Having finally relented and fully embraced social networking over the past year or so, one of the major benefits has been once again feeling part of an artistic community. The process of actually physically creating paintings is a relatively isolated experience for me.
Although I always look around me for inspiration by attending exhibitions, networking with artists locally, and documenting sources of inspiration (through visits, sketching and photography) when I can, creating the actual work that culminates from these activities in the studio is a solitary pursuit.
By engaging with social networking I have been able to recreate a sense of community through the kind of interaction with other artists that is automatically guaranteed, and taken for granted, when you are working in a shared studio as an art student. This interaction inspires, motivates, and acts as a catalyst for, the development of my work. Sharing what I produce, and seeing what others are up to, opens up a dialogue that I missed when I continued to make artwork after my graduation.
In addition to this blog I can be found on both Twitter and Facebook. Through these channels I have been able to correspond with other artists and discover new opportunities to get my work seen in the public realm. In the absence of being in a position to either get a studio in a shared creative space, or indeed set-up an artists studio complex myself, I now feel part of a supportive virtual worldwide studio.
One idea that has materialised from social networking is a weekly sketching challenge. This would work by a subject being set each week, and then a sketch from each of us being submitted based around that subject. The sketches would then be posted onto a social networking site for people to vote for their favourite.
This is not a way for artwork to be judged, but more of a fun, continuous side project to try and maintain a creative momentum (particularly during times when there might be a bit of a creative block obstructing normal service).
We have not quite got the idea off the ground yet but if anyone else would be interested in participating let me know and we can give it some more thought.
On the theme of collaborations, whilst in Cornwall this summer, I read an article about Chris and Steve Rocks. I found the collaborative way in which they work really interesting, although I am not sure that it is something that I could do. If something goes wrong with a piece of work only having yourself to blame is bad enough, without the added complication of somebody else making amendments that you disagree with (or vice versa with your collaborator).
Paul Clifford, one of my lecturers on my degree course, used to collaborate with an artist in America on paintings. The art work in question would be transported between the two artists, each adding a ’layer’ at a time until the piece reached its conclusion.
I have never really considered this kind of collaboration before, but as I connect with more artists worldwide through social networking it is something that I would be interested in exploring further. In the immediate future however I do have more than enough to keep me occupied trying to complete existing unfinished projects!
PS I was going to mention some of the artists that I follow on both my blog and twitter, but did not want to offend anyone by accidentally leaving them out! Feel free to have a look through my followers yourself and see what inspiration they might bring to you.