One of the great joys of plein air painting near where we live is that we can actively engage in community building as well as create our art. Any artist standing at their easel is an instant attraction and cause of curiosity to those passing by. When I first started landscape painting I felt very intimidated by strangers coming up to me and watching what I was doing. As I was so unsure of how to do it I didn't feel qualified to talk to others about the process. Two decades later, things have changed thankfully and I am now happy to share the process of plein air painting with those who happen by my easel while I am out and about painting. I find that people will tell interesting stories about the scene being painted, or tell us stories about themselves or their relatives who used to paint.
If we view our public art making/plein air painting as an exercise in community building, it can take on a whole new organic dimension. It becomes a lot more social and interactive than painting in our solitary studios of course. Most of us need both the social and the solitary aspects of art making to feel in true balance in our creative lives.
It seems that many people who don't make art, actually have a craving deep within them that is unfulfilled. They remember a time in childhood when they made art and it was fun. Seeing artists out painting may ignite their long dormant art fire - it's a joyous thing we do, and we want to share it to make the world and our community, a better place for all.
Holding one or two Open Studio events each year at your studio will spread the word about our art amongst our neighbors and friends. Spend time talking with your visitors and really get to know them when they visit. It is all about community building to create a happy life for ourselves - blooming where we live and enjoying what we have now.
Be sure to have on hand a supply of postcards, brochures or your business cards and hand them out to easel visitors if they appear interested in finding out more about you. Some plein air painters actively seek out these encounters and occasionally sell work right from their easels! Remember, people buy art from artists they feel a connection with - and it all starts with that personal contact.
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