Community artist Bob Lee has launched his own art business after a serious
health scare forced him to give up work as a care manager three years ago.
Weighing around 35 stone in 2009, Bob, from Lime Street,
Sutton-in-Ashfield, was forced to finish his career as a manager at Autism First
in Riddings, Derbyshire.
But after he suffered a suspected heart attack
and raised blood pressure, Nottinghamshire County Council’s ACLS (Adult
Community Learning Service) team has helped Bob on the path to follow his dream
to teach people how to paint, and he has since been inspired to improve his
fitness and health.
Now weighing just 23 stone, Bob was inspired by
American TV painter Bob Ross, and became a National Community Learning Champion
by holding ‘Can’t Paint, Won’t Paint’ workshops in the Idlewells Shopping Centre
With continued support from the shopping centre,
the county council’s ACLS service and Sutton Centre Community College, High
Pavement, he has now opened a new business – Can Paint, Will Paint. Some of his
up and coming classes at the centre for November are as follows:
Sunday 11 November- £40 - Remembrance Poppy landscape - four places left -
• Sunday 18 November- £40 - Seaside crashing wave - six places left
Bob, aged 43, said: “A local county councillor put me in
touch with the ACLS team at Nottinghamshire County Council and they have been
vital in helping signpost and support me onto the right track.
“I was in
shock and very daunted when I had the health scare and had to give up the job I
loved. However, I love painting and am inspired by Bob Ross on TV who is an
artist and I had an idea that I wanted to teach others to paint.”
Murray, an outreach officer based within the ACLS team helped him to achieve his
ambition. Together, they set up a concept called Can’t Paint, Won’t Paint and
with the support of Ashfield District Council and the Idlewells Shopping Centre,
they set up the programme to help introduce shoppers to painting.
than 2,000 people took part in the workshop taster summer sessions and then this
autumn his future was made more certain with a full-time base within the
shopping centre for his Can Paint Will Paint, community learning enterprise,
which is in partnership with Sutton Centre Community College. Bob has also taken
part in the PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector) course at
Sutton College so he is qualified to teach him in the lifelong sector.
He said: “I am delighted to be able to realise this dream. I love being
able to help people to paint and the workshops have been fantastic. To be able
to set up my own company is brilliant and I am looking forward to it.
“This would not have been possible without the support and help of
Maxine at the County Council and other partners who put me on the right path and
my confidence has grown. I would recommend others to get in touch if they have a
skill they are trying to put into practice.”
Maxine Murray, an outreach
officer for ACLS, at Nottinghamshire County Council said: “Bob was struggling to
get his idea off the ground when we first met but his ideas were so compelling
and his personality is infectious.
“We helped him find funding sources
to host a series of workshops and it has just grown and grown. Young and old
have benefited from the painting sessions and I am sure the new business will
Andrew Wraight, Centre Manager at the Idlewells Shopping
Centre, in Sutton-in-Ashfield, said: “The team at Idlewells Shopping Centre have
been working closely with Bob for some time, and we were delighted when Bob
entered a local ‘Dragon’s Den’ competition.
“We have assisted Bob with
funding to get his Can Paint Will Paint enterprise off the ground and will
continue to support him with business mentoring as the project progresses. It is
great to have the opportunity to help Bob turn his talent into a business and we
wish him every success.”
Private lessons are also available - £60 full
day, £45 full day. Call Bob Lee on 07846 866065 for more details.
interested in following Bob’s path and becoming a volunteer Learning Champion or
the wide variety of community learning courses available can contact the ACLS
team at Nottinghamshire County Council on 0115 9772185 or email