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Ping Pong Painting Prevails Pandemic.

In the summer of 2014, artists Sally and Prudy of Concord, MA forged a plan to help keep painting over the summer.



Art classes end in June, both travel extensively during the summer and crave the camaraderie and the discipline of working on projects together. In past summers, during their separate excursions to visit friends and family, the pair were inspired by many beautiful paintings, thus, a plan for Ping Pong Painting was hatched.


Here’s how it works. Sally and Prudy committed to try a 10-week plan to send a photo of a painting that they like to each other (call this a ping). Each would then create their own version of it (copy the painting each week) and email their results to one another (this is the pong) and reply with comments. It didn’t matter that they paint in somewhat different styles and used different media; the point was to keep going. Prudy is a scientist, so Sally counted on her to keep them on task. The two met years ago working at Earthwatch.org and each have found a mutual love for making art in retirement.


They had such fun with their simple ping pong project that the following year, other friends from their art classes said they wanted to join. Four years later, there were 25 artists working on- line, sharing their paintings together every week during the summer.


What happened next. People began describing their process when they submitted their weekly painting. Some did a value study before adding color, some created a more abstract version of the painting of the week. One week, for example, Sally began a painting of chickens that Prudy sent out to the group by drawing the background and adding the chickens in collage. in the end, she went almost completely abstract and described her process to the group.



As the group grew, technology became an obstacle. The first advisement was, “Stop using the flip-phone and get an Iphone.” Most did and others still use the laptop. The next hurdle was learning the difference between “Reply” and “Reply all.” With the potential of 25 submissions and 25 comments, a process was determined. A weekly email is sent with the picture to paint. Sally and Prudy continue to choose the pieces. A week later, each person submits their work via “Reply all” and others send their comments to the individual artist via “Reply.” If feedback comments seem daunting, no fear, the group is vetted by friends of friends, so the comments are civilized and supportive. It’s about experimenting and making art in community. Each September, the season is wrapped up by lunch and a display of art on a white sheet on the grass.

The artists hail from New England and England and during the summer they travel from the Adirondacks to Maine and the Cape. They work with water color, acrylic, collage, pens and pencils so there’s lots of variety. some choose a large canvas and find it hard to keep up. Sally suggests 5x7 and expands to 8x10, if she’s particularly fond of the project. She gives some of these small paintings to friends as house presents during the year.


Sally continues to investigate technology applications, using Pic Stitch (free app) to combine pictures for comparison and Waterlogue to translate photographs to watercolor. She has considered creating an on-line gallery or a move to Facebook for posting and sharing ping pong paintings but copyright issues and privacy concerns are an issue here. Another concern is that participating painters will get too fussy and not experiment as much with their pongs, if the project got to elaborate and public. Whatever the case, it’s a terrific model to create community using technology and friendship.


Huffington Post also suggests other options for artists: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/09/art-apps_n_5762584.html



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