Thursday, January 22, 2015

Why join an art organization?

It happens over and over again.  When times get hard and purse-strings get tight, it’s the arts that seem to be cut first.  It’s times like this when artists are hit hard, loosing a good portion of our income to the economy.  Even when times are looking a little better, we artists seem to be the last to feel the up-swing.

Art organizations usually meet once a month or so and offer critiques, demonstrations, workshops and friendly gatherings.  They usually ask a yearly fee to cover the costs of advertising, mailing meeting reminders and cover art show costs.  There are three such organizations in my area but each town is probably different.  Check with your local Arts Council to find what organizations exist in your area.  So why should we pay $45 or more per year to belong to an art organization?  I can name a number of reasons.

11.  We, of all people, need to continue to support the arts.
22.  This type of organization encourages friendly competition through shows and therefore helps us get our work shown.
  3.  This friendly competition also encourages us to do our best and strive to get better at our craft.
  4.  Most art shows are juried and offer cash prizes, which are very nice for the struggling artist.
  5.  The meeting of like-minded artists all facing similar economic and art-related issues is healthy.
  6.   We help each other out through networking and bouncing ideas off each other.
  7.  Sometimes it helps to just get out and be with other artists.
  8.  Most organizations offer demonstrations of techniques that encourage artistic experimentation.
  9.  We learn from each other.
  10.Some organizations (not all) offer signature membership earned by being in a number of art shows and winning awards.  This coveted signature membership allows you to sign the society’s initials behind your name, showing that you have achieved a lofty stance in the art world.

I could probably think of more reasons but you get the point.  In my area, since there are three such organizations, I choose just one.  This organization is Society of Western Artists, San Joaquin Valley Chapter.  Like many art organizations, SWA is having its fair share of economic-membership woes.  The numbers have steadily dwindled since 2008 until this year we wonder if we can go on.  I believe we will, but it will be difficult without the membership to get things done and offer two shows per year.  I would encourage all artists to belong to some organization for their own artistic and creative health.  It is so worth it.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Motivation for a New Year

I always like to map out my lovely, pristine, new calendar each year so that stuff doesn’t happen my random luck but on purpose.  I usually take my new calendar in November or December and plot out what short-term goals I’d like to complete to push me toward my ultimate long-term goals.  But this year was different.  I was needed to help out with family and my goal plans took a back seat to more immediate concerns.  So here I am, knee-deep in January and no plans in my new 2015 calendar.  No problem, I can still salvage my goal making routine and decide what kind of year this will be.
Digital painting of Jonathan Gregory 

Because of my goals and mapping out short-term goals, I have completed and self-published 5 books, 3 of them last year; I have completed many personal paintings and projects, one of which got me the Portrait Award in the SWA Annual San Francisco show and one got Best of Show in the local chapter SWA Annual Fall show.  I managed to get 2 semesters and 4 classes closer to my Master’s Degree in Illustration from Academy of Art University online.  I have completed several children’s book illustrations and even some book covers.   I have also written and published 50 articles for HubPages and other online magazines.  These are the things that make me very happy and satisfied with myself.
Digital painting of Nataly Enero

As I look back over my year, sure there were times when I just wasted time watching TV or digital movies and accomplished very little besides relaxing.  But for the most part, I was productive and kept active, learned many things, created things, wrote and published things, and did my best to make the world a better place, one creation, one article at a time.  Isn’t that our ultimate goal in life?  To make the world a better place and not a worse place to live than we found it?  I know that will let me sleep soundly when I take that ultimate dirt nap.