Archive | January, 2018

Benefits of Joining an Art Club!

Art Club demo

Art Club demo

Art can be a very insular occupation. Many artists work alone in their studios with just a radio or CD player for company. For some, this is the best way to get those ‘creative juices’ flowing. For others, though, working together in small groups is more rewarding, and is the reason some artists choose to share studios or join in co-operative projects of creativity. Others choose to join their local art club, hoping to gain inspiration and enlightenment from their activities as well as meeting other like-minded people.

When I moved to the coast over 12 years ago, I met up with local artists displaying their works on the seafront railings, and eagerly joined them as a new member. What did I expect? I had no idea really. As a child, I knew my mother had been involved with a large Art Society in South London, and she had later been a founder member of an Art Club in Mid Kent, and was currently their President. So what was all this about?

Art on the railings

Art on the railings

I envisaged a group of ‘old ladies’ sitting at tables, painting and drawing from photographs, and chatting over numerous cups of tea and biscuits, with varying degrees of success. Or maybe regular monthly workshops, with a tutor helping everyone to paint from a photo, and each leaving with the same ‘identical’ painting in watercolour.

Some Art Groups offer exactly this type of experience, oh yes! Oh Horror!!

So what do other art groups do? Well the ‘traditional’ ones like to book professional artist demonstrators, for an evening demonstration in a particular medium, where they offer practical advice, answer questions, demonstrate techniques, and usually end the night with a completed painting.

A traditional group will also offer one or more exhibition opportunities per year, in a suitable venue with proper display stands, labels etc, and facilities for prints or greetings cards, sometimes an official opening, with stewards to welcome visitors and encourage sales.

They may also run ‘’en plein air’ or ‘Al Fresco’ painting sessions, often in a members garden, in the summer, so members are not worried about passers by making comments etc.

plein air painting in a group

plein air painting in a group

Other activities may include coach trips to historic places or art collections, an annual club lunch or dinner, social events, like coffee mornings, a Christmas party or a quiz night. Some may hold a ‘critique’ evening, many will host an annual themed art competition for their members. Some work with local schools and art teachers, by offering sponsorship, awards or prizes for achievement.

What does all this activity mean and how can it benefit you?

A healthy thriving Art Club will be one whose membership welcomes many age groups, and all levels of experience, from beginners to professionals.

In our group of approx. 120 members, only about 35 – 40 members exhibit with us. Some don’t want to price and sell their work, others feel they are not ready to exhibit, others joined us because they are art ‘enthusiasts’ and are happy to join in our activities, but have no wish to exhibit. A few are ‘professionals’ and some are members of the professional art institutes, some with gallery representation .

All of course, are on the same journey, of learning this incredibly challenging skill, and seeking continual improvement.

So the benefits include:

  • Meeting and mixing with others on the same learning journey,
  • Learning from professional artists, demonstrators,
  • Making new friends among fellow artists,
  • Painting together and learning from each other,
  • Introduction to ‘plein air’ painting,
  • Opportunities to exhibit and sell work,
  • Opportunities to help others, especially newer members.

So what about me, I went on to serve as Secretary for 6 years and now as the Chairman, I seem to be following in my mother’s footsteps.

drawing the xmas raffle

drawing the xmas raffle

If you’ve not tried your local art group, then give it a go, it’s not for everyone, but who knows, you may be pleasantly surprised.

If you live in East Kent this Art Group may be for you?

Painting or sketching, out of doors! – 5 Benefits for you!

Painting in my garden

Painting in my garden

In 2017 I upped my game! Yes – I have been out and about, painting and sketching even more than previous years!

So why do I prefer to go and work out of doors, in full view of the ‘public gaze’ and in nearly all weathers?

Learning an art or a craft based skill is essentially a numbers game! The more you practice, the better you get! It’s the same in music, to learn to play any instrument, you do need to practice every day, even when you don’t feel like it. Some say, it takes  10 thousand hours, to reach ‘professional performance’ standard. I know we all learn at different speeds, remember in school, there were always one or two in each class who seemed to do little work or revision, yet repeatedly came top of the class, how annoying was that! Well I’ve always considered myself a ‘slow learner’ so if anything, I need more practice than some, hence more hours spent brush or pen in hand.

I came to painting late in life, and I learned early on, that two hours a week practice was never going to be enough. (10,000 hrs /52 /2 =96 years).  I was going to have to work much harder than that, if I was ever to reach a good standard. The motto “if it’s worth doing – it’s worth doing well” springs to mind, and you can’t do everything, I would have loved to improve my musical skills at the same time, but art and painting won in the end.

Claude Monet painting from his boat, by E Manet 1874

Claude Monet painting from his boat, by E Manet 1874

So now to the Question ‘Why do I like to paint or sketch out of doors’?

  1.  I enjoy being out in the fresh air,
  2.  Real daylight gives liveliness to my work and accurate tonal values,
  3.  Changeable weather forces me to closely observe nature and skies,
  4.  I like to take the time to really study my subject in detail, 
  5.  Working from a small photograph simply doesn’t cut the mustard for me.

 5 Benefits for you:

  1.  You’ll probably be healthier, certainly happier,
  2.  You will get more accurate tonal values,
  3.  Your colour choices will be more interesting,
  4.  You will capture light, shade, weather, life, mood and passion,
  5.  Your paintings and sketches will be more successful as a result.    

Q Are you hungry for success? Do you want to give it a go?

My 'plein air' studio

At work in my ‘out door studio’

If you have got into the habit of working indoors from photographs, then perhaps it’s time for a change, start on a warm dry day, perhaps away from the crowds, in your own garden even, or in a village or country lane, until you have confidence. Also consider going painting or sketching with other like-minded people, perhaps with an Art Group. Check out Facebook groups near you or Art magazine’s websites, to find out what others are doing in your area. I thoroughly recommend it!