I grew up in a small town on the edge of the Lake District, in England, where I had a happy, but uneventful, childhood.
When it came to choosing a career – well, what can you do if your main talents are being daft, drawing and writing stories? I was pretty clueless; would’ve loved to be “something arty” but had no idea how you went about pursuing such a career. Thus, it was decided that teaching might be my best bet. I trained at the University of Chester – which was just a humble college in those days – and spent many years teaching children in Cheshire then Cumbria. (There was also a delightful summer teaching little American girls in Maine.)
Although I had never particularly wanted to be a teacher, I did enjoy being “Miss” for many years. I loved teaching Art, Drama, Outdoor Education and creating an environment in which learning could be exciting and FUN! (Yes, the “being daft” came in very handy.) More than anything, I adored the company of so many wonderful, small people – their thoughts, their stories, their friendship – and feel privileged to have played a small part in their lives.
Retirement was something of a shock; all that time and what do you do with it? I missed the presence of children but also lacked a purpose. What was my role now? What should I do? What did I want to do?
At a particularly low ebb, I decided to take an Art Foundation Diploma at Kendal. A year of immersing myself in all things arty sounded rather good fun. Being part of a class, where ages ranged from 17 to 57 was a joy. So many wonderful techniques and materials to explore. And it was whilst helping younger students with their university applications that it occurred to me that – yes – this was something I could do too.
So I returned to the classroom – this time as a student – to study at Masters level. I love Art in all its many and varied forms but find I am particularly drawn (haha) to Illustration. So, having achieved my MA in Fine Art, I am now working towards an MA in Children’s Book Illustration. I have worked closely with fellow students on projects in the publishing department, finding the challenge of working together to produce a beautiful book fascinating, fulfilling and other f-words too!
Ultimately, it is my ambition to establish myself as an illustrator. I read a report recently that suggested that middle age does not start until age 65; so, still being “young”, it seems the right time for me to begin forging ahead with my second career. Woohoo! (As we youngsters sometimes say.)