When you import the layer, are you adding it to the group, or are you adding it outside the group?
What size (width and height) is your canvas in pixels?
When ArtRage crashes, it tries to write out an emergency project file, called ARRestart.ptg
You will find that in
C:\Documents and Settings\<your name>\Application Data\Ambient Design\ArtRage 2
So when you get a crash, you may be able to save your data by reloading that painting file (and then saving under a different name!)
AndyRage's mantra for graphics engine code:
"Sure - how hard can it be?"