Monday, 26 June 2017

I’m very glad I followed the urge to sign up to art classes, and now the rest is up to me.

Stephanie is a British-Brazilian artist living in Teddington. She specialises in colourful semi-abstract paintings on the themes of travel, interiors and women. 

Stephanie trained in Fine Art at RACC from 1996-2002 on a range of part time courses from A-Level to HND. Here she talks about her journey towards becoming an artist. 

If you’ve ever visited the north east of Brazil, you’ll know that it is a vibrant colourful place, with beautiful beaches and a wonderful climate. This is where I was born and where my passion for colour began. It was an idyllic place to grow up. 

I later moved to the UK and then in my 30s, with my husband and young family, lived in Indonesia for five years. It was whilst living in Jakarta that I saw an ad offering drawing lessons at an American artist’s house. I'd always loved art at school, so I decided to go along. It was like rediscovering a favourite pastime and I was eager to improve. It was inspiring to be taught by a professional artist, and I realised for the first time that maybe this was something I could spend the rest of my life doing!

Starting out at Richmond Art School

On my return to the UK in 1996 I enrolled at Richmond Art School at RACC to do A-Level Art. I enjoyed it so much that I progressed through all the stages - Foundation, HNC and HND over a number of years. I loved having the physical space and the time set aside to learn and develop my art skills. The years spent experimenting with different materials and ideas, the constant inspiration, guidance and tuition, the theory, the crits, and even the difficult challenges, have developed my creativity and resilience. I look back with fond gratitude to the many tutors who gave me key pointers or encouragement.

Plucking up courage

It felt like a big step for me to sign up for that initial A-Level course. I worried whether I'd be good enough. I had to arrange some childcare to give myself the space to do it. But sometimes you just have to go for opportunities that are important steps for your own growth and development. It's always a juggle, but most people find a way to do it somehow. 

At each stage of my training, I felt encouraged to progress to a higher level. When I reached the end of the HND course, one of my tutors suggested I should apply to do a degree, which I hadn't considered doing before. I applied to Wimbledon (UAL) on a Practice and Theory in Art and Design degree and was delighted to graduate in 2007.

I would really encourage anyone who has an inkling that they would like to try something new for themselves, to pluck up the courage and sign up.

Vibrant, colourful painting of a coffee set on a table

My new life as a working artist 

Now, I run a few painting workshops in my studio or in schools. I've also worked with organisations such at WWF at their headquarters in Woking. My specialism is semi-abstract colourful painting and I find that tailored, themed projects give students a great deal of freedom to express themselves, without being held back by a perceived lack of skills or experience.

I exhibit three to four times a year - annually at the Fountain Gallery by Hampton Court, where I'm a member artist, often at the Teddington Landmark Art Fair, and I've also exhibited at other venues including Mall Galleries and the Brazilian Embassy in London. 

I have a small studio in Teddington. It’s sometimes a bit messy when I’m in the middle of painting several pieces, but visitors are most welcome by appointment. 

vibrant, colourful painting depicting a cafe on a hill

I am currently preparing work for my solo exhibition in London called ‘Colour in the City’ at the Barbican Library from 30 June -26 July 2017. This is a wonderful opportunity for me to showcase 25 original and editioned pieces at an iconic London venue. Anyone is very welcome to come. 

Becoming an artist takes time and dedication. Talent needs nurturing and exhibition experience only comes with practice. My attitude is that I’m in it for the long haul – I like to think I will still be painting at 90, so building an art practice has to evolve rather than be forced. It has to compete with other priorities in life too. But I’m very glad I followed the urge to sign up to art classes when I did, and now the rest is up to me.

You can have a look at more of Stephanie's work on her website and follow her on social media. 

Feeling inspired? Take a look at our painting and drawing courses coming up over summer, and in the new Autumn term.