Friday, 13 July 2018

Creating with a Group - Part 2

Blog 28

A couple of weeks ago, I had an interesting talk with my artist friend Anne Warburton, a versatile fibre artist from Navan, about “Creating Art with a Group”. In this second part, we talk about finding locations, the challenges of creating in a group, and about collaborating on a joint piece of art.

Question 4) Where do you meet - are there any challenges with finding locations?

In the summer, weather is a factor because we don’t want to be out in the rain or out during a thunderstorm. If you need an indoor space, cost is often an issue. We are lucky in one of the smaller groups, as we go to each other’s homes, and have enough space in a couple of basements or sometimes we use a carport. Many indoor places do not want to rent space to painters, because they are afraid that the floors will be stained. And the price can sometimes be prohibitive too.
Some groups, like the Ottawa Urban Sketchers, seek out locations to go to, with permission of course, or get invited to events. For example, we were at Lansdowne Park for the curling trials a couple of years back, and more recently, we attended a dress rehearsal with the the Ottawa Pops Orchestra at Centrepointe Theatre. Ottawa does have some beautiful outdoor spaces and parks that are perfect for sketching and painting. This coloured pencil image was sketched at the Rockcliffe Park Pavillion.

A great source to find places to rent is SpaceFinder SpaceFinder is a free matchmaking tool for people renting out their space to artists and artists looking for a creative space.

Question 5) What are some disadvantages of creating with a group? Are you afraid to lose your own creativity when you participate in group activities too often?

It is easy to mimic someone else’s style when learning a new technique or working with new materials. That is a risk at first during the learning curve, but we do fall back to our own style, and adapting to incorporate the new technique.

Group dynamics are very important. We tend to take on roles such as organizer, doer, planner etc. We need to be open to what others want to accomplish in each group so that everyone feels their own needs are being met, and also ensure that our own goals align with that of the group.

Question 6) Have you collaborated with other artists to jointly create a piece of art?

Yes, we’re just finishing up a piece for a show next year. This was the first time I have been involved in a joint creation, and I’m pleased with how it went. It’s very important that everyone agree in advance on all the parameters, yet be flexible enough to make changes during the creative process. There were four of us and we have created together in the past as a group, so each of us was able to fall into the roles that we usually play in planning and organizing our creative get-togethers. For anyone who does want to create a piece jointly with others it’s important that all the tasks be identified and assigned, so that one person doesn’t feel burdened with more, another doesn’t feel listened to, etc.

Both Anne and I answered the same questions. To read my answers to the same questions please go to Anne’s blog at or you can access her blog through her website  If you missed the first part of our discussion, please scroll back to last week’s post.

Anne and I were both very excited about working together and had a lovely chat. However, it was quite out of our comfort zone to record the session. It was even harder to watch and edit the video afterwards. It is not perfect, but it shows us in an authentic way. I am sure we will get better with time. You will be able to see the clip "Challenges with Finding Locations" at

What about you? Have you ever created art with a group? We would love to hear about your experiences.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Creating Art with a Group - Part 1

Blog 27

A couple of weeks ago, I had an interesting talk with my artist friend Anne Warburton about “Creating Art with a Group”. Anne is a versatile fibre artist. Her passion is stitching on paper and fabric, and incorporating paint, photographs, metals or recycled materials. A love of colour and travel inspires much of her work. She has a love of learning, and continues to develop her art through experimentation and courses, and is also trained in the expressive arts therapies. She is an active member of several arts associations including Arteast and the Out of the Box Fibre Artists, and is Chair of the annual Navan spring Fine Art Exhibition & Sale.
In the discussion below, Anne talks about her experiences and perspectives on the topic of Creating Art with a Group. To see my answers to the same questions please go to Anne’s blog at or you can access her blog through her website

1) Anne, Why do you create art with a group? What do you get out of creating with others?

I have learned so much when creating with others, and have grown as an artist due in part to such groups. Valuable tips, resources and new ideas are just a few of the benefits. I’m currently active in three groups: an open studio, sketching group, and fibre art playdates.

For example with the Ottawa Urban Sketchers, there are artists of all levels, it is great practice and you get inspired by each other, especially if you don’t sketch on a regular basis. When you start out, it is often very uncomfortable to have other people looking over your shoulder and it’s comforting to have other artists sketching or painting next to you, even though the public is very interested and supportive. They are not critiquing what you are doing but are very interested.

There is an amazing energy in creating with a group. You just feed from each other. You get excited again and want to continue creating when you get home.

2) What types of groups do you work with? How did you find these groups? Do you have a group you meet with regularly?

I have worked with art organizations like Arteast and the Out of the Box Fibre Artists, the Ottawa Urban Sketchers, gone to workshops and classes, shared studio time, gone out with plein air groups.

With a group of fibre artists as well as through the Out of the Box Fibre Artists, we get together regularly every month or so for “play dates”. We spend a day learning how to use a new material or technique by playing and experimenting with the material, and the results can be just fascinating. We can’t always predict the results, which is part of the anticipation and surprise. Even the mistakes we make while learning are extremely valuable. We had one experience where only one of five in our group was successful with the technique we were learning, and we did not know why she had success. It took much more research but we really did learn more and just how much practice some techniques can take.

Part of the fun too is finding finding materials we need in local second hand stores, and some materials we didn’t know we needed but just had to have. So generally, it is not just a learning day but a whole event.

This picture was from a get together where we were experimenting with bleach dyeing. The original of this piece of clothing was black, and by tying up parts and bleaching, a beautiful brown was the result, with interesting circles left in black.

I have found these groups by joining local visuals arts and fibre arts organizations, then getting together with friends made through these groups where we have like-minded goals. We are lucky that Ottawa has many such opportunities through organized groups and through several shops.

3) Do you think it is helping with your success as an artist?

Definitely. You get good constructive feedback from the other artists of the group, and are exposed to new ideas that you can consider for your own work, learn about resources, upcoming shows, and so much more. It’s amazing to see how everyone interprets a scene or technique differently. You find support, get inspired and excited again in a way that you want to continue creating when you get home.

While I have posted Anne’s answers, I hope you will be interested in reading my answers to the same questions in her blog at Anne’s website is

If you would like, you can also watch the clip “Playdates with Fibre Artists”of our discussion at and the clip “Ottawa Sketching Group” at 

In next week’s blog on Creating Art with a Group we will talk about finding locations, the challenges of creating in a group, and about collaborating on a joint piece of art.

If you would like to see what I created during the past week, I encourage you to follow my 15 minute art projects on my Facebook page  During the month of July, I will post them from Monday to Friday. I hope they will inspire you to follow along or to practice whatever inspires you. The main goal is to have fun in the process, and hopefully learn something new along the way.