As the theme for the competition was ‘peace’, in honour of the centenary of the outbreak of World War One, I thought for a long time about a less obvious depiction. The first images in my mind were poppy fields, soldiers and their families. It is the families of the soldiers that led me to my idea – Just For a Moment – which depicts a baby sleeping in its mother’s arms. Its title is taken from a beautiful but sad song by Aqualung.

I have friends and family with small children at the moment and it struck me that many parents initially find peace in the fleeting moments when their children are asleep and secure in their arms. I thought about how precious this time is and how quickly these moments pass over time.

As we grow up, I am not sure there are many times in life when we can truly say that we are entirely at peace and feel as secure as we surely must have felt in those early days. I wanted to depict the fragility and magnitude of this time, which is why the painting is mostly in black and white, with only a hint of colour.

I used acrylic paints on a base of texture paste on stretched canvas. It took a little over week of research and many hours of painting to complete it. I am still contemplating making a few changes to it, so I suppose it’s still an ongoing process!

I had two paintings in the exhibition. Both were my initial attempts at painting images of people. I was also experimenting with contrasts in light and shadow. Just For a Moment is not really typical of my style – I usually incorporate many bright colours and focus on landscapes or still life.

When the presentation of awards took place at the museum, I was very surprised to have won. There were many absolutely beautiful pieces in the competition and my painting was experimental and seemed different from many of the others on display. I was concerned that people may not understand it. Another reason that I was surprised, was that I had won the Harrington Cup last year for a painting called Why the Caged Bird Sings, which was a representation of a poem by Maya Angelou (as the theme had been ‘Paint a Poem’). As that was the first time I had displayed my work publicly, it came as a shock. I put it down to beginner’s luck.

Apart from the two competitions at the museum, I have displayed some paintings at Intu Watford in the past.

I am currently hoping to build up a collection of work to have my own exhibition one day. I am amazed that people compliment my art and that some even buy it. I lacked confidence in my artistic ability for a long time. Since then, I have aimed to use my experience to help my pupils to realise that it is always worth pursuing anything that makes you happy. Art is very individual and I want to show them that it’s the expression that matters. They are a source of inspiration.