Today I took my artist residency outdoors, to the Hunts Mills Festival in East Providence. The early morning involved selecting what to bring to the festival, packing my vehicle, and running back into the studio multiple times to get things I had almost forgotten before leaving at 8:30am.
Arriving, I found my assigned 10’x10′ plot (booth #11, in fact), and set up my pop-up tent, table, Graphic Display Systems grid wall, and two plain air easels. The official festival itself wasn’t advertised as open to the public until noon, so I got an set myself up for painting the next canvas in my “Abstracted Rain” series that I’m focused on during my artist residency. I had toned the canvas yellow the night before, and so I went straight to work mixing the colors on my palette and applying thick daubs of paint in various yellow and green hues all over the canvas.
Once the festival officially opened, there was a fairly steady stream of people walking by the booth — many would pause and watch as I painted live. I think I need to make a screen printed shirt that says, “Artist At Work — You’re invited to come closer, you’re not bothering me, I promise.” There were many people that in the corner of my eye, I could tell that they wanted to come into the booth, or talk to me about the painting, then when I said, “Hello,” they said, “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t want to bother you.” Please bother me to ask me about my art — that’s what I’m here for! I thought to myself (maybe that should be what I screen print on the back of my painting shirt!)
Throughout the day, I enjoyed interacting with people that asked about the “free art” that I had invited them to receive in the mail from me. People were invited to take any of the cards that made up the painting that I had prepped yesterday, put their name and mailing address on the back, and then I would finish the painting with additional embellishments, and they would receive surprise piece of this art in the mail in 2-3 weeks! All the art in this fun project was offered 100% free, unless they wanted me to take care of framing it for them for $10 (which a few did!) I did this project as a fun way to engage people to think about art, and to bring some delight to a mailbox that is already full of bills and junk mail.
One of the highlights of my day at the festival was interacting with a couple from Seekonk. As I explained the “free art in your mailbox” idea and as she selected which piece she wanted, I noticed the husband looking intently two particular paintings. He asked a couple of questions, and after some conversation, he ended up buying the painting! Both he and she were a delight to talk to, and I look forward to meeting up with them again when their free art is ready for delivery.
At the end of the day, I was exhausted, but invigorated. It had been a good day, and the first outdoor festival in which I had participated in a few years. After unpacking the car, and putting things back in order in my studio (I have a photo session the next day!) I put up my feet, and relaxed the rest of the evening with watching some Bob Ross on Netflix.