Archive for the ‘6-month Mentorship’ Category

A particularly tough assignment

by Sue Dawson

THE THIRD critique call in this year’s Mentorship programs was our longest yet. In fact, it was two calls, because we ran out of time in the first call. The toughest assignment I give is to do a self-portrait (that’s tough enough for most of us, but it gets worse)… in your own unique style. Each student submitted three photos that illustrate their style as a photographer. Then they had to do self-portraits that are congruent with their style. 

One of our goals in the Mentorship programs is to help each photographer identify his or her unique creative voice. Some people come into the program with a unique style already, but most don’t – at least they don’t recognize it yet. If I had to articulate the most important challenge for artists, it’s developing, defining, and refining your unique creative voice, or style. What sets you apart? What makes you you? Alison is an open book with students, sharing her process and techniques. But the goal isn’t to produce photographs like hers. The goal is to produce photographs like yours. It can take a lifetime to identify what this means for each artist.

There were various approaches to this assignment. Some did self-portraits and then found three style images to match. Others worked to figure out their style, and did the self-portrait based on that. It’s a chicken and egg thing. But I’d argue, in this case, that the chicken is the correct answer – identify your style first. Alison and I didn’t always agree with each person about which images show his/her unique style. Trust me – this is super hard to do. And it’s one place where the team approach, having Alison and me, and their peers, really helps. 

Full disclosure, I’m showing you the final cut. Some went back and re-did their self-portraits. We suggested different “style” images for others. Here’s where we ended up…

 

Andrea Dawson

Andrea1

Andrea3

Andrea2

AndreaP

 

Beth Horstman

Beth1

Beth2

Beth3

BethP

 

Brooke Bartletta

Brooke2

Brooke3

Brooke1

BrookeP2

 

Dena Porter

Dena5

Dena3

Dena1

DenaP

 

Ilene Hertz

Ilene2

Ilene3

Ilene1

IleneP

 

Jacqueline Abodeely

Jackie3

Jackie2

Jackie1

JackieP2

And one more, because we couldn’t decide…

JackieP1

 

Lucy Dahl

Lucy2

Lucy1

Lucy3

LucyP

 

Rob Skinnon

Norton Point Beach, 2017

Rob1

Rob2

RobP1

We’re incredibly proud of this group of talented photographers, and feel blessed to work with them. We’d love to hear what you think, in the comments.

If you’re interested in our next Mentorship (starting October 2018), here’s more info.

We hope you’ll come to our 2018 Advanced Mentorship Show, which opens on May 6th at Alison Shaw Gallery, and will be on display through May 25th. Andrea, Beth, Jackie, and Lucy are in the Advanced program, and will be showing their fine art photography. 

 

More creative assignments

by Sue Dawson

WE JUST HAD another group critique call with our Mentorship groups, and I want to share their assignment photos with you. Alison and I just love this part of our programs, where I give an assignment, and each student can upload up to five images to show the group. Half the fun is seeing how each person interprets the assignment, which is purposely open-ended. My hope is always that they’ll broaden their scope, push boundaries, think creatively, and either use their own unique style, or try out a different one. 

This time my assignment was “on the road.” Here’s our favorite shot from each person:

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Creative assignments

by Sue Dawson

WHEN I WAS in art school (and college art classes), one of my favorite things was the group critique, where we’d tack our homework up on the wall, and listen to the professor respond to each piece. It’s an intense process. You put so much time and effort into your own work, it can be tough to weather the criticism. But it’s so exciting, and inspiring, to see what everyone has done with the same assignment. Of course I most easily remember the time mine was a dud, when a famous illustrator said that my drawing of “happiness” made him sad. But even as I held back tears in that moment, I was inspired to do better next time. My dud wasn’t a bad drawing – it just showed my lack of sophistication. I’d chosen an obvious solution. A surface one. And this professor was having none of it. He wanted us to dig deep, push boundaries, knock him off his feet with our brilliance. He didn’t care so much about the execution, it turned out. He wanted to see concepts he’d never seen before. He wanted to be wowed.   

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It’s a journey

by Sue Dawson

ONE OF MY favorite things about teaching is the moment when things click into place. An “aha” moment, where a student gains an important insight, or looks at his/her art with a different perspective. It’s especially clear over time, when we look back at students’ creative work, and see their growth as artists.

