Special Interest Groups (SIGs)


The SRAL has several special interest art groups (SIGs) whose members share a special interest in an certain area of art. Most of the art groups meet in the Studio at a regularly scheduled day and time.

The SIGs listed below are currently active. Please check the Studio Calendar for dates and times. Other pertinent information as to special meeting places is shared in SRAL’s E-blasts or via an email sent by the SIG chairperson. The coordinator(s) for each SIG is listed below and their contact information can be found in Contacts. Contact the SIG coordinator to have your email address added to the SIG’s mailing list. Click on the SIG name below you want to view.



Coordinators: Amy Pilger and Bonnie Nelson

The SRAL Abstract Briggade Group celebrates the unique field of abstract arts. The group meets the second Monday of every month from September through May at 10 AM in the Studio. This begins with their September meeting. The Abstract Group has been an active part of SRAL for over a decade and many of the 40 or so regular members are professional artists, and they happily share their experience.

A special abstract art exhibit, the “Eve Briggs Abstract Art Competition” happens every February, and this event is the responsibility of the group to organize. The next exhibit is scheduled for February 2024. The co-chairs and the show judge have already been selected. This exhibit has always been a BIG event.

Click image for full view of the artwork.

Pictured from left to right: “Sun Splashed,” by Susan McKelvy; “Intrigue,” by Angelique Gillespie; “Into The Deep ,” by Janet Johnson; “Autumn Treasures,” by Joan Cawthorn



Coordinator: Loralee Makela

Assemblage, in art, is work produced by the incorporation of everyday objects into the composition. Although each non-art object, such as a piece of rope or newspaper, acquires aesthetic or symbolic meanings within the context of the whole work, it may retain something of its original identity. The term assemblage, as coined by the artist Jean Dubuffet in the 1950s, may refer to both planar and three-dimensional constructions. –Britannica

The Assemblage Group is currently an informal group meeting for all who are interested in creating three dimensional artworks and is open to any SRAL member. It meets on the 2nd and 4th Friday of every month from 1:00 to 3:00 PM in the Main Studio.

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Pictures from left to right: Jacaranda by Camille Vonnegut; Monarch by Cherie Schaeffer; Recycle I by Betsy Kimbrough; Say Cheese by Sue Bollig



Coordinators: Susan Werner and Janet Johnson

Collage comes from the French verb coller which means “to glue.” A collage is a piece of artwork created by gluing paper, photographs, cloth, and other ephemera to a surface. Collage is also defined as the process of adhering these items to a substrate. Mixed Media is a term utilized to designate artworks created using a variety of media or materials. It is one of the most freewheeling innovative expressions in 2-dimensional art.

Acrylic paints were first developed in the late 19th century when acrylic resin was developed. Due to their versatility and fast-drying nature, acrylics originally became an extremely popular painting medium for many artists seeking a fast-drying alternative to oil paints. Today acrylic paints are used in a variety of applications and styles, from photo realistic to abstract pours. Their water-based formulation allows the use of many additives and mediums to produce unique art effects.

The Collage/Mixed Media and Acrylic group is designed to encourage interested artists to explore this medium to create traditional artwork, or work that utilizes a variety of media and/or collage. Acrylic paints combine perfectly with collage and a combination of other media such as inks, pastels, graphite, Stabilo markers, watercolor pencils, etc. to create exciting artwork. A variety of different papers (deli, rice, tissue, old book pages, sheet music, etc.) used for collage are enhanced with stencils, stamps, Gelli printing and a variety of mark making tools.

With this group the techniques and ideas are unlimited. There is often a monthly challenge with unique results. Frequently, members share their sketch books and textured painting techniques.

We welcome members of all skill levels for their inspiration and creativity. This combined group is a wonderful place for beginners to embark on their creative journey. We encourage everyone to have fun and enjoy our time together. This group meets from 1:00 to 3:00 PM the first and third Wednesday of each month from October through April and only on the first Wednesday of each month from May through September.

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Pictures from left to right: Shivering Stillness by Laurel Spoonseller; Infinite Possibilities by Paula Richards; Spring Pops by Susan Werner; Purple Eve by Susan Werner



Coordinator: Lisa Schmidt

Figure Drawing has been a staple for artists since Greek and Roman times. It is essential for learning the anatomy of the human figure and for drawing or painting people in any setting.

Our sessions meet the first Saturday of each month from November through May from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM in the studio at the Santa Rita Springs Recreation Center. A model is hired to pose for us and each artist is asked to pay $5.00 to defer the cost of hiring the model. Models are generally clothed in requested tight fitting clothing like workout clothing or leotards in order to showcase the body.

We begin our session with short 3-minute poses to allow artists to loosen up. We then move on to longer poses with the last pose lasting 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the remaining time, to allow for a more finished drawing or painting. You may use any medium, however no turpentine is allowed in the main studio area, where these sessions are held. We can display our work at the end of the session in the quiet room of the studio if one desires to do so.

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Pictures from left to right: Untitled #1 by Sharon Wirth; Untitled #2 by Sharon Wirth; Mari by Lisa Schmidt; Brad by Lisa Schmidt



Coordinator: Debbie Nealy

The Oil Painting Group and the Pastel Group have combined to create a dynamic group of enthusiastic artists. In the past the Oil Painting Group was known as OPAL. The oil painters work in the ventilated studio and the pastel painters are in the main studio. This group meets every Monday from 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM.

