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. 

In the summer and shoulder seasons at the gallery, Alison and I promote and sell Alison’s fine art photographs. We’ve done this for many years, running our own business around Alison’s (and my) creative work. But for the last five years, we’ve chosen a different goal in the off-season: to nurture the work and creativity of serious amateur photographers. We developed our 6-month Mentorship program to create an ongoing supportive relationship with each person, working with you over time. Our goal is to help you find your unique creative voice, and to provide you with strategies that enable you to make the most of your skill and creative expression. These days, spreading the wealth and nurturing the creative voices all around us feels especially important. We need art right now, as artists, and participants/viewers/readers. We need to keep connecting with each other.  

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Alison and I designed the Mentorship as a roadmap – customized for you – to identify your dreams, and create a plan to achieve them. There are trainings on things like creativity, Lightroom, writing an artist statement, and putting together a portfolio of your work. You become part of a group of peers, who support each other via our private Facebook group, and at the two weekend retreats. The highlight of the retreats are the Mastermind sessions, when each student has a block of time to present your work, get support, feedback, suggestions, and the group’s full attention. It’s a powerful experience to have the whole room focused exclusively on you and your work – some of the best insights have come from Masterminds. Throughout the Mentorship, you’ll have one-on-one sessions with Alison, focused entirely on your photographs, your workflow, and your goals. And sessions with me, where we look at your website, writing about your work, and getting your photography seen and appreciated by others.

It’s hard work. It is. No sugar-coating that. Your results will be directly proportional to your investment of time and effort. But this is about your creative life, after all. It’s time to stop kicking the can down the road, and thinking you’ll be able to focus on your creative work some other time. We all need your creative voice. And you do too.

40 people have done this before you, each of them full of reservations and excuses, each of them nervous that they picked now to jump in. There’s a section on our website where you can see a list of some Mentorship student accomplishments, look at portfolios of students’ work, and read their thoughts on the Mentorship experience. 

We’re not solving world hunger over here. This is our small contribution. I think that art, music, film, writing – and all forms of creative expression – are crucial to our health and well-being. Use us to help nurture your own creative exploration.

For more info, go here, and click the blue link under the photo to download a pdf. Or email me: sue@alisonshaw.com. The Mentorship starts on October 23rd, so let’s talk. 

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