The Fox Paw painters are nearing their 10th anniversary, which means Cecile Anderson is coming up on her own decade mark – 10 years painting, a passion sparked by her involvement in the Fox Island artist’s group.
Anderson had retired after a career at the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, and in 2003 was looking for a way to expand on the occasional art classes she had taken throughout her career. Working a full-time job and raising a family hadn’t left her with much time to paint.
“I didn’t get any art in, really, in 30 years. It was not foremost on my mind,” Anderson said.
Then she saw a blurb on Fox Island’s community website about a small group of artists meeting weekly to work together. Anderson joined the Fox Paw group just a few months after their founding, even though she had next to zero experience as a painter.
“There’s no requirement that we know anything when we start,” she joked.
Anderson said the idea of a supportive group made her feel more comfortable as a beginning painter. The experience level of the Fox Paw group, which has had around 10 regular members and some occasional guests throughout its history, ranges from green painters, like Anderson once was, to those who have been painting their whole lives. Now, Anderson mostly works in watercolors and collage.
“Everybody encourages each other. And it keeps you motivated, that’s the most important thing,” Anderson said.
“A lot of artists don’t like to paint in a group,” Anderson added. “They consider it an isolated process.” But, she said, her 10 years with the Fox Paw group has shown her the opposite.
The group meets every Wednesday at Fox Island’s Nichols Community Center, thanks to a $7 monthly fee that members pay for the space. Its members paint in different styles and media, and work on their own projects – rarely are they painting the same thing, Anderson said, though there have been a few collaborative efforts in the past decade.
The group becomes a collective of individual efforts, Anderson said, with the members offering each other advice, criticism and, above all, moral support as they develop new works.
“We get a lot out of it – we have kind of the philosophy that it helps to share with each other, even though we’re not working in the same medium” Anderson said of the group’s weekly meetings, which can sometimes take up much of the day. “Art is art.”
The Fox Paw painters also take occasional field trips, to museums and galleries in Seattle, Tacoma and elsewhere, to broaden the group’s discussions of art.
Anderson said she was a little surprised to find such an active artist’s community on Fox Island, so soon after her first foray into the local art world.
“I knew the Gig Harbor community was a pretty healthy artists’ community, but I had no idea there were so many people out there who were interested in it,” she said. “Not just as artists, but as supporters of the arts.”
Members of the Fox Paw group have shows currently at Kimball Espresso Gallery in Gig Harbor and The Hub in Tacoma, and the whole group will start a show at Kimball on April 1. Those interested in learning more about the Fox Paw group can call Anderson at 253-549-4646.