or sculptures or anything else, it’s important that you be cognizant of the things needed to create that piece. Materials, tool, cleaning supplies – all this stuff takes up space, and you don’t want to leave it in places where you – or your piece – can get hurt.
Alright, so now that we covered some of the components, let’s cover the pros and cons of painting indoors.
Should you Paint Abstract Art Indoors?
- Better climate control
- Less space
- Less fresh Air
- Some feelings of Claustrophobia
I’ll cut to the chase here:
Painting inside is ideal. If you have a studio or at least an “art room” in your house where you can go to be creative, this really is the best option.
I’ve already mentioned better climate control earlier, so I won’t mention it again.
But inside spaces tend to be a lot cleaner. You don’t have to deal with as much dust, dirt, or smog. Or run the risk of the wind destroying your piece. This has happened to me, unfortunately
It also tends to be a lot quieter inside. You’re not dealing with blaring horns, loud music, people talking, alarms going off, etc.
Now, for some, this is inspirational. If that’s the case, by all means – crack the windows, open the door, and stand outside. Whatever. But not everyone is like that.
On the other hand, there are some very real downsides to painting inside.
First off all, it’s easy to run out of room. A house or even your studio, can run out of room real quick. Especially if you store your finished pieces where you make your new ones. I tend to find that I create much, much more than I sell.
Next, the air inside is not as fresh as the air outside… at least not in regards to being uncirculated. I suppose what I really mean here is that there’s less ventilation. And if you work with chemicals like paint or thinners or extenders, anything like that, you need fresh air. Not having access to it can actually be detrimental to your health.
Lastly – and I don’t know if anyone else has felt this but I have – is this feeling of claustrophobia after painting inside for long periods of time.
After a while of painting I start to feel boxed in and the creativity just drops off. At that point, I have to walk away and come back to it later. Outside, I don’t feel that way.
Maybe it’s just me.
Okay, so let’s just jump into the outdoors art.
Thoughts on Creating Abstract Art in the Arizona Outdoors (lol)
- Lots of fresh air
- Tons of Space
- Those damn temperatures
- Exposed to elements
- Can be noisy and distracting
I paint outside but honestly I do it out of necessity. I simply lack the room to paint indoors.
As such, I’ve had to learn to deal with the consequences and challenges of painting abstract art outside here in Arizona.
Now, there are a few great things, as listed above.
I love working outdoors, because I enjoy the fresh air, the warmth of the sun (cause I’m always cold for some reason… probably stems from my heart, lol), and I just like enjoying nature. Even if it is mostly cacti and rock.
I have my whole driveway to paint on (now that it’s ruined) and I find that being outside helps me be more creative. I think it has to do with the “not being boxed in” feeling. That I can walk around and not feel confined.
But let’s be real; painting outside is NOT realistic for everyone. Especially here out here in the old AZ.
So let’s tackle the big one right off the bat:
Like 8 months of the year are flippin’ hot here, which makes painting a real pain sometimes. Even if you paint indoors, it tends to dry faster during spring and summer. This is a real nightmare (if you don’t know how to handle it) using water based paints like I do. Oil may take a bit longer to dry, so you may be okay on that one, although I suspect it still poses issues.
We get like 2 months a year that are perfect, then the other two are cold and even worse, wet.
Because of this, I’ve had to learn to schedule my painting for days where it’s less likely to rain, and for smaller pieces I’ll just paint them in the garage on my table.
The only real good side to the heat is that the paintings dry super-fast. This is good for two reasons:
- If you make layered paintings, you can start on the next one faster.
- If you need to store, ship or hang the painting, it’s less time before you can do so.
Over the past couple years, I’ve had to learn how to use these intense temperatures to my advantage and paint at the coolest times of the day, or even at night.
You also have to deal with the elements, including wind, rain, and dust.
Dust is literally everywhere out here. It’s so bad, dust collects in under a week on my living room tv stand. And painting outside is the worst if dust is swirling around. It literally ruins the painting.
The wind tends to blow my paintings away or flip them over so they get ruined, and I have had a couple of paintings get ruined by rain when I thought it wasn’t going to and it did. My mistake.
Lastly is the noise and distraction. I don’t so much mind the ambient noises – the ones I mentioned earlier – my biggest thing is people trying to talk to me while I’m outside. This isn’t a super huge deal, but I just thought I’d note it.
If possible, paint inside. At least in a studio or garage or something that will block most of the elements and give you some consistency in temperature or environment. The more variables you can carve out of the process, the more focus you put to your artwork. But, if like me, you lack the space to paint indoors, do what you must and simply learn how to adapt to it like I did.
Hopefully this article about making abstract art in Arizona was helpful. If so, please let me know, and consider sharing or buying your own Schwabe Original Painting.
All the best,