Artful Fellowship

Making art together is one of the best ways to get inspired and break through artist block.

Making art together as a group is one of the best ways to get to know each other, foster friendships and tear down artistic blocks. There is something about making art with other artists that pushes the barriers aside and gets people talking. At times, artists need help and encouragement from other artists especially in those dry spells that happen to every one. Spending time together can make the exact breakthrough that is needed when inspiration and ideas seem hard to come by. The sense of camaraderie of making art together leads to making more art and thus to deeper friendships.

One of the best things art making in a group can provide is the sharing of inspiration and ideas. During those art making dry spells, getting in an art group may be just the ticket to get the waters flowing again! The Selma Times Journal has a great article on The Selma Art Guild’s mission to bring the Selma art community together by connecting artists and patrons and more. The Selma Times quotes Selma artist, Jo Taylor, “We get together and learn from one another’s point of view.

The “Imagine Art” project in Austin, TX has a vision to transform the lives of artists with disabilities for the Glory of God. The Imagine Art website has John Molina quoted as saying, “By talking to my peers, I get ideas for my artwork, and I can also give my fellow peers great ideas to them as well.” Imagine Art’s goal is to encourage art making in community to create transformational life change among these artists.

All artists go through those times when not only is inspiration hard to get to, but also staying focused and disciplined to push on can be difficult. Renee Phillips of says, “The importance of belonging to an art community and fostering camaraderie have been guiding principles through out my long and rewarding career and that of every successful artist I know.”

As we found on our Art of Nature weekend, getting with a group has multiple benefits. Add nature into the mix and its hard to see why everybody’s not out there making art together with friends, new and old!

Accidental Artistic Assistance

Safety in artistic practice is vital. Are we paying attention?

The dangers of cadmiums and other paints are one of those topics artists don’t always pay attention to. Recently the issue became front and center for me when my  5 month old puppy decided to give me a hand with the painting by licking the paint off of a wet oil painting of cardinals. Safety in artistic practice should be our first priority but is it always?  If you’re like me you can get in the zone and forget what’s going on around you. I set this painting on a side table to go to something else and was not looking when my puppy decided she liked the taste of oil paint! Thankfully, she suffered no ill effects.

There is a wealth of information out there on the dangers of artist’s materials.  A teacher I had in school was adamant that no solvents be used with oil paint.  But its not just the solvents. It’s also the paint pigments themselves. Renee Phillips, in her blog, says Rubens and Renoir suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and Paul Klee from scleroderma that could possibly be linked to heavy metals, such as cadmium in the their paint.

Many artists have taken up acrylic paint for a number of reasons but one is that acrylics don’t require solvents.  However has a great article on this subject and says acrylics release chemicals into the air as they dry, such as propylene glycol and ammonia.  And for those who use acrylic medium with their paints, they could also be releasing formaldehyde.

Art-Is-Fun lists some of the known toxic chemicals in paint as cadmium, cobalt, manganese, chromium and lead.  All accounts say the main harm is inhalation or ingesting large amounts.  Minimal safety procedures can eliminate or reduce the risk of most of these dangers.  Read labels and follow all precautions.  Adequate ventilation is a must.

Consider Plein-Air painting if you must use solvents. Don’t eat your paint and keep it out of the reach of helpful wanna be artists. 

The Season of Love in Art

How is love portrayed in art? Love in art is as varied as the artists creating the works.

February must be the season of love. It’s Valentine’s Day and everybody is thinking of love. Does it show up in art too? Yes! Maybe not in all artist’s work but lots of us think about painting subjects that denote love to us. When love is in the air, it’s in everything. Even in the cold February weather, people still think love. Or maybe the cold brings that on.

ArtsPer magazine did an expose on love depicted in art covering the many variations of love such as friendship, parent and child, brothers and sisters, marriage. However love is portrayed it seems to be a favorite subject for artists. Speculation abounds from viewers of love in art. Love covers so many emotions and feelings, behaviors, all kinds of meanings. It could get very complicated. It could get crazy.

In Renee Phillips excellent article covering Love in Art, she examines two famous artworks depicting a kiss. As there are numerous variations on love, there are numerous variations on a kiss. The two works she examines here are of passionate kisses between lovers. That is probably what we most often think of with a kiss but there is also the kiss on the cheek as a greeting, the kiss of a parent for child and child for parent. The list could go on and on.

Does love in art have to be deep or filled with angst or some other passionate emotion? That is probably an unanswered question. Maybe somebody answered it. The sweet simplicity of two little birds says all I want to say about love. Two little birds out on a branch sharing a look at each other. Do they have a passionate relationship? Beats me! I just like love things to be sweet, simple and straightforward. Saving the angst for another day.

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

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