Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Benefits of Painting with a Friend

Today being Wednesday, my friend Kathy ( and I spent the day painting. We've been getting together to paint most Wednesdays for the last eleven years. We alternate locations, taking turns traveling between each other's studios. This involves advance planning (What supplies should I take? What am I likely to need?) and no small amount of physical exertion. Lugging stuff from studio to car and then from the car into the other's studio calls for effort. But that effort is totally worth it.

Painting together one day a week benefits us both in many ways. It helps rekindle our motivation when our muse has seemingly gone AWOL. It can be easy for an artist to succumb to a creative slump when they work in isolation, but slipping into that netherworld is much less likely when a friend is there to offer input and encouragement. Because Kathy and I are both abstract painters, there's a commonality of understanding between us relating to aspects of our work that makes explanations unnecessary.

Another benefit is that having a standing date to paint is an antidote to procrastination. As in, "I'll start that new canvas/experiment with inks/make collage papers/try that medium etc. etc. tomorrow when I have more time." When you know you have a set time to paint together, there's plenty of time. Procrastination isn't an option, and the excuse of being "too busy" doesn''t hold up. In six dedicated hours you can get an amazing amount accomplished.

Just being in another artist's studio can open one's eyes to new possibilities. When I visit Kathy's studio, I see her works in progress (always interesting!) and peruse newly finished pieces on her walls. Sometimes it's a combination of colors she's used that sparks an idea for a new jewelry design I go on to develop. Sometimes browsing the titles in her bookcase leads me to try a new painting technique. Kathy might say she experiences a similar phenomenon when she comes to my studio. A studio environment that's not your own can generate plenty of artistic curiosity and creative inspiration.

Last but not least, there's the benefit of camaraderie. In the many years we've been meeting each week, we've supported each other through difficult times, celebrated each other's achievements and commiserated over life's inevitable ups and downs. Eleven years' worth of Wednesdays. Eleven years of a cherished, enduring friendship. Eleven years of mutual support. Eleven years of laughter. It just doesn't get any better than that! 

©2014 Lynn Edwards

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