Many people have this romantic idea of artists as reclusive eccentrics. Locked away in their studio, feverishly making art into the wee hours of the night.
And although I do believe there is great value in solitude, I also think there is also something very rewarding about making art with other people. Making art can be a great social activity.
One of the things I liked about college was that there were a bunch of artists hanging out together, making art and talking about ideas. Just having other creative people around helped me be more creative by spurring on ideas. But a tragic thing happens with many art majors after they graduate. They stop making art. I believe it’s because the social part of art making is taken away. They go and get jobs. And the creative, supportive environment that was conducive for making art disappears.
You don’t have to be an art major to experience the benefit of making art with other people. When people gather together on a regular basis to make art, they begin to spark creativity in one another. They come up with new ideas that trigger other ideas. There’s something synergistic about hanging out with other artists. We see this all the time when groups come in to our studio.
Years ago, I used to be the designated babysitter for my married friends. I always enjoyed doing this because I was really able to cultivate a relationship with the kids. They loved coming over as well. And I didn’t even have cable TV or Nintendo. I didn’t call it babysitting. They were coming for an art weekend.
We would paint, draw and build things. It was great because art was something we could all do together. While we were making art, we had conversations about all kinds of things. They would talk about things that were important to them. I really got to know them as individuals. We would have such a good time that any time I got together with their parents, they wanted to come home with me. Now that they are grown up, we remain friends because of the relationship we formed by hanging out and making art together.
Many times, our quality time is spent around the television set. And conversations consist of strange text message short hand. I don’t think we were meant to be isolated from one another all the time. We as humans are in desperate need of connection, and I don’t mean DSL. Making art with other people is a great way to connect.
There is a real bonding that takes place when people make art together. We had a family come in a few months ago to make clay projects. There were parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and kids. When their clay pieces were completely finished, they had a family art show at their next family gathering. Doing things like this is a great way to build memories that last.
Here’s an experiment. Try social art making. When looking for something to do with friends or family, instead of going to a movie, find someplace to make art. Get your family together and make something out of clay. Or invite some friends over. Put on some music. Tape some large pieces of paper to the wall, and paint. It may be unconventional. But you might have a great time.
Art Saves Lives!