Well, as the old saying goes, “Birds of a feather flock together”, the same can be said of artists belonging to the many art clubs, societies, groups, and associations all over the world. Although most artists prefer to paint alone and in their own space, those same artists love to gather together and celebrate their art in groups that encourage, inspire, and share their art with the world.
Art Societies have been around for hundreds of years. These groups were comprised of artists of like styles or mediums, artists from the same areas, artists who painted plein air, portrait artists, and many other groups with similar interests regarding their art. Through the years, these same kinds of groups have become more organized, with annual meetings, art shows, workshops, and shear celebrations of their art. Besides being very social, these groups of talented people are usually community minded and strive to encourage the younger generations to get involved early. They sponsor art activities for teachers and students to help further the explorations in public schools. They advocate keeping the arts in schools and help to raise funds for programming and supplies. They are great supporters of art education as they also continue to learn more and more about the creation of their art themselves.
The yearly gatherings among these birds of a feather, usually consist of a juried show among the members, a workshop offered by the juroring artist, a banquet meal and loads of useful information shared among its members by its members as well as some of the country’s top professional artists. Some larger societies go further in their offerings by inviting vendors and art supply stores to expose the newest materials in the market and to offer information and demos to the members to enhance the whole convention experience.
Cheap Joe Miller is a member of the Watercolor Society of North Carolina, as well as other societies, and has been newly awarded his Signature Status with the group. The WSNC recently held their annual convention and exhibit opening in the neighboring town of Blowing Rock. Joe and I spent the weekend with the members and attended many of the events of the convention. The exhibit is currently on display at the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum until November 2, 2013. The caliber of artwork was incredible. There are a variety of styles and techniques represented. Juror, Mary Ann Beckwith from Michigan, found it very difficult to select the works of the show, not to mention those who won awards. Everyone is a winner in my book! And anyone not being selected for the show should be proud just to have entered. The artwork represented reflects on the society as a whole. This group really came out and made a wonderful show.
During the weekend events, many demos were offered and well attended. Local artist Wes Waugh demonstrated his wet into wet process giving everyone something else to take away from the event. WSNC president Russell Yerkes also provided useful information on how to ship a painting to a juried show. His explanation and ideas will be greatly appreciated next year. The convention was complete with a banquet and award’s luncheon to bring the event to a close. Juror, Mary Ann Beckwith enhanced the luncheon with a sneak preview of her upcoming workshop at Cheap Joe’s in 2014. She wowed the crowd with unique processes and bright colors and left them all hungry for more! The awards were presented and everyone had a great time!
Shortly after attending the WSNC annual meeting, Cheap Joe’s again hit the road and traveled many hours to reach Sarasota, FL for the Florida Watercolor Society annual trade show and convention. Now, The FWS group is made up of about 1,100 members, however, not all are able to attend the convention as it moves each year to a different part of the state. The members did come out in mass and were eager to sample all of what the FWS convention had to offer. It seems every year is filled with more and more to bring in the crowd and Florida Watercolor Society does it better than anyone we know. They organize demos featuring top area artists, daily raffles and silent auctions, and one of the biggest events is the Paint Around event which allows five different artists the chance to paint together and results in some very unique masterpieces! The trade show floor is filled to the brim with vendors who offer their own product demos, games, and show specials to please any art supply budget. Everyone from Cheap Joe’s just loved having a good time with our friends and we were ready to answer any questions they might have had about products or ordering. With the several demos, workshops, and activities scheduled between the two day event, there was something for everyone who attended.
Now, if you are not already a member of your local society or art group, I would highly recommend looking into it. The benefits are plentiful and the one thing you will most likely find is that everyone is very accommodating and encouraging especially to beginners. Many artists feel they are not qualified enough to join or enter the yearly shows. Well, I am here to tell you that you don’t have to be a professional fulltime artist to participate. You really just have to have the desire and confidence to show your work. There is so much to gain from being in an art group. A membership provides exposure for your art, great camaraderie among other artists, a chance to learn something new, and the opportunity to have fun and feel good about your art.
Now, you “Birds of a Feather”, I hope you realize what a special group you are and cherish the many lifelong friendships that you find along the way, like Taylor Ikin and Joe Miller. You will always have someone there who will support you and your art, who will give you advise and encouragement, and who will lend a helping had when you need it the most. Feather your nest with these special people and keep them close!
Have a Happy Birds of a Feather Day and encourage someone to become part of your painting flock!