Monday, March 18, 2013

Forming an Art Group: Getting Started

The High Banks Art Group has been meeting weekly for almost two years now.

It started so simply. Several of us wanted to learn to paint.  We had a neighbor friend who was an experienced artist and we asked whether we might sit next to her and paint. She was in the habit of sitting outdoors and painting natural scenes. We learned from her that part of the fun was choosing the site for painting.

We meet outdoors on Wednesday morning at a certain site, bring our own chairs, paper, art supplies, bug spray, sunscreen, and choose a quiet place to paint.

Melanie Rees at work
At first we were a bit shy, but in time, we learned to relax, chat for a bit, think about what we want to sketch or paint, walk around to place the chair in a good position and quietly set to work painting for several hours.  The peace and quiet in the setting are wonderful. We settle in to a comfortable group silence that lasts up until around noon.
Tara Lavallee at work
Lavonda Smith at work

Jake Jacobson and Marcia Fearing's garden

Ann Capling, experienced artist

Under Marcia's and Jake's tent in the rain are Marcia Fearing, Ann Capling, Liz Key, Lavonda Smith and Mani Goulding

Brush techniques

Mani Goulding at work

Liz Key

Ann Capling

Eleanor Bruce

Marcia Fearing

Mani Goulding

Liz Key

Lavonda Smith

Eleanor Bruce

Lavonda Smith

Painted Chair

Lavonda's hand made coconut plant holder
Lavonda and Bruce Smith's Home

And garden
Melanie's Home
Our High Banks neighbors have interesting points of architecture, unique gardens, great trees, striking fences, friendly dogs, amusing automobiles.  They kindly agreed to allow us in their yards and on their porches with chairs, paints, and trampling feet. 

It is good for us to meet up on a weekly basis because in the process we have established a system and a structure useful for learning water color techniques.  When we wonder what another artist is doing, we ask and they explain.  When we see someone doing something interesting and perhaps out of the ordinary, we take time out learn about it and try doing it too. It becomes a very likable sharing of ideas, techniques and experiences and we all benefit from this exchange.

One of our cooperative models at Melanie's garden
We visit homes, gardens and the beach for the purpose of painting them and it leads to very interesting discoveries of great gardens, unique plants and visual imagery. We have great times visiting and learning more about our neighbors in a way that is not usually done, that is, by sitting in their yards or other natural settings and enjoying a specific tree, flower, fence, or appreciating their footpaths and backyards and noting how the shadows touch their steps.

Marge and Earl Hamilton's Garden

Eleanor Bruce at work

Striking staghorn fern in Marge and Earl Hamilton's garden

Liz Key

Jimmy and Liz Key's home

Tara Lavallee paints Liz's dog

Anne Capling's tree

We have agreed that all are welcome to participate in our art group.  There is no formal structure, no invitations, no requirements to join and everyone is welcome.  Under these conditions, we meet and meet again.

Our meeting usually begins at 8:30 each Wednesday morning.  We agree on where to meet outdoors.  We gather at the designated place and speak with each other for a few minutes when we first arrive.  We then casually disperse, carrying our chairs and our art supplies to various locations nearby, walking around to find a place to put our chair and establish a point for painting.  We next pull out our paper and paints, our pencils and erasers,brushes, and set to work.

If there is a newcomer to the group, we offer them paper, paint, pencils, a chair, or whatever they need to get started. If someone just wants to sit and watch, they too, are welcome.

From time to time someone shows up just to walk through and see what we are doing.  We greet them, then return to our painting.  They watch and then slip away when they are ready to go.

Merle Askeland

Art Capling draws a building

We listen to ideas

And paint our own perspectives of buildings.  Painting by Tara Lavallee

Jake and Marcia's place

More recently, we head outside to very interesting locations such as big beaches, marshes, ponds, old roads and paint there.  It is usually quiet for several hours, as each of us works on sketching and painting.  We photograph the setting in which we are working so that we can revisit the colors we choose, the structures and shapes we draw. After an hour or so of quiet, we begin walking from one place to another, looking at each person's work and commenting on what we see, asking questions, or comparing approaches to our work.

Karon Teasedale chooses an interesting location for painting

On the beach ,Eight Mile Bay

Group setting on the beach

Melanie Rees

Susie Lill

Melanie Rees on the beach

Susie Lill's first painting

Ann Capling

Melanie Reese and Ann Capling

Over by the River

Ann Capling's perspective

Karon Teasedale's perspective

Mary Chamie's perspective

Lavonda Smith's perspective

We take photographs and make albums and share them showing what happened each time that we met.

Liz Key, Melanie Reese, Lavonda Smith, Ann Capling, Maxene Tanner

At the end of the session, when people have begun to stand up and stroll around to look at what others have done, we then meet in a circle to discuss each other's work, consider techniques we might want to learn, and to plan the next meeting.

We then disperse and head home, refreshed and relaxed from the quiet and productive morning.

We are fortunate to have so many neighbors and friends who show their love of art by sharing their gardens and yards and the crafts and paintings that they make.