Today I met some of the Portland etsy-ers at a little tea hosted by Leah Pelligrini of Aquila Glass Studios, and it was FAB-ulous.
When I was in college, finishing up my art degree, I remember many afternoons spent in the painting studio with my classmates, chatting away. On one hand it felt like we were screwing around, wasting time, but in hindsight my work would never have been what it was without those sessions. Sure, we touched on a lot of non-art related subjects; these conversations were like pressure-valves, releasing some of the stress we encountered in our daily lives. Even better was the art-talk. I had some friends that were amazing sounding boards, people who were (still are) amazingly creative, inspirational to talk to, with opinions that I respected. People that I could take a critique from without getting offended because I knew exactly where they were coming from--a place of honesty, integrity, and genuine desire to help me grow. I hope that I was the same thing to them--I believe that I was.
Since graduating, however, most of these people have moved far away, or lost touch, and while I still love them dearly we can no longer offer each other the same type of support that we once did. Today I realized that it has been several years since I have had that sense of community support, and I miss it even more than I knew.
Today, meeting a handful of fantastic local artists that are trying and even succeeding at selling and even living off of their art, I got a little taste of that feeling I had in the painting studio at Portland State. It felt so good to talk to people that are going through what I am going through, working towards similar goals, all of them with inspiringly creative ideas and critiques, as well as some just plain old good chatting.
I have thought for so long that I am too busy, I can't afford the time it takes to network, to meet other artists, to build and be a part of an art community. I have thought that I could go at it alone somehow. But it turns out that I have been long overwhelmed by trying to do too much all by myself. I needed this support far more than I knew--I can't afford NOT to be part of an art community.