What’s YOUR Excuse?


How will we ever know if we can paint that picture if we put off doing it until we have the time, the money, or – once doing it – we give up too soon? I hear all kinds of excuses why people have no time to paint, even at a no-cost opportunity like my Free Fridays mini-workshops.

Is YOUR excuse here? Is an excuse you have heard listed here? If not, add a comment with the best excuse you’ve heard. Let’s see now many excuses we can collect!


• it’s too hot right now, but I’ll paint when the weather cools down.
• it’s too cold right now, but I’ll paint when the weather warms up.
• it’s too windy out, but I’ll paint when the wind dies down.
• it’s too dirty and muddy near the river.
• the river is too high.
• the river is too low.
• the river is too swift.
• right now I’m not good enough.
• I can’t control things outdoors like I can in the studio.
• it’s a bit too dusty this time of year.


• I can’t make it on a Friday. How about another day?
• I’d be there if was on a weekend.
* I’m just too busy right now, maybe next week (or month, or year).
• this weekend I have to (blank).
• this month I have to (blank).
• maybe after I get my taxes done.
• I can’t this week because tax time is here.
• the river is so far away.
• there is too much traffic on the way to the river.
• I can’t this week, but maybe next week I’ll have more time.


• the sun is too bright, I don’t have my sunscreen yet.
• the sun is too bright, I forgot my hat and sunglasses.
• I got lost along the way.
• I stopped by and you weren’t there, so I went home.
• there is too much foliage at the river, it obscures a view I like.
• the trees are bare right now and I like to paint foliage.
• the grass is too tall to walk through.
• I’m afraid of dogs, snakes, and critters.
• my allergies are acting up right now, but I’ll be there later in the year.
• I don’t like all the ants and insects.


• it is so hot now, the paint dries too fast.
• it is so humid now, the paint never seems to dry.
• I have to baby sit the kids, or grandkids.
• I’ll be there when I retire a few (fill in) from now.
• I can’t get up and down, over the levee, it’s too steep.
• it’s too far to walk. Could we paint in the parking lot?
• I can’t draw a straight line.
• I have no art talent.
• my equipment is too heavy to carry that far.
• there’s nothing there but water, trees, and rocks.


• the painting site isn’t very inspiring.
• the river isn’t all that interesting.
• I’ll be there just as soon as the kids go off to college.
• I’ll be there when my kids finish college.
• I’ll be there when my grand kids go off to college.
• I have to go to a (fill in any sport) game
• my budget won’t allow it right now, maybe later.
• my paints have dried out.
• I don’t know where my equipment is.
• there’s no restroom on site.


• the ground is uneven. I need a flat surface on which to set up.
• I prefer to paint in my studio from photographs.
• I have to clean the house first then I’ll have time to paint.
• I have to do the yard work first then I’ll have time to paint.
• I have to (blank) first then I’ll have time to paint.
• I just never seem to have the time.
• I’m going on vacation in a few weeks.
• it will have to wait until I get back from vacation.
• it will have to wait until I (blank), then I’ll have time to paint.
• It’s easier to just take a photograph.


• I need to be close to my coffee and snacks.
• I’m expecting an important call and need to be by the phone.
• the World Series is on TV.
• College March Madness is on TV.
• the Super Bowl is on TV.
• the Master’s Tournament is on TV.
* the (insert sporting event of choice) is on TV.
• I can’t miss (blank), my favorite TV program.
• I was there late, but I couldn’t find you so I went home.
• it will have to wait until I retire. [Note: Died within 6 months of retirement].
• I’m concerned there might be a mountain lion along the Parkway (Sacramento Bee, Metro Section, 2/2/07, “Mountain lion a mystery along parkway.”

“There are those of us who are always about to live. We are waiting until things change, until there is more time, until we are less tired, until we get a promotion, until we settle down — until, until, until. It always seems as if there is some major event that must occur in our lives before we begin living.” – George Sheehan

So, what’s your excuse? Leave a comment with the best excuse you’ve heard!

