AN ARTIST whose first ever painting was of a Spitfire has stepped away from teaching after more than 40 years.

Barbara Feuillade-Cole, 85, from Tadley, put away her paint pots for the last time on April 4 after teaching art classes at numerous levels for decades.

Having started painting at a young age, Barbara remembers clearly that her first painting of a Spitfire was hanging on the wall where she was evacuated to during the Second World War.

After taking a break from the craft to raise a family and then moving to Pamber Heath, Barbara began tutoring, before going on to teach Further Education art classes at the Hurst Community College.

Eventually, the 85-year-old decided to go private and began running classes from the Ambrose Allen Centre, in Franklin Avenue.

She said: “It has been a huge part of my life and I have met some wonderful people during that time.

“I remember there was a woman who was really keen, but she did really struggle, and one day she was painting a girl with her umbrella turned inside out and I said ‘that’s really good.’

“I took it away and got it framed for her, then when I showed it to her in the frame, she couldn’t believe it was her painting.”

After more than 40 years Barbara will now hand over the brushes to Hannah Monger, who has been attending Barbara’s classes since she was 16.

Barbara added: “I’m still going to attend the classes as a participant, but it will be difficult not to poke my nose in.

“I’m just going to use this time to relax and enjoy painting.”

Hannah said: “She is leaving big shoes to fill which I hope I will be able to do so, but as she will still be attending the classes so people will have a friendly face to turn to for tips and advice.”

The classes are held on Wednesday and Thursday mornings at the centre.