The Power of Community
When I started painting, I was—more or less—on my own. It was the drive deep down inside me that got me painting, but there were not many people around to support me on my abstract art journey. Very few people even knew that I was painting. I did not shout it from the rooftops; I felt too shy. (Read about how I started painting here).
I was very lucky that I met my art-friend Dotty Seiter at an online daily painting-event.
If you scroll back through my Daily Painting blog, you can see that it is mostly her and me communicating about our daily art practices.
Right now, I know that if I had not her support, I would not be painting anymore. Or at least I would not have such a sustained daily art practice as I have right now. This website would not exist either. It was the power of community that helped me push through, and I am very grateful for that.
Most needed: Community
When I launched this website, I asked new subscribers, ‘What would you need most for your art practice to thrive?’ The main answer I got was, ‘Community.’ Apparently, artists need other artists to relate to, to keep them going, to show their work, to receive feedback, and to help them overcome obstacles. And they love to give the same support in return.
Making art is usually a solo activity
If you love playing football or choir singing, it is not that difficult to find a tribe to relate to. These are activities that have the community factor built in. Making art, by contrast, is something that you mostly do on your own, in your studio, or at your kitchen table. Of course, joining an art class is terrific, but art classes cost money, which you might not have. They also require time, which you might not have either.
If you want to make abstract art, it might be even more difficult to find art buddies. It is usually easier to find artists in your neighborhood that love to paint realistically, painting landscapes or figures for instance.
There’s nothing wrong with that, of course but if your soul yearns for making abstract art, you can find yourself on your own. Having abstract-art buddies can then make all the difference. They are on the same path, they know what it is to search your way, and they can support you on your journey.
Abstract art-making can be challenging
Of course, I don’t want to be negative about art-making. It is one of the most enjoyable and satisfactory activities I have in my life. But it can be very challenging, too. If you make personal abstract art, it comes from deep within you. You can’t hold on to any examples; you have to find your own way.
That is of course not completely true. There are many inspiring artists out there, and I have learned incredibly much from them, even only by watching their work. But there comes a moment when you have to stop looking at other people’s art, and go deep inside to find your own artistic expression. At that moment it is wonderful to have people around you who go through the same experience.
The risk of procrastination
Art-making can be difficult, as I stated above, so it can be tempting to keep postponing:
- Today I don’t have time for painting—I’ll do it tomorrow.
- I don’t have the right materials right now—I will need to buy quality paint before I start.
- I first need to do a course to go to the next level.
Deep down we know this is not true, but it’s not always easy to find the power inside to carry through, pick up your brushes, and start making some marks.
Hooray for the art buddies!
There the art buddies come in. Because they paint, you get inspired to start painting, too. Because they want to see your work, you start showing it. Because they make their beautiful things, you get ideas to create yours. Because they sometimes make ‘ugly’ paintings, you are less afraid to create ‘imperfect’ art.
The opposite is also true. If you paint, and you realize that it helps other people to continue their art practice, you get even more motivated to keep painting.
One hand washes the other.