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Switching on to creating, switching off from work

Regular art classes have given a team from a local company a mental refresh from the pressures of work and also helped them all develop their own creative skills and cohere as a team. 

The art sessions started in 2020, originally as a thank you to the team at David Lock Associates who donated a sum of money through their company charity fund, to contribute towards repair works the barn roof at Westbury Arts Centre. From a taster session with Westbury resident artist Robin Souter, the sessions have continued on a monthly basis on Thursday evenings. 

Ian Wale, a Senior Associate Urban Designer at the company said: “There is a very relaxed atmosphere. People choose what they want to paint and how fast they want to paint. Some create a painting each session, some continue on the same work for several sessions. Themes selected have included cars, summer holidays, abstracts.  People tend to bring in a photo as a starting point.” 

Robin gives individual guidance, answers questions and makes suggestions and gives pointers.  

Ian added: “The group of about nine who attend regularly do not all work together on project work, so there has been a big benefit in getting to know each other socially.” 

“People get a real sense of achievement and enjoy time away from pressures of work and daily life”, Ian noted.  “The opportunity to switch off from digital devices and to be in a pressure-free environment provides a mental reset. Time flies, you switch off and don’t think about anything else.” 

Ian acknowledged that people were initially self-conscious about painting in front of others but now feel more confident sharing what they have done. He has seen that the whole group has improved with practice and progressed in their work. 

For many years Ian has been an avid sketcher and has previously painted in watercolour but had not tried oils. He said: “I love the fact that the marks you make are strong and permanent. You are rewarded for boldness”.    

Ian would recommend oil painting classes to others: “Give it a go. The worse that can happen is that you can create a mess. The opportunity to switch off from everything else is a great benefit mentally.” 

David Lock Associates is a Milton Keynes based consultancy that specialises in town planning and urban design, employing around 70 people. Town Planning & Urban Planning | David Lock Associates 

Find out about Robin’s monthly oil painting classes 

Read more about Robin’s artistic practice Westbury Ars Cente | Robin Souter ( 


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