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At school I was always the first through the classroom door. For art, that is. There wasn’t one lesson that I can remember not enjoying. It was a delight.
I can remember I used to have an easel set up in my bedroom and I was always working on one painting after another. My maths books were always set out on my desk, but they were only there to look good when my parents popped in to see how I was getting on!
My oldest surviving art is a Christmas card I sent to my grandparents when I was about 10 years old. It was well received by them and had pride of place on their mantelpiece. It was enjoyed not just at Christmas but for the next twelve months and ensuing years. Well received indeed!
After leaving school, I started my working life as a qualified dental surgery assistant. I eventually went on to work with my husband in our family business (and also became a parent). Later on I enrolled at my local college on an A level art course and threw myself back into the subject I loved.
Around this time, I used to go to an evening school art class. I eventually studied for my teaching certificate and, when the art class teacher retired, I took over. I can’t stress enough how much confidence this experience instilled in me, allowing me to make the step from the classroom to filming at the SAA as a matter of course. I feel that a lot of talented artists can paint but can’t teach – the course I took was invaluable.
Progress and Professionalism
One of the big highlights in my career as an artist is selling my first painting. What a thrill it was to think that someone was happy to pay money for one of my paintings. “Was it a one off?”, I thought. Beginner’s luck? Apparently not! I continued to sell my work at exhibitions, and I eventually put on my own shows where I would hang up to eighty works of art. I still have regular buyers from many parts of the globe. It’s needless to say that becoming a professional artist was a natural progression and I’ve never looked back.
Being asked by Search Press to write books for them, and consequently being invited by the SAA to make accompanying DVDs was a special time for me. This is ongoing, as I continue to be involved with both companies and new opportunities are always revealing themselves. For example, filming DVDs led to me holding regular workshops and filming Video on Demand sessions at SAA headquarters.
One of the highlights of my career was being asked to demonstrate at the Mall Galleries in London, in conjunction with Search Press. Search Press are the publishers of my two bookers, and I’m in the middle of writing a third book for them at the moment. I’ve been working with the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford for around 5 years. Hosting my own workshops there is so special to me and something which I could never have envisaged.
As well as the workshops I host for the SAA at Newark, I continue to hold workshops in Derbyshire and St. Ives, Cornwall where I have a gallery. I’m lucky enough to be able to have a holiday home in St Ives; I fell in love with this beautiful place about 10 years ago and I really enjoy being part of the artistic, vibrant community down there. When a little shop came available about 3 years ago, I bought it – I use the gallery as a studio to work in when I’m there as well as holding workshops and hosting the odd exhibition. I also work with ShopKeepArty and sell my workshops on my Vimeo channel.
What have I learned?
I guess the main thing I’ve learnt from my experiences is that hard work pays off. If you’re determined, prepared to put yourself out there and burn the midnight oil, a level of success is achievable. Dedication is the word. For me, I feel blessed that my hobby is my job; if I didn’t work, I’d still paint anyway. If you never try, you never know!