Looking back to my art successes — both personal triumphs and award recognition — some credit goes to my art groups. 

Getting feedback on my work from other artists is SO valuable. I consider it to be my single most effective resource for inspiring and improving my work.


Some groups create an incentive to produce art — after all, you’ll want to have something to show at the meetings! Plus, after a few hours of talking art you’ll be wanting to paint.

Some groups get together to paint. My fall 2015 bird class at Village Gallery decided to meet on their own to paint after the classes ended. Here they are with their paintings – some are in progress.

Ronna, Mary Lou, Gail, Robin & Meg (JoAnn was painting with me at the Kauai workshop)

Some groups offer an art critique. Cultivate a culture of respect and trust and you will have access to a wide range of ideas and possibilities. There are times when we get stuck with a painting and can’t figure out what it needs! Feedback from others is SO valuable.

Most groups create friendships and a cross pollination of ideas.  You might be introduced to the work of other artists or where to go to print greeting cards or how to set up a studio.


I belong to a total of six different art groups now and they all have something unique and valuable to offer!

I joined Westside Critique group 7 years ago. Through their camaraderie and support I have flourished! In working with this group I’ve discovered many of the techniques I use in my art today. We meet once a month and paint together each August at the coast.


Two large and well established groups — Painters Showcase and Lake Area Artists — pool resources to put on art shows and sales.

The very first travel workshop I led in Tuscany formed an art group of their own, The Melogranos. I am an honorary member and love being connected with them.


The other two groups started in 2015. They are both intensionally quite small. The Moas, forming out of the momentum of an exploratory trip to France, offers camaraderie, inspiration and a strong emotional connection.

Critical Mass has just 4 members but is a powerful “teaching” group that helps focus my art career. It began when Liz Walker asked if I would get together with her to critique our work. The next month we asked Geoffrey McCormack and Chris Stubbs to join us. We talk about contests, inspiration and sometimes the “business” of art.

I very much recommend finding a group to join or starting one of your own.


Determine how many members you want. 
Identify others who produce art regularly and embrace artistic growth.
Look for artists who have integrity and are completely trustworthy.
Welcome a variety of styles and personalities.
Make sure potential participants realize the extent of their commitment to the group.
One way to add to your group is to invite prospective members to submit work and attend one meeting, after which both decide if the match feels right.
Decide where and how often to meet. 
Intimacy: A group where members feel safe to be completely vulnerable.
Nurturing: Members will support each other in reaching their goals.
Respect: Members communicate thoughtfully and constructively and have a good ability to listen.
Inspiration: Artist members should feel free to share artistic ideas and opportunities.
How much time does each person get? 
Will we use a timer?
Can we meet at a time not used for art making?
How long will our meetings last?
What is it that’s calling you?  (Media, size, subject?)
What are your artistic strengths, weaknesses?
What would you like to say, create, achieve with your art?
What’s holding you back?
What’s your wildest art dream?
What do you want from the group?
How can the group help? best support your vision?
Where do you find your inspiration?
Goal for next meeting?
Based on joint goals…
It is good to have an identity for your group. Some groups prefer to “grow” into their name instead of choosing one too quickly.
3 replies
    • Rene Eisenbart
      Rene Eisenbart says:

      Start anywhere! Start large. Many large art groups are happy to take on new members. Oregon Society of Artists in Portland is a good local group. For statewide, there’s Watercolor Society of Oregon. Southwest Washington Watercolor Society is a group based in Vancouver WA. These groups can be your gateway to smaller and more intimate groups. Other groups are Women of Watercolor and Oregon Botanical Artists. Start joining and see what is a good fit for you.

  1. Kristín Good
    Kristín Good says:

    Good Day Rene,

    You are well beyond anything I have in mind, but coming across you on Google amongst many others , I decided that I’d like your opinion and advice of what I want to do.
    I’m an Expat from Iceland and lived in South Africa for many years , but live in Malaysia now.
    My artistic ability went down the drain when I had my first solo exhibition 8 years ago in Kuala Lumpur and everything was stolen one day.
    It took me months to find the culprit and to get some of my stuff back, in fact I went to the second court case 2 weeks ago.
    I got a complete blockage from that time and haven’t been able to paint again, my studio is all sat up , but every time I go in and try to finish the one painting I started 4 years ago I just sit there and walk out again.
    I live 280 Km from the Capital of Kuala Lumpur in a small fishing Village with 3 bigger towns surrounding me .
    I decided to try to help myself by starting an art group at my apartment and advertised in the local Chinese Facebook group which has about 22 000 people in there.
    My advert mentioned that I’m looking for 6 adults to start an art group, beginners welcome
    I posted this Friday . I have got two replies, one wanting to be my fried on FB, my guess is that she wanted to check me out , which is OK. The other also Chinese wanted to know if I was a teacher and had thought before as she wanted to learn, but has never done any art.
    I agreed that even tho I’m not a professional teacher I have taught before at my home, no charge
    She came back twice and both times said , later later , a Chinese way of saying.
    Now I checked her out and saw she is young and very busy with her children.
    Now I’m wondering if I should say No I don’t teach when they WhatsApp me
    as I really don’t want to teach one on one, I would rather have a group.
    I don’t mind beginners as I can guide them.
    I can’t charge, I wouldn’t get one person here by charging, I was really hoping for someone who already paints or is keen to.
    What is your advice to me about beginners ? And how do I reply to a question like this.
    I realise that to establish a good group will take some time as some will fall out while others will enjoy the journey enough to stay.
    I do have a problem with language as I don’t speak Chinese, but so far I see a lot of older people speaking English while the young once don’t, that’s due to historical government issues when they banned English in schools so the young once lost out.
    I actually seem to be rambling now, but I’d like your input in any case.
    Many Thanks
    Kristín Whitehead.


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