Whether it’s swaths of sumptuous acrylic, the playful puddles of watercolour or picture-perfect pastel, the St. Albert Painters’ Guild welcomes it all.
From realism to abstract, from painting on silk to mixed media, both Sandy Mitchell and Diane Stone, co-presidents of the guild, agree: their organization is a warm, comfortable place for painters across disciplines to explore their art.
“We have an incredible range of workshops, an incredible level of skills and an incredible variety of the different types of art,” gently boasts Mitchell. “Part of our mission statement is to provide a supportive atmosphere, but also to provide education to artists so that they can grow. I think we do a good job.”
The painters’ guild broke away from the St. Albert Arts and Crafts Guild in 1987, when it was determined that there was a need for sub-groups that would be more specific in their focus; including, quilting, potting and, of course, painting. With the goal of creating a cultural centre in our city, St. Albert Place was designed to encompass studios that would serve the needs of these various groups.
Twenty-nine years later, the painters’ guild is at capacity. With 90 members, new artists who might be interested in joining are currently put on a waiting list. And considering how active the group is in the community, it’s no wonder people are eager to join.
“We offer a creative environment for the emerging or experienced artist and we provide an opportunity to learn, to grow, to mentor, and to take courses,” explains Stone. “It’s an opportunity to get involved in the community – we work on painting at different events such as StArts Fest, Canada Day, Art Walk, events at the St. Albert Art Gallery, events at the botanical garden, and we have two shows a year. They are non-juried shows and it’s an opportunity for artists at all levels who are members to show their work.”
Part of what makes St. Albert’s guild remarkable is their acceptance of beginners. With time set aside on Tuesdays during the day and Wednesdays at night for painters to come in and work side by side, as well as an assortment of workshops presented each year, both Mitchell and Stone believe that it’s a great place to develop and grow as an artist.
“As an example, we had an artist who was an absolute beginner several years ago,” starts Stone. “ (She) joined the guild and diligently painted week after week and took workshops. Recently she was published in International Artist Magazine. So it’s exciting when you see that type of progress.
“It’s exciting when you see a beginner artist sell their work for the first time in one of our shows,” she continues. “Art is so individual and you don’t know what is going to appeal to someone. So just because someone is a beginner artist, they can still produce something that really resonates with a patron coming to the show. Those types of stories are really heart-warming.”
Having someone to critique your work and make suggestions when you’re stuck is also invaluable for the guild’s members. Getting a different perspective can often help move a piece along, or can even provide the words of wisdom that will allow a fellow painter to finish a difficult painting.
“A lot of experimentation, a lot of acceptance,” says Mitchell. “We have people that really encourage the painters in here, give them suggestion and help. It’s a very, very comfortable place to be.”