We can all identify with the failed art experiment. A thickly coated brush darting away from us; the slip of fingers when cutting; the illusive magic of simply ‘drawing what you see’. Many of us can remember how we were taught art ourselves, how it seemed magical, closed and unknowable. But since I was a small child, I have made things. I was lucky to have parents who encouraged me to pursue all my creative impulses, from early, naive mark making to studying fashion and textiles at university. I think of successful art teaching as a gateway; a door to knowing ourselves better.
Though my degree lead me to design brightly coloured shell suits and sportswear for influencer brands like Ellesse and Reebok in the 1990s, I realised I wanted to work with people, not products. So in 2004 I changed tack, spending four years training to become a Psychotherapist. This allowed me to combine my love of creativity with my curiosity in people, delivering art workshops within healthcare, community and educational settings. I saw how everyone — from whatever walk of life, in whatever circumstances — could gain something creative self expression. The confidence it builds and the joy it inspires are powerful.
I saw how everyone — from whatever walk of life, in whatever circumstances — could gain something creative self expression. The confidence it builds and the joy it inspires are powerful.
After I had my own children, and many happy years of exploring art with them at home, I wanted to find a way to encourage other parents to be more creative. All the ways in which I love art – the surprise of it, the self exploration it affords us – were channelled into my first blog. The Imagination Box was born, picked up by Pinterest, and lead me to creating resources for Teachers Pay Teachers. So far I have had over 1.5 million views on TPT, 300,000 followers on Pinterest, and my website is visited by art enthusiasts and educators from all over the world.
The philosophy behind my resources is very simple. Art leads us to a greater understanding of ourselves. But more importantly; it is a plastic skill, that gives us the resilience and flexibility of thinking we need to lead a happy, rich life. Though I was encouraged in my early creative experiments, not everyone is so fortunate. So I aim to create educational resources that both appeal to, and can be completed by, anyone. We should all get to enjoy that feeling of artistic success, and yet I hope my resources have enough variance for the individual to make their mark.
We should all get to enjoy that feeling of artistic success, and yet I hope my resources have enough variance for the individual to make their mark.
Designed to remove the barriers or fear art classes can impose; The Imagination Box resources do not use the sort of intimidating instructions or expensive materials that can baffle or put off both teachers and children.
Using imagery drawn from my fashion design background, and the rich understanding psychotherapy has taught me, I hope to demystify the artistic process, enriching young people’s experience of art education and emboldening educators who might lack confidence in art delivery.
Art is powerful because it can surprise us. I hope the Imagination Box can be your key to unlocking those surprises.