Over the last couple of weeks I’ve painted on the Blueridge Parkway and in some of the hollows on the western edge of the Piedmont where it meets up with the eastern base of the mountains. The weather was poorest right at the peak of color but there were a few mild sunny autumn days that made everything worthwhile.
Autumn will continue in the Piedmont for a few more weeks but most of the leaves will be gone from the upper slopes by then. I have plenty of reference for larger studio paintings and some finished pieces out on location. One of the joys painting outdoors is experiencing how different the same places and things can look year to year, month to month, day to day, hour to hour.
This time of year, Shenandoah Park gets inundated with visitors coming to see the spectacular panoramas during the peak of fall color in Virginia. Normally I can drive into the park without any traffic and paint all day without ever seeing anyone, but not this time of year. Crowds are everywhere during the week and double on the weekends. In a single day on the weekends its not unusual for me to talk to 50 to 100 people.
It reminds me of when I started painting and I was living in the Napa Valley and I became used to people talking to me while I worked. I think of it as good practice for good marketing. I’ve never understood people who can’t talk or are cranky to people that are curious about the painting process. While I don’t expect to sell when I go out to paint, I do sell paintings right off the easel sometimes or people stop into my local galleries to say they met me and sometimes they will purchase through the galleries. Not everyone can afford my paintings, but they can afford my prints and meeting the artist can help decide a sale. Those sales wouldn’t happen if I didn’t talk to people when I was out painting.