TRAVERSE CITY — Lets shade a little here. Maybe darken this bit here? Put more blue here.
Paintbrushes clashed over Ruth Kitchen's canvas in a helpful deluge. Kitchen, the artist, stood stalwart against the advisory tide, explaining her friendly tolerance with a shrugged,"Well, I used to teach middle school."
That opened the door; the Magic Thursday Artists walked through. All of Kitchen's advisers should sign the painting, they joked. The portrait of her granddaughter was far better for the help.
"All our names should be on that picture," laughed Sherry McNamara.
The Magic Thursday Artists have no leader and no teacher — laughter keeps everyone in line, and coloring outside of them. Painters in the group teach each other, navigating the sticky minefields of peer review with humor and affection.
They will exhibit studio and plein aire work in oils, acrylics, pastels and watercolors at the City Opera House during July. Featured artists include Sue Bowerman, Pat Dixon, Nancy Donley, Nan Frankland, Veronique Jonas, Ruth Kitchen, Sherry McNamara, Dorothy Mudget and Marilyn Rebant.
The Magic Thursday Artists grew out of an existing group that didn't want to quit when the Northern Michigan winters sent plein air painters packing. Finding weekly (Thursday) winter painting space at the Dennos Museum brought the group into its own. Artists work in different mediums, but the group dynamic makes it "magic," Mudget said.
"We're a team," said Frankland. "We admire each other and we help each other."
The informal group is open to everyone who wants to improve their painting. Their backgrounds may vary, but it matters little when they paint, Bowerman said. They've even "gelled" enough to order art supplies together.
Not having an instructor means they rely on each other to grow their skills — with laughter, positivity and support.