Pupil back to teach painting

EIT has an "ace" tutor lined up for its Painting for Beginners night-class course - a trained teacher, double degree graduate and the School of Arts and Design's overall top student for 2011.

Having graduated earlier this year, Vonda Christensen is excited to be returning to EIT to teach the Adults in Community Education-funded course, which starts on August 13 and will run from 6-8.30pm every Monday for six weeks.

Bachelor of Visual Arts and Design studies at EIT were "three of the best years of my life," says Vonda, who is developing her own art practice working from her home-based studio in the Maraetotara Valley.

Building a body of work with a view to holding her first solo exhibition at a commercial gallery next year, the paint enthusiast continues to use oils for more figurative works but is also working with watercolours and acrylics to explore abstract painting.

Napier-born Vonda has always loved art but was discouraged from pursuing it as a career option. Instead, she went into teaching and worked more than 20 years in that role, studying extramurally to gain her Bachelor of Education degree.

"I was a weekend and holidays hobby painter," she said of this time. "Trying to juggle full-time teaching with my creative habit meant my art was at best sporadic and my school/class always came first."

When her two sons reached adulthood, she felt it was time to indulge her passion. With the support of her husband, she quit teaching and enrolled for the EIT degree.

Vonda is now endeavouring to make a living through her art and is to establish a gallery to exhibit work at home. She is happy to be encouraging others to develop their own interest in art and points out that she has done night classes herself. "They have always been fun," she said.

Head of School for Art and Design Dr Suzette Major is delighted that Vonda will be back on campus for Painting for Beginners - a course limited to 16 enrolments.

"It's really cool that last year's top degree student will be teaching the programme. It underscores the point that our graduates have acquired the appropriate skills to work in such a role."

Suzette says there is a pent-up demand for night classes despite Government funding cuts for such programmes.

"Once upon a time, there were night classes for Africa! We are doing this primarily because of the demand.

"Ever since I've been at EIT, I've been aware of the phone running hot with people wanting night-class programmes."

Those interested in painting classes were not necessarily aiming to become painters, but they did want to develop their painting skills.

"Apart from doing something for the community EIT is ensuring its facilities are well-utilised at a time of day when they would otherwise not be used," Suzette said.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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