Dresden (Rainy Days) : **Check point:
Because it either Rained or had a very real chance of raining all three days in Dresden I didn’t get a chance to paint, so I’m dedicating this post to the nuts and bolts of the EAQ. (I did manage to find a theater and watch Jurassic World in German, pretty sure I got the plot;)
Make no mistake, the Epic Art Quest is a work trip. Just hauling all the normal backpacking gear is no walk in the park. Add 35lbs of paint, an easel, brushes kit, and up to 10 canvases (that can be damaged in transport), and the EAQ becomes quite the physical endeavor. However, I’m pretty strong and this alternative re-hab for my left knee is working out fine.
When I leave my big bag in the hostel, I still have a small backpack with: Water, usually one beer, money belt with wallet, passport, cash, a jacket, a pair of flip flops, chargers, sunblock, chapstick, shades, a map, phone, board shorts, painting gloves, business cards, and a custom silk screened blanket. The blanket is made of very thin fabric and has custom silk screen designs by Lidia. The blanket serves as a backdrop for my portable ground based gallery display.
In addition I’ve been carrying a bag I got from Lidia in Zurich, that houses: my paint (approximately 8 6 ounce tubes, and 14 4ounce tubes of acrylic paint mixed together from different sets) a portable brush holder (that has 8 brushes and my palate knife) At least one blank canvas (to paint that day) and the entire collection of previous made paintings. Keep in mind that i’m hauling a portable studio and also a portable gallery.
Finding a place to paint:
Sometimes it’s easy, you walk to the attraction and boom, there is no thinking involved just set up and paint. Most times however I find it far more difficult. Several key factors come into play:
- Painting and or displaying paintings could very well be illegal depending on the city or country. If so, it could be possible to do both away from any major pathways, street corners, or town squares.
- Sun. A plein air umbrella will be a must on the next trip but isn’t always practical and can draw more attention than necessary (see #1.) So most times a well place shade tree or the shady side of a building can really come in handy. Being completely exhausted at the end of the day is one thing but being sun burned is not an option for me.
- Tourists: my least favorite / most favorite group of people. Too many tourist and you simply can’t work and I will get constantly bombarded with “i can’t draw a stick figure, or my grandson is a fantastic artist” type comments. Too few tourist and you have zero chance of selling any art to said tourists. I try to find vantage points where there is a steady trickle of tourists ie; off the beaten path, maybe up a hill or a long flight of stairs, or somewhere hidden from the masses but found by adventurous types. Or simply well guarded by a railing, bench or bushes. (I learned that last one from Jimbo in Death Valley/ Zurbreski’s Point)
Mobile Gallery: It’s really a state of mind…
I find it very necessary to have more than one piece of art to attract potential sales. Having multiple pieces automatically registers in people’s mind that you might be selling them. Having multiple pieces also had a very strong subconscious effect on people. They may or may not know it but they just picked their favorite piece. My set up is very simple. Roll out my blanket and neatly place all of the work on the blanket. Usually in chronological order.
Interaction: when I sense someones eyes on my back I’ll turn and say in a very booming voice: “Hi, do you speak english?” Depending on the answer i go directly into my pitch, again in a very booming tv host type voice “ I’m Jesse Fortune and i’m on an Epic Art Quest, and now you are part of it! (magically and seamlessly placed business card in potential customer/admirer’s hand) I tell people I started x amount of weeks ago in London and have made x amount of paintings in various cities throughout Europe. “Everything you see is for sale, tell me, which is your favorite piece?….”
All of this can be done in a matter of minutes. Most people take the card and say they’ll follow me on instagram, some people say they can’t carry it on their travels, and other say they like the work but can’t afford it. Because i’ve heard seemingly every response 1000 times i’m neither encouraged or discouraged, just delighted to chat and then go back to painting. Occasionally someone will say “ that piece is amazing and you should raise your prices” then they buy it and I give them a big hug and take a picture. Other times people will say; “I can’t buy a piece but here’s some (blank) enjoy!”, or “here is some cash lunch is on me.” I appreciate all critiques and interactions. It’s fun and gives me energy.
This is probably the most seemless part of the whole trip! Between the FLIX BUS APP and the TRAIN EU APP. Getting around Europe has been a cake walk. With both apps, that seem to communicate with one another, a weary traveler can pick a city/ country.. and bam they give you multiple options for depature, tell you the time of your arrival and the ticket price. Essentially with 3 clicks (open/browse/buy) you are booked / confirmed and have a QR code for boarding. No printing, no scrambling, no lines! Just show up on the platform with phone and passport in hand at the bus/ train station and hit the road! Gravy…
Usually a hostel. Shout out to Hostelworld app: combined with the above FlixBus and Train EU apps a backpacker can get transport and lodging in a matter of minutes/seconds without talking to anyone or *gasp: waiting in line. Hostelworld app also like Amazon has very helpful reviews so you can be sure to pick accomodations that suit you.
Hostels can be fun, affordable and provide the comfort of a “home base”. They usually provide some form of secure storage either in a locker or locked luggage room. In addition, most hostels realize that really strong WIFI is an absolute must for all ages, especially millennials.
I’ve made dozens of new friends (both guys and gals) from all over the world at the hostels. Some of us have formed small day groups to venture off the beaten path, other times just sharing a table at a meal can lead to very colorful conversation!
*Unlike 99% of other hostel mates, I’ve usually worked for up to 6 hours that day, so my “Holiday” is very workman like compared to theirs. Having the paintings right there to show for it, makes for a really good opportunity to meet people and share my recent creative experiences.
*BONUS: I started a notepad for fellow hostel mates. My challenge/ request: (all optional) is this: “Write your name and email and the top 3 coolest places you recommend and why.” It’s worked out smashingly! I have pages and pages of personal experiences that you can’t find on Trip Advisor or other Tourists sites.
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