“One of my first memories of drawing was sitting around the dining table fairly late with my brother and Mum’s best friend Tina. My brother and I were both drawing a glass on the table and Tina said mine was really really good, that I was talented and I should do more. That moment probably inspired my whole career.”
Currently balancing her time between selling and exhibiting her art and running drawing workshops in London Museums as part of the incredibly popular Sketchout business that she founded, Rosa Roberts is in high demand. Rosa possesses a unique talent; not only a phenomenal artist in her own right, Rosa is also wonderfully gifted in teaching and sharing a passion for art with others.
“Before I started Sketchout back in 2012 I taught art to kids in a studio by the river in Chelsea and that is how I learnt that I was good at explaining to people how to break down and recreate what they were seeing to understand how to draw it.”
Sketchout began as a series of two hour drawing classes on Friday evenings that Rosa ran at the V&A Museum. Though the classes were well planned and great fun, it’s hard to compete with the lure of the pub on a Friday night and Rosa decided that the classes weren’t working as they were. Instead, she designed the course ‘ The Fundamentals of Drawing at the V&A’, making the drawing workshops a day-long event and organising for a local restaurant to provide lunch. Using some savvy marketing advice from a friend, she sold 120 places within 12 hours and began to feel like she was onto something.
“We now run between two and five workshops every week in four different Museums in London, The V&A, Tate Britain, National Portrait Gallery and The Courtauld Gallery. I employ two part time tutors and also still teach students myself because I love it.”
Sketchout quickly increased Rosa’s popularity and expertise within the art community and in 2014 she was approached to write a book to accompany the BBC One programme ‘The Big Painting Challenge’.
“Writing the book was a huge challenge as I only had four months to do it and had never written a book before. I had to plan and write 295 pages and design every single photograph. It taught me how to manage a big project from start to finish by breaking it down and doing it step by step, and that also it really really helps when you have a team and a decent budget!! It was tough work but also massively satisfying and great to work with a team of photographers, editors and book designers. I particularly enjoyed the shoot days where we took all the photographs, photography is so fast compared to drawing!!! So satisfying.”
While Sketchout and The Big Painting Challenge provided Rosa with fantastic opportunities to grow, and were wonderfully satisfying projects, it’s always been her own art that brings her joy.
“In my own personal art work ( www.rosaroberts.com) I tend to be much less realistic than the kind of observational drawing that we teach through Sketchout. I work from memory and my imagination in my own work and very rarely using what is actually in front of my eyes as starting point. I used to work very figuratively when I was younger but as I have developed I have moved towards abstraction. I would describe my own style as exuberant and instinctive.”
“It’s tough to make a living as a fine artist but I also think that it’s putting a lot of pressure on your creativity to expect it to make you a living. I see my own creative practice as a luxury and a necessity. I need to do it because it’s there, I feel depressed when I ignore it but it’s not always easy to commit to it when bills need to be paid. I suppose I have chosen to make my living through my Sketchout business so that my own artwork could remain free and unencumbered by the responsibility of keeping a roof over my head and putting food on the table. I found it impossible to enjoy making work when that was all I did to make money, it was just too much pressure and I couldn’t work in the way that I wanted to because I had to be concerned about what was commercial. To me it didn’t make sense to be a commercial artist. I just want to make what I want to make and if people don’t want to buy it then fine.”
The #MakeAStartInArt campaign aims to encourage anyone and everyone to give art a try for themselves. You might just be surprised by the benefits of getting creative. Whether it’s been years since you last sat down in front of a canvas, or you’ve simply always wanted to give it a go, art is a personal activity and ultimately it’s about the time spent with a pencil or a paintbrush in hand that matters, not whether anyone else likes it.
We hope you agree that Rosa is the perfect fit for helping art enthusiasts get started. With such a clear passion for the ways art can enrich our lives and tons of experience in helping others to improve their skills; we couldn’t be more pleased to introduce Rosa as our resident art expert. And for Rosa it’s a chance to break down some of the fear involved in getting started in art.
“I’m passionate about encouraging people to indulge their creative urges. I just think it’s good for them. It’s human nature to be creative. People feel the desire to draw, or to sing or to dance, or write but they don’t do it because of fear of not being any good and there being no point because they won’t make a career out of it, or so they think. I say do it anyway because you want to. Because your soul wants to. In the words of Elizabeth Gilbert in her great book, ‘Big Magic’ – “Do what causes a revolution in your heart.””