Lately I’ve been toying with the idea of becoming a full-time painter, spending my days attempting to create pieces of art and then trying to flog my wares online or through some fancy art gathering.
I’ve actually sold a couple of paintings in my time. A few years ago I did a few acrylic paintings featuring a beautiful ballerina silhouette and my friends loved them so much that they asked if they could buy one. Shock horror — in a pleasant way. Since then I’ve often thought how amazing it would be to be an artist, a proper artist with a studio, a pair of overalls and probably a penchant for poverty. I would wake up and instead of going to a stuffy office with beeping printers and endless emails, I’d go to my own studio where all of my half-completed creations would be waiting for me to come and give them life. They would be the conductor of my feelings about the world and an outlet for my imagination; my deepest, darkest fears, the simple pleasures of life and my own ode to joy. The studio would be my own little world in which I would offer up my wishes to the universe. What dreams I could paint onto those canvas that I craved in reality. Each piece would represent my gratitude and also my hope and fears.
I imagine it’s very difficult to make a living out of painting. That’s the only problem with it, isn’t it? The fact that the pay is unstable and sporadic — and that’s for the successful ones. I’d never get any credit anywhere, never mind a mortgage. It’s also one of those ‘jobs’ that people look at you and think “what is she talking about” when you tell them you’re a painter. And then they ask how much it would cost to give their living room a freshening up with a tin of magnolia. And I’d probably have to take the job.
If I were a painter I’d have access to colour in a way that few people are. To use colour in a creative way is to really see the world as it is and be thankful for the vast array of colour that our eyes allow us to see. What do we really know about colour anyway? We’re lucky that those before us have travelled the length and breadth of the globe to discover the different shades and hues that have helped us to create the most magnificent images and opened up our minds. When I’m mixing and matching colours to get the correct shade for whatever I’m trying to paint, it makes me think of those old painters who fought to find the right colours that best represent our world. For surely if we can see a colour then it must exist, but the difficulty is transforming it into a workable substance for canvas, which will last.
I’m digressing again. When I look at older paintings of masters such a JMW Turner (one of my favourite painters), I wonder how they found and used colours as they did. But as a painter I could spend the rest of my life finding out. What a life that would be.
If I was a painter I imagine, perhaps naively, that there would be less stress and increased thoughts of calm and wonder. To me painting is a form of mindfulness, in which I’m in one place at one time and focusing on one thing with no thoughts of anything else nor concept of time or the daily constraints that define modern life. Painting for me represents a type of freedom that is rare. But you don’t have to be a painter or an artist to see colour in all its glory. We all have our dreams in every colour imaginable. It’s just a matter of bringing them to life.
Christina Curran is freelance journalist based in Northern Ireland.