One of the best things about attending artist events is the opportunity to share tips with other artists and receive advice. Many opportunities exist for this type of collaboration in the real world (aka. not online). Artists might attend local art association meetings, art society meetings, live figure drawing sessions, plein-air paint-out events, open studio tours, or gallery talks. As an avid lover of solitude, I tend to resist these opportunities. However, the reality is that I often need advice. Meeting other artists and sharing art tips is a way to enrich my practice, continue to learn new techniques, and help others.
Recently, I chatted with several artists at different events. I learned lots of new and exciting things. One watercolor artist gave me complete directions for mounting a painting to a board. This innovative technique eliminates the need for framing. He even told me the products that work best for the process. Another artist gave me great advice on enhancing my painting backgrounds to help them stand out in an exhibition. And just last night, I attended a meeting of a local art group and learned quite a lot about the costs and benefits of renting a studio space in our city. Artists often share technical tips when getting together. We talk about brush types, compositions, and favorite paint pigments. It's trade talk, the kind people might engage in at a professional convention.
One of the biggest advantages of meeting with other artists is learning from those who have decades of experience. Many artists who are a generation ahead of me are generous in sharing their wealth of knowledge. I receive ongoing encouragement and reassurance from artists who have already been where I want to go. They let me know when my painting improves, they connect me with helpful teachers and places to exhibit. One artist was very kind to point out that I should be entering my art in a different type of exhibition. This tip proved to be true and helped me to get my art in front of people who enjoy it.
In addition to learning from artists, it's fulfilling to give back to others and share what we learn. Always being sure to let artist friends know that I'm only speaking from my own experience and opinion, I also try to contribute. Sometimes, I advise about problems in a painting when the artists ask. Other times, we collaborate about which materials to use for a project. And for artists just starting, I like to encourage them.
If you are like me and find comfort in the solitude of art making, consider what the occasional art outing might contribute to your practice. If you don't live in an area with art groups that meet regularly, a drive to an event out of town might be worth the effort. I used to think that I could get all of the advice needed online. The advantage of in-person events is that you get the advice you don't know you need. Like any profession, development, and growth can come from meeting with others.