These days I have been thinking a lot about the role of mentors. Are mentors important, how do we find them, recognize them, chose the right ones, connect with them and trust them? How do they affect our art and our life in general? With the passing of our dear friend and mentor Bob Genn, all these questions hit a very tender spot. 

There are many dear friends with whom we exchange love and support on daily bases, but there are those very few wizards that make effort to help us reach a major eureka moment. Here are a few of my wonderful mentors (in order of appearance) to whom I will forever be thankful:

  • My dear grandfather fed me stories about history, mythology and real life adventures from his childhood and developed in me passion for reading and learning. As a token of gratitude, I kept his surname (Popovicki) which I appended to my husband's (Mirkov).

circa 1970, my grandfather Peter and I on a meadow behind his house

  • From the first day we met, my awesome husband believed in my artistic vision. He pushed me to join my first art classes in Canada and taught me that we can achieve things we only dream possible.

Tea pot, painted in the Vancouver Art Academy, probably in 1999

  • This may sound silly, but Dale Carnegie's books on leadership were an eye opener for me. The idea that we can manage our own life with some very practical techniques positively changed my life. If anyone hasn't read those books yet, I would recommend them sincerely. 

  • Through my engineering career I met a few amazing mentors who taught me the importance of taking risks and making my own decisions, of nurturing respect for colleagues and of true leadership and mentoring of junior colleagues. All of this was applicable in any endeavor including my art career.

  • And then I met Bob Genn. From our first conversation it became clear to me that I stroke pure gold. Bob wrote a lot, but he was a mentor of few very well chosen words. He taught me about commitment and joy and the value of networking. The last thing he said to me, jut a few weeks ago, was to make sure I don't neglect my painting by getting distracted by other less important projects. I will forever treasure those precious nuggets of wisdom. 

"Speed is important, but joy is also important" said Bob

Experiencing mountain-high in the Bugaboos in 2010

True mentors speak from a position of genuine altruism and concern. This is a rare and precious treat and very few people ever step up to the plate, which makes it even more important to give recognition and thanks to them. 

I am sending a huge hug of appreciation to all the wonderful mentors out there!

Tatjana (posted in June 2014)

- You have to find the student within yourself, and that student will find the teacher within everyone else. -