Becoming an artist

My journey with the Interactive Design Institute has been amazing.  They do everything from City and Guilds courses up to a Masters Degree and if it weren’t for the fact that I was to specialize in Sculpture, I would be doing my degree with them (check out their website and blog if you’ve ever had even the slightest ambition to study art).  Being able to work independently, whilst having continual feedback from your tutor, access to the other students via forums, working in your own time and at your own pace with defined deadlines, having the most comprehensive lessons and briefs and being able to do it all as distance learning is amazing.  My beautiful hubby studies with the OU and I have to say, I wouldn’t want to now that I have experienced study with the IDI!

Having spent years working as a baby scientist and eventually quality management, any studies had been about the job.  In 2012, something intangible happened and I started to do things that were entirely selfish.  I got a new job, joined a local theatre group and found a local Tai Chi instructor who is fabulous.  I don’t really know why but in the August, I spent a lot of hours hunting for art courses.  I saw so many listings and none of them were “right”: full- or part-time degree courses, watercolour classes at night school, life-drawing etc and I’d discounted the OU because they only did Art History for years and I didn’t see how that could help me to become an artist – although they do a degree in design now but I still wouldn’t choose to study with them.  One night, I saw a little paragraph about the IDI, ventured onto their website a few times over the next few weeks and despite the fact that we didn’t have any spare money because I was the only one working, I emailed them to ask about the entry requirements for the Foundation Diploma in Art, Design and Media.

I could draw reasonably well when I was at school and I only ever worked in pencil or pencil crayon until we moved into the Upper School and I got to do pottery.  That was pure joy.  I loved every second of my pottery lessons, despite Mr Hardacre’s dodgy beard with tobacco stains from his pipe and the remnants of last week’s dinner in it!   This is some of my work from my school days:

We were handed books and told to find an image and sketch out the outline but use our imaginations to fill in the detail.  I got one about plants or insects

We were handed books and told to find an image and sketch out the outline but use our imaginations to fill in the detail. I got one about plants or insects

I did the top one sat in my bedroom at my aunt's house in Canada adn the bottom one at school

I did the top one sat in my bedroom at my aunt’s house in Canada and the bottom one at school, both when I was about 15.

A couple of bits of pottery

A couple of bits of pottery

For years there was no art.  I tried.  I would pick up a pencil and paper and after three lines, screw up the paper and throw it, with “I can’t do this anymore” running through my mind.

8 years ago, after Grandma died, I started to paint.  My first painting was with some ancient, very cheap watercolours that I’d had for years, although I used them as if they were gouache.  As that was going reasonably well, I took the plunge and bought some acrylics and every now and again, although inspiration was few and far between, I’d knock out a half way decent picture.  I can’t post some of them here as the content may be a little racy but here is a selection of the ones that don’t require censorship:

Eef - I painted this from a photograph by another artist, Blue

Eef – I painted this from a photograph by another artist, Blue

My original painting of Marc

My original painting of Marc

A re-imagining of the original

A re-imagining of the original

I really don't know where this came from but it is in Edinburgh now :)

I really don’t know where this came from but it is in Edinburgh now 🙂

I worked in a large office in Cheshire and Gail brought in some photos from a professional shoot, one of them inspired me to do this!

I worked in a large office in Cheshire and Gail brought in some photos from a professional shoot, one of them inspired me to do this!

As you can imagine, I was beginning to think that I was a bit of a one-trick-pony.  I did do other paintings but the only ones that I considered to be good were all of a similar style.  I didn’t want to be that artist, churning out the same images over and over.  I remembered how much I had loved pottery, how well I had been able to draw.  I needed to learn.

It has been a stressful 14 months too, all of which was external to the studies but that had a significant impact on my ability to do the work.  I think that sometimes, the studies are what kept me sane.  When I am about my art, I am relaxed and focused and whilst it takes a lot of energy, it also generates energy.  It is hard to explain but my heart, soul, mind and body are totally locked into the piece of art that I am working on but at the same time, the peace and  even euphoria that it brings is like nothing else.

It’s funny, I look around the house now and see the things that I have produced and I’m amazed by the quality and variety.   In any room I can look around and the same question comes to mind: “Did I do that?”.  In the last 2 days, since assessment on the Diploma closed, I have entered 5 competitions and there are two very prestigious ones that I will be entering once I have written up the project proposals.  Get me!

I became an artist.

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2 thoughts on “Becoming an artist

  1. sgtpepperband

    “It’s funny, I look around the house now and see the things that I have produced and I’m amazed by the quality and variety.” You’re not the only one… xx xx xx

    Reply
  2. Hazel Doughty

    Hi Nicola firstly let me say how much I enjoyed reading your blog informative as well as funny I think you have a special talent and will succeed at your chosen Art well done and good luck with the competitions xx

    Reply

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