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.

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