October 2, 2012 in inspiring places
At the end of the summer holidays I spent a joyful two weeks back at art school, listening to lectures and painting with a friend. It was a wonderful experience to have the freedom and time to paint. I usually fulfil my creativity at home by making, stitching, photographing and painting furniture, or for work it may be painting onto canvas as props for shoots but it’s not usually just painting art. I do get strong urges to paint, but it’s only on rare occasions (like here and here) that I have been able to make a few hours at a time to do it – so to have two weeks dedicated to this was bliss. I also wanted to discover my painting voice. Having worked as a textile designer producing over 500 hand painted designs a year, I could work in many different styles to suit different markets and trends but now I wanted to find a particular direction to paint in.
We learnt so much, like how to mix pigments and make our own paints and were pushed to experiment and try new ideas and step out of our comfort zones. I have always worked in acrylic, a medium I am comfortable working with, so I have also now bought some artist oil paints and am trying these too.
The building itself was beautiful and working in such an environment could only be inspirational. Corridors with high ceilings and huge windows letting in light onto the simple white and grey interior. I loved the paint splattered chairs and furniture that were everywhere, proof of the creativity of the hundreds of students that had worked in these spaces over the years.
I stepped away from my usual colour palette and started with some brightly coloured abstract paintings that were quite expressionistic, inspired by the colours of the Adriatic I had seen on holiday. I gravitated back to the more subdued palette of my current favourite greys and indigos with the occasional pop of mustard yellow or dusky pink. Some of my “work in progress” is below.
The joys of college life included mixing paint colours, canteen lunches, wearing old painterly clothes (or one of my husband’s old shirts!), standing up in front of the class and being critiqued, the camaraderie of fellow class members, having a break outside with a cup of tea on the steps, reminiscing about being an art degree student, listening to fellow students’ ideas and passions and the joy that comes when you paint a canvas that you are really pleased with. It was lovely to share it all with a good friend too. (Thank you H for taking the pic of me below!)
It’s almost twenty years since I left art college and it was great to be back. I don’t believe it’s ever too late to learn, there is always something new. I really enjoyed this time and now have lots of paintings stacked around the house. I can highly recommend going back to school and studying again and I think I am hooked. Taking a new course may well become an annual summer event.
I will definitely be continuing my painting and my dream would be to have an exhibition in the future, but who knows. It’s good to have dreams and goals.
Sania Pell is a freelance interior stylist, art/creative director and consultant based in London. She is a Contributing Stylist at Elle Decoration magazine, with whom she has worked for over 20 years, and is well known for bringing a unique aspect to photographic shoots for national publications, leading international brands and retailers as well as style consultancy for architects and property developers. She is the author of best-selling book The Homemade Home and The Homemade Home for Children. A trained, former textile designer, Sania is also involved in many multi-disciplinary creative projects.
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