9 thoughts on “What’s YOUR Excuse?

  1. Great Woody!

    I’ll add a few from my own students…

    I can’t draw/paint right now because –

    …I have to go on my mission soon (this is a Mormon religion thing).
    …it will have to wait until after I get back from my mission.
    …my (son, daughter, next door neighbor, his dog) are going on a mission, blah, blah, blah.

    …my dog died, I have no time to paint.
    …my cat died, I have no time to paint.
    …my (insert relative) just died, I have no time to paint.

    …I’m giving all of my time for this event (charity, wedding, birthday, Earth day, fuzzy catapiller day, etc.).

    …it costs too much.
    …I don’t make enough money.
    …I’m too old to learn.
    …I’m too young, I have no experience.
    …my car isn’t working.
    …I’m not working.
    …my dog/cat isn’t working.

    …what if it doesn’t look perfect? I’d be embarassed.
    …what if someone laughs at my painting, I’d die (really, just drop dead right there on the spot?).
    …what if I get good, sell my work, and then get rich & famous? I can’t handle that.

    Note: when I remind my students that there are 18 minutes of commercials in every hour of TV programming, and that you could spend that time sketching, I get these…

    …I don’t watch any TV (and I have a bridge to sell in NY!).
    …I don’t watch that much TV (yeah right).
    …I only sit and listen to music (I guess drawing or painting to music is definately out then).

    Really – excuses, excuses, excuses! The kicker to all of this is when asked why “they never learned to draw or paint”, the answer is always that there was never anyone around to show them how. That one always gets me.


    PS. My excuse for not being there with you on Fridays is…

    …it’s just too far to drive (of course, I live some 12 hours and 750 miles away, but that’s no excuse. Right?)

    [Woody’s Reply] I just knew I could count on you to add a few of your own, Russell. David really started me off last Friday with a collection of some excuses he’s heard. So the list goes on. And, yes, I accept your excuse for not being at Free Fridays. That’s one excuse I can live with (grin).

  2. On this beautiful May morning, after teaching an outdoor class at the Sacramento Valley School, and later passing through the Fine Arts Center, I saw some painters at a studio class that I knew. I commented “We should be outdoors painting”, the reply came back sharply: “Not out in that polluted air!”. Well, I enjoyed my morning out!

    [Woody’s Comment]
    Good for you, David! There are many reasons I paint at the river in the early morning. Some of them can be found at http://forestry.about.com/od/treephysiology/tp/tree_value.htm. For example:

    1) Trees Produce Oxygen
    A mature leafy tree produces as much oxygen in a season as 10 people inhale in a year. What many people don’t realize is the forest also acts as a giant filter that cleans the air we breath.

    2) Trees Clean the Soil
    The term phytoremediation is a fancy word for the absorption of dangerous chemicals and other pollutants that have entered the soil. Trees can either store harmful pollutants or actually change the pollutant into less harmful forms. Trees filter sewage and farm chemicals, reduce the effects of animal wastes, clean roadside spills and clean water runoff into streams.

    3) Trees Control Noise Pollution
    Trees muffle urban noise almost as effectively as stone walls. Trees, planted at strategic points in a neighborhood or around your house, can abate major noises from freeways and airports.

    4) Trees Clean the Air
    Trees help cleanse the air by intercepting airborne particles, reducing heat, and absorbing such pollutants as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. Trees remove this air pollution by lowering air temperature, through respiration, and by retaining particulates.

  3. Hi David, Woody (BTW Happy B-Day),

    I’m wondering what the real reason for these excuses are. An excuse is just a way to sidetrack the real issue. So, why don’t artists want to draw and paint out in the real world?

    Maybe it’s the issue of “appearing to be foolish” in our attempts to look “professional.” There are two questions that always seem to pop up when one works outside:

    1) Are you an artist?

