When a friend suggested facing each day with the attitude of "How Can I Serve?" my response was to try just that idea. On my way to a plein air painting meetup, a stop at the local theater (where we volunteers had been working on a set), prompted the greeting, "Thank God you dropped in. Can you help us? We have a deadline and have to get this set done in an hour and a half." After alerting the plein air painters about my delayed arrival it was time to put paint brush to set and finish painting stripes on the set. Both the set designer and carpenter were extremely appreciative and effusive with compliments and gratitude for the help.
Arriving at our plein air site for the day, four of us painted the surrounding scenery, which happened to be on top of a hill overlooking the city of Richmond, VA. Several people stopped to chat and the entire day was full of very upbeat and complimentary people. One camera wielding family was celebrating the mother's unique birthday wish: she wanted the entire family to share her love of photography so each was armed with a camera to capture the beauty of the fall colors. After taking their picture and wishing them well I finished my painting and moved on to another location.
The next location was on an adjoining hill overlooking the skyline and happened to be in close proximity to a housing project. Not long after arriving the local posse of young kids arrived to assess my situation and satisfy their curiosity. Not much to see, at that point but when they came back later they liked what they saw and asked if I would paint their picture. "Only if you can laugh at what you see," was my response.
Moving to the third location the next person encountered was a local philanthropist walking her poodle, mincing along at a fast clip. She said a terse "Hello" and kept walking. She was obviously in a hurry and probably would not have been inclined to talk even if she had been in a more leisurely state. Art provides a stimulus to interact with, or at least to be exposed to all levels of society.
In the course of the weekend the artistic endeavor elicited the curiosity and comments from most of the people in the vicinity of the activity. It is something that made me wish that the arts could be used as a unifying force on international levels to promote the peacful enjoyment of life and understanding of other cultures. If only wars could be "fought" and resolved through the arts.
I would love to find an international group of painters or artists who travel throughout the world in order to document life in other areas and promote artistic and personal growth. If anyone is aware of such a group. please post the info here.