One of the reasons I enjoy plein air painting is because passersby often stop to ask questions, tell me about their painting experiences, list the artists whose work they love, or share a friendly conversation. I enjoy these exchanges because I normally spend my days behind a desk in an office and don’t have the opportunity to talk to strangers about art, give directions to the bathroom, or listen as people share their views on politics. Sometimes the questions people ask are quite thought-provoking, like when a young girl asked me how to paint a night scene; and other times observers just want to get a laugh when they tell me I’ve done a good job of covering up all the numbers on my paint-by-numbers picture. Children will boldly ask how much I will charge for the finished painting, and adults proudly tell me about all their relatives who paint.
All of us have different responses to unsolicited comments about our artwork. I’ve known a number of artists who refuse to attend openings of their solo shows because they are uncomfortable listening to people’s comments; and I’ve interviewed artists who sell in outdoor fairs and festivals who consider the public’s reaction to be valuable marketing information they can use to determine the best sizes, frames, and price points.
The question of price is often one that fascinates the general public. I’ve had offers to sell a painting for $25 (with a frame), trade a landscape for dinner (excluding tax and tip), and guarantee a sale by including a man’s pickup truck in a street scene (I took that one). I’ve also been chased from the side of a road by a woman who was going to “call the law” on me, and I’ve been critiqued by a cow that stood alongside a fence (the final vote: tongues down).
I’d enjoy reading about some of the comments you’ve received when you have been out painting or have been standing near one of your exhibited pictures.