Are you thinking about joining an art/creative group? I joined my artist association one year ago this coming October, and I’m so glad I did!
Why I joined an art group…
If you told me a few years ago that I would voluntarily join an art group, I would tell ya that you’re crazy. Ok, maybe I wouldn’t vocalize the words “you’re crazy”, but I’m pretty sure the look on my face would translate the same.
I don’t want to sound cliché by saying I’m an introvert because I’m finding many people calling themselves introverts, but I really am a classic true and true introvert especially in crowds of people. When I was in school, I would never raise my hand to ask questions or volunteer to do anything that put me in the spotlight. I had my guard ready always, but it came down once I felt comfortable around someone. Imagine the surprise people had when I tried out and made the cheer squad.
Now fast forward to 2 years ago when I decided to do art full time. It takes so much courage and faith to take that step and to share your inner soul with others, and that is what art is…sharing a part of you to the world. But, it is worth the risk to have your art viewed and not just filling a closet in your home.
My first year working full-time was spent learning as I go (well, I guess I’m still doing that and will continue). I listened to podcast (the Artist Helping Artist show is my favorite), read books, and found resources online to help me grow as an artist, but I needed more. This is when I decided to seek out an art group in my area.
Encouragement and Support
I won’t say I was lacking in support and encouragement. My family was always ready to cheer me on, but they couldn’t completely relate to the journey I was traveling. You know how there are support groups for various situations like AA, military spouse, parents who have lost children, abuse victims, etc… people feel encouraged by others who are traveling the same path. I wanted to be around others who also have questioned their abilities, who have experienced rejection, who have succeeded, and are learning right along with me. They know where I’ve been, where I am, and where I hope to be…they get me, and I get them.
Art groups are not only a good way to get support and encouragement, but also a way to grow as an artist. My association is very diverse in age. We have seasoned artist who have been creating for many years, and some who are new in their journey (like me). I love that about my group, and I value all the advice from those seasoned members.
We meet monthly, and usually have a guest artist (or member artist) give a demonstration of their techniques with various mediums. I have seen mixed media, collage, pastels, Chinese ink, and acrylic demos that range from abstract to realism. There is so much to learn by watching other artists.
My group will meet up once a week to paint together. I don’t get to attend these often but have enjoyed the times I’ve attended. Everyone brings a piece they are working on, and they walk around looking at each other’s work and asking questions. It’s a more casual time to learn and grow.
Joining an art group has provided me with many opportunities to exhibit my work throughout the community with approximately 6 different events /shows and a few more left for the year. Southside Artist Association has been around since the 1960’s and has a good reputation that results in new invitations and opportunities.
I mentioned about our art demos above and how we have guest artist. We get to meet other artist within the community who are outside of our association. One of my favorites was meeting Ken Wright, a well accomplished artist here in Norfolk, VA. He is an abstract artist and has painted commissioned work for two of our presidents. He is down to earth, and very entertaining with his humorous personality. My 11-yr. old daughter was with me at his demo, and he called her up, gave her his paint brush, and told her to paint. That made her day!
There are so many other benefits to joining art groups, but this is a blog post and not a book, so I will stick with these three.
I hope this has given you some encouragement when it comes to art groups or associations. You don’t have to be a social butterfly, or an accomplished well-seasoned artist to join a group. You just need to love creating art!
If you already belong to an art group, I would love for you to share in the comments below about how it has helped grow you into the artist you are today.