Why I gave up a well-paid job to become full time artist by Carol Kibble

Starting out…

I have always loved drawing. When I was a small child, as long as I had a pencil and paper, I was happy. I was lucky that I had some natural ability and a good eye. At school, alongside academic subjects, I took o’level art and was confident of achieving a good grade. I worked really hard on my display for grading and clearly remember the artwork:

  • A painting of three witches around a cauldron
  • A very detailed pencil drawing of the links of a chain
  • A painting of a wildcat
  • Portraits in pencil of Sting and Adam Ant

So, imagine my utter horror and distress to discover that my display board had disappeared the night prior to grading! My guess is that the work was stolen but I never found out what happened or why; needless to say, the artwork never reappeared. In the absence of a display, I was awarded a C but it felt like a sympathy grade. I was desperately disappointed.

Persuing artistic employment…

I went on to pursue more academic subjects in order to get a proper job. I spent years working for an insurance company but always painted on the side. During lengthy meetings and seminars, I sometimes amused myself by sketching people. I was occasionally caught out and gently reprimanded.

In my spare time, I watched painting demonstrations organised by my local art group and also attended many painting workshops, including those run by the late Freddie Cameron-Street. Freddie was a very accomplished artist and a great character. We became friends and it was Freddie who encouraged me to start running my own painting workshops. I took the plunge and left my salaried employment to become a self-employed artist. I didn’t want to have regrets in later life; after all, it’s better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all.

Tutoring groups

I started tutoring small groups before offering demonstrations to art societies and then progressed to tutoring on painting holidays. I’m very much a people person and it gives me enormous pleasure to watch student’s progress from tentative beginners to confident pastel artists.

Today, I love what I do. No two days are the same and that’s just the way I like it. There have been many highlights over the years, which include:

  • The SAA regional show at Bristol was a pivotal moment. Here, I made many contacts whilst demonstrating in pastels. It was here I met the owners of Shorland Old Farm and, ever since, I have tutored at this wonderful location twice yearly
  • Another highlight was seeing my painting of ‘Eric the Emu’ on the front cover of Paint magazine. Eric became very popular and was even turned into a jigsaw puzzle. I have to say the jigsaw was very challenging and took me longer to complete than the painting
  • Visiting and filming at SAA HQ in Newark has also been an amazing experience. It’s something my younger self could never have imagined

Further development as a tutor

I firmly believe that teaching others has made me a much better painter. It has encouraged me to break down processes and question what I do. I’m a very generous tutor and I’m happy to share both the accidents I’ve had, as well as some shortcuts to success. I am still constantly learning and will continue to push myself. Of course, being self-employed presents challenges, particularly in recent times where I’ve had to make sure I have other streams of income besides that received from teaching. So, I also sell prints, greetings cards and have even had my work featured on an award-winning Pilsner lager. All in all, I’m very happy that I made the leap. I would encourage others to pursue their dreams.

Carol Kibble

Pastel Artist and Art Tutor

[email protected]

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