In April, I entered the Painters Guild Show and Sale for the 37th time. I pondered how much my horizons had broadened since nervously joining the guild in 1994. They were a small, but welcoming group that made it easier to gain confidence. Networking with other artists is important if one dreams of becoming a successful artist, so I felt that this was a necessary step.
I grew from sitting on my hands during meetings and leaving quickly afterwards, to serving on boards, to speaking at meetings! By volunteering my time in many of these supportive groups, I learned about the business side of art as well as the not for profit organization side. They all afforded amazing growth opportunities in every aspect of art making and presentation. Joining in on critique sessions, participating in numerous group shows, observing others create and present their artwork as well as helping with the myriad of details that go into producing an exhibit are a short list of valuable experiences gained on this path.
Not only have life-long friendships been cultivated as a result, but a huge network of opportunities to show my work has opened up. I would not have been able to successfully create my Open Studio Weekends without all of this experience, nor had the courage to approach galleries. It was my university education, in a round about way.
I believe that by choosing this road I gained knowledge that university could not have given me but will always wonder how my career and work would have been different had I taken formal art education.