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What does the process of creating cityscape and landscape art entail? How do those artists choose their locations? What does it even look like to create a portable studio? My guest, Adam Harrison is a cityscape and landscape artist who paints on location and lives in Santa Monica. Adam’s paintings range from four to six FEET! In our conversation, we talk about Adam’s process and strategy, how he connects with the public who live around his various locations, and so much more! I can’t wait for you to hear from Adam’s unique perspective and get the chance to view images of his artwork located at the end of this post.
The first approach to painting outside and on location.
What is it like taking your studio outside for the first time? What lessons do you learn in the process? My guest, Adam Harrison was kind enough to open up and share with me his first experience going outside and on location to start a project. Adam says that on his first outing, he carried two 4ft by 4ft panels made out of a quarter inch birchwood plywood, his studio easel, a lawn chair, a glass pallet, and a couple of reusable bags full of odds and ends. Can you imagine the scene? He took this setup to the Dodger Stadium area where he would end up spending the next year creating his first landscape work. From this experience, Adam came away with a lot of lessons, most notably, making sure to pack sunscreen next time. What can you take away from Adam’s story? What have been your experiences painting outside?
The benefit of having a deadline.
One of the most important things for any creative individual to find out about themselves is how they are motivated. Are you internally motivated and find that you can hit goals and benchmarks that you hold yourself too? Or are you more externally motivated and thrive when you set yourself up with deadlines that other people are counting on? My guest, Adam Harrison shared with me that he operates out of external motivation. Once he realized this, Adam was able to set up external deadlines and benchmarks that others would be dependent on, and this allowed Adam to thrive. Which process works best for you?
The process of picking a motif.
How do you pick your projects and motifs? Do you find inspiration in the settings around you or do you like to branch out and look past the familiar? Artist Adam Harrison has developed three “Have to’s” in his process that helps him pick his motifs. These are the three criteria he uses when he starts a painting.
- A sense of “Wonder” or “Wow.” Something that blows him away, that he loves looking at.
- Does this image resonate? Does he continue to think about it days and weeks later?
- How practical is it to get in front of the image on a weekly or daily basis?
Adam says that these criteria have been instrumental in helping him filter through all the options and ideas that he comes across to pick the right one for him to spend his time on. What has worked for you? What are your criteria for picking a motif?
How predictable patterns and habits lead to success.
What habits and practices have contributed to your growth and success as an artist? Are you still looking for those patterns that will help unlock your creativity? My guest, Adam Harrison was candid enough to share with me some of the daily practices and habits have led to his success as an artist. Adam points to his practice of having between 5-7 paintings that he works on throughout the week that allows him the freedom and flexibility to create wherever his work week takes him. While Adam’s approach may not be for everyone, it is really fascinating to get his take and the creative journey and how he discovered what works for him.
Outline of This Episode
- [1:30] I introduce my guest, Adam Harrison.
- [3:30] Adam talks about how he got started as an artist.
- [5:30] Artists that influenced Adam early on.
- [7:30] What would Adam do when he felt inadequate.
- [15:00] Adam talks about his first experience painting outside.
- [20:30] Struggling with frustrations in the creative process.
- [22:30] The benefit of having a deadline.
- [28:30] Lessons learned from painting outside.
- [34:30] Interactions with the public while working outside.
- [40:30] What makes Adam pick a motif?
- [43:30] Habits and rituals that have contributed to Adam’s success.
- [49:00] Adam talks about a setback early in life.