David Whyte

Centre for Lifelong Learning Student 

Taking some deep breaths after shedding his work responsibilities, and in anticipation of his wife Diane’s retirement, the couple made the decision to buy a dog. Into their lives came a lively Jack Russell puppy called Millie. She joined them on their boat during the sailing season and took to living on board like a duck to water - especially sunbathing on deck on a good day! At the start of their new life of leisure, exercising Millie and their nautical interests kept the two of them very busy, along with Pilates classes and gym sessions. However, as the autumn approached David had a notion to take structured creative art classes. He had dabbled in watercolours before, and so began a search for a suitable class.

A look on the internet produced a wide range of options but not all had immediate openings. Local art clubs often had waiting lists and other specialist classes were on the expensive side. The classes at the Centre for Lifelong Learning ticked all the boxes for him - a range of topics on different weekdays, reasonably priced and with accomplished tutors.

David’s first two classes on watercolour painting were with Saul Robertson - an accomplished surrealist artist. Watercolour is a difficult medium with little scope for correcting errors but Saul taught in a coherent and structured way, so that the first term seamlessly led to the second 10 weeks of classes. “We all received individual advice and assistance, and everyone felt confident about moving on.”

From there David enrolled in an oil painting class - a completely new medium for him. He became totally absorbed in this activity as his confidence grew, finding it so rewarding and satisfying. There was no stopping him now. His next class was an Introduction to Life Drawing with Lynn Howarth. This was a novel and challenging experience. Drawing from life was quite different from drawing an inanimate object as inevitably models will alter position from time to time when striking a pose.

Next David enrolled in portraiture classes with another helpful and enthusiastic tutor - Sharon McDonald. Each week she began with a demonstration of a particular technique or medium and introduced a different model.  The models would strike two poses over the period, allowing for the creation of two portraits.

“We were encouraged to use a different medium for the second pose in order to broaden our experience. Sharon’s helpful and constructive criticism was always spot on. Although everyone was concentrating on their own work there were opportunities to interact with other students, discuss what they were doing and find out how they felt about their progress.  I think everyone benefited from the social interaction. It takes you back to school and university days!” 

David plans to join a landscape painting class next, and creating sculpture is another challenge he would like to tackle. He and his wife are also poised to learn a language - probably Spanish. However, just at the moment he is taking a breather! David certainly never imagined when he stopped working as a solicitor that life would take such a colourful turn!

If you would like to try one of our art classes or browse through our full range of learning opportunities, click on the red 'MyCLL' button to view our online catalogue.