Artist Mentoring

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Finding one’s authentic voice as an artist demands patience and attention. Knowing how to paint, draw, bind books, sculpt, etc. is not enough to sustain a true artistic inquiry. Once an artist has technical abilities in his or her medium, questions arise. Often they are not clearly formed, hovering just beyond reach, enough to confuse the creative process and leave one in the mystery.  (Below: “Abstraction” by Jess Loomis)

  • What makes what I create uniquely mine?
  • What is it I want to say?
  • What are the ideas that inform my work?
  • Is my work infused with a meaningful concept?
  • Does my work have depth?
  • What medium best supports my concept?

Sometimes the solution is to keep working through the mystery. Other times, finding clarity, renewed purpose, passion, confidence and infinite inspiration is more easily done through dialog and witnessing. The commitment alone of needing to show up to a mentoring session with new work, assures that one continues to stir the creative cauldron.

A mentoring session might consist of:

  • critiquing artwork
  • pointing the artist to a particular medium or technique that the work seems to suggest
  • offering tools and support for coping with blocks
  • offering my experience as a professional artist with shows, galleries, grants, the question of graduate school, etc.
  • exploring the deeper stories of the work
  • inviting expanded vision, deep self-inquiry, and artistic authenticity

Each session is highly improvisational depending on the client. I am informed by my many years teaching students of all ages and abilities and in a wide range of mediums, techniques and conceptual interests. My interest and work with the mythic imagination informs how I might ask questions and frame ideas, as does my years working as a healer. Holding space for creative souls and supporting artistic inquiry is extremely rewarding for me. My intention is to support my clients to deepen thier artistic process, feel confident, gain tools and techniques to sustain their practice, make great artwork and to believe deeply in themselves. Feeling confident and excited about ones artwork and process infuses ones life with endless inspiration – it is a deeply healing thing.

*If you are considering a mentoring session, you might also want to read my teaching philosophy blurb at the top of the Art Instruction page.

From one of my students:

“…(Valerianna) is very knowledgeable about what goes into  being an artist, the creative process and knows an awful lot about art mediums and materials…

My time spent with her was different than time spent in a typical art class. We met one on one and really delved into the personal aspects of the what it means to be driven to create beauty and find meaning.  I brought works in progress and finished work to her for critique. She pushed me to go deep into personal knowing and authenticity.  She is honest and supportive in conversation and during critique.  She has been a witness and a sounding board to my personal change, evolution and creative growth as I pursue my creative path and I highly value her experience and wisdom.

I came to Valerianna searching for a deeper connection to my authenticity as an artist. Our work together, along with my sincere interest in why I was attracted to certain styles, music  and aesthetic in relation to my personal heritage, my Eastern European roots, led me to realize a vision, an adventure and a shift in my creative work.  I decided to take a trip of a lifetime to connect with my family, the land and villages in Poland and Hungary….. All this has brought much curiosity, depth and meaning to my creative practice and work. My experience continues to  sustain and feed me. I’m not sure that I would have pulled this experience and vision together with such clarity, trust and sincere knowing if I had not had Valerianna as a sounding board, witness and cheerleader to and for my process.

I highly recommend Valerianna as an arts teacher or mentor if you are interested in connecting on a deep level to your work, to your creative process and if you value meaningful conversation about what it means to be an artist in the 21st century.” – Kimberly Wachtel (above painting, “Folk Flower”, by Kimberly Wachtel,