When I first started painting, I didn't want to take any lessons from anyone. I thought the structure would be tedious. I also worried that it would be difficult to find my own style after learning from someone else. I may have "wasted" 10 years with this thinking, but maybe not. Maybe that was just my path to follow.
When we moved from the Buckhead area of Atlanta to Alpharetta (a suburb on the northside of Atlanta), I was of course trying to meet people. One of my new neighbors forwarded me an email for a local painting class that was starting the next day. I immediately signed up, all my previous concerns tossed aside in the hopes of meeting some like-minded souls in this town I now called home.
The first class was nothing like I feared. I met wonderful artists and was immediately hooked. The next class I signed up for was with a neighbor who I have now been painting with almost weekly for about 13 years. She is now one of my closest and dearest friends. She has twin boys that are the same age as my youngest son, Carter, and so that was another bond to seal our friendship.
Since that time, I have taken quite a few workshops and classes. With each, not only do I gain skills, knowledge, and techniques to further my artistic abilities; I also make connections with so many wonderful people. I wish I could put it more eloquently, but it really is almost magical. There is nothing quite like finding your "tribe" - in this case, my "art tribe." Finding people who, just like me, will gather scraps of paper from the floor as if they are jewels, instead of tossing them in the trash without a second thought.
One of my other closest and dearest friends probably remembers me calling her after taking a collage workshop with Elizabeth St. Hilaire. I called her with so much excitement to find a group of people who shared my passion, versus thinking of me as a hoarder, crazy, or worse :D. I'm still friends with 3 people from that workshop, and I paint with two of them on a regular basis.
My dad was a poet, and he wrote about his "Golden Friends". These are people that were so dear to him that he considered them family. I am so fortunate to have deep friendships with people of all walks of life, and from all stages of my life. None are more "golden" than the other, and all comprise my tribe in different ways.
For many artists, creating can be a lonely endeavor. I imagine there might be other individuals out there who might be working like I did for the first 10 years: struggling in a type of loneliness that might be hard for someone with a different passion to understand.
So, whatever your passion and/or profession, I encourage you to seek out your tribe. For creatives, even if you are an accomplished artist, or if you have unfounded fears as I did, I strongly encourage you to seek out a class or a workshop in your community that sounds appealing to you. You will receive a bounty of gifts beyond your imagination.
In case you need suggestions, here are some of the other artists I have had the pleasure of learning from: Gary Bodner, Maggie Siner, Christopher Sherry, Kip Rogers, Maureen Engle, John Stanford, Kevin Beilfuss, Sabre Esler, Lisa Moore, Gary Weiss, Liz Barber & Rae Broyles.
Whatever your profession and/or passion, I would love to hear about your own experiences finding your tribe. You can respond to this email, and/or comment on my posts on Facebook or Instagram @JenniferFerrisArt.