According to dictionary.com, an artist is defined as:
1. a person who produces works in any of the arts that are primarily subject to aesthetic criteria,
2. a person who practices one of the fine arts, esp. a painter or sculptor,
3. a person whose trade or profession requires a knowledge of design, drawing, or painting,
4. a person who works in one of the performing arts, etc………
In this article I will be referring to the word “artist” quite often. As I write, I am referring to “artists” that fit the criteria of 1 – 3 in the definition above.
So, here goes:
Whenever I feel like I need a lift or some inspiration, I like to call or visit one of my “artist” friends. If I really want to be raised up, I try to get together with several “artist” friends at the same time.
There is something special about the way my “artist” friends and I relate. I can’t presume to think that I am the only one in the world that experiences this, so let me restate the previous sentence. Something special, something magical occurs when a group of “artist” friends get together.
The friend part of that statement is crucial. I am talking about a group of people that truly love each other, respect each other, admire each other. That kind of relationship can take years to develop or it can happen in a matter of minutes. I have had both experiences.
It helps to have a core group of “artist” friends that you can rely on to be there when you need them. Getting together with these friends is always a whirlwind of incredible excitement for me. When my core group gets together we may not do anything but go to someone’s house and look through art magazines. The get-togethers are always fun, with incredible discussions. We share about our latest works, workshops we have been to, art shows coming up, awards won, disappointments, family, our creative blocks, travel, and a general excitement about art. We laugh a lot and sometimes cry.
Since I moved to Hawaii these meetings have become few and far-between. I miss my “artist” friends and the energy we used to give to each other. Strange how things happen at the same time. I moved to Hawaii, one “artist” friend moved to Mexico, one to Singapore, and a few “artist” friends stayed put in Texas. Coming back to Texas gives me a chance to reconnect with the ones that stayed. Email helps me stay connected with the travelers. On my last trip to Texas, I was fortunate to get to spend time with a couple of my “artist” friends.
I want to share with you how a simple afternoon with one of these friends affected me. So, a little background: I have been feeling a little discouraged with the amount of artwork I am producing. I am not living up to my expectations. Plus, I expect to produce a masterpiece each time I paint. That is a lot of pressure. Did I mention that I am a perfectionist. (That is another story, which could turn into a book!)
So, I met one of my “artist” friends in Brenham and we made the drive over to Round Top. Round Top is in central Texas and is known for antiques, quaint shops, art galleries, cozy little restaurants, an opera house and more. The scenery on the way to Round Top is beautiful this time of year especially, with the bluebonnets and other wildflowers bursting with brilliant color along the country roadside.
I threw my camera in the back seat just in case we had time to stop along the way. We visited several galleries and shops, had a great lunch and went to an herb garden and nursery. We had no intentions of buying anything. We were there to look, to get enthused, to get a little creative shot in the arm.
I have a weakness for gardens anyway. I have always dreamed of having a beautiful yard filled with colorful flowers, wandering pathways, quiet places for meditation and prayer.
As soon as we parked the car, I grabbed my camera and starting taking photographs. My friend did not bring her camera and was upset with herself. But, all was not lost. We turned the next hour into a very productive time of sharing our visual perception of the garden. Because my friend did not have a camera, she spoke about the shots she would take, compositions and paintings she saw in the garden.
Now, I have to admit that my family has tried to help me when I was taking photographs, telling me what to take pictures of; and I have become agitated about being interrupted or distracted. But this moment was different. I stopped and listened. I looked and studied. I told her my thoughts behind the photographs I was taking. We discussed lighting, cast shadows, point of view, perspective, color, architecture elements, focal point, etc. The more we talked, the more we saw.
I am tall and my friend is not tall. She could see things I could not. So, I got down on her level and saw another whole group of shots. It was great fun. I am including a photo in this post to show you what I’m talking about. I got down on my knees and looked up through the leaves of a Swiss chard plant. The light shining through the leaves gave the plant an luminous quality. It was similar to looking through stained glass.
We both became energized by the experience. I offered my camera to my friend, but she declined. I imagine that she stored her photos mentally. Maybe some day she will return to take photographs herself. Or she might draw and paint the scenes from memory, drawing upon the emotions of the afternoon.
I ended up with a memory card full of beautiful photographs and a memory of creative connectedness with a special person in my life. A simple afternoon of connecting with an “artist” friend lifted my spirits and got me ready to create again. “Artist” friends are treasures. They energize me. They support me. They help me see the world in a different way. I believe we all need to cultivate a support group of “artist” friends. They certainly are a blessing to me.