Central Oregon CritGroup

The idea for CritGroup started in 2005 over a lunch between Janice Druian and Pat Clark. Pat was launching A6 (Atelier 6000), a studio where artists could engage in creative experiences in printmaking and book arts.
Janice was restarting a career as an oil painter, something she had put on hiatus for decades. She said that to progress, she really needed a more substantive connection with local artists who could critique her work. She had taken a workshop from Katherine Taylor and felt that Katherine offered the focused attention that had been missing years ago in art school.
Together, they decided to see if some local artists would be interested in participating in a critique/discussion group. The initial group included Katherine Taylor, Vicki Shuck, Sarah Hansen, Tracy Leagjeld, Pat Clark, Janice Druian and Nancy Hass.
The first meeting was a success and the group identified some criteria for membership. Participants needed to be serious, working artists. If not creating art as a full-time job, members needed to be consistent in building a body of work that was substantial. Another criterion was not to limit artists to one style or media. Interplay between oil, acrylic, watercolor, pastel, printmaking and photographic artists was seen as beneficial.
Early on, Alisa Huntley and Barbara Hudin joined the group and over time, the group expanded to include Susan Luckey Higdon, Dorothy Freudenberg, Sandra Miller, Karen Bandy and finally, David Kinker. Each new artist offered a new perspective, and the critiques grew richer from their participation.
Although the process for critiques has modified over time, (informal, to structured, to a balance between informal and adherence to some fundamental concepts…color harmony, composition, line, etc.) the goal has been consistent: providing a place where respected colleagues could offer insight so that the individual artist could grow and expand their understanding of art and improve as an artist.
The group meets monthly and artists bring what they are currently working on. The artist first describes what they are trying to accomplish with an individual piece and then the group offers insight. Members have claimed that they make significant changes to individual works based on this input.
This group has met consistently for over a decade, and primarily meets at Karen Bandy Studio every second Wednesday of the month. Karen has emerged as the member coordinator and scheduling leader…a critical role to the ongoing life of this group.
Over the last decade, the CritGroup members have evolved as artists. An important side product has been the benefit to the larger community. Pat’s A6 has prospered and has really raised the level of artistic participation in the region. Members of this group not only have seen their art careers grow, but they are actively involved with charitable contributions and many have gone on to mentor other emerging artists.
The spirit of this group—mutual respect and the desire to expand the artistic experience for the region—is consistent with the growing awareness of the arts in the region. The spirit of harmony, inclusion, and cooperation (rather than competition) seems to be a hallmark of the people of Central Oregon itself, but especially among the artists who live and work here.

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