Archive for October, 2016

Should you sign up for this year’s Mentorship?

T H E R E ‘ S    N O T    M U C H    T I M E    L E F T   .   .   .  

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 by Sue Dawson

I’VE BEEN having some great conversations with potential Mentorship students over the past week. They’re deliberating about whether to join this year’s program, which starts on Monday afternoon. They have questions about what to expect, what they’ll learn, how they’ll grow. I love these conversations – I’m sure they can hear me typing sometimes, trying to precisely capture their insights, so I can remember them later.

I thought I’d share some insights with you…

– One person said he loved Alison’s critiques in the workshop he just took with her. In other workshops, he hasn’t always agreed with the teacher’s critiques, and walked away confused, unclear about what’s “right,” and what’s “wrong.” With Alison, she’s so clear in her critiques, even if he doesn’t 100% agree, he totally understands why she’s saying it. He doesn’t have to wonder whether he’s “right” to disagree, because her clarity empowers him to make educated decisions. My take is that her teaching style leaves room for interpretation. She’ll say whether or not she likes an image – don’t get me wrong – but you’ll understand why. So you can decide your own take on it. She’s not saying “this is how to think,” or “this is how to see.” She’s educating you, so you can think and see for yourself.

– Another person said he’s been shooting a lot, and worried that he’s “all over the place” in terms of subject matter and style. But then he wondered, “Or am I? Is this all moving me toward something else?” He’s concerned about not having a “singular style,” a unique voice. Because his direction isn’t clear yet, he’s listening to advice and trying different things. This is a huge reason we added Masterminds to our Mentorship program. At each retreat, you’ll have a half hour to present something to the group, and get feedback from everyone. We’ve seen incredible things happen as a result of this process.

One time, a student presented some selections from her work at different stages, and was looking for a new focus. There was one photo she threw in at the last minute, of a wooden chair sitting in the corner of a room, with a beautiful pattern of light streaming across, from a window above. She said “I don’t know why I tossed this one in. It’s from my Quaker meeting. It means a lot to me, but it’s a one-off.” Everyone loved the image, and wanted to know more. So she talked about her faith, and what it’s meant to her. This image really spoke to her deeply. We all encouraged her to pursue this further. So she started taking more photos of meeting houses near her, and getting gorgeous, evocative images. She decided to visit all the meeting houses in Massachusetts, and I encouraged her to write about each one too, in a blog. Thus began a labor of love that has culminated in two Blurb books of images and text, that are her portfolio of the project. She made these to show at galleries and museums, and to potential publishers.

This is just one example of many. It’s hard to explain the energy that’s created in your Mastermind, where the whole room is focusing on you and your work. Alison and I just did a Mastermind of our own, at last weekend’s Advanced Mentorship retreat, and Alison’s more inspired than she’s been in years.

– One person said our price felt high, and gave us a couple examples of mentorships that cost less. We’ve done a lot of research on other programs, but just to be sure, Alison jumped in and did the research again. She looked at prices, duration, and what you’d get for your investment. Each one that cost less, delivered less. There are some great teachers out there, and wonderful programs. She just didn’t see another like ours. Our Mentorship is truly one-of-a-kind, and we’re very proud of that. Here’s what you get:

  • FOCAL POINT TOOLKIT – Set goals, and track your progress through the Mentorship. This sets your intention for the six months, and creates the velocity for your experience.
  • YOUR OWN PASSWORD-PROTECTED PAGE (new this year!) – You’ll have your own page accessible via our website, where you can find all program info, upcoming appointments you’ve scheduled, your list of goals, downloadable notes from your calls with us, and a personalized to-do list for your reference
  • SEVEN CALL HOURS with ALISON – These calls will be all about you and your work – developing your own unique creative style, staying consistent and keeping focused. You’ll send Alison jpegs of your latest work before each call. During the call, you’ll see her screen live on your computer, as you both discuss your photos, and she makes suggestions shown in Adobe Lightroom. Learn how to be your best editor, get custom training, feedback, motivation, and brainstorm ideas. Alison will give you customized assignments that will keep you inspired, and define your next steps toward your goals.
  • FOUR CALL HOURS with SUE – Get an Art Director/Gallery Owner’s eye on your body of work, and advice on your portfolio, graphic identity, website, book ideas, writing, and marketing. Talk about mindset, and open up your creative flow. Brainstorm project ideas.
  • SEVEN TRAININGS – Our in-depth trainings cover a number of topics,which have included: getting in touch with your deepest creative self; writing an artist statement and bio; marketing your work; communicating with galleries, and having a show of your work; Alison’s digital workflow; publishing a book of your photography; and a fine art printing Q&A with a master printer.
  • TWO 2-DAY RETREATS on MARTHA’S VINEYARD – Experience the island off-season, when all the locals can relax and truly enjoy this unique place. Starting with a Friday-evening drinks and hors d’oeuvres get-together, and culminating in student Masterminds on Saturday and Sunday, you’ll meet other students, learn a lot, and have the unique opportunity to get feedback from the group. Develop your artist statement, body of work, and project ideas with the support of other artists. Alison often talks in-depth about her work, sometimes showing edits, images that didn’t make the cut (and why), and her creative process. Sue will bring her designer’s eye to the discussion.
  • PRIVATE FACEBOOK GROUP – This is a great opportunity for feedback and technical support, from all past and present Mentorship students. Post your photos and questions, and get feedback, answers, and encouragement on your progress. Sue and Alison monitor the group page regularly.
  • 20% OFF IN THE GALLERY – For the duration of the Mentorship, you’ll get our best discount on all fine art prints, books, posters, and cards.
  • YOUR WORK ON OUR WEBSITE – Take advantage of our international audience. After the Mentorship ends, we’ll post a photo of you, your artist statement, and a slideshow of your best work during our six months together, with a link to your website if you have one.