We are a friendly, supportive, and informal group which allows our members a scheduled time to paint, share ideas, and techniques. Though we have no formal demos or instruction, we are member-lead, so are open to requests for critiques, still-life set-ups, and demos. We welcome both beginner and accomplished artists alike!

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Pictures from left to right: At the Rodeo by Nanci Sheppard; Forsyth Summer by Deb Nealy; Beau by Lisa Schmidt; A Dark and Stormy Night by Judy Lawrence



Coordinator: Darilyn Ronn

The Open Studio SIG was established for members who wished to gather and work in the medium of their choice. This group meets every Tuesday from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM. Artists of all levels of experience, from beginners to professionals, are welcome. It is an ideal setting for meeting new friends and experiencing new kinds of art. Members generously share their ideas and techniques and help anyone in a very positive way.

Attendees of this group can expect spontaneous happenings, such as an occasional model for painting portraits or home-baked goodies to go with coffee and conversation around the Studio’s kitchen table. Often, a critique is conducted at the end of the morning for those who wish to participate. There is always a spirit of camaraderie at Open Studio. Please come and join us!

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Pictures from left to right: Southwest Pottery by Darilyn Ronn; Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse by Jean Hanson; Grand Canyon by Fran Sutherland; Dark Magic by Diane Conant



Coordinator: Nanci Sheppard

Plein Air simply means painting outdoors. This group meets every Thursday at the scheduled destination and time with carpools suggested if drivers feel comfortable doing so. Or one can drive themselves. This group meets November through April. A schedule for the upcoming month will be sent out to participants near the end of the previous month.

We travel all over Southern Arizona, which has many painting opportunities such as desert landscapes, missions, historic buildings, gardens, and ranches. You will need a set up for your desired medium, protective clothing, sunscreen, water, a hat, and sturdy shoes.

Beginners are welcome as they can learn plenty from others in the group. Any medium is acceptable, oil, watercolor, pastel or just sketching with a pencil. It’s fun to paint outdoors and to see what others have chosen to paint. We meet at the end of the session to have a show and tell and light critique.

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Pictures from left to right: Tumacacori by Ken Adams; Madera Creek by Brian Bauman; Canoa by Ken Adams; Winter Surprise by Shelby Jagla



Coordinator (December thru April): Bruce Summers

Co-Coordinators (May thru November): Sharon Wirth and Shelby Jagla

The Portrait Group draws and paints from live model poses focusing on facial features during short and long poses. All media are welcome except for oil paints. Water mixable oils are acceptable for the main studio. ​Critiques and demonstrations may be available based on the groups’ wishes. All members are welcome regardless of experience.

​The group meets on Tuesday afternoons from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM in the main SRAL Studio. The group will meet December through April and may meet longer depending on the availability of a coordinator. During the off season, members usually work on paintings without a model.

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Pictures from left to right: Gene by Angelique Gillespie; Donna by Marge Baker; Captain by Sharon Wirth; Alex, Bookworm by Sharon Wirth



Coordinators: Karen Keim and John McGraw

The Printmakers Guild meets in the SRAL Studio on the fourth Wednesday of September through May, with exceptions during the winter holidays —when we avoid Thanksgiving and Christmas weeks.

Meetings are from 9:30 AM to 12:00 PM. Karen Keim oversees an email list that keeps everyone informed.

​From three to twelve members usually attend our meetings. We are primarily a working group with demos and instructions provided as needed. SRAL has two Akua Pin Presses and a Blick Intaglio Press (12-inch bed) located in Room A of the studio. Members who have been trained (see John McGraw) may use the equipment personally but must know how to protect press blankets, store the presses, and clean up afterwards.

​There is no Special Interest Group (SIG) fee, but participants are encouraged to buy their own printing paper, inks, and other materials as needed. We have limited supplies of Akua inks, tools, and paper. Members learn a variety of methods for creating printmaking art.

​All SRAL members, with or without printing experience, are welcome to join this group. Each monthly meeting will give you an opportunity to create prints. Members are encouraged to enter their work in an Annual Print Show in the Desert Hills Lobby and in a September Print Showcase in the SRAL Studio. Come join us!

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Pictures from left to right: Serigraph/Collage #1 by John McGraw; Serigraph/Collage #2 by John McGraw; Potpourri by Karen Keim; As the Crow Flies by Bob Hamilton



Coordinators: Valerie St. Marie and Liz Wolf

The Watercolor SIG meets year-round in the SRAL studio every Friday from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM. Some part time Green Valley members also meet most Fridays in the summer via Zoom.

We are an informal, social group, working on our own watercolor projects; providing members the opportunity to paint with fellow watercolorists, and to share ideas, techniques, and support. There are no formal demos or instruction, but members are generous with their help and suggestions. While the group focuses on watercolors, mixing media is also okay.

All skill levels are welcome! It’s relatively inexpensive to get started in watercolor. One does not need a lot of materials or space, just a couple of brushes, paper, watercolor pigment, a bucket of water and your creativity. The SRAL studio library also has many books on watercolor for your reference. Bring your paints and come join us!

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Pictures from left to right: Golden Glow by Kathleen Bolivar; Echinacea by Liz Wolf; Crow by Karen McDermott; Chihuly Reflections by Val St. Marie