Taking your paints and brushes to the street is a sure fire way to bridge your art with the community. I’m an enthusiastic plein air painter and urban sketcher. My paints, pens and sketchbooks travel with me everywhere I go. When I set up on the street, there’s always a connection with someone – a waiter, a tourist, a property owner, the neighborhood kids.
People are curious. They want to see what you’re doing and how you’re going about it. “Why is your door a different color? Why did you move that tree? Where’s the sign? Why are you painting their bistro, not ours? They want to share what they see with others. “Heh, Jimmy, come and look at this! I’m taking your photo to send to my art school daughter to encourage her to get herself out there! Can I take a photo of your sketch
to share with the owner?”
They give you glimpses into the place of art in their lives. “My mom or my uncle or my cousin paints. I used to do a little drawing myself, but I’m not very good. Have you ever heard of Van Gogh?” While sketching on the street, I’ve shared my supplies with an onlooker who I knew was seriously itching to paint with me. I’ve practiced speaking French with a group of children who gathered round while I sketched at Pont de Gard in the south of France. I’ve sold sketches to fellow travellers who were intrigued that I had captured our shared experience in paint on paper. You never know what’s going to happen next!
More often than not, people are in awe to see that you have artistic talent and are brave enough to exercise it in public! I like to think my courage helps them find theirs!