You are strolling along in one of your favorite places when you spy an artist at their easel. You are so curious, but they're so absorbed in what they're doing at the moment. Should you
A) ignore them and pretend they don't exist?
B) compliment them as you walk on by?
C) tap them on the shoulder and engage them in a conversation about how your Aunt Jenny once took a watercolor class?
D) A or B but never ever ever C?
Well I'm sure you guessed the right answer is usually going to be D! The truth is, there are as many personality types among artists as there are fish in the sea. Most artists create their work to be seen and shared and are fine talking about it. However, at a gallery opening or on social media may be the preferred setting for that conversation. The reason is that they are in the middle of their work. This is their business. They are also quite possibly in the midst of creating art for a competition with a strict deadline. Any artist working in the great outdoors is in a race against the clock because of the changing light and shadows. Furthermore, they could be at a critical stage in their painting that requires concentration.
Also consider that you may be interacting with a newbie or a master artist. Do you really want to ask them if they are doing this for a class? Or compare their work to Aunt Jenny's watercolors? Depending on what stage the painting is at, it might not look like much. It is afterall, an incomplete painting. Some paintings don't come together until the last brushstrokes are added.
If you have a genuine interest in what they are painting, by all means take a quick moment with them. Taking the next step and connecting with them through email or social media is universally welcomed by artists. And who doesn't appreciate a few words of encouragement? And by the way, that painting they're working on is most likely for sale. You might get a sweet deal by buying right off the easel.
I have always wondered if artists appreciated being approached while they are working, so thank you for sharing some insight.