Just before I was given the residency, I was juried into an amazing national organization of Women Artists. They arrange for competitions for its members but they also support each other with knowledge and networking. I had been trying to join the organization and was encouraged to do so by a member I saw on a regular basis. I tried to jury in 4 times before receiving acceptance. During my efforts, I grabbed at the chance to have another member give me her honest assessment of my body of work. She too was encouraging and told me which images she felt would support my application.

Another friend took me into her studio and offered me 4 hours of her time to help me with some much-needed advice to advance my goals. She is a nationally recognized pastelist who shared her time and supplies (Terry Ludwig Pastels!) with me to forward my career. She isn’t the only one; and though we compete against each other in shows, she has continued to be supportive to me over the years.

You will set up at shows, hang in competitions and galleries but it is always important to remember; we need each other. There is no threat in sharing techniques, supplies, information or collectors. I can’t stress this enough. Being a national artist is hard enough, why would you want to isolate yourself and do it alone? We may compete for sales and awards but in the end, it will never hurt you to help the person next to you stand taller. I have learned that over the years, we are better together than we ever are apart. I have only seen a few artists paint like their mentors and generally it was because the talent ran from parent to child. We strive to create and our tastes, focuses and motivation come from very different places. Sharing what you know doesn’t mean that someone will copy your style. Someone might try but as they produce, their style will be adjusted by influences that you will never be exposed to.

I share my knowledge all the time. I encourage people and their kids to call me if they have any questions. It doesn’t matter if it is about supplies, equipment, or technique. I am honored to pay forward all the artists who have and will share with me. We lost an amazing pastelist this year, Don Crook. He was considered the Norman Rockwell of western art and he shared so much with me and others over the years. Not only will his images live on but so will the artists that he supported over the years. Thank you Don Crook, Mary-Anne Cherry, Judy Fairley, Terry Lee, Robert Krogel, Dave Bartholet, Debbie Hughbanks, and Gabe Gabel. There are so many more that I can’t list here but they know that we need each other and taught me to be generous by setting an amazing example.

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this blog belong solely to the Spokane Art School Artist-in-Residence, and not necessarily to the Spokane Art School.