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One of the most important things I ever did was join some Folk and decorative Art societies. Through these groups I have learned the bulk of what I know. The Society of Folk and Decorative Art of Victoria for example was where I met reknown painters such as Lea Davis, Cheryl Bradshaw, Carolyn Ballantine, June Varey, Jan Fox...and it goes on. Some of these ladies were just starting out 10 years ago and now they are finding success in publishing and teaching. What is more they have supported and encouraged each other along the way. Societies give you a wonderful source of support, information, workshops, organised conventions, displays and shows, newsletters and workshop information. If you belong to a society or group that has a web presence and care to share the URL with me it will be added to the list.
You can't beat a group of dedicated painters for a bit of support and direction.