As I watch the snow melt and see the very first harbingers of spring appear in the form of tiny buds on the lilac trees, it's been a week for reflecting here.
Sometimes it's easy for those of us who work at home, tucked away in our own little world as we are, to have a slightly different take on reality...
In my own little world, there's magic in a snowfall, I have meaningful (albeit one-sided) conversations with cats and dogs, tea parties for one, and the gardens I tend to dream about this time of year become Fairie Havens...
I love the idea of setting aside a bit of garden for the fairies, don't you?
Another slightly different take on reality (at least for me) comes in the form of friendships and bonds formed on the internet. I'm constantly amazed at the sheer vastness of the online arts community I've discovered since starting this little adventure back in 2001 - while at the same time marveling how small a world it really is, and how truly connected we are.
When I first went online, I discovered a few "communities" and immediately felt drawn to some. The first was a group of ladies whose common thread was a love for Victoria magazine. The best way to describe these women is gracious, with common interests such as reading, the arts, travel, teatime, and so on...After a time it became clear that some of us had more in common than others, and an offshoot group was formed, of which I'm still a member. And what began as an online relationship with complete strangers has blossomed into true, real life friendships. I love these women, these kindred spirits, and am thankful they're in my life.
Shortly after discovering the Victoria ladies (and in part inspired by some of their entrepreneurial stories) I began selling my work on eBay - and quickly gravitated to Halloween and fantasy art, where I discovered yet another group of kindred spirits; the artists of EHAG (The Eclectic Halloween Artists' Group). This particular group is juried, meaning one's work and reputation must be of a certain caliber to join, so I was honored to be approached. We've gone through changes and growing pains over the years to be sure, but I'm still proud to be a member (and more recently co-leader) of the first, and premiere, online Halloween art group. We chat, we have great fun, and we work in a mutually supportive way to bring collectors the best of Halloween magic and wonder. :)
(In fact, regular readers may remember we recently debuted an online marketplace, The EHAG Emporium, of which we are just soooooooo proud. And I'm happy to announce we're also offering four giveaways during the month of March, the first one posted now! You can click here for details.) :)
Another online community I discovered was the artists of PFATT (Primitive Folk Art Talk and Tea), and the PFATT Marketplace - separate entities, but with much common ground....
These women are all artists, and have formed a sisterhood of sorts, coming together not only to support each other's work, but in times of trouble as well. If you scroll back a couple of posts, you can read about the recent "Penny Tree Auction", which is a perfect example of this group's spirit.
There are other groups out there too, each with their own, unique feel, some juried, some not, some supportive, some less so, some drawn to whimsy and some to the darker side of things. As a friend of mine says, "There's a lid for every pot". ;) I just know I've found my cyber home among the groups to which I now belong, and cannot recommend my fellow members' work and ethics highly enough.
Oh, and lest anyone think I'm one of those people who "live" on the internet hehe, I should mention in closing the many longstanding friendships I'm blessed with, many dating back some 35 years. Whoever said "friends are the family we choose for ourselves" hit the nail on the head, and no matter how "real" the internet seems at times (especially to those of us working in a solitary environment) there's no substitute for tea and sympathy with an old friend.
The key is balance, I think...to appreciate each form of friendship for what it has to offer. To approach online relationships slowly and cautiously, while still appreciating the miracle that brings artistic souls together across miles and even continents.
We live in an amazing time, don't we?