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Riding Lessons for Artists (Horse picture © Judy Wood)
Judy Wood : Riding Lessons for Artists – Part 6: Community

Riding Lessons for Artists

Part 6: Community

By Judy Wood

Something else that is very helpful, and that group lessons or associations work well for, is being part of a like-minded community of people with the same goals and interests as yourself, whether we are talking art or talking riding.

We are all social beings to a greater or lesser degree, and even the least social amongst us (that would be me) are willing to discuss art or horses/riding with others of our "tribe", sharing bits of knowledge and learning new insights from others. There will always be other students ahead of us in their pursuit, and those who are not quite at our level on the ladder, but we can all benefit from the fact that we are united in a common love of art/horses, and we can all teach each other something new about the topic at hand.

In riding, I think I've learned almost as much from listening to/watching other people's lessons as I have in the ones where I was an active participant. Sometimes when we are the "doer", we don't understand why the instructor is making a specific comment to us. When we see another rider / artist in the same situation, suddenly it all becomes clear. Might not make it any easier for us to achieve, but at least we know what they are talking about.

Similarly with artistic pursuits, we can learn a lot from others, whether it is in the nature of skills and techniques that we can apply *in our own way* (note — we should learn and adapt techniques, not copy what others have done) to our work, picking up on new media to try out, learning new ways of working with familiar media, or just the sharing of views and opinions on art and the artist's life.

For those who prefer a solitary studio experience, being part of an art community (and having the best of both worlds) is only a mouse-click away, and our level of participation is totally under our own control. That way we can learn, share, and interact with the tribe without ever having to leave our home. Whether this is a personal choice or the result of geography, the result is the same. We are no longer bound by where we can physically travel in order to "meet" others that share our interests.

I have personally made more art connections (both with other artists and with followers of my work) through the Internet in the last five or six years than was possible in the previous thirty years of my art career, or would ever have been possible in my lifetime without the world-wide web.

Also because of the fact that time-zones and distance don't exist in the Internet, we can create our own "niche" communities online that are centered around quite specific pursuits. Pre-Internet, my "horse artists" group of contacts would have been limited to the three or four people I knew of in my area who were inclined in that direction.

Now I am a member of an online equine artists group that numbers several hundred people, scattered around the globe, and who work in various media, but are united in our love of horses and of expressing that love through our artwork. There's always something comforting about being part of a larger group who totally "get" the things you do that make other (non-horse/non-art) people shake their heads and roll their eyes.

In my case, riding is my "social, in person" pursuit, carried out usually in the company of various other riders, as I keep my horse and take lessons at an active and busy training and boarding stable. As a result, I don't feel the need to follow riding or horse groups on the Internet the way I do with the art groups.

My pursuit of art, on the other hand, tends to be a solitary one, so the Internet comes in handy for me as a sounding board, reality check, and as a way to keep up with what is happening with other artists. Depending on how you work and/or ride, you may function in a reverse fashion to me. The bottom line is that community is a good thing, and we now have the luxury of being able to pick and choose our communities to a certain extent. •

Next: Where am I, and where am I going? »

© 2009 Judy Wood. All rights reserved.

Judy WoodJudy Wood is a Canadian art photographer whose images and writings are shaped by her prairie based lifestyle as an artist, photographer, writer and horse person. More »

6/27/09