Which Coach, Mentor, or Program Is Right for You?

Which Coach, Mentor, or Program Is Right for You?

Having the right art mentor can fast track your success, no matter the stage you’re at in your art. Look for someone that’s gone before you and had success at the same goal. Then use these 3 steps to get the guidance and support you want in your art practice.

Mary also walks you through the programs she currently offers, what they cover and what you need to get the most out of each one.


Mini-Courses in Painting, Social Media Marketing, & Online Art Biz

The Art+Work+Living Community Membership

Composition, Color, & Light

The Painter’s Path

The Accelerator Small Group Coaching Mastermind Standard
6 Month Program
The Accelerator Small Group Coaching Mastermind Intensive
6 Month Program
from just
By application only
By application only
Private 1:1 coaching calls with Mary (monthly)
Value: $3,000
Private Weekly Members Face to Face Group Call with Mary
Value: $3000
(8 during the program)
Weekly Group Q&A/Critiques  with Mary for 1 year
Value: $3,500/year
Monthly Group Art Critique Call
Value: $1,500/year
Monthly Group Art Biz Q&A Call (Including recordings)
Value: $1,500/year
Instant Access to 52 Trainings (and counting) on How to Create Your Own Thriving Studio & Art Biz Practice
Value: $2,444
Instant Access to Community Groups
Value: $600/yr
Access to Bite-sized Topic Specific Training

Got a question??

In the episode:
00:25 – 3 steps to get the guidance and support you want in your art practice
00:44 – 1. Know yourself
02:01 – 2. Look at who’s out there
06:29 – 3. Research & Connect
09:23 – Create a filtering system to make sure it’s a good match
17:44 – A reader’s question about getting back into art making
18:10 – A look at Mary’s programs
18:30 – Bite-sized mini-courses
20:26 – The Art+Work+Living Community Membership
21:53 – Composition, Color, & Light Course to learn to maximize your paintings’ visual impact
22:39 – The Painter’s Path Course to create a thriving online art business
23:45 – The Accelerator small group coaching mastermind


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.

How to Find Places to Paint Plein Air

How to Find Places to Paint Plein Air

I’m taking a viewer’s questions around the nuts and bolts of plein air painting, in particular HOW to find places to paint.

Here are some of her questions:

“What continues to befuddle me is the HOW’s of finding places to paint en plein air! – What do you do?

Do you go and ring doorbells and ask if you can paint someone’s view from on their property?

Do you need permission to paint in public parks?

What if you want to paint on a roadside? What are the legalities and safety concerns?

What about private roads and private drives and private communities (even if not gated)? Can a thoroughfare actually BE private, or is that just a put off?

I am running into a lot of that here on the coast of Connecticut, when I travel down to it. And it is very frustrating.

There are even discouraging signs at public boat launches that say that they are for launching and fishing ONLY!

Do they really mean to keep artists out?”

Do you have questions you’d like to have answered in an upcoming video? You can leave them in the comments below.

If you paint plein air, you might also enjoy these posts:

Which Plein Air Easel To Pick?

How To Make Plein Air Painting Less Stressful

Plein Air Painting: Putting Paint to Canvas

Join my free ART+WORK+LIVING Facebook group and get involved in our community of artists of all mediums, styles, and stages. This space provides a reflective and supportive space for all artists, including you! 

Click here to join and start getting engaged with artists just like you! 

Finding Time to Paint

Finding Time to Paint

Let’s talk about what to do to find time for painting and creativity. 

“I don’t have time to paint” is one of the most common challenges I hear. If this is you, you’re not alone.

Every artist I know has run into this issue at some point. In this video I’ll share how you can go from the frustration of not having enough time for your painting. How just a few simple steps can help you integrate art making into your life without requiring hours a day.

If these tips help you, please share them with any painting friends who might enjoy them.

Magnetic Paintings Webinar

How to Use Value, Color, and Composition to Make Compelling Paintings

You're invited to a special free workshop I’m hosting where I'll share how you can leverage composition, value, and color to make compelling paintings. If you missed this earlier now's the time to save your seat.  You can learn more here and find a time that fits your schedule.

Recharge Your Creativity by Doing Nothing: Creativity Hack #5

Recharge Your Creativity by Doing Nothing: Creativity Hack #5

Have you ever had the feeling that your creative well has just completely been drained dry? Like there’s nothing left.

In today’s culture, we tend to be so busy. We drive ourselves so hard. Go, go, go, go, go. There’s a feeling that you’re not being productive if you’re not doing something. If there’s no product at the end of the activity or the process, then it’s not worth doing.

But the very opposite is really where truth lies.

One of the fastest ways that you could recharge that creative well and reenergize yourself is by doing absolutely nothing, taking time, blocking time out to give yourself the time to just be.

