For the love of art
Kate Chapman meets art teacher Rebecca Stamp, who is sharing her passion for artistic creations with students of all ages in a series of workshops at Apple Tree House Studio.
A lifelong passion for the arts coupled with a desire to help others feel good about themselves through their own creations has led teacher Rebecca Stamp to open her own art studio offering workshops and tuition to all ages.
Rebecca launched Apple Tree House Studio at her home in Weston, near Spalding, just before the Covid pandemic and now it is flourishing as more people sign up for her drawing classes, GCSE tuition, painting workshops, group sessions, children’s parties and more.
She is thrilled with the response and says watching her artists develop, grow in confidence and experiment is the best possible reward.
“It’s a real pleasure watching everyone, particularly the youngsters, grow in confidence – I’m really proud of how they’re improving and feeling good about what they are doing,” she said.
“That’s why I do it – it’s not about being an amazing artist, it’s about the experience of creating, and what you take away from that.
“The same applies to my adult students. I think the creative process gives a lot of them confidence too.
Some think they’re not able to paint or draw and they really can’t believe what they’ve managed to produce. It gives them encouragement to keep going and try new mediums and styles.
“Many find it relaxing and we have a really good vibe here, people are keen to see what others have created, and everybody is so happy for each other. It really is lovely, I’m so proud.”
Rebecca, who ran the art department at Boston High School for 20 years and still teaches there three days a week, has always loved art and knew she would pursue an artistic career.
“I’ve always loved making and drawing things – ever since I could hold a pencil! I would always be making things and I used to do a lot of colouring books too – I’d fill them up and then go on to something else creative,” she recalls.
“I always knew I was going to have an artistic career, although I had no definite idea what that would be.”
After gaining an illustration degree at Loughborough University, Rebecca illustrated greeting cards and dabbled in magazine and advertising work. From there she offered art workshops to primary schools around Lincolnshire and soon found her services in demand.
“I think I went to nearly every school in the county, it was fantastic. I really enjoyed working with the children and sharing my passion with other people and it was then that I knew I wanted to teach,” she says.
After completing her PGCE at Leicester University, she worked at The Deepings School, before moving to Boston High, as department head.
Rebecca adds: “It was a lovely department that had hit rock bottom, but I built it up and within three years it was in the top 10 in the country.
“I loved working with the students, as well as supporting newly qualified teachers into the profession, but I remember telling a couple of friends that one day I was going to have my own art school.”
Vision comes to life
It wasn’t until the end of 2019 that Rebecca’s vision finally became a reality, when she and her family moved into their new home, built by her husband James.
“I was always taking over the house with my art stuff so James said we could build a studio. At first I thought it would just be for me, but not long after we started I began thinking about holding workshops and what I could offer,” says Rebecca.
“I’m so pleased I did it – at the time I wasn’t sure how it would go, especially with the pandemic. Initially I was quite busy, but had to close just as it got going, then we had a lot of bubble classes. Now I’m offering about four times as many sessions!
“I work with all different age groups, in lots of different mediums. I have drawing clubs, GCSE tuition, one-on-one sessions, party bookings… I’ve had to put on two of some of the workshops because they’re so popular and still have other people on reserve lists. I also run practical training sessions for primary school teachers, which are going well too.
“Every hour I’m free I’m in the studio – my days off, evenings and weekends plus there’s a lot of preparation work, but I love the buzz of it – it’s exciting, I’ve got so many ideas for other things I want to do too.”
On top of her workshops, Rebecca is planning a summer exhibition to showcase her students’ creativity and she’s also hoping to run an art trip to a London gallery, which she’ll follow up with a workshop.
“All my inspiration comes from around me, so the fens, anything natural or environmental. I’m always doodling and drawing in my own sketchbook, I try to do something every day, just quick five-minute captures of the world around me.
“I want to encourage people to look around themselves, at the places they live, and to look at the environment and connect with it – I think that’s important.
“It’s not just about art, but the way we live, the way we appreciate nature, and my workshops connect with the environment and nature in some way. I want my students to look and observe when they’re creating as you have to look; you have to observe more closely – that’s what it’s all about.
“I’m very passionate about the environment and recycling. I’ll use milk cartons for paint pots. We need to recycle and reuse where we can and I bring this into the way I teach,” says Rebecca, who cites landscape artist Kurt Jackson and abstract painter Fred Ingrams among her favourite painters, because of the textures and colours they use.
“I asked my mosaic makers if they wanted new tiles or were happy using old broken crockery from car boot hauls, but they preferred the older stuff as it was more authentic and had more of a story to it. I make my own black walnut ink from the trees in my garden too – these are all little things, but they each make a difference.
“I’m so thankful for my teaching profession, it’s put me in the position that I’m able to do this. Art is my absolute pleasure. When you’re passionate about something it comes through, and I love sharing that with others.”
To find out more about Apple Tree House Studio follow the Facebook page @appletreehousestudio
Photographs: Rebecca Stamp/Apple Tree House Studio