We all need a community of practitioners to grow and flourish in our own creativity.

Pacific dogwood leaf, Cornus nuttallii cropped and cleaned Day 11, 300 dpi

What I have learned about sustaining creativity and Botanical Art Facebook groups.

Over the course of this year I will be blogging regularly about my participation in an exciting new project called “Nature Trail 2014 – a natural sketchbook exchange.”
 However, before I start blogging about this sketchbook odyssey I would like to explain how I ended up being part of it in the first place. To do this I must go back 16 months in time- and tell a story about travel, new friendships, the benefits of being connected to an art community- virtual and “real”- and change.

A catalyst in my process of change.

Last year was an amazing one for me because it was the year I made positive changes in how I work. This process of change started several years ago but didn’t crystalize into tangible results until my trip back to Ireland in November 2012. While there I met members of the new Irish Society of Botanical Artists (ISBA.) Because of this meeting and what ensued, my attitude to my artwork in general and botanical art in particular has changed dramatically.

You never know when a chance meeting can have a profound impact on your work- and life. That is exactly what happened when I met this group of botanical artists at the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Dublin. As a result of that meeting I have become a member of a worldwide community of botanical artists and because of this my work has taken off in a new and more purposeful direction.

Oregon white oak leaf, Quercus garryana

Geography is not a problem for botanical art communities.

Although originally from Ireland I live in the Pacific northwest, many thousands of miles from those botanic artists I met in Dublin. Nontheless, thanks to the specialist Facebook groups- Irish Botanical Artists and Botanical Artists– I am in daily communication with many of them and have made lots of new “friends”. Because of this communication, and the support I receive from these “friends”, my work habits, output, and attitude to my own art have changed radically- for the better.

 A virtual community of practitioners leads to ”real” community and lots of creativity.

I have learned that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to work alone. I need the support and feedback of fellow-practitioners to sustain my creativity. My first choice is always to meet fellow artists in person but, in my case up until recently, I didn’t know any. Contrary to the many criticisms I’ve heard about Facebook; that it causes people to withdraw from person to person communication as people spend more and more time “talking” on their computers, my experience has been the opposite. Ironically, through these botanical artists Facebook groups I now know more local botanic artists and have started a monthly nature-sketching group nearby.  The old adage “it’s a small world” is the same whether online or not.

Sweetgum seed capsule, Liquidambar styraciflua

Inspiration comes from a community of practitioners.

We all need inspiration to start something and to keep it going- especially when the going gets tough. Many of the members of these Facebook groups are world-class botanic artists. Their work is incredibly beautiful and very inspiring, but what is equally inspiring is their willingness to share it and discuss techniques and materials freely. If I have a bad day drawing when nothing seems to go right I post a comment on the Botanic Artists’ page and always get encouraging and funny responses.

Abundant generosity flows from a community of practitioners.

I have also discovered that people are very generous with their support and knowledge. No matter how successful and busy members are they always seem to be able to find the time to share some helpful information and give good advice. There is no professional jealousy- instead abundant, thoughtful, generosity.

Great ideas and new projects too!

It is said that we are more intelligent (and creative) when we work together in groups. That is certainly the case with these Facebook groups. By seeing the creative ideas shared online by this botanical art community, my own understanding, knowledge and creativity grows. The Nature Trail 2014 project is a perfect example of this “intelligence.” As I was saying at the beginning of this blog I will be writing regularly about this project in the coming months.  I hope you will come back to see its progress and maybe be inspired to start your own nature sketchbook or join a botanical art group on-line or in your area.

Aislinn Adams




4 Responses to “We all need a community of practitioners to grow and flourish in our own creativity.”

  • Carole Jurack:

    Good morning Aislinn. You have obviously thought out your plan and have been very well tuned in to your correspondence and meetings with your artistic botanical friends and the wealth of knowledge and assistance they provide. I have definitely found the same thing to be true among the friends I have made in the various art groups. Their answers to other artist’s questions, their comments and their spontaneous and generous support as well as posting their most creative and beautiful work is unbelievable. I am a beginning artist and have picked up many nuggets of golden information which has helped immeasurably in my new pursuits. Good luck in your endeavors.

  • Aislinn, I strongly agree with you, and have found that connecting with other artists online via facebook and blogging not only is very encouraging, but even leads to in-person relationships. Come to think of it, you and I became acquainted online before we met in person! But I must say that you Irish girls have something special going on!

  • Aislinn Adams:

    Thanks Carol. The best of luck with all your creative projects too.

  • Aislinn Adams:

    Hi Janene, Yep! I think there was some kind of synchronicity going on when I met the Irish group that has led to so much great growth- including meeting yourself and the new OBA group.

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