“My journey with RISD Continuing Education began when I realized that if I could go back to being 18, I would have gone to art school.

The most surprising thing about taking these courses was incorporating critiques into my process. I was seriously scared of feedback of any kind. My professors really worked to create a supportive environment for feedback that was actually productive. I overcame a huge obstacle learning how to listen and provide critiques.

One of those instructors was Suzi Cozzens; I just love her so much! Not only is she a talented artist and instructor, but she created an experience where she encouraged friendships in her classes. Because of that I have made some amazing friends. We live in three different states, but talk almost daily—always supporting each other and bouncing ideas around.

In order to adapt to online learning, I took over the guest room! It felt like a huge risk at the time, but it was also so symbolic of the commitment I was making to myself, investing in myself and starting a new career path. It’s one of the reasons why I tend to work so often in watercolor: It’s so easy to transport. I often put the kids to bed and then set up a tray in my bedroom where I can paint and draw at night.

For me, the classes I have taken have launched a new career path as well as an educational path. This program gave me a structure to understand the building blocks of what it takes to have a career in the arts. I have continued to take college classes locally (Southern California), some in person, some online, and am excited for what the future holds.

My advice for anyone thinking about taking courses with RISD CE would be to reach out to others in your classes and hop on Zoom, or on FaceTime to get to know them better. Having someone who understands what you are doing is a huge help.”

—Emily Bourassa, RISD CE Painting and Natural Science Illustration certificate student

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Gallery of Emily’s artwork