May 21, 2008

Painting groups and Art Organizations

Local Color Critique Session
I wanted to say more about painting with other artists. I actually belong to three different groups of artists who get together to paint. Mondays is Local Color Art Group , which I mentioned before, meeting twice a year for ten weeks at La Mesa Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque. This is a very structured painting group. We stick to a schedule and have presentations, still life set-ups and best of all, FOOD to keep us in that creative mode! At the end of the afternoon, we have a formal critiquing session. There are approximately 24 in that group and what a talented bunch they are! I will put a picture on showing some of our critiques.
On Thursdays, I occasionally go to a painting group at Manzano Mesa Multigenerational
Center in the southeast area of Albuquerque. This group is comprised mostly of artists "on the other side." Which means from the East Mountain area, little towns such as Cedar Crest, Tijeras, Edgewood, Sandia Park. This group is comprised of pastellists, watercolorists, oil and acrylic painters. A mixed bunch. No structure - just come and paint and be sociable. It is a long way for me to drive from Rio Rancho so I don't go too often. But it does keep me up on my friends from the east mountain area that I don't see very often.
My favorite painting group is one that I've belonged to for 12 years, and I am one of the charter members of that group. Every Friday we all meet at the 1st Unitarian Church at Comanche and Carlisle. We call it the Friday Painters Group. Over the years some have dropped out or moved away, but for the most part we seem to stay at around 20 artists, almost all using watercolor or acrylic. This is a very unstructured group and we tend to stroll in and out at different times of the day. Not all come each week so most of the time it is maybe 10 or below that show up. This group has grown very close over the years and we have all gotten to know each other's methods, preferences, and idiosyncrasies. It is wonderful to have that support and camaraderie and we have all changed and grown so much. Once every couple of years we have an art show at the church. Some of the members belong to the church and so we have the privilege of using it - paying only $1.00 a week for the use. Can't beat that.
As you can see, I am very busy with going to painting groups. I also belong to the NM Watercolor Society, the Rio Grande Art Association (acrylics), and the Rio Rancho Art Association (of which I am on and off because I get upset with them).
My point in telling you all this is: Painting with groups and joining art organizations has made a great impact on me - not only with my art, but on me as a person. Not only do I have local art friends, but I have friends all over the state. I have volunteered with these organizations, benefited from the people and activities, and grown as a person. Volunteering is how you meet the most people and you learn to work together for the benefit of the whole.
And of course, the benefits of being an artist and visiting outside of the state is also wonderful. I can go anywhere and visit galleries, art associations, or studios and strike up conversations with other artists. I never feel out of my comfort zone, because it is all over where my art is concerned. And also a great conversation starter for when I am around non-artists, such as twice a year when my husband takes me on business trips. Last year we were on a bus headed back to the airport after being at a resort near Atlanta, GA for one of his business meetings, and they were all passing my portfolio back and forth across aisles looking at all my paintings! That was a great feeling that they all enjoyed them so much and were so complimentary!
Enough said - I guess you are getting that I enjoy my art groups very much and it has made so much of an impact on my life. When I moved to New Mexico, it was three years before I really made friends and what changed it for me was to join the NM Watercolor Society. After that everything changed - it opened up many opportunities for me.