James: When did your interest in art begin?
Claire: I never got the opportunity to do art at school although I have always loved looking around art galleries. In the world of work, I realized I was very visual and used concepts and imagery as part of successful employee communication and engagement processes. When I set up my own business in 2003 I got the opportunity to look at how I wanted to use my time and looked at ways to get more in touch with my creative side and push myself out of my comfort zone.
James: When did you have an idea to take up art class?
Claire: When I left the UK in 2003 to move to Czech Republic, in Eastern Europe, my team asked me what I wanted for a leaving present. Terrified of getting another vase to dust or yet more crystal glasses, I muttered something about always wanting to learn how to paint, but never having the time. They listened (a well trained team!) and gave me a fantastic bag full of artistic goodies to make any aspiring artist, feel spoilt and look like a “proper” artist. The bag made its way to Prague and was left unopened for more than 2 years. Feeling hypocritical, as I am always encouraging my clients to prioritize and do what is important, in life and not just work, I started to experiment with different techniques, styles and medium towards the end of 2005, as part of an art group.
James: How does oil painting impress you?
Claire: Inspired by a Matisse when visiting the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg in 2007, I grew more confident about using colour, using bigger strokes and got less frustrated about my style, which suggests but ultimately avoids the detail! Matisse believed the arrangement of colours was as important as a painting’s subject matter to communicate meaning. I use oils consistently, as I love their fluidity and texture and until moving to KL, I painted mostly with anything other than a brush!
James: What are the obvious changes or improvement in your art skills after learning with me ?
Claire: I think the main thing has been to get me to think from the beginning what the picture is going to be about, specifically what emotion or feeling is to be created and then to keep checking things out to see if this still makes sense. James has a very good way of looking at a picture and asking questions to help you realize what the issue is and how to achieve your original goal.
James: As the Director and Executive Coach of Coaching Development Edge, how do you apply what you have learnt during your art lesson in your work and career?
Claire: I am a Brit – living and working in Prague, Czech Republic and now recently in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I run my own coaching and development business, working with individuals and teams, to help them fulfill their potential and get the results they want, in life, business and/or career. Art has helped me re discover a creative side which lay unused for a couple of decades and from a professional viewpoint reinforced the point that we all see things differently and have our own style, approach and preferences. (see: my own edge – www.coachingdevelopmentedge.com). A bowl of fruit will be interpreted differently by any member of an art group and they can all be brilliant. Thank goodness!
“There is nothing more difficult for a truly creative painter than to paint a rose, because before he can do so he has first to forget all the roses that were ever painted.” Henri Matisse
The direct benefit of developing my painting skills for my clients is that it reminds me to help my clients think about how to approach tasks or problems from different perspectives. So that they can get creative in solving a problem and see that there are multiple ways of dealing with something. Sometimes by using examples outside of the world of work, a person’s pattern of limiting beliefs can be broken – a question might be, how would an artist solve this problem?
James: How do you find my teaching?
Claire: James is very practical in his instructions and has an excellent brush technique, which is both great to observe and then try. He is good at giving examples outside of art to illustrate a point and is very good at analyzing a situation and sharing ideas on ways to improve a painting. He is always enthusiastic about whatever we are discussing and this builds confidence.
James: How do you and your husband like my horse paintings?
Ian (Claire’s husband) and Claire: James has a deep understanding of horses – both their anatomy and their individual “personality.” His pictures capture their grace, energy and movement and his brush strokes are clever in that they provide both the detail and a suggestion at the same time. You can feel what it’s like to be at the races!
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