Carol Rensink

Carol Rensink lives in Texas, USA and has taught art in many guises - as a Montessori teacher for children, in the community, online and in studios. She has been attending some of our online courses since the first lockdown in 2020...

Carol Rensink

Carol, please can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I first fell in love with art at the Prado Museum in Madrid when I was five.  A security guard beckoned me over and lifted me up to look through his magnifying glass at the tiny hairs on the chin of a portrait of a young man. I recall being immersed in Hieronymus Bosch’s Triptych, The Garden of Earthly Delights, looking up at El Greco’s stretched figures, and oh my… Goya’s drawings and prints. I always give thanks to that generous guard, who opened my eyes to the kingdom of art… and looking closer.

I developed and taught an art curriculum for an American-style Montessori school. I was also the Founding Director of a non-profit organisation providing transportation and services such as free after school care with enriched programming, eg. children’s vegetable garden, tennis lessons, chess club, and English as a second language classes for mothers.  

Carol Rensink drawing

I still teach figure drawing anatomy and more expressive types of drawing, and I’ve been running model labs for many years, first at the Art League of Houston and now at the Watercolour Art Society Houston. Since 2020, I also host a Virtual Artist Group where we draw from film, draw each other, share our artwork, and discuss art.   

Why do you think creating art is important?

Making art, whether that be through drawing, painting, music, acting - offers us all a fundamental, unspoken, and accessible means of connecting to our world… both to express ourselves and to analyse and understand what we observe. I also believe that it expands one’s consciousness and opens us up to new ideas and ways of connecting information. I think artists are some of the most adaptive and inventive people I know. Certainly one or two should be placed on every lifeboat!

How did you hear about the Royal Drawing School’s public courses?

An artist friend of mine, Martha Carson, attended The Royal Drawing School in person shortly before Covid arrived. She emailed me updates about her wonderful experiences there and shared some of her drawings. Since then, I have seen how this experience and re-fuelled enthusiasm has helped her to grow as an artist. 

At the start of the pandemic, when RDS began offering classes online, this opened up that opportunity to me. 

Carol Rensink drawing 2

Which courses have you taken at RDS, and have you enjoyed any in particular?

I started with the Drawing Week, which was like opening a delicious box of assorted chocolates! Since then I’ve taken around 11 online courses, including Drawing from the National Gallery, Experimental Printmaking and Drawing and Sculptural Forms. I have truly enjoyed all of them, and the variety of tutors and their ways of working and thinking. 

How have you found learning via Zoom and Padlet?

I commend the terrific RDS staff who found, fine-tuned, and operate these technologies as teaching tools! I am so fortunate to be able to enjoy their exceptional curriculum and talented tutors, and to be enriched by the other students who present a variety of cultures, backgrounds, and ideas. 

I also truly appreciate being able to work in my own studio, spread out as I need to, with all my materials and equipment at hand. In the end, as artists, we work in our own spaces, and virtual classes help establish this.

I have followed the RDS example, and now use this same technology with fellow artists in our critique group and in my own teaching. 

Carol Rensink sculpture

Have these courses helped to develop your artistic practice?

Thomas Newbolt who teaches Drawing: Colour and Memory, helped me start seeing inside… to “draw” out things more from within myself. 

Marcus Cornish’s Drawing into Sculpture classes have been especially interesting and challenging. While I do have some experience in sculpture, he presents new ways of thinking, of working back and forth from 3D to 2D, of analysing how other artists have worked/thought and of applying that to new ways of working. I’ve learned that I can bend my mind to think and see in new ways. It’s been an exciting adventure.

In what way have the courses impacted your professional practice or personal life?

I find that I am becoming more inventive and daring in my personal practice. And, most importantly, I have fallen in love again with the adventure that is art-making. 

In 2020, I was so dependent upon working with wonderful models, that I was devastated by the idea of being cut off from my usual sessions twice a week. The RDS classes opened me up to working more from imagination and memory, trying a variety of new approaches to making art, and embracing wherever the journey will take me. I’ve come to appreciate the idea of jumping off the diving board without checking if there’s water in the swimming pool. After all… it’s only a drawing. It’s all about the process!