Thursday, October 9, 2008

Are you connected?

As an artist, are you connected? Are you in some way plugged into your local arts community?

Now, before you start thinking that this doesn't apply to you because a) you don't work full time as an artist, or b) you are just a beginner and you don't even feel comfortable calling yourself an artist or c) there isn't an arts group in your community, give me a chance to convince you otherwise.

What is the value of being connected? Well, for one thing you meet kindred spirits, people who love art and who make art. These kindred spirits can provide you with helpful tips and suggestions - great for beginners - like where they got their fantastic business cards printed and how much they cost or who they know that does beautiful framing. These folks will also provide support. Perhaps your friends and family don't really understand your passion to spend hours creating art, but your new artsy friends will!

So what do I mean by a local arts community...I'm referring to art clubs, art societies, whatever they are called in your area. Art groups will often provide opportunities to get together. For example they may organize a trip to a new art exhibit, they may have regular painting days where people get together at some location to work on their art, they may have monthly meetings with guest speakers and they will probably organize an art show, at least one per year. The good news for beginners or for people who do art as a hobby, is that many arts clubs have open membership, i.e. everyone is welcome. Of course there are art associations whose main focus is holding exhibitions in their gallery space. For these, your work will need to be juried. But I'm not referring to these groups in this post.

You have nothing to lose. If you don't know of an arts group, find a local artist and ask them if there are any such groups in your area. If there isn't one in your area, why not start one? It is as simple as placing a small ad in you local paper asking for interested folks to come out to a meeting at a stated location. Call a few artists and ask them to help get the word out. You can meet in a church hall, a special events room in a restaurant or library, or around a few tables at your local pub. Gather ideas and watch your new group grow and shine!

Where is all of this coming from? Well, last night I attended the October meeting of the Kanata Art Club, an art club located in west Ottawa whose membership is open to any and all. The guest presenter last night spoke on advertising and marketing. Next month, the presenter is scheduled to be a very talented local mixed media artist. I know her and I am really looking forward to learning how she works. Last May they had a wonderful artist presenting on coloured pencil techniques. Okay, it was me :-) See how diverse the topics are?

For another example, a local arts group called The West Carleton Arts Society is holding their annual exhibition this weekend. They also put on an annual arts conference in the spring. Again, membership with this group is open to one and all. They have a fantastic email database and members receive updates on such things as classes being offered, galleries looking for work, artist open houses etc.

So why not consider getting connected? Try out a group, go to their show, attend a meeting, introduce yourself. It will do wonders for your sense of being an artist, you will pick up some useful info, and you will probably make some friends. Go on, just do it...

Hey, my Mud Lake outing yesterday was fantastic! Here are a few photos...thanks Grace for such a wonderful idea!! It is kind of hard to see the ducks in these compressed images but take it from me, they were lovely. :-) And to think that this wonderful spot is just minutes from downtown Ottawa.


Rose Welty said...

Teresa, you are totally spot on with this post. It is all very true. I'd only add that there is also the online community for those that can't do local stuff. (I have charge of my three young sons, I take them everywhere I go, I can't have more than 30 second phone calls, etc. But, I am able to be a part of the online community because the hours don't matter there.)

Two and a half years ago I would have said that you can be an artist on your own (which you can be), but if I had stayed "on my own" I doubt I would still be sketching on a regular basis. I know that my art would not have progressed as it has. Two years ago if you had said I would be doing what I'm doing now artwise, I never would have believed you - such is the power of community: the encouragement, advice, technical help, and camaraderie.

Great post!

Teresa Mallen said...

Hi Rose,

Thanks for your insightful comment! I think I need to make another blog entry...

Perpetual Chocoholic said...

I didn't realize that mud lake is so incredible this time of year! I've been hanging out downtown. Time to switch I'm thinking. Trees are supposed to peak this week I believe.