Individual mentoring
Robert Genn

September 21, 2010

Dear Rodney,On Saturday I visited privately with 24 painters. My friend Sinisa Mirkov 
controlled the timing of the 15-minute sessions. I looked at originals, jpegs, 
slides and prints. For eight hours I felt like a doctor with a sore foot in one 
office and a facial tic waiting in the next. Billed as "one-on-one mentoring," I 
promised everything from "phone the Guggenheim" to "don't give up your day job." 
All the artists were asked to give me an idea where they wanted to go with their 

Like a lot of painters, I'm totally curious about creative drives and motivations. 
The variety of approaches was the first thing I noticed. Some apologized for their 
presumption in applying for the mentoring and mentioned their supposed 
unworthiness; others came on like gangbusters with lofty plans and plenty of 
creative evidence to back themselves up. A couple of artists didn't seem to want 
my opinion; others craved any sort of guidance. Some were looking for some 
quick-acting pill to fix them up. Bombasts and masochists aside, a nice two-way 
flow of rationalization and recommendation prevailed. I think I was able to give a 
bit of help for future direction, copacetic workshop instructors, commercial 
considerations, etc. 

As usual, I found myself admonishing small painters to paint bigger, big painters 
to paint smaller, tight painters to paint looser and loose painters to tighten up. 

The world of art is fully loaded with rugged individualists, so it was not a case 
of one size fits all. FYI, in the current clickback
we've included some photos of a few of these artists along with their current work. 

Thriving artists tend to be self-driven and alive with their dreams. Needless to 
say, this sort of focus can easily be mistaken for egocentrism or even peripheral 
blindness. Fact is, in our game, focused folks are the most effective and most 
likely to succeed. Meeting with someone who wanted to push me around, I knew I was 
in good company. It seems to me the real value of this sort of encounter is the 
repartee. Conversations, especially brief, cut-to-the-chase ones, can refocus and 
re-inspire. If done carefully, strength and power are rebuilt. Further, it's 
simply a joy to know we are not alone. 

Best regards,


PS: "The true spirit of conversation consists in building on another's observation, 
not overturning it." (Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton)

Esoterica: Sinisa and I thought about videotaping the encounters, but there were 
issues of confidentiality. Private and candid truthfulness on both sides is of 
real value when assessing potential. Further, I prefaced every session with the 
understanding that I was only giving an opinion. Like any decent GP, I encouraged 
all to seek others. I pointed out that opinion is one of the world's cheapest 
commodities, freely scattered like the autumn mushrooms in the forests of this 
beautiful island. These folks were already attending a week-long workshop with 
top-notch artists and instructors. Zombified at the end of the day, I now have a 
greater respect for physicians: their brevity, their empathy, and their schedules. 
The doctor is in. Next!