CREATING IN A GROUP PART 2: 14 QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE JOINING A GROUP

In my last blog post I talked with my friend, visual artist Kerstin Peters, about "Creating Art with a Group" - about groups she is part of, how they can help contribute to success as an artist, and about meet-up locations (https://annewarburton.blogspot.com/2018/07/why-you-should-create-in-group.html). In this second part we talk about challenges and about collaborations on a joint piece, and provide you with 14 questions to ask before you join - or create - a group.




4) What are some disadvantages of creating with a group? Are you afraid to lose your own creativity when you participate in group activities too often?


One of the advantages of creating with a group can also be a disadvantage: you influence each other. If you paint too often together, there is a chance that you start to copy each other.

It is also important to realize that it does not matter how fast or slow you paint. It does not say anything about your skill, but rather reflects your personality. This was something that was very discouraging for me at the beginning, because one of my painting buddies paints very fast. Sometimes, it feels like she is almost finished by the time I start. We go on many trips and outings together and have come to an agreement that we will look for spots where she can easily find several angles to paint.

It is also important to realize that we are all unique and as much as we sometimes admire another artist’s work, it is important that we stay true to our personality. We have our own styles and interpretations, and part of the beauty is that we are all creating unique artworks, even if we paint the same scene.

5) Have you collaborated with other artists to jointly create a piece of art?


Until now, we only talked about creating a piece together but we never worked on one artwork. The closest we came to jointly creating art was last September, when we all set up our easels at the same location to paint the sunset in Kamouraska. We could probably put all six pieces as a sequence showing different stages of the sunset.



Kerstin has provided my answers to these same questions on her blog. I invite you to visit her post at: http://kerstinpeterspaintingblog.blogspot.com/


If you would like to join - or put together - your own creative group, here are some items to consider so you can define what you want to get from such a group:

  1. What kind of creative work does the group do, is it restricted to one medium or are other mediums allowed?
  2. Is there a demonstration or workshop during the meeting, or does everyone work without instruction?
  3. Who is part of the group? A mix of skill levels? How about the age group?
  4. Are you all expected to work on the same project, or can you work on your own project?
  5. Will you need to bring your own or purchase extra supplies? How about tables, chairs, easels for an indoor venue?
  6. When does the group meet: day or evening, weekdays or weekends, and how often do they meet?
  7. Is there a fee (if so, it is usually minimal for local events)? If you are looking for multi day outings like a retreat or a painting trip, the costs vary depending on the accommodation and location.
  8. Is regular attendance expected, or can you sign up for individual get-togethers? Do you have to pay a yearly fee, or can you pay on a pay as you go basis?
  9. Does the group work inside or outside, or both depending on weather?
  10. If you are inside and there is oil painting in the group, are you sensitive to the oils or thinners? Are thinners allowed? Are there other art materials or tools used that some people can be sensitive to?
  11. Is there a lot of idle chatter or do the artists mostly focus on their projects (chatter related to the projects is usually fine)? Be honest with yourself. If you need tranquility to work, you will not enjoy an environment with chatter or music in the background.
  12. How far are you willing to travel? Is parking available close by? Is there a cost for parking?
  13. Is there food or coffee/tea available near by? Do you need to bring your own?
  14. Where to find groups: Facebook, art organizations, local art schools and galleries (paid instruction)

WHY YOU SHOULD CREATE IN A GROUP

Imagine what you might experience by creating in a group, how can it benefit you. Potential for new ventures, gaining knowledge, collaborating, making new friends. 

I sat down recently with my friend, visual artist Kerstin Peters, to talk about this topic and have recorded her perspectives below. Kerstin has been part of creative groups for many years, travelling to several destinations in Canada to capture the beauty of the landscape. She is a firm believer that everyone can express themselves through art, and offers painting parties and “Creativity and Me” workshops. She has recorded my thoughts on groups in her blog, and I invite you to visit hers to see my answers at http://kerstinpeterspaintingblog.blogspot.com/ or through www.KerstinPeters.ca.

Links are included below for more information on our video conversation.

1) Kerstin, why do you create art with a group? What do you get out of creating with others?

I belong to a couple of groups, the biggest of which is the Plein Air Ensemble, we paint in various places around the region. We used to paint at farther locations in Ontario and Quebec. We have more than 50 members and our trips are usually 4 nights away with 14-20 people. We don't all paint together, but in small groups during the day, then get together for our evening meal and to compare notes, recommend a painting spot. Sometimes we don't see some of our artist friends for months so it's great to catch up. At the end of every trip, we have a show and tell. We use different mediums, we have oil, acrylic and watercolour artists, and some pastel artists. It's fantastic to see how everyone sees nature with different eyes. Even if it's freezing cold, to be in nature and immersed in the sounds and the smells is just fantastic.

I have another small group of friends I create with in the area. It's sometimes easier with a small group and we can get together more often.



Link to video on different painting groups: 





Another group I'm part of, which is completely different from what I usually do, is the Ottawa Urban Sketchers, it's part of a larger group from around the world, who set up outings and anyone can come and sketch. Usually they are free events, and you just come and sketch in pencil, coloured pencil, watercolours. The artists are at all levels, beginners to very experienced. And we get help from others, especially if you're a beginner. Everyone is very positive and we get inspiration.



Link to video clip: 




2) Do you think being part of group is helping with your success as an artist?

It makes me go out and paint, as life is busy, and sometimes other things going on, so if you are part of a group and have a place to meet, then you go out and create. You get inspired and are reminded of the fresh breeze of energy and you share the experience.

If you work in a studio you are by yourself, and sometimes you need to be, but I love when I'm with my artist friends and am getting their energy and being outside. It's such an inspiration, nature is an inspiration.

Link to video: 





3) Where do you meet - are there any challenges with finding locations?

Locations are a challenge because there is beauty everywhere. Sometimes the beauty is so big it doesn't fit into a painting, but you think about finding a solution on canvas, but it may not look good. I take pictures that help. And you have to set up somewhere that is safe. Some locations are just fantastic but are not safe when you are setting up an easel or to set up a camera, or you have to walk far and your equipment is too heavy. And we have to consider weather.

Cost for space - and indoor space - can be an issue. You want to go to places that are mostly free and not overly crowded. If you paint at the tulip festival, you won't have much fun as constantly people will be in front of you and your camera.



Link to video: 

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The second part of my blog on this subject will be posted on Sunday, July 15, by 7 pm, in which Kerstin will talk about the challenges and collaborations of a group, and we include a list of 14 questions to ask when looking to join - or create - a group. 

Part 2 of Kerstin's blog will be published the evening of Friday, July 13 - again, I invite you to visit her blog to see my answers: http://kerstinpeterspaintingblog.blogspot.com/ or through www.KerstinPeters.ca.

Art hives, hubs, maker groups, creative circles, playdates, whatever you call them, it’s about a community of artists creating together, sharing, collaborating, supporting, socializing, forming friendships. Groups may be public, private, in stores or a place of business, through arts groups, friendships or common interests. And Ottawa has no shortage of creative groups for painting, sketching, fibre art, knitting, stitching, writing, music, woodworking and more. 


And I'm thrilled to announce another artist friend has just started up the Ottawa Plein Air Adventurers, with locations planned for sketching and painting the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of the month around Ottawa for the summer of 2018. Lissa has provided her email at the link - contact her if you're interested in joining the group. 

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