    Ok, maybe the public at large has an I.Q. of 80, but seriously, here I am with a drawing pad (or painting easel) and I’m furiously working on producing something “artesy”, and I get asked this question. What do I look like, chopped liver? I think the question that they are really asking is, “…are you a professional artist?”, because question number two is the real kicker…

    2) Well, my brother’s, cousin’s, aunt’s, father’s, mother’s, stepchild’s friend is an artist – and He’s really good. He sells his stuff.

    How does everyone know these famous artists? Where do they sell their stuff? We need to know these exceptional people. But, back to the issue…

    Now we get down to the meat of the problem. This kibitser had no intention of passing you by without giving you the critique of your work. They are just too wimpy to say that they think that your works stinks outright. What they are really upset about is that you, the artist, have the nerve to come out in public and do something that would scare the crap out of most people.

    Drawing or painting in public is like giving a speech, “…here I am, come see what I’m doing.” It’s one thing to paint in a studio and away from prying eyes. If you paint a stinker, no one’s the wiser. If you paint something good, then you frame it and display it (maybe).

    However, when you go outside where there are people, you take on the cloak of the town cryer. This is why I think most artists make excuses for not drawing and painting outdoors. Not everyone is comfortable being “on stage.” What if you make a mistake? What if you look foolish? What if your work doesn’t pass muster? So, we draw and paint in our closets, safe from those mean old critics.

    Of course, these same artists will often comment, “…why doesn’t my work get noticed?” I guess you can’t win either way.

    A side note: Why do some artists that choose to paint outside always get pissed off when you come over to look at their work? They chose to be out in public in the first place, so deal with it.

    I try to take my students out into the real world every once in a while just to give them a positive outdoor experience. If you show them that art can be made out of doors, and that its actually fun, then maybe they’ll continue.

    I wonder if Monet had this same problem? Then again, he always carried a bottle of wine with him. Drink wine, comments don’t matter much. Too many comments, use bottle to beat the commentators with. That works.


    PS. I have more fun waiting for that second shoe to drop after, “…are you an artist?”

    [Woody’s Comment]
    Leave it to you, Russell to tell it like it is (grin)! As for the Monet comment … well, I’ll drink to the drinking part! However, in this day an age, it’s much easier to carry an iPod. Stick the iPod’s buds in your ear and, even if you aren’t listening to anything you can pretend you just don’t hear the negative or distracting comments.

  4. More excuses — I have to write in my blog today, update my website, attend a crafts fair and/or create a booth for my next crafts fair. I’m amazed at how little time is left for painting, especially painting when I’m so relaxed that the ideas and the paint flow beautifully. Resolution: make time for meditation.

    [Woody’s Comment]
    Ouch, some of those hit close to home, Pat, especially the first two (grin). Thanks for your additions!

  5. Hi Woody,

    Here’s a new one that I’ve never heard before. A student who was signed up for my watercolor class, and who came the first night for the initial lecture and discussion of the materials, failed to show up the second week.

    In these cases, I generally know the reason why they “dropped” the class. They found that the costs of supplies were too great, and this is a good reason (not an excuse) for not continuing. Supplies can run close to $100 in the beginning. If that had been the reason, ok, I can live with that.

    However, the next day the MIA student calls my studio and states the following…

    “I didn’t show up for class last night because we thought that my sister might be having a baby. Did I miss much?”

    While trying not to laugh too hard, I had to admire the creativity that went into this one. False labor pains aside, when a baby decides to come, you definately know when. There is no maybe about it. Had the sister actually given birth, then there would be a good reason to miss a class.

    But, no baby. Does the student have a sister? Is that sister actually expecting? Who knows.

    When I asked the student if they had purchased supplies, the reply was, “…well no, I didn’t get around to it yet.” What a surprise. I gave the student my blessing and told them to contact the office to officially drop the class.

    Woody, I think you should publish a book titled, “America’s best excuses for not doing something.” Probably would sell, make you a fortune.


