Blog by Mary Buckmiller
The Thistle’s Seed belongs
To yet another art group and began to think about what it takes to be a good member of any organization. We as members expect to reap a wagonload of benefits from any art group to which we belong. We pay good money for membership.
The Seed always anticipates the group’s offerings when seeking to find groups to which to align. Typically opportunities to showcase our work, provide learning opportunities both from professional artists and local, amateur teachers, service our time well within the activities, direct our attention to the greater community offerings, provide solid leadership, involve the membership in decision making, and more are all expected of an organization. The least of which is just how much fun and connection will the organization offer.
But what does the organization ask of us as members? The Seed thought about this for a while and decided there are ways we as members can support organizational goals.
1. Participate… no participation =no organization. 🙁 Attend meetings, and join in activities. If nobody comes, those events could be shelved.
2. Spread the word. New member= new ideas, more “stirring of the creative soup” so to speak. Be a great promotional device of the group. Word of mouth is the best promoter.
3. Offer workable suggestions. Don’t just think ideas just appear out of a giant idea generator in the background. Ideas about the creative end, the membership end, and the leadership end keep an organization strong and vital. We want to have fun, make a contribution, and become better artists. This is your chance to make a difference.
4. Be ready to provide answers to questions such as “What would you like to see the organization do?” The leadership just wants to provide the best for the members and knowing what the members want is key to those decisions. Speak up.
5. Volunteer or at the least say “Yes” to occasional opportunity requests both short term and long term. Burn out of active members can be the fire starter to a group’s demise.
6. Be willing to try “new to you” activities that the group provides. Take a chance to learn new things that maybe you hadn’t considered before. Be adventurous. Be willing to grow. This only makes you a better artist and a group that has more fun and educational opportunities makes us more desirable to the community, as well.
The Thistle’s Seed loves…
To try new art mediums and techniques, almost to the state of obsession. Tough problem, right?
Certainly at this point in the Seed's life knowing how to do one art medium really well is a big goal. The Seed really dreams of mastering one and only one medium. Besides, it's cheaper…not so much art stuff to buy and store. But…
The Seed suspects that this prospect is slim and not going to happen soon with three oil paintings, a mixed media watercolor, four traditional watercolor paintings, two acrylics on the shelf, two books to make, a quilt top to finish, and two embroidery projects progressing. “No bragging, ma’am, just the facts.”
Of all the mediums to choose from, the Seed would really like to learn how to master acrylic painting because like watercolor it is easy to clean but more multifunctional than any of the other painterly mediums... no more toxic, flammable thinners and the rest of oil painting’s sometimes complicated mechanics.
The Seed asks all Great Plains Watercolor Society members, "Of all of the art mediums out there on that vast list which would you like to master over and above all others… really master? Is it a new medium or one you currently enjoy, but want to know even better?"
Put your choice and why on the GPWS Member's Only page.
The Thistle’s Seed dug a deep rut
And needed to sweep the doldrums and cobwebs from an overly rote painting routine. The photo defines one solution to the painting doldrums in the Seed’s studio. Oh, never you mind… even the Seed had a “day.”
The routine of same ol’ same ol’ was easier, and, wow…it featured a real plus… it was just plain easier on the artistic muscles. Picture after picture piled up on the table. But…
It was obvious to the Seed the artwork was beginning to show the lack of process integrity, a lack of individual excitement. The Seed hates the drip, drip, drip of boredom, but loves the flood of joy finding a unique voice or statement in a piece.
The pieces on the table were tedious and said absolutely nothing at all. They just were… there wasn’t a drop of drama or uniqueness. Analysis time was at hand; self- discovery necessary. . Something needed to be done to prevent stasis and boredom from planting themselves smack dab in this studio. What was one to do after all? How does one change up or sweeten up your daily painting rituals to keep the juices flowing competently? How does an artist change up his supply of subject ideas and turn them into a new path of discovery? How do you, yes, you out there in painting land, make yourself push to a new attitude?
Maybe you’re the type of artist who finds comfort in following the same routine time after time. Painting from inside the envelope instead of outside the envelope is safe, but generally, a boring path to mediocrity. And mediocrity sometimes follows an over-confortable routine like a shadow on the wall.
How do you as an artist keep things fresh in your work? How do you keep it interesting and challenging? Tell us how you do it. The Seed needs your help.
The Thistle’s Seed challenges you share your secrets and ideas on the Member’s Only page on Facebook.
The Thistle’s Seed goes
To a variety of venues where artist’s gather. It is really quite interesting to hear how many times painterly people lament the fact that they haven’t been painting lately. For this reason or that. These artists seemed to be shamed by the fact.
The Seed is here to tell you …”it’s okay. You don’t have a timecard. You don’t have to paint all the time. Or at all for that matter. It’s okay.”
The Seed has discovered that since being an arty joiner of arty groups there is a pressure to “show and tell.” We all fall into the trap of succumbing to the “paint or perish” rhetoric. Art is supposed to be a joy not a trap.
There should be no guilt involved in being creative. Avoid the pitfalls and paint for yourself and your way and when you want to. Joy, joy, joy is what art is supposed to be after all.
It is usually good to let the painting spirit take a break. It’s okay. The world won’t stop if you stop. Just remember, however, creativity needs nurturing.
And a bit of advice…if you cannot think about or do your art don’t slam the door on it for too long. That little art kid may come out screaming out the door when you least expect it or maybe he’ll get a little too comfortable in that little room and slam the door in your face. The Seed is just saying from experience.
The Thistle’s Seed invited
A special guest to share her thoughts on being a new painter, the GPWS Paint In Events and the Mosaic Studio in her watercolor growth. In Tara Barney’s words…
“The moment I walked into Mosaic Studio, I knew I was in a safe place. As a right brain person living in a left-brain world, I often have my guard up!
The studio was clean. It was organized. There were wonderful (photo) portraits of real people on the walls and a few fine pieces of local pottery.
A smiling face greeted me, took my fee, and handed me my very own nametag. I am wonderful with faces, but stumble on names until I come in contact with a person a few times. Lord knows some people will go to extremes to change their looks these days so I want to be sure I have the right person. Hooray for nametags!
I sat down in a room full of people softly chatting. Aside from teaching a few basic watercolor classes for kids, I had not learned much more about watercolor. Everyone quieted down and the lesson began.
As we progressed I realized I had forgotten some salt. My thought came out of my mouth! Oops! Was that out loud? Someone casually handed me some salt. Wow! Sharing. These are my kind of people.
My first paintings looked like a little kid did them, but I put them in frames and showed them anyway because of the attempt and happy for the memory of spending time with others. To my amazement, I sold a couple. The money went to the art fund for more supplies!
So, I attended several more Paint Ins. I learned to loosen up and enjoy the process. I had no multitasking to do. Just one project and some kindred spirits to share the experience!
I will admit my paintings are naive and simple, but I am learning. I may not ever progress to a gallery worthy painting and that is okay.
My gratitude is in finding a safe place to focus and spend time with others who like to share, listen to stories, and notice the little things like how light hits an object, or how the paint colors can roll together, or the texture of the paper. Mosaic Studio is one of my happy places.”
Tara Barney is owner of Red Door Creations and is a newer member of the Great Plains Watercolor Society. Thanks Tara for your insight.
The Thistle’s Seed wrestles with
A mess and a joy of a studio. Big, small, neat, tidy, inspirational, dull, a kitchen counter or a rented space, share them all. Share a “come as you are” photo of your studio on the GPWS Facebook page. The Seed will share if you share yours. The Seed dares you…