A Tribute to Robert Genn

If we are lucky, we will connect to others whom we trust; these people will lend an ear, offer some sound advice, and glean insight from their own experiences. These special people may be found within family, friendships or business associates. They are our mentors.

For the artists, mentors are more difficult to find. We often work in isolation and so connecting with like-minded people can take effort. I’ve had the privilege of knowing a few wonderful artists willing to share their time and knowledge to guide me in my artistic journey. Brian Atyeo is one of those lovely artist friends and mentors in my life.

The art community lost a very insightful and talented artist a few weeks ago to prostate cancer. Robert Genn, known as Bob, was a mentor to many and touched the lives of artists all over the world with his biweekly blog, “Painters Keys.”

As a member of the Federation of Canadian Artists, I had the pleasure of meeting Bob several times over the years. I observed his interaction with other artists, his encouragement and the respect he received from his peers and of course his quick wit. If you’ve read the “Painters Keys,” you knew that he was an artist filled with deep insight and knowledge of many topics; and he always an interesting point of view. Bob also wrote several books, my favorite being In Praise of Painting.

Bob’s daughter, Sarah, assisted him with the writings this past year and acquired the same gift for gleaning jewels from the artist’s perspective. She will keep the “Painters Keys” alive.

Bob went on numerous painting trips and included other artists, students and friends in his adventures. Everyone who knew him has a “Bob story” that makes him or her smile. I have a few of my own. Bob will leave a large hole within the lives of many. His friends, family and fellow artists will miss him but I think they will continue his legacy.

I challenge you to be generous of time and knowledge with novice artists; be kind; offer honest advice when asked; and keep a twinkle in your eye. Maybe together we can continue Bob’s legacy of diligence to our craft. He was one of a kind and I will miss him.

Do you think that mentoring is beneficial within the arts? Who is your mentor? How has your mentor helped you navigate your painting challenges? Are you facilitating the growth and development of anyone within your circle?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Edited by Cherie Haas, online editor of ArtistsNetwork.com

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