It’s your time

by Sue Dawson

I KEEP THINKING about all of the wonderful people Alison and I have worked with, in our Mentorship program. I introduced a few in these posts: about Steven Koppel, Jean Schnell, and a few others.

The Mentorship program is done remotely. This means you can have your meetings with us in your pajamas, with a cup of coffee in your favorite mug, and your dog at your feet. Or you can close the door of your office, and spend an hour with Alison or me, and get back to work after our call. This works. We’ve taught 50 people in the Mentorship so far. There are two in-person retreats at our gallery on Martha’s Vineyard. If you just can’t make it, we’ll patch you in remotely to these as well. 

First, a quick update. STEVEN KOPPEL has published a book of his gorgeous seascape imagery, called The Brewster Flats, and is still a top seller at the Focus Gallery in Chatham MA. JEAN SCHNELL has had 5 solo exhibits, been part of 11 group exhibits, and her “Framing the Light” series has been profiled in Yankee, Quaker Life (July 2018), and Lenswork (June 2017). 

Now, I don’t want you to be intimidated or anything. These folks I’m about to introduce are doing some amazing creative work. They have a clear sense of who they are as artists, and are moving forward in authentic, individual ways. If you’re a serious amateur photographer, and keep thinking it’s time to go to the next level, the Mentorship is a fantastic way to start this process. Here are a few photographers I’d like you to meet:


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BROOKE BARTLETTA did the Mentorship in 2017-2018, and is in her second year of the Advanced Mentorship. She can’t seem to stop winning awards – especially for the above image, featured in Luxury London magazine. It was chosen for the 2019 Sony World Photography Awards, culminating in an exhibit in London (which Brooke attended). She also won 1st place in her category for the IPA (International Photography Awards) 2019 competition. Other photographs have been cited in the Martha’s Vineyard Magazine annual photography award competitions twice. Two of her images are in the professionally-curated Martha’s Vineyard Hospital collection, which includes some of the most significant art in public view on the island. She created a new website, and is on Instagram @brookebartletta.


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DEB EHRENS did the Mentorship in 2014-2015. Her evocative images feature botanical details with lush colors and dramatic compositions. Deb has done quite a number of solo and group shows, including a recent show called “Visual Conversations” with six other women (Lisa Redburn, Paula Laverty, Jean Schnell, Diane Collins, and Karla Bernstein) who met through our Mentorship. They created a unique show of images representing “communication via the exchange of images rather than words.” Deb tries creative printing styles with her work, including a series of silk scarves and wall hangings. Her studio is part of the Art Drive in the south coast of Massachusetts. Here’s Deb’s website and Instagram @debehrens


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ROB SKINNON did the Mentorship in 2017-2018, and is in his second year of the Advanced Mentorship. A former professional baseball player and triathlon athlete, Rob works full-time, has a family, and somehow finds time to do his incredible “Inland” and “Coastline” projects. Rob has had several successful solo shows, and has sold many fine art prints. He produced his own gorgeous website, and his Instagram is @robskinnon


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ANDREA DAWSON did the Mentorship in 2016-2017, and two years of the Advanced Mentorship. Andrea’s stunning images of her native Ohio landscape were just shown in a solo show near her home in Chagrin Falls. Also a painter, she sometimes paints directly on her photographs, and sells them as one-of-a-kind pieces. Andrea created her website, and can be found on Instagram @andreadawsonphoto.


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DENA PORTER did the Mentorship in 2017-2018. Her photo of mailboxes in a snowstorm has just been chosen for the 2019 Fujifilm Photo Exhibition in New York City. Dena has had numerous solo and group shows on Martha’s Vineyard and in New York. A freelance photographer for the Martha’s Vineyard Times, she’s done a website, and her Instagram is @denaporter.


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JEREMY DRIESEN did the Mentorship this past year, 2018-2019. Known for his signature black & white portraits and street/scene images, Jeremy is a rock ‘n roll drummer, produces large-scale events (“my day job”), and shoots photographs mostly at night. He was recently profiled by Vineyard Style Magazine, and had a cover photo on Martha’s Vineyard Magazine. His work is available at the Vineyard Arts Gallery in Vineyard Haven, and on his website, but he mostly wants to shoot your event/party/concert/gig. His Instagram is @jeremydriesenphotography


If you feel a sense of excitement looking at this work, and feel that it’s your time, please consider our Mentorship program. The most important thing we do is help you identify your own unique creative voice. Who are you, as an artist? What makes you unique? Then we, and the group of your peers in the program, nurture you forward. You’ll set goals, and we’ll help you reach them. Here’s what you’ll 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.
  • 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. Sue’s signature Intuitive Interview will help you identify what makes your photography distinctly your own. Discovering what drives your creative work helps you write and talk about your unique motivation, and gives you a framework for your creative process as you pursue your work.
  • 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.
  • YOUR OWN PASSWORD-PROTECTED PAGE – 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.
  • 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.

We start this Monday evening, with your first email from me. You can join the group within the coming week, as long as space is available. Alison and I do the Mentorship just once each year, and do not guarantee that we’ll do the program next year. Click here for more information on the Mentorship. Email sue@alisonshaw.com with any questions you have. I’ll be answering emails all weekend. And, just in case you’re wondering, you can do a payment plan. Easy peasy.

2 Responses

  1. Bruce Hicks says:

    Fantastic work by all! I enjoyed going through every Website shown throughout Sue’s blog above and found myself in awe. The Mentorship clearly reveals and develops the inner vision of its participants and provides cohesion.

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