groups and talks

This week I went to a talk by an artist who'd won a prize at a prestigious pastel show in London. It was organised by the local Pastel Society. The members are very good and many are professional.

The talk was disappointing, The artist was a very good illustrator but didn't have the insight or imagination to move beyond that. The light and form were good - but he had a 'style' which ls and he continues to produce similar paintings again and again and ag again, never experimenting or learning, moving forward. He assured us in one breath that he was lucky as what he liked to paint sold. When we suggested that we preferred his work at the loose sketchy stage, before he tightened it up he admitted he'd tried showing that but it hadn't sold. so .... he is allowing the market at particular galleries to dictate his work and instead of trying the looser work in another place he just gave up :( I do appreciate the talent he has but it seems so sad that it won't develop into something deeper.

He was quite smug and patronising and quite unaware of the talent of the people watching. He had no idea of the lack of insight that some of his replies revealed.

So different from real artists (to be said a rich rolling voice like Richard Burton's :) ) such as David Prentice, David Hockney, Kurt Jackson et al, constantly experiment and try new ideas and develop their work, challenging themselves constantly, keeping things fresh and exciting and considering the language of paint, colour, marks and materials, building an ever wider 'vocabulary' and not worrying about failures on the way to new ideas.

Several conversations lately, with a variety of people, have been about the benefits of art groups. To belong to small and/or larger art groups has a wide range of benefits. You are in touch with like minded people of varying ages and can exchange ideas, work together plein air or in the studio, set up joint projects or exhibitions, have speakers or demonstrators visit, go to exhibitions, crit each others work .... groups can be just a small informal group of friends or a larger formal group with minutes, constitutions and agendas - each has its benefits. I've made friends, gained contacts and exhibition opportunities, seen interesting work, had interesting crits and learned lots through membership.

I wouldn't have thought of myself as a 'joiner' but realise I'm in several. There's the 'prestigious' large local society, membership by selection, The Pastel Society, also by selection, a sketchclub that's strictly about enthusiasm, no selection but a long waiting list, that contains amateurs through to professionals and puts on an really good variety of talks, demos, crits and trips and a small group of friends who meet up once a month at each others homes and crit, exhibit, have artists in to talk and go out in small sub groups. I've gained so much from being a part of them all. When a degree finishes it's easy to be isolated, missing the buzz of other artists, to discuss with and see the work of, it leaves a void. Being a member of a sutiable group gives the same contact and feedback from peers - and it's fun


Katherine said…
I couldn't agree more Viv - both about:
1) the need for artists to continue to challenge themselves and try new things and
2) the value of support groups and dialogue with other artists.

I know a get a lot out of Fine Line Artists - the group I set up with some friends - and also the dialogue I have with indiviuals such as yourself in various places on the internet.

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