    PS. There are also other options such as “British”, “French”, etc., excuse editions.

  6. Oh Boy! Have you woke me up!!! I’ve been saying..”when I retire”….

  7. I’d love to paint outdoors some time soon, but: I SUCK at landscapes!

    Now, why am I not painting something else anyway? Well… I don’t really have a good excuse for that.

    [Woody’s Reply]
    All things are difficult before they are easy. Beginning is easy, continuing is hard, and so it is with landscapes, or portraits, or most anything else. Right now you have begun landscapes. That is the easy part, continuing is the hard part, but continuing to paint landscapes (if if you feel like your fail at it) is something you must do if you are to succeed.

    I’ve visited your excellent site and read a bit about you. It is obvious you have all the skills, all it takes for you to succeed at landscapes … if you REALLY want to. But you won’t accomplish your goal by painting people instead of landscapes.

    I see two things that seem to stand out on your blog relative to your difficulty with painting landscapes. You write, “I’m waaaaay too detailed-oriented to suggest big things with few brush strokes.” Being detail oriented in things other than watercolor has little basis for you lack of success to state things with few brush strokes. No so, Mafe/Maria! That’s an idea someone else has mentioned and it has stuck in your head.

    I hear this kind of thing all the time in my workshops. People tell me they want to loosen up, but don’t know how. Some spend two days in a workshop and expect to do what has taken other YEARS to accomplish. It is just not going to happen overnight. We must work at it.

    The fact is most ALL of us are trying to “loosen up”. It is an ongoing process, one we HAVE to WORK at. No one can give us the magic solution, the magic pill, the “secret.” With all due respect, you lack success in landscapes because you don’t work at it hard enough, long enough. You mention you should, “Stick with people. Don’t attempt landscapes.” There is the problem. We must fail, before we can succeed at what ever it is we wish to accomplish. Too many of us give up too soon.

    I read that you speak at least two languages. That’s one more than me. So, among other things you are successful at learning language! Good for you! In that case, you can also be successful at landscapes. Do you honestly think you have worked as hard at landscapes as you have at learning two languages? I doubt it. Get out there and paint your heart out. Drop the “t” in “can’t!”

    Also you mention you have a tendency to paint “thousands of tree leaves.” Your writing suggests you want to simplify your work. Then, you mention you have found “a wonderful book that shows me how.” No so. That particular book, good as it is, appears to emphasize “detail.” I would urge you to stay away, at least for the time being, from “detail” oriented books. To accomplish your goal of loosening up, you need to over come the need to paint detail.

    If you want to learn how to simplify those “thousands of tree leaves” it will help if you begin thinking in the terms of DESIGN, SHAPES, and SILHOUETTES. I suggest you go to the Book Store on my web site and look at some of the book recommendations and reviews I’ve posted in that area. You don’t have to actually buy the books there, or anywhere else. Many of the books can be checked out of a library. Those that are out of print can often be found on Ebay.

    Look for books by Ed Whitney, or almost any his students. Also, look for books by Rex Brandt, Robert E. Wood, George Post, Dong Kingman, Frank Webb, Tony Couch, etc. Look up Henry Fukuhara on the Internet. Look for books by symbol or shape painters! I even have some links to some good instructor/authors on my blog. Frank Webb has recently created some excellent DVD’s (Cheapjoes.com) on watercolor.

    And, you must rethink your comment, “I’d love to paint outdoors some time soon, but (insert any excuse here)! These kinds of excuses are exactly what this blog segment is trying to DISCOURAGE. Damn the excuses, decide you are going to paint outdoors and then “full speed ahead!” You CAN do it!

    I hope my comments inspire you to overcome what is surely a short-term roadblock. If you promise yourself you will always paint just one more landscape before giving up, you will have found the secret to success! Good luck!

  8. I’d love to paint outdoors sometime soon but I don’t have yellow. I think I’ll go shopping instead.

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