From primary school teacher to professional artist by Ali Hargreaves

Love for Art

My love for art started when I was very small.  I was greatly influenced by my maternal Grandmother, who painted in oils and exhibited annually through her art group at Derby Art Gallery. I remember going along and being very impressed that my Gran’s paintings were on the walls and for sale. She let me use her oils to paint my teddy bear when I was about eight and I remember feeling so important as I was allowed to use real art materials. I have always believed everyone, including children, should have access to good quality materials and I’m sure it stemmed from this!

Studying Art

I studied Art at A Level, but I had no teacher for the first year of my studies! However, in my second year, a young and enthusiastic teacher came along who introduced me to printing methods and he worked hard to help us catch up. I went on to study for my BEd (Hons) degree at Ripon College and I specialised in creating huge lino prints. I thoroughly enjoyed my weekly visits to the art department and it was great to be able to have time out from my teaching studies. As part of my degree, I had to choose a subject (secondary to education) to focus on…and of course I chose art. I had always wanted to study art and I had a strong interest in wallpaper and fabric design, but my parents encouraged me to “get a proper job”!

Teaching Children Art

I don’t regret my teaching years in primary schools. I loved teaching children (especially art!) and I transferred the skills to teaching adults in later years…and of course it lead to my being tutor for Ready, Steady, Paint! (an art subscription for 6 to 11-year-olds created by the SAA), which I love doing and is something I’m very proud of.  After primary school teaching, I was an artist in residence for four years in a number of schools and I was able to create huge installations during this time. Teaching gave me experience in management, planning and organisation; all of which helped me when I set up my own business “Alisart.”

“Having my art business is a dream come true.”

It is such a wonderful job which is incredibly varied, exciting and interesting. I teach regular weekly classes; I have made hundreds of videos teaching watercolour, acrylic, and mixed media and I have students all around the world.  I also run all day workshops (including some for art societies) and painting holidays in the UK and abroad.  I design cushions for a company in London; judge art competitions; write articles for magazines; exhibit in various spaces and just recently I have been asked to do sketches for a prestigious Interior design company.

Art has always been an important part of my life. I continued learning as an adult by going night school and learning painting, batik, pottery, textiles and more.  I used to find teaching portraits and figurative art quite difficult, but my confidence has grown after attending weekly life drawing classes with Stockport Art Guild.

“I will never forget my first filming experience at SAA HQ.”

I was invited to make a video for my professional page. I was so nervous, but Gary (the SAA’s Production Manger) was very patient and encouraging. This eventually led to my first live workshop for the SAA – again this was quite nerve wracking, but it has been one of the highlights of my professional career.

With massive thanks to fellow artist, Alison C Board, I was invited to be part of a group called Artist Demo Days during the Covid pandemic. With the team’s encouragement and expertise, I learned how to set up my own YouTube channel and I recorded all of my lessons so my students could continue their art lessons. This has opened up opportunities for others to join my lessons from far and wide and it gives me such pleasure to be reaching out to so many more people around the world.

Cushion Designs

A few years ago I was asked if I could design arty cushions for a soft furnishings company in London. Since then, I have designed hundreds of them and I get such a buzz when I see them in garden centres or in shops as far away as Arran. It makes me proud and happy!

My next aspiration is to write a book. I haves many ideas…. but I need to narrow it down!

Onwards and upwards!

Ali Hargreaves

SAA Watercolour Ambassador; Ready, Steady, Paint Art Tutor


SAA Profile