Go See Your Local Artists!

One of my* art festival booths from 2010.

This weekend was the WLAST, Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour, here in Northern Virginia. I was able to get out on Sunday and visit quite a few of the artists and artisans on the tour. I thoroughly enjoyed the tour both as an art lover/consumer and an artist. Here are the top 4 reasons for Art Lovers or Makers to get out and see some local art:

For those who LOVE art

  1. You get to see great art…and not so great art. Most of the time, depending on the venue or show, the artist has been juried so there is a certain level of professional recognition of their talent. Even with that some artists have only their best peices and some artists put out everything, the oops, the almosts, the ideas. This can be an interesting way to see how the artist develops their work AND get some pieces at a great price. I once bought an extremely affordable (read cheap!) piece from a sculptor that was just a study for a larger piece. I loved it though, even the unfinished edges.
  2. You get to talk with the creator of that art. You find out their ‘story’ and get to know them a little bit. It is so much more fun and meaningful to own something you can connect with the maker.
  3. You get a head start on Christmas shopping/birthday shopping/etc. I bought 2 Christmas gifts and, in keeping with #2, I grabbed their card and any other information to put in with the gift so the recipient knows more about their gift. Much more interesting than a big box gift receipt!
  4. You are truly supporting a small business and normally the local economy (depending on the type of show). For this tour I knew all the artists were local and from our county. Some art festivals allow artists from all over the country to participate. Either way, you won’t find a listing on the stock market for these folks!

For those who MAKE art

  1. You get to see great art. Or at least art that is different from yours. It is always encouraging to see others just like you out their slugging away at their painting, pottery, jewelry, etc.
  2. You get inspired by all the different art. I get a lot of ideas from seeing how others make art. I don’t mean I walk around going, “I can do that.” and head back to my studio to copy. I mean I see how a pastellist has simplified her greens for a landscape or a collage artist has created some interesting texture out of items I hadn’t considered using.
  3. You get to talk to the artists. I really enjoyed meeting some artists from a local group I have joined but haven’t had a chance to attend any of their functions. I also asked questions from artists that I admired. Another pastellist and I talked framing. A portrait/figure artist and I talked about an open studio with a model. This is a great way to make connections in your own art community.
  4. You get recharged for your own art. One pastellist that I didn’t get to talk to (her sister was greeting at her studio) had SOOOO much work. I often get creatively blocked because I think, where would this go?, who would buy this?, why am I doing this? Seeing this artist, who was extremely talented, and the sheer volume of work she had stacked around her studio made me think, who cares? She’s obviously making art for the joy of it, the progression of ideas, the pushing of her talent. Pick any reason, this is why I should be making art!

*I don’t photograph other artists work so I don’t have any from the tour.