Throughout my life I have had many informal mentors. These are people who have helped me to navigate my professional career, personal life and creative pursuits. Until now, through the BAF Mentorship Program, I’ve never had a formal mentor, allocated by someone else. The experience so far has been inspirational and has resulted in changes to my artistic practice.
The BAF Mentorship Program
In April, I applied for the Ballarat Arts Foundation Mentorship Program. In May I received notification that I had been accepted. In mid-June, along with nine other mentees, I attended the BAF introductory workshop where I met my mentor, Christine Lethlean. Christine is a textile artist.
As the mentee, it is my role to devise a project I would like to work on with Christine. We will discuss this with the group at the end of the program. Christine’s role is to expand my thinking with questions, challenges and other considerations.
The work so far
Christine and I are well matched. We have many artistic pursuits and interests in common. These first two months have been rich. I have been exploring a range of potential topics, mediums and techniques and discussing them with Christine. We agreed on an approach of me journal potential projects, including rough sketches for specific works. We also set short and long term goals. One of my tasks is to develop portfolio pieces along a common theme using different mediums.
This is very new for me. I am usually an intuitive artist. My usual process is to just begin. I then work with layers of paint, or layers of meaning, until something emerges strongly enough to get my teeth into. Scanning through my journaled sketches gives me options I would never have come up with in an intuitive process. So, the next phase will be related to choices and feedback.
The two collated images, below, are from excursions I have taken for inspiration.
The first one was to Waanyarra. My family had lived in Waanyarra in the gold rush years. This location is now a State Park, so I was particularly interested in the colours of the landscape, including local wildflowers.
I’m interested in wildflowers in a conservation sense as well as a source of artistic inspiration, and I’m currently researching my ancestry, so this visit satisfied me on three levels.
The second collage is of the ‘Bonnard’ exhibition, curated by India Mahdavi. Christine and I visited together as a mentoring session. ‘Bonnard’ is showing at the National Gallery of Victoria until 8th October. The use of colour in the curation of the exhibition was an immersive experience. Colour is always important in my work, and this exhibition showed me how I could be much bolder with the colours I choose.
What’s Your Process?
With artistic process being uppermost in my thoughts right now, I wonder: How do other artists make decisions? Does it always come back to gut feelings and intuition, or can a more considered approach yield rich works? If so, what factors come into the choices made?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this.