The first day of fall was this past Saturday, September 22. And while I’m usually super ready for the leaves to start falling, warm drinks, and hoodies, this year it feels …
Because I spent my summer painting outside beneath the stars … and I’m going to miss it.
As I put the last few brush strokes on my final summer time piece, I started to reflect back on the last few months and how I thought that an experience that would be ripe with intoxicated antics from neighbors, police sirens, and humping stray cats actually turned out to be all of that and more.
So without further ado …
I present to you …
a few things I learned from painting outside this summer.
People Appreciate Art
All kinds of people stopped to talk to me … about … art! *black girl blushing
From big to small, old to young, spry to slow …
kids on bikes, families on the way to the laundromat …
people walking their dogs …
all kinds of people would stop and talk to me about, not just what I was making, but art in general.
It was admittedly weird at first.
Because while I’m clearly painting outside, in complete view of the general public, meeting so many people made my introvert itch.
But something strange started to happen when this little community started to form around me.
And these passersby start to become a little more than just strangers.
There’s the guy who first walked past with his eyes to his shoes, but now stops every time he gets to the front of my porch to pose like I’m going to paint his picture. “I’m ready for my close up!” he says. Every … dang … day!
Then there’s the older gentleman who walks his little black pug 3 times a day who always stops to look at my progress and to ask me where I shipped my latest piece off to.
Then there’s the friendly woman who walks to the store to get dinner every night with a strange cat pattering behind her. “He follows me everywhere I go,” she told me one day.
And while we have no idea what each other’s names are, it’s always nice when they walk or ride past and yell, “hey, artist!”
There are Lots of Talented People out Here … Who Have Lost Their Way
I live in a typically “urban” neighborhood. And by that, I mean there’s a liquor store/bar on one corner and a gas station that sells loose cigarettes on the other.
And if I’m being honest, about 75% of the people passing through are either going to or leaving one of those establishments. But, sadly, this also means that those same people come stumbling back past my house a few hours later, the smell of alcohol seeping from their pores.
*insert sad face
Insert strange thing number two that happened as the summer progressed.
Before this outdoor painting experiment, I’d watch them stumble and wave … and sometimes … just stumble.
But then the stumbling started to slow and they’d start talking; admiring my work and telling me stories about their own work or the work of loved ones.
“I used to draw … a long time ago,” some would say with a heavy sigh.
“My mother was an artist,” others would slur with fond memories lacing their eyes.
And while the last thing these people need to be is judged, them sharing their life experiences and talents made me think …
What happened between where they wanted to be and where they ended up?
What happened to the dreams their parents had for them?
How did they go from “I want to be an artist” to “Do you have a dollar so I can get a beer?”
And I’m not saying this with any kind of humor in mind, but with genuine curiosity.
Life can really beat us up sometimes, no doubt about it.
Sometimes People Just Need to Talk
I’ve had people stop and talk to me about their loved ones that have passed on.
I’ve sat outside for hours while I painted and listened as a neighbor told me about his life, his children, his past, and his regrets.
I had a woman cry one night as she talked about how hurt she is and how she wished things weren’t the way they were.
I don’t know what it is about that second hand easel, cheap paint, and subpar brushes, but people come.
People come and they talk to me about their triumphs …
Their failures …
And it made me think about how sometimes, we just need someone to talk to; someone to listen.
And as heavy as it was to bear some of this emotional load from strangers, I also felt flattered that they’d trust me with their secrets.
Sometimes Just Being You Can Be Inspiring to Others
As I’ve said on numerous occasions throughout our adventures in blogging, I pride myself on minding my entire business. I started painting outside because it was too hot to paint in my attic and I’m also too damn cheap to spring for another window unit and corresponding gas and electric bill.
So I made my fledging studio mobile.
There were times when the kids would paint with me and other times when it was just me and a vodka and pineapple juice, but every time, there was a person who’d stop to tell me they love what I was doing …
Or how it was inspiring to them …
And I thought that was dope.
See, I live in my head sometimes …. Overthinking and self-doubting …
Am I really a good artist?
Is my writing any good or are people just gassing me?
And while the answer to both of those questions remains a mystery, I’m DOING …
I’m DOING something …
And whether my creative efforts bear any fruit in the end isn’t important …
Because me doing me is inspiring other people to do them …
And that’s fruit to me.
So, from the summertime thunderstorms …
To the clear, cloud free nights …
I’m going to miss this summer 2018 …
Because although my electric bill is going to get a break from running the ACs…
I’ll miss my visitors to my creative process.
Until next time, folks,
Love and Light,
What did you say?
You miss me when I’m gone?
Well, you know you can keep up with my antics every other day of the week:
You can also find all of my books The Becoming of Us, Vol. I, The Becoming of Us, Vol. II, What’s Hiding in the Dark: 10 Tales of Urban Lore, and They Eat on Amazon: