Fatima Atallah, “Brandy,” oil on linen, 12 x 16 inches

Artists Linda Harris Reynolds, Elizabeth Floyd, and Fatima Atallah recently participated in the Portrait Society of America’s Cecilia Beaux Forum Mentorship Program, leading to some incredible testimonials we think you’ll enjoy reading.

In 2005, the Portrait Society of American formed the Cecilia Beaux Forum as a committee to address considerations faced by women in the arts. The nine-month program creates mentoring opportunities for women artists by fostering relationships between established and emerging artists. Having just completed the program, these fine artists offered their thoughts on the program and some details about their experience:

Linda Harris Reynolds—Mentor (Fatima Atallah was her mentee)
www.lindaharrisreynolds.com

This year I was extremely honored to have been one of five professional artists selected by Portrait Society of America to be a mentor. Within the Portrait Society, there is an organization called the “Cecilia Beaux Forum,” created to foster women in their artistic journeys and careers. One of their main vehicles in doing this is their mentoring program, which has been in existence since 2005. It pairs an established working artist with an “up and coming” artist.

Linda Harris Reynolds, “Red,” oil on linen, 12 x 16 inches

I have had the privilege of working with a lovely woman named Fatima Atallah, who lives most of the year in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates … I live in Wilmington, Delaware. Though our backgrounds are very different, we share a great many similarities! Our desire to portray the inner spiritual life of people, for one.

Linda Harris Reynolds, “Remy,” oil on linen, 21 x 30 inches

Due to the great distance between us physically, we have been conducting our bi-monthly talks over Skype. Generally, Fatima will send me something she has been working on in advance of our session, and we will then discuss it — its concept, technical approach, composition, and thought processes which led to its creation. Recently we have color-corrected reference photos with Adobe Photoshop and photo-collaged images to consider the best possible compositions for future pieces. I have seen Fatima’s work develop and mature, over these last several months. She has attended several outstanding workshops in the U.S., adding a fluid sophistication to her style.

Linda Harris Reynolds, “Nina in Summer,” oil on linen, 27 x 34 inches

Our aesthetics are both based in Classical Realism, with a leaning toward a painterly Impressionistic approach. We are both mothers, wives, and passionate about our work! Fatima’s interests also lie in still life painting, where she has a great sensitivity. I have thoroughly enjoyed this unique opportunity to interact with a fellow female artist, passing along some tips from my years of working in the portrait field, and gaining fresh insights from her beautiful work.

Linda Harris Reynolds, “Man’s Best Friend,” oil on linen, 24 x 28 inches

Elizabeth Floyd—Mentee (Anna Rose Bain was her mentor)

www.elizabethfloyd.com

I was motivated to apply for the Cecilia Beaux Mentorship Program because I wanted to gain momentum in my art career while also being the primary caregiver to my young daughter, who at the time had a few health issues that required a lot of time and commitment.

Anna Rose Bain (left) and Elizabeth Floyd (right) together at the Portrait Society of America Conference

I was fortunate to be paired with the talented Anna Rose Bain. Anna is the mother of a young daughter, and with her advice I have implemented new systems into my studio routine that have helped me find more time to paint. She has also provided invaluable advice in working from photo references.

Elizabeth Floyd, “Friendship,” oil, 30 x 40 inches

Anna lives in Colorado, while I live in Northern Virginia. During this year we have met only once in person, and this occurred at the Portrait Society of America Conference held in Atlanta this past April. Because of distance, we hold our monthly meetings via FaceTime. In between, we also communicate via e-mail and text messages.

Elizabeth Floyd, “Morning Ramble,” oil, 20 x 16 inches

It is impossible to identify all the ways Anna Rose Bain has helped me during our mentorship relationship; however, I do know that I have gained more than I could have ever anticipated.

Fatima Atallah—Mentee (Linda Harris Reynolds was her mentor)

I graduated from an online art school in 2010. My art training was lacking many things: working from life, hands-on instructions, and many other aspects that frustrated me for a long time. My transition from school to work in the art field was and still is a struggle. I lacked confidence. I had no structure for my working days in the studio, and I was not motivated.

Fatima Atallah and Linda Harris Reynolds connect via Skype during the program

As days and years passed I found myself drifting away from the thing I love most: drawing and painting. With every attempt, I faced more challenges. I decided to seek help. I knew I needed to surround myself with a positive and supportive community, where we share, we work, and we talk about art. I started attending workshops with artists that I admire, and this has been very beneficial, but not the continuity I was looking for.

Fatima Atallah, “Harvest in Wonderland,” oil on linen, 28 x 34 inches

I applied for the Cecilia Beaux Mentoring program at the Portrait Society of America. I had several goals that I wanted to work on, and I needed the help and support of a mentor. I was lucky enough to be selected for the 2017 program and was paired with Linda Harris Reynolds.

Having a mentor, a professional and accomplished artist who is willing to work with me and help me advance, was exactly what I needed. Linda brings a fresher eye and perspective, to honestly and professionally critique my work … to challenge me and to help me work to achieve my goals. I think having a mentor for guidance, feedback, and input is imperative. We are located on opposite sides of the globe, me in the Middle East, and Linda in the USA. Our dialogue has involved the differences in culture, customs, women’s role in art and society. This has made the experience much more enriching.

Fatima Atallah, “Lavender & Hydrangeas,” oil on panel, 16 x 20 inches

Linda and I have connected on many different levels; I value her opinion and I am inspired by her work. Having an artist to talk to, discuss and share opinions about art and art-related subjects, is invaluable. I needed to hear what’s working and what’s not from an expert; working alone in my studio, I could not advance in the same way.

Our discussions involve ideas, concepts, compositions, paint, and all technical aspects of creating art. They involve structure and working habits, discussing Masters’ works, books and artists to study! Recently we started talking about the importance of exposure and presenting myself as working professional artist submitting work for competitions as a must first step toward professionalism.

I greatly appreciate my mentor always reminding me about my goals, where I am and how much I have advanced … the importance of realizing my achievements and setting new goals. Challenging discussions about the purpose and the concepts I want to communicate through my work impacts the way I approach new projects.

To learn more about the Cecilia Beaux Forum, visit the Portrait Society of America.

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster
Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.

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