There are a lot of things to do inside during rainy or overcast weather, even for the most hardened plein air artist! These tips also work well when you're experiencing 'artist's block'. They'll keep moving you ahead or give you the rest you need to come back refreshed...
1. Bright, overcast (not rainy) days are the perfect days to take photographs of your work. Set up a dry, clean place outside, (or inside if you don’t want to risk the raindrops), such as an easel or a white backdrop. Unlike flash photography, you don’t need to take the photograph on an angle, even for framed work under glass. The bright, diffuse light of an overcast day is perfect for illuminating your artwork for photos.
2. Take the opportunity to clean up your art supplies – sharpen those pencils, give your brushes a wash (and haircut if you use oils), clean your pastels or clear up your work space. This is not time wasted – the next sunny day you’ll really appreciate having everything clean and ready to go.
3. Spend the time solving any long-standing difficulties you have. Are there certain things that you find difficult to draw or paint, such as knees, noses, shiny fabric etc? Find artwork from an artist who is good at those things and copy what they do. It doesn’t have to be in the same medium – classical statues are one of the best ways to study these difficult areas, even from a photograph. You’ll be amazed how much you can learn by seeing how another artist has dealt with the same issue.
4. Sharpen up on the basics, like shading the basic shapes or tonal paintings. Most artists need to review these from time to time to ‘keep their eye in', and you’ll find that as you gain experience in art, the exercises which you may have found boring as an early student become more and more relevant. Tone, and how to effectively create tone and form, are the most common problems that both students and professional artists struggle with. Many don't even see that this is the aspect of their work that needs improving.
5. Start, sort or add to your reference material collection. For example, if you paint flowers, spend the day collecting pictures of flowers either to work directly from or to get ideas from. Sort and file them into categories to make them easier to find. Otherwise you can paste them into a scrapbook or pin them onto a board to inspire you!
6. Do something else creative that isn't related to your art. Often artists think that because their job is creative, they don't need another creative outlet. But if art is your income or you are training for it to be, then it is your work. You still need another hobby that doesn't have any stress or obligation attached to it. A hobby will also re-energise you ready to paint, draw or scuplt again.
7. Draw or paint your friends and family. So often we forget to draw those close to us. This can really connect you to those you love and they usually enjoy sharing something that it such a big part of you. And whatever you create will be a wonderful momento for years to come.
8. Spend the day drawing from memory or imagination. This can really re-energise your art. Let your mind and pencil wander...
9. Look up artists working in a similar style or on a similar subject matter to yourself. Collect pictures of their work and/ or sketch their work and put both together into a scrapbook of ideas and inspiration. Sometimes these can become beautiful visual diaries that you can keep or give to those close to you.
10. Create a mandala painting or a sand meditation painting to bring peace and tranquility to your inner artist.