Skip to content

Month: November 2021

My 6-month mentorship experience

As part of the BC Culture Days Ambassador Program, I got to select and work with a mentor with over 25 years of experience, Natasha Smith. I found Natasha online and her paintings were so rich and interesting to look at! After Natasha agreed to be my mentor, we started meeting on a weekly basis over Zoom. In addition, we communicated by emails and texts.

During our first meetings, we worked on setting goals and preparing for my BC Culture Days online workshop. I’ve never made an online video before and Natasha showed me the equipment that she uses, how to edit and add sounds to my video.

One of my goals during the mentorship was to make a body of work in mixed media paintings and submit to juried exhibitions. At first, I didn’t know what kind of painting I want to make for my body of work. We looked at my past paintings and paintings of other artists that I admire to figure out what kind of art I want to make. She encouraged me to do research, find a topic that I am passionate about, and practice the techniques so when I decided on what to do, I know HOW to do it. Natasha showed me many new techniques that I can incorporate into my paintings. Talking with her every week helped me work out my thoughts. It’s like brainstorming with an expert and I often got more ideas from our conversations.

We also started working on my application to an Artists in the Classroom grant. Natasha was so organized and she’s very good at keeping me on track. She would encourage me to just jot down my ideas to start with and suggested me to take some small steps every week. Those things add up incrementally. Writing a grant is a daunting task. I have to confess that without her help, I probably would have put this project on hold. I don’t know the result of the grant yet but I have many school interested in my project and one of them agreed to pay for the project themselves.

Natasha gave me encouragement to work on my strength, practice my skills and we talked about why I make art and worked on my artist statements. She shared with me many resources and tools on being creative, time management and how to overcome creator’s blocks.

One of the challenges that I had was feeling the pressure to perform, that I have to make good paintings the first time I try and if I don’t think I have a good idea, I just procrastinate. We talked about the importance of experiment and play. She shared her experience that sometimes you start with a good idea and sometimes, good ideas come out of practice. It’s important to practice my skills and when I have a good idea, I will have the skills to express them intuitively because of practice. She inspired me to schedule time for play and for improving my skills without thinking about outcome.

What I found extremely helpful with the mentorship was talking to someone with a lot of experience like Natasha. It was lonely making paintings on my own without much feedback. During one of our very first meetings, Natasha pointed out what she saw in my paintings and what my strengths are. I couldn’t really see my style until she articulated that I like to use painterly colours with bold graphic elements which I do subconsciously. Then she showed me new techniques based on my preferences to add to my artistic arsenals.

Not only did I learn a lot from my mentor Natasha, she also gave me a lot of encouragement and that helped me see my strength in my art and gave me the confidence to go out and try more things. The weekly meeting is a great way to keep me accountable and make sure that I do the work.

Natasha Smith is an excellent mentor with a lot of experience in many aspects of being an artist. I’ve achieved all my goals set out at the beginning of our mentorship. Not only did Natasha showed me many new mixed media techniques, her holistic approach helped me pinpoint my style and clarify my artist statement; we worked on my mindset to overcome obstacles, she kept me on track and showed me tools to manage my art career. More importantly, her encouragement gave me the confidence to experiment with new things and make more art. I highly recommend Natasha Smith for anyone who wants to find their unique creative path.

You can find Natasha Smith on her website:

More info on her mentorship program here:

Leave a Comment

Paintings I made during Mentorship: Part II

Here are all the paintings I finished during the 6-month mentorship with my mentor Natasha Smith.

Let me know which one you like the most?

If you want to see the process pictures, check out the previous post.

#1 – mixed media on recycled wood, 6.75″W x 11.5″ H
#2 – mixed media on wood, 8″W x 10″H
#3 – mixed media on recycled wood, 10″W x 13.5″H
#4 – mixed media on recycled wood, 3.75″W x 3.75″H
#5 – mixed media on recycled wood, 5.5″W x 3.5″H
#6 – mixed media on canvas, 12″W x 16″H
#7 – mixed media on paper, 12″W x 16″H (without frame), 17″x21″ (with frame)
#8 – mixed media on wood, 12″W x 16″H
#9 – mixed media on paper, 4.75″W x 6.75″H (without frame), 9″x11″ (with frame)
#10 & #11 – mixed media on paper, 7.5″W x 9.5″H (without frame), 12.75″x16.75″ (with frame)
Leave a Comment

Paintings I made during Mentorship: Part I

The first painting I worked on with my awesome mentor Natasha Smith was the two dancers (below left, the larger piece). I didn’t know what to paint so I started with the last theme I was working on based on the quote “life is the dancer and you are the dance.” I wrote a blog post about how it inspired a series of artwork last year.

I also had an old, unfinished dancer painting, and I tried to re-start it again in June 2021 (below left, the smaller piece).

In July, I started another painting using the same dry wall technique but wanted to try out more layers (below right). I had a concept of what I wanted to do but didn’t know what it all meant until it was selected for a juried exhibition and I had to write an artist statement. Read about it in this blog post.

Here are photos of the finished paintings:

I took out another old, unfinished painting on a small piece of plywood (below) and tried out some other techniques my mentor had shown me. Again, I used another quote I liked “What you seek, you already are”. My husband and my son said I need to work on my handwriting.

I found a small piece of left over plywood from my parents’ garage and decided to carve it (pictures below). I really enjoy working on small wood blocks like these. My brother has been doing some woodworking recently and I asked him to cut the leftover MDF board into smaller pieces that I can use to make more inspirational quote paintings. The quote below “You are never alone or helpless. The force that guides the stars guides you too” was from an awesome Ted Talk I watched about consciousness.

My mentor Natasha has shown me many printmaking techniques. I invited my son to make some prints with me. His refusal to follow instructions had led to new discovery that I used in later works.

In August, I tried to do some experiments on paper. Later, the piece on the right led to another work on paper (bottom left) and one on canvas (bottom right).

Around that time, I was making an Art Journaling for Beginner’s video for BC Culture Days. As a practice, I recorded myself working on one of my art journal spread (below left). That spread led to a piece on paper (below middle) and one on wood (below right). I plan to edit my practice video and share that with you.

In September, I made more art journal pages. They were just play for me with no particular results in mind. I was using materials readily available around my desk and I was watching/listening to Youtube videos at the same time.

Again, I had to grab my Chinese ink and brush because I really like the free form they created. I particularly like the sketch in the middle so I created more art based on that (see below). During the time I was working on these paintings, I was reading a book called Zen Buddhism by Christmas Humphrey and he was talking about the influence of Zen Buddhism on Chinese and Japanese art. I looked at the ink stick that I had for a long time and realized there’s an ancient Buddhist poem or sutra carved on it as decoration. All these discoveries had led me to consolidate why I make art (another blog post later) and the development of my artist statement.

I am experimenting with more works on paper (below). These are not done yet and I don’t know where they will lead me but one of the most important things that I’ve learned from this mentorship is the importance of play. At the beginning, I would put pressure on myself to make good art every time. This pressure to perform stifles ideas, takes the fun out and made me procrastinate. Now I just tell myself to do some sketching everyday. Simple sketches, random stuff, ugly drawings are all good as long as I put my pen to paper. As we can see from above, sometimes, playing in my sketchbook/art journal with no particular goal in mind led to new painting ideas that I love!

Leave a Comment