Having a right art mentor can really fast track your progress towards your goals. No matter what stage you’re at in your art. I’m looking for someone that’s gone before you and had success at that same goal. That same thing you’re working towards. It’s one of the fastest ways to actually get there.
So we’re going to be talking today about three steps that you can take to get the guidance and support that you want in your art practice. Let’s dive on in.
The first step to really beginning to identify the right mentor, the right coach or program it’s to know yourself.
You’ve got to know what’s important to you right now. Not what was important six months ago, or what might be important in six months, but what’s important to you right now.
What are your short-term goals? What are your longterm goals?
What are you good at already? All of us have certain skills that we already have. We’re usually not very good at identifying what those are, but see if you can slow down and think about what it is that you’re already good at.
What do you need help with to move further, faster? You have to know what it is that you need, what’s missing.
Just as important as knowing what you’re already good at is knowing where the holes are, where the things are, so that you can find somebody else to plug in to give you that success that you’re looking for.
The second thing that’ll help you get there is to know who’s out there.
Look at who’s already out there. And you may remember that I said a video, not too long ago, you don’t even have to be talking about somebody who’s alive right now. It could be somebody from the past.
Your mentor doesn’t even have to know that they are your mentor. They’re all kind of different levels of mentorship. So you can learn a lot from somebody in the past who’s already achieved or who did achieve what it is that you’re trying to do, know who you want to be like, who do you admire?
And the thing that you’re trying to achieve, who’s already done it. Start making the lists. When you find people who’ve gotten a part of that thing that you’re trying to get to write their names down so that you can start creating a list. Third thing, and this is super important. I see so many people mess up on this.
One is not enough. You need to get multiple people to bounce ideas off of you don’t need just one mentor or coach. You need multiple ones, preferably two to four.
So for example, A couple of years ago, I was advising one of my students from composition color and light about what to do about taking her art further after she finished the course. And my advice to her was actually the same advice I gave, have been giving actually to all of my students. For years, you need two to four different instructors.
You should never study just with one person. You need to get a multiplicity of viewpoints. You need diversity in your education. That’s how you begin to form your own opinions. If all you do is study with one person, the tendency is to try to become a clone of that person. And that’s an important thing that you not do.
You want to be yourself. And the way to do that is to get input from a multiple range of sources and then hold on to what works for you and put away what does not, that’s how you sent the size, what you learn to become your own artist. It’s super important that you have enough voices giving you input.
The flip side to that is you don’t want to have so many that you’re overwhelmed by information that’s too contradictory. I’ve seen as, has everybody else who’s teaches, students who’ve gotten caught in the workshop loop. They’ve started taking workshop after workshop, after workshop, and they can’t develop their own style.
In fact, they can hardly paint because they’re so jammed up with conflicting stories about how to make art that they can’t decide what to do first.
You want to find a balance between not having enough different influences coming in and having too many, but it’s very, very important that you get at least two different voices that you’re listening to.
They can come from all kinds of sources. They don’t have to be people that you go sign up to be their mentee. It can be people from the past. Look at artists who’ve been successful in the past.
One of my favorites to look back at is Rosa Bonheur. She was a woman artist who was fabulously, fantastically successful in the 19th century in France. And I think of her as one of my mentors and one of my role models.
So you don’t even have to be able to talk to them. You just need to watch, look at what they did. How did they take steps to get where they are now or where they became successful on Rosa Bonner’s case? Look at the path that they took to get there, look at what might work for you and what you don’t really want to do.
You also want to think about step number three, which is to research and connect.
You need to look at who else is out there. I mentioned that a little bit before, but you also need to then figure out how to get in contact with, or connect to these people who are in front of you.
Who’ve already created a path. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You just need to figure out which path is the right one for you. And then find somebody who’s already cleared that path. So you want to ask yourself how, who are these folks? And then you want to make a list, a target list of people that you’d like to connect with.
Again, keep it limited. You don’t want to connect with everybody in the world. You know, I I’ve done that before. I’ve had shiny object syndrome and bought way too many courses, and then not been able to implement all of them because. I’ve got too many courses in my portals and I don’t have time to do it all.
So make sure you’re being very targeted in the list that you’re creating, learn about them. You know, research them online. We’ve got the internet. Now people didn’t have that even 50 years ago in order to be able to research possibilities and the opportunities use the internet to research these artists.
Even if they’re from the past, you can find an awful lot out before you even come into direct communication with them. That you may never come in direct communication with them. One of my favorite ways to learn and be mentored is by listening to podcasts and YouTube interviews. One of my favorite artists who I definitely consider to be an influence it’s Wolf Kahn, and I love listening to Wolf Kahn, speak about landscape painting and about art and about what drove him to paint the way he did. And it’s all recorded. Even though he’s passed, it’s all recorded and it’s there for free on YouTube. I’ll go listen to him while I paint. So think about looking for where those folks are and we’re searching what’s out there, learn about them, then figure out how to make a connection.