Steve Koppel was a member of our first Mentorship group, which began in 2013. When I first talked with Steve, he said he had retired early, and was a “hobbyist” photographer. But he wanted to know if we’d help with a new non-profit he was starting, MyMoments, to “promote recovery and emotional resilience through imagery created on mobile devices.” He’d use his 1:1 meetings with us as consultation on his new endeavor, and would learn from our trainings and retreats as well. The more Steve talked about his idea, I started getting chills (this happens when something resonates for me), and I told him it would be our honor. 

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It’s an honor

by Sue Dawson

I JUST RECEIVED a lovely email from one of our former Mentorship students, and thought I’d introduce you to her.

Jean Schnell first took a workshop with Alison on Cape Cod in 2012. She then took our weeklong Martha’s Vineyard workshop in 2013. When Alison and I came up with the idea for a 6-month Mentorship program in 2013, Jean was one of the people we thought would be perfect for it. Happily, she agreed, and worked with us in the Mentorship and Advanced Mentorship for the next three years.

When I’m talking with potential Mentorship students, I often talk about Jean. At our first retreat, in January 2014, she surprised Alison during her first Mastermind (at the two retreats, each person has 30 minutes to present something to the whole group, and ask for feedback or critique – the whole room is focusing on you and your work). At the beginning of the program, Jean had bought a printer, but hadn’t even taken it out of the box. Alison’s first advice was to take the printer out, set it up, and give it a try.

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Making our own way

by Sue Dawson

SO HOW ARE YOU DOING? I ask this because we’re living in a pretty crazy time. Hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, politics…. I often wake up in the middle of the night with anxiety these days, to be honest. Things are increasingly out of control, which can make me feel powerless, and worried. When I wake up at 2 or 3am, I read the news on my iPhone, and scan through Facebook. I’m staying in touch with what’s going on as much as I can, both in terms of national/international news, and the everyday posts of my friends and family. I guess it helps me feel more connected, and less vulnerable, to know that we’re all in this together. 

All summer I’ve been talking with people who come into the gallery about this. I’m fascinated by the different ways people deal with the uncertainty of weather events, political upheaval, and the overwhelm of daily life. Some folks turn off the news, choosing to protect their psyches by avoiding what’s happening. That can work in small doses, but inevitably we do get pulled back to reality at some point. Others learn all they can, throw themselves into finding solutions, and helping others. They need to do something. Some people choose to exercise, travel, or do creative work, to find a sense of personal balance that seems so elusive these days. 

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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   .   .   .  

motionmailapp.com

 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…

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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?

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Realizing your dreams

by Sue Dawson

IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR. The holidays. But this year it’s also the time we’re filling the 12 available spots in our 6-month Mentorship. The past two years we’ve started the Mentorship at the beginning of November. But things got all mucked up with the holidays, to be honest. Between turkey and shopping and wrapping and cooking and cleaning and baking and doing it over and over again several times in one month, we were exhausted. So this year, we’ve decided to start the Mentorship on January 4th, and jump into the new year well-fed and ready to focus.

I’ve been reading through the Mentorship Facebook group page, past emails, and worksheets our students have submitted, and I came across this great quote, that I placed over one of the author’s gorgeous photos:

debquote1

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Our first Advanced Mentorship show opens May 3rd

by Sue Dawson

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THERE’S ONLY ONE reason we’d open our gallery three weeks early. I complain brag about never getting even one day off during our busy season, which starts every year on Memorial Day weekend. So there’s gotta be a really good reason for me to work nonstop open our doors three weeks ahead of schedule. Lots of island businesses are pulling up the window shades, dusting off their shelves, and putting out their “OPEN” signs now, but we always wait until the big holiday weekend. Until this year.

Our first Advanced Mentorship group is affectionately known as our “guinea pigs,” since they’ve been with us since the very beginning of our Mentorship program in 2013. The culmination of their Advanced year is a group show in our gallery, for three weeks in May. From choosing what to hang, to writing an artist statement, deciding how to present their work, and creating a catalog of their photographs, they’ve worked hard and learned a lot.

The opening reception is May 3rd, from 4 to 6pm, at our gallery. The nine Advanced Mentorship members are: Gwen Norton, Doug Burke, Diane Collins, Jean Schnell, Estelle Disch, Kate Griswold, Karla Bernstein, David Matthews, and Steven Koppel. They’ll be hanging the show on the 2nd, and will all attend the reception, so you can meet them. We’re honored to be hosting such a stunning, diverse selection of work, and to be working with such a lovely group. In case you’re wondering, it’s worth my May…

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