None of us arrive where we are fully formed. When our first child was born my husband and I barely knew how to change a nappy. We learnt how to be parents ‘on the job’. Didn’t always get it right (sorry kids!) but we had no choice but to keep ‘practicing’, to keep learning.
My development as an artist has come from a mixture of intentional education and ‘on the job’ learning. Many years ago, I decided that I wanted to learn more about design and how to take the step from using commercial fabrics to using my own fabrics. So I took a City& Guilds Certificate at South Trafford College followed by a C&G Diploma with the lovely Linda Kemshall. I learnt a lot about design, and got to sample many different media and techniques. But my biggest ‘take away’ was that I’m not a sketchbook person and that fully designing a piece upfront is not for me.
Studying with Linda gave me the confidence to sign up for masterclasses mostly with Committed to Cloth (C2C). This was a significant investment in time and money over a period of a few years but worth every penny. Some classes were technique based but all included an element looking at how to develop ideas when working directly on cloth. The best class was Colour Families with Leslie Morgan at C2C – a simple idea that bears fruit every time.
But my deepest, most effective learning has been ‘on the job’. My decision to stop taking classes, to spend 20 hours a week in my studio and to work in series was the best I’ve made. It has given me the time and the framework to take the techniques I learnt in class and make them my own. To develop my own style, to find my own voice.
I guess I may take another class at some stage but right now the art I am making is being built with my own bricks.