By Stephanie Choate
Color, space and form took center stage at the Williston Community Room Monday as the northern hub of the Vermont Watercolor Society held its monthly support group.
Roughly eight artists, whether self-taught or formally educated, met to critique and, as the name suggests, support each other’s work.
“Creating art is a very solitary endeavor,” said Suzanne Clark, and meeting with others helps propel that solitary work. It’s always important to get other people’s opinions on a piece of work, but getting the opinions of trained artists is invaluable, she said.
Being in the group also allows for a fresh look at a piece that the artist may have spent hours looking at in their home studio.
“You need that time to step away and take another look and see things you didn’t see before,” Clark said.
Each artist brings one or more pieces he or she wants the group to look at. The artist must first say three things he or she likes about the work—which can be tough among self-critical creators—then the group shares things that they see or feelings the work invokes, and offer suggestions if the artist requests.
“The group is like a little guardian on my shoulder,” Williston artist Nancy Stone said, adding that she knows the expert-eyed group will spot something that the general viewer might not. “Like a conscience.”
Stone said she didn’t belong to an art support group for about a year, after the group she was with dissolved over time. She found it hard to motivate herself without anyone else to prompt or guide or critique her work.
“I realized I couldn’t live without it,” she said.
So, she organized a support group with local artists belonging to the Vermont Watercolor Society in the fall.
“Now I’m out of control,” she said.
Clark echoed Stone’s sentiments.
“It’s more dynamic when you get feedback,” she said. “Part of the reason to create art is to share it.”
Along with feedback and support, the artists were able to share experiences and technique tips that would be beyond the scope of the average art viewer—the benefits of different weights of paper, drying and blotting techniques, disastrous experiments, minute differences between pigments.
“Even though we can be tough on each other, we’re always friends and very, very supportive,” Stone said.