What is your typical process for working with a new student?
Starting with a brief introduction, I have a conversation with each student about their interests, passions, and goals. We discuss their ideal learning environment; what kind of “setting” is most comfortable for them. I ascertain what they feel are their strengths and weaknesses because I’ve learned that how students judge themselves can have deep impact on the trajectory of success they often follow.
What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?
I have a BFA in Painting from Bath Spa University,UK and MA in Painting from the Royal College of Art, UK. During both degrees, I focused primarily on Drawing, Painting, and Printmaking. During the course of my teaching career, I have developed design and creative thinking programs. Most importantly, for the past 20 years, I have been a full-time, professional artist.
How did you start Teaching?
Following graduate school, I was offered the position of Head of Painting at The School of Art in New Zealand. The School is the oldest university level art school in the country offering BFA and MFA degrees. After NZ, I had a once in a lifetime opportunity to teach at University of Malaysia, Sarawak, a new university on the island of Borneo. I worked within international academia for a number of years, continuing my studio practice alongside teaching. Additionally, for the past decade or so, I have been an Adjunct Professor at SCCC in NJ, a short drive from NYC.
What types of students have you worked with?
During my teaching career I have taught at universities in various countries including UK, USA, New Zealand, and Asia. I have worked with students from a wide variety of countries and many differing cultures. Over the years, my students have come from nearly every walk of life and span from kindergarten to retired individuals.
Describe a recent event you are fond of.
My husband’s mother turned 90 years old recently. He and I were asked to host her online party; an extravaganza of musical performances, PowerPoint presentations, poetry readings and storytelling We performed an excerpt from the play, “Greater Tuna.” As I had never acted in a public arena before, it represented all the stresses one feels when undertaking a new experience that has to do with “performing.” It turned out to be wonderful. Energizing. As artists we are creative risktakers, I believe this enables me to empathize with and understand other people’s feelings when entering unfamiliar waters.
What advice would you give a student looking to hire a teacher in your area of expertise?
In my creative realm, ideas that come from the imagination are the fundamental building blocks to art that is most meaningful. The student should try to ascertain a teacher’s potential to engage in an exploration of ideas that are the most inspired for their particular situation. Also, when surveying a teacher’s portfolio, are you engaged? Does the work demonstrate the variety of skills you are interested in? Finally, does the teacher have a passion for teaching, and are they empathetic to people and the learning process?
What questions should students think through before talking to teachers about their needs?
Students would be encouraged to think about what ideas are currently MOST important to them. I very much enjoy the process of teaching skills in thinking AND rendering. They go hand in hand. As a teacher I would encourage students to think about their strengths, and also areas in which they lack confidence, in order to help them develop an artistic 'voice'.