A few years ago, a good friend (whom I miss dearly) convinced me to give plein air a try. We grabbed our paints and dogs, then drove north looking for something to paint. We were in the Muskokas, and couldn't have thrown a stick without hitting something pretty, yet we managed to lose most of the day finding that perfect spot. By the time we got set up, we were losing light. It was such a rush, trying to capture your subject, while everything changed moment by moment. I've never experienced that in my life. Let me tell you right now, that painting was a disaster. But it didn't matter in the least. I was hooked.
At first, I would always seek the most secluded spots, Last thing I wanted were strangers visiting as I struggled to paint. Inevitably, hikers would still happen by; usually lured closer by my damned people loving dog. Surprisingly, I found these visits increasingly pleasant. People are very polite when looking at the early stage of a painting. I appreciate that.
Now, years later, I find myself taking part in plein air challenges, where crowds of people come by as you madly try to capture something in two hours before submitting it to be judged. While I still find myself mumbling excuses along the lines of "you've managed to come by during the ugly stage of this one", I genuinely enjoy chatting with people as I paint. Plein air painting has truly made me feel more a part of a community, both of artists, and art lovers alike. I'm thankful for that.