That connection can come in the form of. Signing up for a free workshop, signing up for an online workshop, signing up for a course, signing up for something small to start with to see if there really is alignment. You don’t have to dive right into the deep end of an expensive program until you decide first.
That there’s a real good match there. Look at what free content they’ve already got that’s out there and see if some of that meets your needs first and whether or not you really want to dive in deeper with that person. So I have a filtering system that I use when I’m deciding, do I really need to buy this program or is it a shiny object and the squirrel because I’m easily distracted by them.
Everyone needs to filtering system.
Here are the things that I use to filter out. What’s a good fit and what’s not a good fit. What is a need and what is a no I want, or I really would like to buy. So, is it a small or a large goal? Is it something that is a little bite size thing or is it a big long-term goal?
For example, I have a, an occupation that I love doing that has nothing to do with the way I make my living or the profession that I’m in. I love to knit. And I have a friend who has a knitting program. So one of the questions I’ve asked myself lightly because I’m real tempted by everything she puts out there is how is that going to fit into my life?
What is it going to do for me? How does it move through this filtering system? So I’m going to use my friends knitting course. Knitting program. And I’ll tell you right now, I’m definitely going to buy one, some part of it because I do it for pleasure. Just like some people paint for pleasure. I knit for pleasure.
It’s meditatative. And it takes me out of myself and I don’t have to think about things. So I say, is it a small or a large goal? It’s a small goal. It’s not a huge big long-term goal in the sense of, uh, Big life goal, but it’s a life enhancing goal. Is it something I want day for just a short period of time?
Or is it something I want to do over a long period of time? Well, why it’s kind of a small thing in itself. It’s something I want to do pick back up again. I used to do it a lot, so it’s kind of more of a long-term thing. Is it a pressing need or our longterm desire. That’s where it’s a longterm desire. I don’t need to, to get back into knitting.
I don’t need to learn new knitting patterns in order to be able to feed myself or in order to be able to pay for the house. But knitting helps to feed the things that. Pay for my food and my housing. So doing something that’s in a different creative field really feeds my creativity and it keeps me from being a workaholic painting.
So it really does fulfill a need. It’s just not the need, that’s immediate within the business, but I can definitely justify it from the business standpoint. And from the artistic standpoint of it being a creative need. And it’s a, it’s a pleasure. It makes me a nice and being all of my family likes it when I’m a nicer human being.
Decide if it’s a pressing need in this case. It’s not, it’s a more long-term pleasure. Thing then how much time do I have? So do I want something that is an intensive, that’s like an eight or 12 week in depth program? Or do I want something that’s more like an ongoing membership where I can dive in for just a few minutes.
A day or, you know, an hour or so a week. Hm. Well, which one of those things do you think fits what I’ve described as where I want to place knitting into my world? I don’t want to make a sweater by the end of the week. I’d like to, but I’m not that good at it anymore. I have to get back into shape with it, but it is definitely something I want to fall back into my routine.
So I want that ongoing thing. So a membership sounds really good to me because it’s something I can pick up and put down. It’s not going to disappear in eight to 12 weeks. It’s something that I can hold on to and I can fit it in around my other activities. So how much time do I have? I have small blocks of time to do that.
Do I need personal access to a mentor or a coach to do that? In other words, do I need to have her on the phone or on a zoom call in order for me to be able to. Accomplish what I want to set out to do. Probably not right now. Although if I make a hash of making a sweater for my granddaughter, I might, but I am probably going to be fine with the recorded videos.
That’s going to be a really good fit for me and group zoom calls would be fantastic along with other people who are interested in some of the same kind of things. So I don’t need one to one interaction for that. Right now. I might at some point, but not right at the moment. Is this person in alignment with me?
Well, I know this person well enough to know. Oh, heck yes. She’s in alignment with me. She has many of the same values I do, and I know how she loves on her community. So she is a fantastic community leader. So that aspect of it is very attractive. I know that the people that she pulls into her membership are people like me.
And that’s important to me. It’s that community aspect of it that becomes an important factor as well. So I’m taking things all the way through that filtering system from, is it a small or a large goal? In other words, is it going to have a big impact on my creative career or is it going to have a smaller impact?
Is it a pressing need or is it something that’s more long-term is it something how much time do I have to devote to it? You know, I have small chunks or big chunks of time. Do I need personal access to the coach or do I just need the information or somewhere in between? Is this person in alignment with me?
Those are really, really important filters because not every program is a good fit.
So just a quick little recap of where we are so far, we’ve talked about three steps to get the guidance and support that you need to go forward in your art practice. And the first one was to know yourself, know where you are. What’s important to you, what your strengths are and where the holes are that you need plugged.
