It is well known that, as the largest provider of adult education in the UK we run a vast array of courses in numerous locations across the county. But what about the people that make it happen? We have a dedicated team of tutors from a variety of different backgrounds all wanting to share their passion, enthusiasm and skill in the area in which they specialise.

This week, in our third Meet our Tutors interview, we’re heading to Maidstone Adult Education Centre to meet with drawing and painting tutor Claudia Starbuck. We spoke to Claudia after her Acrylic Painting class on Wednesday lunchtime.

Claudia has been working in Adult Education for the past 5 years, and is probably one of our busiest tutors. She currently tutors seven weekly courses across Kent in Maidstone, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells and Gravesend. Let’s get to know a bit more about Claudia herself.

Age: 29
Place of Birth: Maidstone
Favourite Meal: Roast dinner
Favourite Hobby: (You guessed it…) Drawing and painting

Always make the time to practice colour mixing – it’s the hardest element of painting.

Claudia’s Courses

Claudia teaches drawing, painting, oils and acrylics, pastels (both oil and soft), mixed media, drawing and painting, life drawing and watercolour. She has many strings to her bow. When asked what her favourite course to teach was, Claudia said drawing, as “it’s the course where you see the most rapid improvement.” Often learners haven’t drawn since they left school and it’s lovely to see their skills improve as well as their confidence.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

“I like the variety of the people that you meet. Before you walk into a new class, you never know what to expect. I’m always pleasantly surprised by the variety of learners. It’s great when there’s a real group dynamic.” Many of Claudia’s learners are repeat re-enrollers and have been studying with KAE for up to 20 years. “They’re old friends and it’s great to listen to them talk about their classes in times gone by.”

What is your favourite technique/medium?

Claudia likes working with mixed media, and loves collage.

Where did you develop your passion for art?

Claudia has always been a creative person and spent much of her time as a child pencil in-hand, drawing. Like most artists, she started in the school art room, before achieving a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design at the University of Creative Arts in Maidstone. She then moved to The University of Falmouth to study for her BA (Hons) in illustration. On returning home she worked as an Art Technician at Invicta Grammar School where her talent with digital art enabled her to supervise students. She realised then, that teaching came naturally to her. In order to realise her potential, Claudia enrolled on an intensive PGCE teaching course, specialising in lifelong learning, then while working part-time in an art gallery in Bluewater shopping centre, Claudia got the job teaching a painting course in Tonbridge and over the years, her portfolio of courses has expanded. Claudia now exhibits regularly with the Nucleus Arts Group,  participated in the South East Open Studios in 2010 as well as at the Staithes Art Festival.

Why do you enjoy teaching for Kent Adult Education?

“I like the variety of people and seeing not only how they develop their skills, but seeing how they develop emotionally over time.” Claudia recalls a student she had who used to be a highflying barrister in London, but became paralysed down one side of his body after a stroke. He attended the class with his carer. Over the weeks he gradually came out of his shell, becoming more and more positive and confident in his ability; even smiling and speaking. It’s success stories like these that Claudia thrives upon.

What would you say to anyone who can’t decide whether or not to start a KAE course?

“Give it a go! If you’re unsure, do a taster or weekend course, or join with a friend.”

What are your top three tips for anyone attempting art at home?

  1. Draw what you see, not what you think you see – the more you look, the more you’ll see.
  2. Always make the time to practice colour mixing – it’s the hardest element of painting.
  3. Practice makes perfect!

Finally, as a tutor, what do you pride yourself most on?

“I have never-ending confidence in my learners. I’m constantly hearing the phrase ‘I can’t do it,’ and my response is ‘Never give up! Keep going. I have faith in you.”

Many thanks to Claudia for giving us a glimpse into her experience as a KAE Tutor.

If you’ve been inspired by what Claudia had to say, why not take a look at our arts courses, or even those taught by Claudia herself.
Claudia’s Courses

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