Motivated by creativity
■ Tell us a bit about yourself.
I would be best described as a person who is motivated by creativity and change in my work life.
People and art both fulfil that for me, as they are full of challenge and change.
■ How long have you been an artist/art tutor for and how did it start?
I always loved drawing with any pen or pencil I could find as a child. My mum brought home typewriter paper, used on one side, from her workplace and I would just peel through it with drawings of people.
That was how I spent my free time when I wasn’t playing with friends.
Art was just a passion, along with maths. One straightens the mind and the other the spirit.
Art really became more than a pastime about six years ago when I finished teaching in a classroom.
I had more space in my head to create and what had been a struggle to fit in previously became a pleasure.
I have spent the last year and a half in almost constant art immersion through personal art, teaching art, research about art and working with artists.
■ What mediums do you work with?
Acrylic, oil and watercolour. I tend to go through stages of each.
I enjoy doing anything visual artwise so I love finding out how to use new mediums and ideas. Some of my greatest discoveries have been about the different types of paper and canvas available. There is nothing like a good medium to paint onto.
■ Where do you get inspiration from with your work?
Life, conversations with other artists of any genre, and trial and error.
■ What do you enjoy about art? That’s a really good question — all sorts of things spring to mind. The potential for freedom of ideas. The variety of visual art forms and that there is no limit to where it can be taken — there are so many forms and styles and the list keeps on growing. The fact that it really is in the eye of the beholder. That anyone can do art.
Also, that it has the power to focus your mind away from the stresses of life. I put the art which I am working on in my pathway at home. I walk past it in an evening and think “Oh I’ll just…” and five minutes turns into five hours.
■ What do you have coming up/ what will you be up to in the near future?
Currently I am working on my Master of Education, which is about the effects of participation in visual art on adults aged over 50. From out of the practical part of that research, I have a thriving group of returners. I have discovered a group of beginner artists who amaze themselves every time they pick up a brush and I love that.
I would like to do more classes and get more people drawing and painting because it fuels my passion to help others find the artist which has been in them all this time, and to find the fun and enjoyment which there is in art participation.
I also work with Marc Spijkerbosch, the Community Arts Advisor at the council, on various local projects each year. The work is hugely motivating. We are currently running the Sculpture Symposium at The Arts Village, and Marc is a fantastic boss to work with and for. There are more projects coming and I love that the focus is both on the artists and on the public interaction with them and their work.
And I paint when I can.
Helen English is a local artist.