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Mentoring & Being Mentored

By Jordan Miller on October 7, 2016

In grade 11 and 12, i was mentored by a rural Manitoba artist, Stephen Jackson through a high school credit program established by The Golden Prairie Arts Council at Carman Collegiate Institute.

In 1995-1997, Stephen helped me realize that art was something I should pursue in my life and he convinced me to apply for a Bachelor of Fine Arts.  He helped me strengthen my portfolio application.  I lacked the art education, the confidence, and the ability to see myself as an artist. As an adult I can now see and understand what he saw, that I couldn’t see.  Stephen was busily working at the Museum of Man and Nature (Now called the Manitoba Museum) on the murals behind the installations.  He would challenge us to exercises such as drawing ourselves in a shiny object (like a tea kettle), perspectives of a room, he also took us on field trips into Winnipeg to the WAG.  The value of his lessons helped me in fine arts, I walked in knowing something…ie. cross-hatching, line, shape, contour, value, colour theory with so many art skills left to learn.  He prepared me for art school.  He was my first art challenger and without him, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

In October 2015 I had a solo exhibition at cre8ery gallery and had decided to send Stephen another invitation with a note wishing to see him again to show him how my work had evolved in 20 years since his first year of mentorship.  By the end of October, I had an email from him saying he was very ill and could not make it.  Our emails back and forth continued for a few weeks and he sent me a photo of himself and his work and I had sent him photos of mine.  He commented on my use of colours and the texture in my work.  Mid November I suggested I come to come to Roseisle for a visit. I didn’t hear back from him.  Sadly, he passed away on December 30, 2015 and I’m glad I had the opportunity to thank him for his guidance.  The night I heard that he passed away, I began a painting and I heard his voice in my head as I painted and I cried for the loss of an artist, a friend in the distance, and a guiding soul when I needed it the most.  His voice will carry me through my work forever.  Once mentored; always mentored.

After University, after I was working as an artist for a few years, I was invited out to be a Mentor for the same program.   Many of the students out there were not serious about pursuing an art career.  I reached out to a few students who still continue to pursue art, recently I consulted with one of them.  Giving back to the community that offered me mentorship was important.  In 2015 I showed at the GPAC gallery and feel like i completed a full circle.  I was also a mentor for ACI (Arts and Cultural Industries of Manitoba) and over two years I worked with two young artists. It was a one on one program where they worked in the gallery to learn the business side of art and then worked on their art with me.  It was a good opportunity for both the mentor and the mentee.

I began mentoring artists, one on one on a pay-per-session basis.  One artist, at the beginning, despite having a BFA in Fine Arts was terrified of painting on canvas.  After the first painting, you could see the excitement grow as she learned how to mix colour, define shape, and much later, define her own style.  She loved Klimpt and wished to pursue his style of decoration with her bright and bold series of portraits.  After a few years, it was clear that she could paint on her own and had gained her confidence. On occasion I consulted with her but it was time for her to jump on her own two feet.

Since then, I have mentored various young adults and more senior artists one on one and in small groups, for a fee or in exchange for volunteering for cre8ery.  I take a lot of pride in seeing people grow as artists and as business people.  Sometimes we all need a little guidance, even as professional artists. I see the light bulb go on with success, no matter how big or small of a concept or success, every little bit goes a long way.

My dream is to continue to be a strong art mentor as Stephen Jackson was to me: guiding, listening, supporting and encouraging each artist.  Once a mentor, always a mentor….to all artists of all ages and all abilities…from a beginner, to an emerging to a professional….if you need some help let me know!

I take pride in working with artists.  I’ve been through a huge learning curve and I only wish there was someone like me out there to help when i needed help with ‘the business side of art’.  My personal list of workshops on my site are completely out of date so please reference the cre8ery website workshop page.

If you would like to work with me please send me an email to jordan@cre8ery.com or jordanleighmiller79@gmail.com

or comment below on my blog! I love to read your comments!

5 thoughts on “Mentoring & Being Mentored

  1. Sari Habiluk says:

    You’re mentoring has been so invaluable to me, so much so, that I can’t even calculate. It’s heartening to know that everything you learned, you are passing down, and that you’re keeping that creative spark alive. I can only hope to one day be that person for someone else, and continue to pass it on.

  2. Jackie Turnbull says:

    I find it interesting to think that someone with a BFA would be intimidated by painting on canvas. Is painting not part of the requirements for a BFA? Or does the program focus more on other subjects like installation?

    PS: “come to” is repeated twice in the sentence “Mid November I suggested I come to come to Roseisle for a visit”.

    • Hi Jackie, in the U of M’s BFA program, drawing and design are requirements; however, painting is not. I took a double major in drawing and painting. I did a lot of installation in my thesis and a little bit in my drawing major. It depends who the professors are. Some of them encourage installation and others encourage more commercialized art.

    • Cyndie Sutherland says:

      Really? Why find a typo to comment on?? There is so much more to get from reading Jorden’s blog. I am so grateful for everything she offers us in the art world.

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