ST. CLOUD - A popular St. Cloud artist is giving away 25 of his paintings. Dan Mondloch has started a project called #PaintItForward.

His plan to paint 50 plein air - or open air - watercolors in 30 days. He's giving away half of them on the spot to people with unique connections to that place.

Mondloch says he's already done 20 paintings since last Monday. He says the best part for him is the stories he's learned along the way.

Last Friday I was painting at the Benton County Fair, and I was obviously talking to a lot of people there.  Eventually a guy came up to me and he asked me "how much for the painting?"  I said you'll never believe this but it's free.  Turns out he was the rides manager for Benton County Fair and he started working there when he was 11 years old.

Mondloch says it takes him about an hour-and-a-half for each painting. He says the reactions he's gotten has been mixed so far, with some people being skeptical at first.

A lot of times what happens is when you're painting the picture you end up coming across somebody who really takes an interest in the piece.  You have a good conversation with them and you both go your separate ways.  Then later on you realize they were the one who should have the painting.  That concept is what inspired me to write this grant.

Mondloch says a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board is making the project possible.

Mondloch has been painting here in St. Cloud since he was 15 years old.

On October 14th he's going to have a reception at the Paramount Center for the Arts with the 25 paintings he didn't give away, plus all of the 25 people who received a painting will be there.