Sunday, February 21, 2010

Decisions, Decisions!

I hope you all will forgive me for thinking aloud here today.  I have a decision to make and it helps to make a pro and con list which I'll do in just a bit.  If anyone has any input afterward, don't hesitate to speak up!

Ok, here's the thing.  Yesterday I attended a meeting of our local Pastel Society and am trying to decide whether or not to join.

I'm such a hick and really am not a joiner by nature.  I'm also a real homebody and, if given a choice, I would rarely go anywhere.  So, given my natural bent, I'll start with the pros of joining.

1.  Opportunities for learning more about pastels.  If you all have known me for very long, you'll know that I'm pretty new to pastel and wasn't all that crazy about the medium when I tried it.  However, it's grown to be one of my favorite mediums and it would certainly be beneficial to know more about it.

2.  Opportunity to expand into more varied subject matter.   Painting animals, especially pets, is my focus right now and is something I love to do.  However, pet portraiture is pretty limiting in that clients usually want a photographic likeness of their pet.  Joining the Pastel Society would give me the opportunity to explore other subjects in that there could be an outlet for paintings if I were juried into the various shows they promote.

3.  Opportunity to interact and exchange ideas with other artists.  Any interaction with other artists for me at this time is through the internet.  The internet is wonderful and I value the wonderful people I've met online.  But, it would be great to have real time interaction and, most of all, getting to see other artist's work in person would be such a kick!

Those are the major pros for right now.  There are others but I'm trying to keep this brief and not bore you to tears!

Now for the cons.

1.  Any meetings, shows or social events would involve driving quite a distance from me.  As I said, I'm a country hick and not at all used to driving in city traffic.  It's stressful when I have to do it.  This isn't an insurmountable objection but is a factor in my decision.  The group is having to find a new meeting place and it may end up being even further from me than it is now.

2.  Group politics & inflated egos.  Any group will have political undercurrents and little cliques but I really find myself disgusted with it and that's probably my #1 reason for not joining any art group.  Unfortunately, there were some definite undercurrents of that sort of thing at the meeting yesterday.  I'm not a competitive person, or at least not with other people;  I am competitive with myself.  Anyway, it's difficult for me to deal with half-hidden strife and I'm not sure I need to be in a group where it's evident from the start.

3.  Pastel is only one of the mediums I enjoy.  I like a variety of different art media and I'm not sure I want to focus on pastel to the extent that joining a pastel group would demand.    I'm a slow painter for one thing and for another, I'm not even sure I could produce acceptable work in pastel in subjects other than animal art.  I seem to freeze when pressure is put on me to produce and the whole point of joining the Society for me would be to expand my horizons.  Of course, that's a crisis of confidence and you only get confident by facing your crisis!  lol

Again, there are some other cons & even some that are important to me but personal so aren't listed here.  I'm still see-sawing back and forth about joining even after making this list.

On the one hand, I feel that I should push myself to get out there & use every avenue to both hone my craft and to market my art.  But on the other hand, I feel I would be absolutely miserable doing it!

Decisions, decisions!


Dors said...

I see myself in everything you say here Jan. I know how hard it is to make that decision. It seems that your negatives do out way your positives.
I decided to avoid the political undercurrents and stay home and work things out by reading lots of books and watching other artists on the net. Like you I am only competitive with myself.

The only thing I can say is ask if you can join in as a visitor for a couple of sessions and see how it works out. You know Jan you can always change your mind. after all it is a woman's prerogative. LOL
Your posting is far from boring and probably describes a lot of us artists. I admire your honest openness .
At times we need to push ourselves but only if it is really what we want.
Go with what makes you feel happy not what you feel others would like you to do.
Dors xx

sue said...

Join the Club (or not - as the case may be)!! I'm not a Group joiner either. I'm not a great one for leaving my comfort zone either :o)

I have attended some one day training sessions (the last was 18 months ago with Vic Bearcroft - pastel wildlife artist in a Big Cat Sanctuary) I learned some new techniques and was able to get lots of great photos of the big cats. But it always takes me a long time to get round to trying new papers/techniques/pencils etc so I think the 'one-off' sessions are better suited to my life/work/personality style. Coupled with everything I manage to pick up from reading the blogs of other artists and forum postings I don't have enough hours in the day now!

I agree it is lovely to actually see other artists and their work 'in the flesh' sometimes, but I achieved this recently when 3 of my pictures were accepted into the UKCPS annual exhibition. I travelled to the Gallery to see all the works and meet the other artists at the 'end of exhibition' meal. It was a four hour journey each way and a hotel stop over but worth it.

As Dors suggested, if you are able to attend a couple of sessions as a guest you will get a better idea of whether you can gel with the others in the Group - after all its supposed to be a pleasurable experience as well a learning experience so you have to be comfortable.

(ps: I hate driving in City traffic also - so it would be big NO NO for me)!!

Jan said...

Thank you so much for your input, Dors and Sue!

I can attend a couple of meetings as a guest and may well attend next month's meeting (if it's so I can) before I decide.

I think I could learn a lot from joining as they had a wonderful presentation yesterday about what is actually in pastel sticks, their lightfast ratings, etc.

But, I'm not so sure I would enjoy doing shows or other activities.

Sue, didn't you have to join UKCPS in order to participate in the show you mentioned? The Pastel Society here is a local chapter of a national Society and I'm sure it would be quite similar to the UKCPS.

I have an idea that I'll end up not joining the PS here but I do want to give it a fair chance. The majority of the members there seemed very nice - it was only a couple who seemed a tad contentious. And I know I can get along with just about anyone if I have to - I just don't know if I want to have to! lol

sue said...

Yes I did have to join the UKCPS but until this last exhibition all contact has been internet/post based - even submitmitting works for their various exhibitions. I don't think the UK society is as advanced or large as yours although in the last year or two there has been a big increase in membership numbers and activities and lots of local clubs have been formed - none near me though :o)

I wish you luck with whatever you decide to do about joining

Jeanette said...

Jan, I'd say join. Even if its not a good fit for you down the road, you can always abandon it again.

Networking is a vital part of art and interacting with other like minded artists is always useful. A few exhibitions to join in is fun too. If you're not on the executive, there usually isn't too much politicking going on.

I understand the pain to drive to get to meetings etc. And I've found that not all members turn up at them anyway. It varies depending on timing and commitment. Perhaps if you know in advance of their schedule, you can arrange an outing with your husband and have him drive or with a friend who may like to join as well.

Jan said...

Thanks for your input, Jeanette, you know that I always value your opinions.

I know that I wouldn't have to attend every meeting or participate in every activity which lessens the pressure. And, I used to drive in LA (California) traffic with barely a missed heartbeat. However, for the past 30+ years now, 3 cars at an intersection constitutes a traffic jam! So I would have to get my brave on if the new location is in a congested area as I hate depending on someone else!

They handed out a schedule of events at the last meeting and it sounds as if this is a very active and forward-looking organization. The president is a real fireball and I liked her and her vision for this chapter very much.

We'll see how it goes - I don't have to make a decision right away anyway.