Number two, to look at who’s out there. Who do you want to be like? Who do you admire? Who do you want to follow along behind as your guide? Number three, have you researched yet or connected with some of those folks? So it’s know yourself, look at who’s out there and then research and connect take action.
We talked about creating a filter system for, to make sure for making sure that it’s a really good fit. That you need to have some criteria to judge by. And I shared the ones that I use for myself when I’m trying to identify. Whether or not a mentor is a good fit for me because yes, I still do use mentors and coaches.
So we talked about thinking about whether it’s a small or a large goal that you’ve got going, whether it’s a pressing need, something that you need to fix immediately, or whether it’s more longterm. Is it, how much time do you have, I mean, to, uh, devote to it? Is it something that you’re going to have to do in small amounts or is it something that you’re going to be able to concentrate some time on?
Is it something you need personal access to the person? Do you need to have some quality time with that person in order to move faster? Or do you just need the information? We talked about whether or not this person is in alignment with you, with you and your values, super important part. So they don’t want to talk about a little bit about the programs we have.
Mary’s programs: who are they for?
I recently got a question that’s actually what sparked this whole discussion. I got a question from one of my readers about how to get back into the swing of things as an artist, after being outside of the whole art world for a good while. She wants to get back into art making as well as making enough money to fund her art making.
She wants to fund her passion. She wants to make enough money to pay for materials and supplies and do workshops take workshops and things like that. A perfectly great goal. And so we talked about ways that she can go about doing that.
And there are some programs that I have for instance, that are predominantly designed for people who need that immediate information only in small chunks. That’s not really where she was at. Certainly a couple of those could help get her started and kick-started in the right direction.
Those programs, mini courses, are small bite-size chunks meant to be consumed in a short period of time.
Those are to fix things that you might have identified as small holes in your own art practice, your own online art biz. There’s no real personal contact with me on those.
We have one called The Online Art Biz Boot Camp which is a great fit for somebody experienced all of the galleries closing at the beginning of the pandemic, and didn’t have a website, didn’t have a way to begin to generate some income. It is a way to get a real fast jumpstart on that without having to invest a whole lot of time in getting all those other systems up and running.
Another mini course that we have is on palette knife painting. So that is for people who really have a clearly identified need. And they need to go for it right now. They don’t want to wait for a bigger course. So that might be something that is for you.
It’s important to ask yourself whether it’s a long-term need or short short-term need.
The Art+Work+Living Community Membership is a great fit for those with a nine to five job and only small chunks of time in a week in order to devote to growing their studio practice or growing their online art biz. That’s a paid membership, not the free Facebook group. Those are two different things. This is a paid membership that people can join on a monthly or annual basis that includes information, topics, and trainings around how to create that balanced, sustainable creative life.
There are trainings in three main areas: creating compelling artwork, creating a thriving mindset and creating that thriving studio business. We have a training released every month, a behind-the-scenes backstage pass trainings each month and two live Q&A calls, one for art biz questions and one for critique.
If the gap you’re trying to fill is making faster progress on a the long-term need, if you’ve got bigger chunks of time to devote to your learning, then there are two courses that are great fits depending on which direction you’re going in.
If you are looking to develop your painting more than Composition, Color, & Light is a great fit for you. Its main thrust is developing compelling magnetic paintings through using composition, value, color, and light to maximize your paintings’ visual impact.
It is a painting course only, and focuses primarily on oils and landscape painting. It’s also suitable for people working in acrylics or pastels or even watercolors, although the demos are in oil. So people need to be aware of that.
The other courses, for those who really want to develop their online art business and turn it into a thriving studio business. That’s The Painter’s Path, which opens just a few times a year. We’re going to be opening it up again in January, but have a wait list right now. It covers how to create a thriving online art business through launch your artwork to an engaged audience.
Its focus is on how to create the mindset to thrive, the artwork that’s compelling, the platform that is going to help you grow an audience (your website, email list and social media hub) and the systems to grow your audience and convert them into buyers.
Then if you need long-term help, have more pressing need and you really want to make change fast with much more access to me directly, I have a small group coaching mastermind called the Accelerator. It is by application only.
The range of programs go from the mini courses that cover everything from painting demos, to Instagram for Artists and the Online Art Biz Bootcamp as a short term, information only to a long-term membership that you can join on a month to month or annual basis, The Art+Work+Living Community Membership, the two courses, Composition, Color, & Light, and The Painter’s Path, depending on whether you need to work on those compelling paintings or work on the online art biz.
And then an ongoing mentorship, the Accelerator small group coaching mastermind program.
If you have any questions, feel free to drop me an email. I’ll be happy to answer any of those that come my way.
And if you know of anybody who would be interested in any of these programs, please feel free to share them. I would really appreciate that.