Sunday, 12 July 2020

Woman who fell in love with art at school now wants to teach it

Woman who fell in love with art at school now wants to teach it

AN artist and former Henley schoolgirl has been hosting free virtual painting classes during the coronavirus pandemic.

Hannah Williams, 25, started the Paint Lab last year after spending a year travelling in Australia.

The 25-year-old would normally visit people at their homes to give art lessons but she has had to cancel these due to the lockdown.

Instead she has been entertaining people with her online workshops.

Miss Williams, who hopes to become an art teacher, says her love of the subject was inspired by her time at Gillotts School.

She said: “Art is so therapeutic and you can relax and listen to music while you are doing it. That is something I remember about Gillotts — it was quite relaxed and we would listen to the radio.

“There was a teacher there called Miss Harris and I absolutely loved my form tutor. They were both art teachers. I just really enjoyed how relaxed the school was. Other schools are so focused on grades and it takes the fun away from the art. Gillotts was definitely my first inspiration and was so helpful.

“I like that anyone can do art and because it is subjective there is no right or wrong and everyone has their own style. At the start of lockdown, I wasn’t doing anything and then it suddenly clicked that I could do the Paint Lab online with classes that people could join in with from home.”

The sessions are streamed live via Instagram at 4pm every Saturday and typically last an hour. Classes have focused on a silhouette of a cactus, a pineapple, a VE Day special with a Union flag and a rainbow for the NHS. Most of the participants have no previous experience.

Miss Williams, who is living with her parents, Sue and Steve, in Lane End, Buckinghamshire, during the lockdown, went to Australia after graduating from her interior architecture course at Bournemouth Arts University. When she returned, she set up her business.

She said: “I wanted to create an environment that was non-judgemental so that everyone can join in.

“I have tried to continue that during lockdown. Normally, I would go to their houses and I take all the materials so all they need to bring is themselves and a bottle of wine.

“I have never done a live video before and I thought it would just be nice for people to get involved from home and each week I have had about 40 people.

“I have had messages from people who said they hadn’t picked up a paintbrush since school and how they were looking forward to the next session, which was really nice.

“It’s a great way to take your mind off the current stresses and relax in the garden, or on your sofa. It’s like going for a run but you don’t have to move and yet you get the same stress release.”

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