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  • Helen English Artist

Upskilling...

Updated: Jan 31, 2021

This year, I am going to have a blog focus for each month. In January it is on developing creative skills. This week’s blog discusses why I think that it’s an important thing to do.


I am very fortunate that I live in a city where the arts hub is very community focused and where they organise art residencies for a small group of diverse artists, who are potentially from anywhere in the world. Obivously this year the selected artists are more local, and the group is even smaller and the residencies are shorter, however they are all very interesting. My immediate reaction to this annual opportunity is to sign up to classes. It doesn’t matter to me if the classes are directly relevant to my work and, in fact, I love classes which are really not.


I already work as an artist and my work focus is relatively narrow, so why would I want to attend classes with someone whose skills don’t seem relevant? My answer is that inspiration is a funny thing. My brain needs a shake up every so often! Everyone has different limits for different tasks but, if you get up each day and do the same thing, it eventually invites tedium. I love painting portraits and working in watercolour but I also love being generally creative and need to stretch my creative self to feel fulfilled.


Over the course of the past few years, I have knitted a bag out of T-shirts, made a light from a PVC pipe, created a storybook character in ink and wash, made a beaded cuff, attended acting classes and painted abstract in acrylic. I have met interesting artists and other class attendees, many of whom have become friends after the fact. I have also discovered skills which have added to the work which I do or uncovered creative thoughts which hadn’t previously surfaced. There is much to be gained from attending classes of different creative genres.


This year, I am indulging in more ink work, with an artist who has a style which is quite different to mine, and also learning about digital art with the same artist. Not as different as classes previously attended but I parry that with the time that I have spent teaching myself how to sew with a machine over the past month. Three pairs of trousers, two tunics, a bag and a coat later, and I’m ready to attend classes which I think will add to my work style.

Looking forward to it!





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