I recently spent a week painting in a very magical place. Inspiration was everywhere...I could hardly gather myself to choose what to paint. One particular morning I found inspiration in an alternative way.There was another artist painting across the street from my rental house, and I uncharacteristically bounded over to introduce myself and try to connect. Hereʼs how it went:
Other Artist: “I am not going to stop to talk to you” (for the true effect of the comment, imagine Darth Vader or even better a possessed Linda Blair in “The Exorcist”)
Me: “I was just going to introduce myself as a fellow artist”.
Other Artist: “Yeah, your friend just did that” (For this comment imagine the voice of Freddy Krueger combined with the vibe of Nurse Ratched).
Ever been cold-cocked? That is what it felt like.
As someone who maintains a consistent effort to grow spiritually and artistically, I have my ear to the ground and an open mind as to how to maneuver this life with grace and kindness. I do not always succeed...I am human and sometimes can be impatient, among other imperfections. I paint outside frequently and quite often in very public venues. I know first hand how frustrating it is when you get inspired by light and have scant minutes to capture it, and someone comes up and wants to tell you about their auntʼs watercolors.
The moral of the story is I want to thank the other artist for teaching me a valuable lesson on plein air painting etiquette. As is the case in all aspects of life, just be nice. While in the throes of painting outside, I will continue handling passers by with friendliness or even gracious decline to engage. I use such comments as, “It was so nice to talk to you! I need to get back to work but have a great day! (smile smile smile). Or, “I am just getting started and have little time to get this down...come back in about an hour and Iʼd love to share the progress! (smile smile smile).
Here is the painting I did directly after the conversation (standing about 10 yards from the other artist). I am sharing it because I like the light I captured, and it spoke to letting go of the baggage of others and going on your own merry way.
“This is my simple religion. No need for temples. No need for complicated philosophy. Your own mind, your own heart is the temple. Your philosophy is simple kindness.”
~–Dalai Lama XIV