A visit with Monte Dolack – Mentoring Workshop

Monte Dolack Gallery
This year I got to spend an amazing afternoon learning in a personal workshop with one of the most magnificent painters of our time. He is truly a modern day impressionist and I will love his work forever. John Lee Dumas always talks about getting a mentor. How it is just essential to find someone that is where you want to be. So I reached out to Monte and he managed to fit me in one afternoon after just a short 5 month wait! There was a time I couldn’t imagine having Monte Dolack‘s success, but from the minute I walked across the threshold into his studio I felt myself walking into my future.


Just Like ME!

So many things were familiar and similar to what I already do but on a grander scale and others were new to me and I learned a ton! His journals are incredible works of art on their own, it made me see what I should focus on when traveling. His books for inspiration, his drawer full of blank journals, his photos and easels and paints and cabinets! Everything was fresh new and exciting and nostalgic at the same time!
Monte Dolack Website Wilderness Act 50th Anniversary

If you could own once piece of modern art who’s art would you choose?

It all started back when, I was listening to the Savvy Painter, Antrese Wood’s Podcast  about the business of being an artist. What a great resource! If you haven’t checked it out without a doubt you should if you’re interested in growing your business as an artist.
Anyway, she posed the question if you could own any piece of work by a living artist who would you pick. I knew immediately. Monte Dolack. He’s been one of my favorite artists since I moved to Missoula back in the late 80’s.

Notecard Love

His notecards were for sale in all the stores! His paintings were everywhere! His art was ubiquitous! There are 128 posters for sale on his website! I mean he was prolific! He would design posters for the Missoula Symphony, Montana Coffee Traders and numerous environmental groups. To say nothing of his beautiful paintings.
Monte Dolack Website bio

Big Take-Aways

Some of the most important take aways I go that day were:
  • Do lots and lots of sketches!
  • Take lots and lots of pictures! (I already do this – at least I thought I did)
  • Practice, practice, practice. Enjoy the journey, enjoy each sketch as it’s own and play with different ideas till you get it right. Your sketches should be a quality that stands by themselves as a piece of art. This is one of my all time favorite pieces of his of the Browning Coffee Shop. I drive by there every morning.

Browning Coffee Shop

  • Journal professionally. When traveling journals can be like a book themselves. Someday hopefully Monte will publish some of the pages from his journals. They are incredible. I love books like that.

Marjolien Bastin’s Nature’s Sketchbook  and Sara Midda’s South of France: A Sketchbook are two of my favorites! I look through them for inspiration all the time. I think his would fit right in with these! I would treasure a Monte Dolack journal forever. His travels include the amazing Glacier National Park but Europe as well and they are just wonderful! 

  • Invest in lots of books. Use books for inspiration. Use books for color studies. Use books for reference. He has as many books as I do!
  • Learn that internet thing and do your best to make it efficient. He has 2 giant iMacs or at least a screen and a macbook. I can’t remember but he uses his macs as much as I do!
  • He said he’s sold cards on Leaning Tree. I’ve always wanted to submit my paintings there. I should do that today.
Monte Dolack Images

On Being A Professional Artist

One of the things he said to me I will never forget was in response to my question, should I worry that if I try to make a living off of my art I will grow to hate it? You hear that all the time, just because you want to bake, doesn’t mean you want to run a bakery business…
Elizabeth Gilbert Quote from Big Magic
I love Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic but she practically screams at people in her book that you shouldn’t try to make a living off your art.

“This is why I made a promise to my writing life when I was about 15 years old. I said to writing: “I will never ask you to provide for me financially; I will always provide for YOU.”

I was willing to work hard, in other words, so that Creativity could play lightly.”

So I have always gone back and forth between trying to make a living off of my art and having a job and painting in between… Anyway Monte Dolack told me when he was young he worked in the mine with his dad. His Dad, and his Grandpa had always worked in the mine and if he could paint for a living the business part was worth every minute in order to not have to go back in the mine and he got to spend so much time painting he thought it was completely worth it!

What it Means To Me

teaching at BES
What it means to me though is take a job as Batgirl (aka newspaper delivery girl) so I can focus on creating my podcast or teaching during the school year so I can have summers off to work on a children’s book.
Almost every decent body of work I have completed I did during a time of unemployment. The nice thing about teaching is having a steady 2 months to focus without having to search for employment. Cause that can be a full time job on its own.

100 Painting Challenge

Monte challenged me to do 100 paintings! AHHHH! I will try. I’m so curious to know how many I have done. I miss my website. In 2010 I made a website using Mac’s iweb. It was the best platform… I miss it so much. It was so easy to navigate, blog, post items for sale. And I’ve never found anything to work quite like it.
Monte explaining sketching procedures

I love his filing cabinets!!!!

Anyway, one of these days I might go through all my portfolios and paintings etc but for now I’m off to work at my desk this Christmas break and looking forward to spending next summer painting. Fingers crossed.
Anyway, I have wanted to share this beautiful day since last April, and haven’t had time. But it’s been the best vacation of reminiscing of a great year and a fantastic life. So lucky to live in Montana!
 And many blessings and thanks toMonte Dolack for sharing his world with me!


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