REDISCOVERING THE ARTIST IN ME
A friend of mine once referred to my art work as “Art Of Happiness”. I really wanted to use that inspirational title as the name for my site but soon discovered that it was already taken by the Dalai Lama. Since this was clearly a ‘no contest’ I settled for Art Roraima. The name ‘Roraima’ is of special significance to me as it refers to an elegant and majestic mountain range in Guyana, the land of my birth. Mount Roraima is located in an area of South America that is blessed by an abundance of pristine beauty and borders 3 countries in South America – Guyana, Brazil and Venezuela.
I was about 11 years old and had just started high school when I became keenly interested in art. Prior to that time I engaged in type of art that most young kids do in kindergarten and early grade classes. At high school I learned more about various art forms and techniques. However, it was the art books at our school library that drew me in more than the classes. These beautifully bound books chronicling the lives and works of mostly European artists left a lasting impression on me. It was at this point I started to fall under the spell of these artists that I usually held on to these books well beyond the due dates and frequently had to pay late fines to the library… much to the displeasure of my father. These books displayed masterpieces of renowned artists such as Cézanne, Renoir, Degas, Goya, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Monet and others while providing a glimpse into their often turbulent personal lives. Their art gave me an insight into an unfamiliar culture that was so very different from that of Guyana. I made sure to pay close attention to their lives and the societies they came from to get a sense of what drove their passion. That experience helped widen my appreciation of their talents and styles and left me with a sense of how I could approach my own art work.
When I was first introduced to formal art training I always wanted to paint Mount Roraima but never thought I could do it justice. At the time our national anthem was “Born In The Land Of The Mighty Roraima” and the powerful messages of that anthem stirred strong emotions in me. Hence when I saw my first pictures of that mountain it was like viewing a cathedral of nature and I had a tremendous desire to paint it but didn’t believe I could do it justice. I look forward to realizing that dream now! It was with regret that my interest in art had to be set aside as I had to focus on completing secondary school, leaving the land of my birth, and undertaking university studies in preparation for gainful employment in the ‘real world’.
Although I was busy trying to make a living there was always this wistful feeling and longing to get back into art. While my university degrees from the University of Toronto were in the humanities I switched direction shortly after graduating towards additional studies in the exciting new field of computer science. Hence most of my career was spent working in IT. In order to ease the transition from ‘work life’ to the retirement phase I started taking formal art classes before leaving the workforce. These classes were the first step in the process to re-acquaint myself with basic principles of art. So when I decided to take early retirement I had already immersed myself in the art discipline and created my own website to post my works. Alas, now that I am retired it is to my great satisfaction that I am now able to recapture the passion I always had for art. I familiarized myself with the works of many contemporary artists and, in particular, paid close attention to the unusual and distinctive styles of notable artists from the Caribbean diaspora. This new chapter in my life as a retiree presented an opportunity to re-invent myself. I wanted to feel those brushes in my hand moving across the canvas and bring a feeling, an image, or an idea to life that I could share with others. I am very grateful for this opportunity to paint once again. And the unexpected bonus is that getting back to art has allowed me to reconnect with my early life in Guyana and bring a sense of calm to this phase of my life.
In retrospect, I believe my introduction to formal art classes gave me an insight into a rich array of ideas and the philosophy of diverse cultures. From the earliest cave drawings to the more contemporary art we can get a sense of what life was like at a particular time in history. Art can help us relate to the richness and meaning of the past and present. It can touch all our senses. That is evident in how we capture and interpret that experience in whatever medium we use.
I hope you will enjoy viewing my work and I look forward to hearing from you.
M. P. Cheeks
(Resides in Ontario, Canada)
Contact info: firstname.lastname@example.org