â€œCuriosity about life in all of its aspects, I think,
is still the secret of great creative peopleâ€
â€“ Leo Burnett
There, on the wall of the gallery, was a large photograph of a peony. â€œThat was taken on an iPhone,â€ said Matt Mathiasen, the kind-hearted man walking me through the art grant process. I walked closer to the image. How was that possible? Wouldnâ€™t the photograph be a mass of blurred pixels at that size?
Matt could see I was mesmerized. â€œDee Kotaska is the photographer. â€œ
Later that day I nervously wrote an email to Dee. Would she be willing to have coffee and talk about her photography? Her work drew me in, and I wanted to know more. A short time later Dee responded, and a meeting was set.
I canâ€™t speak for her, but I knew immediately that we would hit it off. Time disappeared as we talked about photography manipulation, impressionistic leanings, travel, and creativity. I told her I was applying for an individual art grant through the East Central Regional Art Council. Would she consider being my mentor? Dee didnâ€™t even hesitate. â€œSure!â€
In the ensuing months, she has generously shared her time, talents, and methods. Because of her, I feel my photography is headed into an exciting new area of discovery. No matter the question, no matter how bad I mess up, Dee responds with kindness and thoughtful insights. Sheâ€™s teaching me how to trust my intuition and to let go of expectations imposed by others.
Yesterday we went on a field trip to Big Springs Falls, Banning State Park, near Sandstone, Minnesota. The river was high due to a lively storm over the weekend, and the rush of being next to angry water heightened all my senses. Dee very kindly shared tips on how to take a longer exposure without letting in too much light. I, of course, let in too much light. But it was so much fun to be learning and screwing up and learning some more.
Finding a mentor who understands that some of the best lessons must be learned by failure is a gift. Finding a mentor who challenges me, lends me books, shares tools, and techniques is an even bigger gift. Finding Dee? Pricelessâ€¦and the best part of my day.