I’ve learned so much about myself, and my artist path, in the last 18 months by interacting with two artist communities. I encountered the first community when I moved to my current location because of the plans for a nearby arts district. I wanted to be involved. I wanted to go pro. Well, the first thing I learned talking to those accomplished professional artists was just how much of an amateur I really was, in every way. My delusions shattered, I got serious about making changes.
No More Excuses
I started by carving out a studio space in my little bungalow. The available bedroom was the smallest studio space I’d ever had. All my accumulated stuff didn’t fit. I needed to rethink everything. That got me as far as combining my art library with the rest of my books in another part of the house. When I began my painting adventure, I set up a travel easel in the corner of my dining room. Surely, I could make this little bedroom work. After a few weeks it was kind of clunky and didn’t look very professional (whatever that would be), but I was getting there.
I took a class to learn a technique I’d been trying to figure out, unsuccessfully, for quite some time. This was another eye opener. Innate talent and a good eye aren’t nearly enough.
Eyes opened, two valuable lessons learned, and with valuable time ticking away I was still spinning my wheels. I was doing the right things, but I just wasn’t getting anywhere. Was my struggle all in my head? Well maybe.
Art Juice Podcast
I don’t remember how I came across the Art Juice podcast, but that was the beginning of a new path for me. Art Juice https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/art-juice-a-podcast-for-artists-creatives-and-art-lovers is a conversation between 2 UK abstract artists Alice Sheridan and Louise Fletcher described as “honest, generous, and humorous conversations that will feed your creative soul AND get you thinking.” I really enjoyed the podcast (still do) and looked for Alice and Louise elsewhere on the web. They both have membership groups with different focuses. The questions on Louise’s landing page resonated with me. Yes, I usually am the only one at a dinner party with bits of paint still stuck to my fingernails. So in the summer of 2021 I gave her membership group, Your Art Tribe a try, and it’s completely reshaped my world.
Your Art Tribe
The 2nd influential community of artists is the tribe, a global community of artists from all disciplines, and of every skill and interest level. There are beginners and artists that have been making a living from their art for many years. We have a Facebook page that is a seemingly bottomless well of encouragement, support, and answers. Whenever someone has a question, a doubt, a victory, they can share with a group of like minded individuals who provide answers, feedback, suggestions, encouragement, and celebration. Every month all sorts of ideas and possibilities are presented. I feel supported and my mind continuously stimulated. I’m not operating in a vacuum anymore.
Every month Louise shares what’s going on in her studio and through member videos I can virtually visit other artist’s studios around the globe. I refined my studio space. It wasn’t just about spreading it around the house. What I needed to do was make it a more functional workspace. I learned, for example, many artists now use painting walls rather than easels. A painting wall has regularly spaced rows of screws in the wall where substrates of various materials and sizes are hung and moved around easily. I can see and work on a whole series of canvases at the same time, plus that bulky easel isn’t taking up valuable real estate. Here is a great explanation of how to create one by the marvelous Nicholas Wilton https://youtu.be/rToieLfJAkE
Louise provides a monthly master class on a variety of subjects from mindset and basic art principles to sealing and signing work and creating a website. The videos stay on the membership website available for reference as often as you like or taken in the order that best works for you. This includes a monthly Q&A session which means I can ask questions of a professional artist that I admire and respect. She has helped me with a difficult decision more than once.
As if that weren’t enough, there are interviews of artists around the world that discuss process, struggles, and ideas. There are painting demos and member resources (podcasts, book recommendations, videos, etc.)
About now one of my friends would ask if I’m Louise is paying me to write this. Absolutely not. This is all genuine excitement and admiration for my virtual mentor and the global tribe of artists that turned my world on it’s heels in the most positive way. Being an artist is still a solitary venture, but it doesn’t happen in a vacuum any more.
Louise Fletcher’s Website https://www.louisefletcherart.com/
Alice Sheridan’s Website https://alicesheridan.com/