I am now in my second and possibly final year at the Academy and my biggest worry is thinking about what I’m going to do if I’m not here next year!
The course I am studying is the Contemporary Portraiture Foundation Degree and deciding to come here was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I joined in 2017 after several years of deliberation; my children were leaving school/university and moving on, so it seemed the right time for me to explore my career and think about changing direction in terms of my art.
Prior to the Academy, I worked as a creative in the advertising industry but found it hard to continue when I became a mother. I began portrait painting as a side-line which I also did while being an expat in Hong Kong. I had always wanted to do a fine art degree but graphic design seemed a more straightforward route for a career at the time. I couldn’t imagine life as a artist so I chose graphics.
Doing this fine art degree has helped me not only improve my practice but opened my eyes to how professional artists work. Painting can be lonely and so having a fantastic peer group at the Academy means it now feels less daunting and there are more potential people to exhibit and work with in the future.
Choosing electives gives us training in our chosen areas and the teaching is excellent. These professional artists/tutors are very committed to helping us and their dedication encourages us to find out who we are and in what direction we want to go. Regular studio practice takes us out of our comfort zone and pushes us to do something we may have been scared to tackle on our own. Sometimes it’s a bit like therapy, and we have often bared our souls or told of our life experiences to help create our art.
I have learnt so much about painting and drawing at the Academy and even though I have been working as an artist for many years, studying at the Academy has been the steepest learning curve so far. The Academy is all about the people – not just the tutors, technicians and office staff (who are all practising artists) but all of the fellow students who, no matter their age or nationality, bond together to create a familial atmosphere, which I think is unique in such a competitive industry.
The facilities are not grand but the studio space and the rooms we work in are more than adequate (though sometimes it would be nice if there were fewer stairs!). The common room is great for lunch time chats and regrouping, and there are lectures during lunch time if we choose.
I’m so glad I chose the Academy; not only does it work for me while studying, but it has helped me plan my future as a practising artist with a whole new set of friends, colleagues and tutors who I know will guide me with my journey as an artist going forward.