I’m gonna go over five things to help you get to that stage of doing nothingness.

The first is to remember that you need to be, not do. That’s not nearly as easy as it sounds like for most of us.

One of the first things you want to do is to become still. Be still. In the process of being still, you’re being.

And you’re letting go.

And in letting go you’re relaxing and in relaxing, especially in silence, you’re able to begin to hear the thoughts that are going on in your head.

That’s actually the reason most of us become so busy and stay so busy. So we don’t have to listen to ourselves in our EDS, but those thoughts need to come out.

Those thoughts are the things that are blocking your creativity and until you’re silent and until you’re just sitting, you’re not even going to be aware they’re there.

So awareness is that first step towards silencing those thoughts and beliefs that can get in your way. So be, not do. Relax and let go in silence so that you can listen to yourself.

Number two is do that outside and unplugged because if you go outside, and you’re unplugged, you’re not going to be bothered by notifications your phone. It won’t ring, won’t ping.

You’re not going to be tempted to type on your keyboard. You’ll have less interruptions.

And as one of my favorite writers, Anne Lamott, has said, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes – including you.”

We need to unplug. That’s what I mean by doing nothing and outside is one of the best places to do that.

Number three, become aware when you’re quiet, when you’re still. When you’re outside, it’s so much easier to become aware, not just of your own thoughts, but of your senses.

Think about those for a minute. Become aware of what you’re feeling and by feeling, I mean, what you’re touching, what you’re hearing, what you’re tasting. And yeah. You’re always tasting stuff based on what you’re smelling.

So what do you smell? And most importantly, what are you seeing?

If you’re silent, if you’re becoming more aware, you’ll learn to see more deeply.

And isn’t that a goal that all of us have as artists. To learn, to see deeply.

When you can become still and aware, especially if you can become still and aware in front of your subject, it’s so much easier to begin to see deeply.

And I promise the more you see, the more you’ll see.

The more time you spend seeing and looking and observing, the more you’ll see deeply. The more you’ll see about line, shape, color, and form; light, value, and composition. All of those tools that we have in our toolbox.

Then number four, play.

If you’re doing all the first three things that we’ve talked about: being and not doing, being outside and being unplugged, becoming more aware, the next step is to allow yourself just to play with what’s available.

Play means to not be so attached to the outcome. Children play all the time.

I’ve been watching my granddaughter and how she plays.

Children just naturally play. They don’t get attached to what’s going to happen. They take what’s right in front of them and they create an activity with it.

They’re light with it. And they’re detached from the outcome.

So play, stay light and stayed detached.

You’ll find that those four will recharge your batteries, create that reset. Because you’ve created a space for the new creative ideas to enter in.

I hope this is helpful. If it is, let me know your thoughts down below in the comments and feel free to share this with anyone else you think needs to hear it.

Magnetic Paintings Webinar

How to Use Value, Color, and Composition to Make Compelling Paintings

You're invited to a special free workshop I’m hosting where I'll share how you can leverage composition, value, and color to make compelling paintings. If you missed this earlier now's the time to save your seat.  You can learn more here and find a time that fits your schedule.

Keeping Paints from Drying Out On the Palette

Keeping Paints from Drying Out On the Palette

How to Save Paint without Putting It in the Freezer or Refrigerator


Have you ever been told to put your palette in the refrigerator or freezer so your paint wouldn’t dry out between sessions?

I’m betting you have.

This is such common advice, and although well intentioned, it’s terrible advice for a couple of reasons.

Number 1: You should never store paints alongside of food. That should be enough right there. Paint off gasses. And you’re going to put it next to food??

Number 2: Temperatures below freezing alter the molecular structure of paint.

I get asked about this a lot, and about what to do instead. And after it came up again inside both my online course and free Facebook group, I decided it was time to talk about it some more.

After mixing a beautiful palette of paint, people want to keep that paint wet so they can use it longer.  No one wants to waste paint.

So I’m going to cover how you can keep the main three wet longer: watercolor, acrylic, and oils.


Watercolor (Remember they don’t have to stay wet.)
Mijello Fusion Airtight/Leakproof Palettes
Add a damp paper towel. Be sure to replace every week.

Masterson Sta-Wet Premier Palette
Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker’s Half Sheet with Lid
Use 3-4 layers of damp paper towel with a piece of palette paper on top.

Masterson Sta-Wet Palette Seal
Any palette box with clove oil on pads or q-tips.

What’s your favorite way to keep your paint workable?

Magnetic Paintings Webinar

How to Use Value, Color, and Composition to Make Compelling Paintings

You're invited to a special free workshop I’m hosting where I'll share how you can leverage composition, value, and color to make compelling paintings. If you missed this earlier now's the time to save your seat.  You can learn more here and find a time that fits your schedule.