By Sajeev K Peter
Rachael Sinclair’s paintings speak loudly for themselves. They communicate to you, touch your sensibilities and often ignite a notion in you that could at times call for action from the viewer. “I want to create paintings that people look at and feel emotional about,” says Canadian expat Rachael, an English instructor at Gulf University of Science and Technology, Kuwait. Her oil paintings composed in multitude of colors represent not just a theme, be it political, environmental or cultural, but hide something deeper and more meaningful within themselves.
In an interview with the Kuwait Times, the artist reflected on how she regained the once-lost passion to paint after she came to Kuwait. Her inspiration comes mostly from her travels and from contemporary news around the world. As a result, she has been painting about the war and exodus in Syria, women’s fights for equality and justice, the Russian aggression on Ukraine, environmental issues, climate change, etc. “Lots of my paintings have drifted away from romanticism into symbolism. Some may appear even like puzzles.
I think, with social media around and with everything that is bombarding our senses, there is more than what is being told. We have to dive deeper into what is really going on behind the scenes. So, my paintings represent that kind of a notion. What you see is not what you always get. There is always something hidden, like a Da Vinci code,” Rachael explains. For instance, her work, ‘The Muses’ is inspired by the women of Iran and their fight for freedom. Similarly, the Syrian exodus has prompted her to do ‘Exodus.’
While ‘Inheritance’ is about this beautiful planet and its inheritors, her intriguing work ‘Disillusionment’ suggests that ‘what we perceive to be real in this world can actually be a subtle illusion’. Culture shock Rachael came to Kuwait in 2006. “When I arrived at Kuwait airport some 16 years ago, the culture shock was extraordinary, to say the least. It was a unique and different experience,” she said recalling her early days in Kuwait. Before taking up the job in GUST, she taught at The American Academy in Salwa and later joined Al-Bayan Bilingual School, Hawally.
“I had abandoned my passion to paint in Canada. But, I started painting again two years after I reached Kuwait because of a Lebanese friend who inspired me to pick up the brush again. My Arab friends showed me the Behbehani Complex in Kuwait City which houses and sells so many beautiful art supplies. They got me some basic brushes and oil paints,” Rachael said. “So, I started observing, learning, and embracing the culture and people around me. Kuwait’s distinct culture fascinated me and inspired me to paint again,” she said. The first painting she did in Kuwait was inspired by Monet’s ‘Lilies’. “All my friends appreciated my work and said ‘yalla, paint more’.
It was really a breakthrough for me. It was a way to distract myself from being alone and thousands of miles away from home. It was a way to find solitude and peace within myself through the tip of my brush as it filled the canvas with colors and to see all the creativity that comes from that. It is euphoric when you can express your emotions and feelings through a paintbrush,” she explained.
Rachael has held her own painting exhibitions in Kuwait at venues like The Avenues mall and Al-Kout Mall. “When you paint, remember to paint what YOU the artist sees, not what you think others see,” she commented. Symbolism As an avid traveler, she takes a sketchbook with her on her adventures. “When I travel, I enjoy nature.
I think it’s beautiful to not only see but feel the vistas and imagery you see and experience when you travel,” she pointed out. For Rachael, mornings are the best times to paint. “It’s the dawn of a new perspective. Plus, coffee goes great with painting!” Rachael admits that her style is still evolving. “Well, when I first started painting, it was not in any particular style. If you see my evolving collection of paintings, you will see they are very eclectic and different from each other. I respect Pablo Picasso and the abstract style. I have closely viewed some of his works at the Prado Museum in Madrid and at the Louvre in Paris.
But I don’t try to follow his style. I am not a huge fan of Salvador Dali either, though I have found some of his works quite fascinating. I find the American artist Jackson Pollock’s works fabulous and riveting. You might see some traces of these masters in my works, although I don’t try to imitate them. Some of my paintings are abstracts, some are expressionistic. I am trying to develop my own style,” she pointed out. “I am leaning more towards symbolism based on what is happening in the world today.
I want to create subtle paintings which whisper messages which may in turn, motivate people to go and speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. This is what I want to be known for before I leave this planet, being able to produce paintings that inspire people to join a cause or effort in making this planet a better place to live and thrive not only for us but for our children and future generations,” Rachel concluded.