On Saturday, I attended my first open studio event sponsored by our Tri-County Art League. These events are held in a spacious meeting room with all the facilities a group could want — lots of tables and chairs, lots of room, an attached kitchen with sink and refrigerator, and restrooms, too, of course.
Here’s the information from a flyer:
OPEN STUDIO — FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
10 AM – 2 PM
Bring your own art supplies, lunch, and enjoy the fun! Ages 18 and up. Tables and chairs provided.
Sounds like fun, right? Yes, it was fun. I made a tasty pasta salad to take along as my contribution to our lunch — everyone from the club brings a potluck dish — and I happily gathered up my drawing and sketching supplies, ready to go.
Earlier, I had debated about what project I wanted to work on. Watercolor was out. My oil painting supplies are awkward for me to transport. I considered soft pastels. I thought about colored pencils. In the end, though, I took only a couple of sketchbooks and lots of drawing pencils. I took erasers, too, of course. I browsed an online collection of reference photos for artists, found I scene that seemed to speak to me, and I was off to attend my first open studio.
Here’s the drawing I completed during the event:
I didn’t concern myself with getting all the shadows right. Mostly I just wanted to capture the essential elements of the scene. I may later use this composition as the basis for an oil painting. I didn’t worry about showing the waves crashing over the rocks, either. I just let myself get into that blissful Zen state of mind, and I enjoyed my drawing time.
It was a relaxed atmosphere. We chatted casually — and I had a chance to get to know other group members better. We talked about art, showing our work, judges, commissions, and many other things. I enjoyed strolling from table to table to see what others were working on, and I felt comfortable showing my drawing when others came strolling to my table.
Lunch was delicious. I should have taken photos! Along with my pasta salad we enjoyed a tuna salad, cold cuts, a tray of veggie appetizers and cheese, fresh fruit, crackers, and a delicious cheese ball with pineapple and peppers. One member brought cookies for dessert.
During our lunch break at noon, our conversations veered away from art. We talked about television programs, local happenings, and personal experiences. Following lunch, we cleaned up the kitchen and then returned to our art projects.
A good day, indeed. I got lots of ideas and inspirations from the other artists, and I will be looking forward to attending other open studio events in the future. What puzzled me, however, and what has also left other league members puzzled since they began hosting these events was the lack of participation. Only four members were there when the event began. One member brought her mother along, and two league members dropped by a bit later.
The league rents the building each month for these open studios, and I’m glad they do. Yet I wonder if a time will come when they decide that the expense involved isn’t worth it. I hope not.
The question is why? Why hasn’t the public responded to the opportunity to join in, to meet artists in the community, and to learn about the art league? And why don’t more members of the league take advantage of the opportunity to get together, talk shop, and enjoy a delicious lunch?
The open studio presents a relaxed atmosphere, much more conducive for asking questions than a formal meeting. During the studio, there’s plenty of time for sharing ideas, for giving and receiving advice, for talking about our personal experiences in art.
What a marvelous opportunity for both league members and other artists from the community! Why do so few attend?
Maybe Saturday mornings aren’t good times for many artists, especially those with children. Maybe aspiring artists from the community are hesitant to take part, concerned that their efforts may not be good enough. I’m sure this is how I would have felt a couple years ago. Or maybe people just don’t know about the league’s open studio events.
I’m very glad I found the league, and I’ve enjoyed our meetings. I’m making new connections — and new friends — and I’m gaining confidence in my drawing skills. I truly enjoyed my first open studio.
Does your art community sponsor events like this? If so, what response have you had from the community? What are your thoughts about open studio events? Do you find them helpful? Please, share your thoughts!