Since I moved to Austin I have not reached out much to other artists. Much? Try AT ALL.
I never did in the more than 20 years I lived in Seattle, either. Or LA. I worked alone and sought opportunities on my own. I know in the intelligent, fast-thinking part of my mind that networking is critical to growing as an artist – but the musclebound caveman part of my mind disagrees.
It’s strange because I love talking about ideas, I love looking at other people’s work and I really am good in a room once I get there. But when it comes to my artwork, as soon as I start to think “I really should get out there and meet some people” my introverted nature screams at me, “are you crazy? Other people? What if they want to watch you paint!” which is weird because no artist would ever dream of doing that to another artist. My caveman brain loves listening to these crazy thoughts and chews on them for hours around my mental fire-pit, and the result is that for the past 20 years I have sat alone in my studio muttering to myself about how I need to get out there and meet people.
I really suck at making friends in general. I’ve been here for two years and still tell people “I’m new to Texas!” – because in my mind saying that will make them forgive my caveman brain. But lucky for me, I have somehow found myself a really REALLY great friend since I’ve moved here – Kelly. Kelly happens to own the Art Garage which helps kids do fun things like pottery painting and glass fusion. Our daughters are BFF’s and our husbands have similar personalities. We’ve inextricably bonded and I’d be a mumbling wreck without her.
She knows about my hangups, finds them ridiculous and tells me so. Finally she found a way to push me out of my tired, ratty little nest. “Rach. I met this new artist’s group at the Dripping Springs wine tasting thingy. You should really check them out! It’s perfect for you.” Finally, I had run out of excuses. I grabbed my phone to take a look.
The group turned out to be the Artist’s Alliance of the Hill Country, a freshly formed gaggle of Texas artists who get together once a month or so to connect and share inspiration. Once a month? I can do once a month. That seems doable.
AAHC does studio tours, demos and other fun artsy things. I was so excited to be a part of this group that I surprised myself. I was practically jumping out of my chair! The fact that their monthly meetings are held in a barn where the town holds a twice-monthly square dance sealed the deal.
I emailed the founder of the group and she invited me to their next monthly meeting – tomorrow!
I can’t wait to go, and I’m not just saying that for once.