The weather was miserable and I certainly wouldn’t have been standing out in the cold if Mel and I hadn’t agreed to paint out together on this day. We wanted to brush up on our painting en plein air skills as we both prepare to teach this summer. So I’d made a special trip to Salt Spring Island to paint with her. The fact that we had actually ended up painting outside, in spite of the overcast day and cold temperatures rather than sitting warm and cozy in a coffee shop, got me thinking about the benefits of having a painting buddy.
Continuing with this story, Mel even pushed us to do a second “quickie” painting even though our fingers were so cold we could barely hold our brush/pastel! Me? I was ready to pack up and find somewhere toasty! But that’s where the benefit of a painting buddy comes in – her suggestion (almost a challenge!) made a second painting happen!! (You can read about our experience here.)
I started thinking of all the different ways that having a painting buddy (or buddies) is valuable. As artists, our lives can be pretty solitary and I do think that it helps us and our work enormously to have one or more painting buddies to reach out to and spend time with.
Here are five benefits to having a painting buddy (or two!)
This benefit is pretty obvious when you consider my experience with Mel. We both wanted to get outside and paint but we both had a hard time actually doing that! Setting a date to paint together got us over the hump.
With a painting buddy, even if you can’t actually paint together, you can challenge each other to paint on a certain day and promise to share progress. Knowing that your buddy is painting at the same time is, in itself, motivating. And knowing you will need to show something at the end of the specified day is a huge motivation!
Doing this, you will make significant progress in your art.
You can set up this challenge any way you want. It could be a promise to paint each day for a week, on your own, and checking in with each other at the end of each day. Or perhaps it’s the commitment to have a painting finished at the end of each month. Or maybe, you meet each other on Tuesday mornings to paint together (in person or online). Having a painting buddy helps you stay focused and motivated!
Setting goals and deadlines can be an effective way to stay motivated and productive in your painting practice. But, as we all know, it can sometimes be difficult to hold yourself accountable to those goals. Some days you may not feel like painting. Having a painting buddy can provide accountability and support you need to stay on track. Knowing that you have someone who is counting on you to make progress can be a powerful motivator!
You may even decide to have a show together!
One of the best things about having a painting buddy is having someone who shares your passion for art. When you have someone to talk to about your work and your ideas, you can gain a fresh perspective on your own creative process. Your painting buddy can become a sounding board for new ideas, and you can challenge each other to try new techniques and styles.
We know it is easy to fall into a creative rut. A painting buddy can brainstorm ideas with you to help break out of that rut. They can introduce you to new artists, techniques, and subject matter that you may not have considered before. Seeing their work and hearing about their experiences can also inspire you to try new things and push your own boundaries.
You might consider collaborating with your painting buddy. Doing this can push you both creatively. And if your painting buddy works in a different medium from you, even better. The cross-pollination can generate exciting new work! This happens with me and my Playgroup gals – we are a painter, a mixed media artist, a weaver, and a basket maker!
Going to a museum or gallery with a painting buddy is a wonderful way to be inspired together. Afterwards, over a English Fog or a glass of red wine, it’s a treat to discuss the paintings/artwork that stood out and why. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to incorporate some new idea into your next piece or series. You’ll feel energized and ready to get painting!
3. Support and encouragement
Having a painting buddy means you have someone who understands the creative process and who can offer you constructive feedback. They can help you identify areas where you can improve or point out ways you may consider changing your approach to your work.
This feedback can be especially helpful if you’ve been working on a painting for a while and have become too close to the work to be able to see its flaws objectively. Your painting buddy offers fresh eyes. They can act as a sounding board for new ideas which can be instrumental in helping you take your work to the next level.
In addition to feedback, having a painting buddy can offer you emotional support when you need it most.
The creative process can be fraught with self-doubt and frustration, and having someone to share your struggles with can be a life saver! Your painting buddy can be there to help you through creative blocks or setbacks. They can offer you encouragement when you’re feeling stuck or uncertain about your work. They can remind you of your successes and progress, and help you stay focused on your goals.
This emotional support can be especially important if you’re a solo artist who works alone most of the time. Having a painting buddy can help you feel more connected to the artistic community, and remind you that you’re not alone in your artistic struggles.
4. Shared resources and knowledge
You can share resources and knowledge with a painting buddy. This can include sharing materials or tools, or exchanging information about different techniques or styles or artists. For instance, I love sharing useful and inspirational YouTube videos I’ve come across.
You can also learn from each other’s experiences, such as where to find some great painting locations, or how to deal with difficult lighting conditions. They might know about a great art supply store or suggest a new tool they recommend trying.
Your painting buddy might also have expertise in a particular technique or style that you want to learn more about. By pooling your resources, you can both benefit and grow and learn as artists. This is one of the most valuable aspects of being part of an art membership!
5. Social connection
Being an artist is usually a solitary pursuit. Having a painting buddy or a number of painting buds offers a chance to connect with other people, specifically people who share your passion for art.
Rather than feeling isolated, being part of a community of artists whether in a pastel society or in an art membership like IGNITE!, means an opportunity to build friendships based on your shared love of art, and create a sense of belonging with other painters.
I find that spending time with my painting buddies means we go beyond our art lives and share what’s going on in the rest of our lives. That’s what I mean by the social connection. HowToPastellers who’ve met in the HowToPastel community have gone on to forge friendships in the physical world. They have meet ups and know about each others grandchildren or a new puppy that’s come into their lives. The same is true of the members of IGNITE! It warms my heart to see these connections being made!
I work a lot on my own – both in my studio and creating content for this blog and also tutorials and demos and more for my art-membership. I’m happy with my own company. And yet, when I meet up with a painting buddy like Mel or with my Playgroup (made up of four women visual artists), my life is enriched and enlivened by these encounters.
My Mum is also another painting buddy. We’ve painted on location together and inside the house together. We often check in on what each of us is painting, getting and giving the occasional feedback, sending inspirational art to each other as it comes across our digital screens.
I’m also a member of a couple of pastels societies and that’s a great way to be inspired, motivated (there are shows to enter!), and connected.
And then there are art memberships. I belong to a couple (yes, I need this connection too!) and run my own IGNITE! Membership filled with warm and wonderful people! One of the best things about being part of an art membership is the opportunity to connect with other artists and find a painting buddy. With a supportive community of artists, you’ll also get the encouragement and inspiration you need to take your art to the next level.
Whether you’re just starting out or have been painting for years, having a painting buddy (aka an art friend), having someone to share your work with, can help you grow as an artist and make all the difference in your life.
So tell me, do you have a painting buddy?
Until next time!
PS. And, why not join IGNITE! An Art-Making Membership? Try it out! Our doors are open 16-22 April!