As you know, I recently went on a lovely field trip to a botanical garden as part of an art club activity. Last night I attended a meeting of our HFAA club which was held at our city park. Today I spent a good part of my morning at an art gallery in a nearby town, enjoying an open studio with the gallery owner and several members of our regional art club.
Conversations about art are now beginning to mention various art shows. Yes, our HFAA club will hold its annual regional show in the fall. We had no shows at all last year. The Cass County Fair will also have an art show, hosted by the Pleasant Hill Art Association. I haven’t yet heard any word about a few of the other shows that are usually held in the area, but definitely things are starting to open up once again.
Clubs are meeting, galleries are open, plein air events are happening, and I’m looking forward to the upcoming shows. Two years ago, at the last HFAA Regional Show, I was flabbergasted when I won both first place and third place in the oil category. I still have those prize ribbons hanging on the paintings.
It all means that I have a lot to do in the coming weeks. I need to look at my paintings, evaluate them, and decide which are show-worthy and will need to be matted and framed. It means, too, that I’ll be spending more time going to club meetings and workshops. I am looking forward to doing more art now that the world is opening up once again.
I’m excited, too, about my own “opening up” — how over the last year I’ve broadened my understanding of art, have improved my drawing and painting skills, I think, and have come through this “pandemic year” with a newfound sense of artistic freedom. Because there were no shows going on last year, I focused more on learning rather than doing. I also did a lot of art experimentation, played with mixed media and art journaling, worked my way through several abstract projects, and underwent my own home-grown personal art therapy program. I explored many online resources that focused on self-expression and individualism in art.
All of this has allowed me to “open up” to art — and to other artists — in new ways. Although I do believe my drawing and painting abilities are better now than they were a year ago, I know I’m still not on the same level as many of the artists in our clubs. I probably never will be, but I know now that it’s all right. I am my own artist. I’m free to express myself in my own way, to make my own marks, and to feel good about who I am.
And so it was that I happily joined HFAA club members for a plein air session at our city park. It was easy for me, very comfortable, because this is the same park where I frequently go to do a little sketching. Having others around me didn’t faze me, I’m happy to say, and I was proud to show off my work, not because of its merits, but simply because it was mine.
Here is “The Crooked Tree” — one of my favorite trees near the lake. I’ve sketched it before in my nature journal. This time I did it in graphite:
Not a great scan, and maybe not a great drawing, but I was pleased with it. I enjoyed the time I spent sitting at the shelter house, looking out over the lake, and quietly sketching this tree and the bark. Instead of showing it overlooking the lake, I took a little “artistic license” and added a grassy area behind the tree. It just felt right. I also just laid in a bit of graphite for the sky. Again, it just felt right. Mostly it just felt good to open myself up, to say “Here’s what I did,” and to share my art with the other members of the club.
Indeed, I intend to be much more active now in our art clubs, to take part in many more plein air events — either drawing or painting — and to proudly put my work on display at galleries, local exhibitions, and regional shows. I am an artist, and I have my own marks to make. I am who I am, doing what I do, and it’s nice to share my art with the world.