I’m making appointments for calls, and have times available from now until Monday at noon. I’d love to talk with you! Just email me, sue@alisonshaw.com, and we’ll set up a time. Here’s the pdf with more info. And here’s the link to our student pages, showing their work and accomplishments. One more thing – we almost decided not to do the program this year, so we could focus on a couple projects of our own. But we’ve put those off for now. This means we may not run the program next year (not sure yet), so if you’ve been wanting to join, this is the year!

From one of our retreats

From one of our retreats  (Photo by Vincent Chahley)

So much to think about …

by Sue Dawson

WE’VE BEEN thinking a lot about teaching lately. Alison just finished teaching her week-long workshop here on the Vineyard, and we’re planning a weekend retreat for our Advanced Mentorship group. I’m also just starting to email people on the “interested” list for our 6-month Mentorship, which starts soon. But it’s funny what Alison and I talk about a lot these days…

First, picture us sitting at a cafe, drinking a latte (me) or a short latte with an extra shot (Alison), after a morning walk on the beach. Or maybe we’re hanging out on our back deck in the evening, with a drink and a deck of cards. Or working together in the kitchen. Usually, we talk about work, kids, family, cats, friends, and ALL THE STUFF WE NEED TO DO. See how I put that in caps? There’s always a lot to do, and it mostly fills the conversations we have, in a good (responsible) and bad (uni-focus) way.

But around this time of year – when the gallery season is almost over, the crowds of tourists have one more weekend of fun before things start to close for the season, there’s a chill in the air, and leaves are starting to crunch underfoot – we start to talk about what we want. Now that summer’s over, how do we want to spend this fall, winter, and spring? After such a busy season, what do we need? What will fill us back up again?

Alison wants to shoot more. She wants inspiration. Accountability. A project. A mentor – to push her, support her, and bring out the best in her. I want to create my own art – painting, writing, maybe try new media. I want inspiration. Accountability. A project. A mentor, to get the juices flowing, and support me in my creative life. And we both want to spend time with other artists, inspiring each other, and pushing our learning curve steeper, more challenging, and therefore more fulfilling.

In short, we want to take a Mentorship like ours. Seriously. We’ve fallen in love with the program we created, and we want someone to do this for us! I know, Alison’s already “there,” right? Wrong. There is no “there.” As an artist you need to keep growing and learning. And there’s nothing like doing that in a group of like-minded artists, keeping the bar just high enough to inspire, and holding you accountable to your dreams.

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I’d like to say we’re all setting the alarm for pre-dawn and jumping out of bed when it rings, so that we can be on location for that amazing sunrise we’ll be hearing about later on Facebook. Or making the first phone call to set up a shoot for a project we’re excited to start. Or writing that first draft we’ve been musing about for ages. But most days, to be honest, we’re going through the 12,893 emails in our inbox, folding laundry, or troubleshooting a hard drive crash – all things I’ve done today (and yes, I have that many emails in my inbox). We all need something to lift us out of the everyday grind, get us inspired, motivate  – and sometimes validate – us creatively.

So while we’re busy looking for a program for us, I’d love to talk with you about joining the program we’ve created for you. As of today, there are 9 spaces available, and I have 85 people on my “interested” list (I’m in the process of emailing each one). This year, we’re starting on October 24th, and taking a break between Thanksgiving and the new year (nobody gets much accomplished during that time anyway). We’ll pick up again at the beginning of January, and go through May 19th, 2017. All the info is here, but I’m happy to answer any questions you have. Just email me (sue@alisonshaw.com), and we’ll set up a time to talk.

Funny timing: As I write this, it’s flat calm, and the early evening air is cool. Alison just ran down the stairs and is heading out to shoot…

EPILOGUE
Just thought I’d share one of the photos Alison got, when she went out to shoot at Poucha Pond that evening…

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