Do You Crave An Art Group In Your Life?
I just returned from three days with my fabulously fierce group of painter lady friends in Palm Springs, and before I share more about the experience, I really want to speak to something first. Because, if you are really craving a group of creative friends in your life, but you don’t currently have that, then seeing a whole bunch of other artists get together and have a good time can be quite frankly, really painful.
I remember years ago, when I didn’t know as many other artists locally, or online, and I would see these weekend trips that artists that I admired were taking, and I just wished that I could have that, too. And now I know that dreams do come true, because somehow we just had our fourth annual retreat with the Painted Ladies, and I want to celebrate it, share these fabulous women with you, and also, just talk about how to create an art group of your own!
Our art group started in 2015 when Alicia Schultz invited a bunch of us to come sit on a blanket in a local park and paint while we picnicked. It grew into a monthly painting get-together. At first it was open invite, many people coming and going but after many months it was evident that there was a core committed group. We decided at that point to make our art group a closed group to keep it small and keep the relationships deeper. At some point we named ourselves the Painted Ladies PDX.
That first year, we went on our first getaway together and rented a house out on the Oregon coast. The second year, we rented a house up near Mt Hood. The third year, several mamas in the group had nursing babes, and to keep it easy on everyone, we rented a house right in town! This year, we had our most ambitious retreat yet, and flew on a plane together to Palm Springs! I am pregnant so this is probably the last trip I will take for a while, until I get settled into to my new life with a baby in the coming year! ⠀
Aside from our annual retreat, our art group meets monthly in Portland, OR. We trade off hosting at everyone's homes and studios. We usually bring our own paintings that we are working on, and we often teach little mini-workshops for each other when we are excited to share a technique. Everyone brings potluck snacks and we drink a lot of bubbly water. This year, in Palm Springs, we all worked collaboratively on ten paintings - it was so fun to respond to each other’s marks and watch the paintings evolve as they were passed around.⠀⠀⠀⠀
I share all of this in case it can help guide you if you are on a quest to have an art group of your own. If you crave a group locally, start by simply inviting people to come make art with you! Do some “thoughtful stalking” -(that’s a phrase invented by the amazing Tiffany Han)- and find artists in your area whose work and/or message feels aligned with your own. And, in my experience, if they are at a similar point in their career as you, they are much more likely to say yes!
Host picnic painting parties in the park. Host a drawing & cocktail party. Go to art retreats. Participate in local art shows and reach out to the other exhibiting artists - organize crafting parties. Invite people over for a facilitated discussion about something that all matters a LOT to you, like creativity & bravery. Take online classes or follow other artists online and invite them to make things with you.
There are so many ways! Some people will be so thankful you reached out. Some will not be interested. It’s not personal - keep inviting people. And pretty soon, you'll have a community of kindreds to do this thing with, too.
PS: On the retreat, I finally took my true form - as a pregnant mermaid!!
I am still feeling so spiritually renewed after a weekend getaway with the my Painted Ladies group. Thanks to megababe and fellow mermaid Catalina Garreton for making my mermaid dreams come true! Mermaid tail created by the amazing The 2 Tails. Catalina licenses her vibrant paintings to be printed as patterns onto mermaid tails - how cool is that?!!!