A lifelong passion

Pat Fairfield has made a successful career out of a lifelong passion for her idyllic water colour landscapes. Visiting Cayman recently at the invite of the Visual Arts Society, she undertook workshops and was impressed by the level of passion she experienced here. Business editor Lindsey Turnbull took time out to chat with this worldly artist and reports.

For me, my passion for art was just too strong to be ignored,” admits Pat Fairfield, an 82 year old veteran of the industry who began painting early on in life. “It has been a creative passion that needed to be properly channeled, just like musicians have to, or actors,” she adds.

Have left her native Yorkshire, England for Canada as a young girl, Pat felt her artistic calling at a young age, inspired by the wild and wonderful scenery all around her. In her early twenties, she exhibited her art for the first time, in Toronto, after which time she attended art school. When she began winning prizes for her art and says she knew she was “pretty good”. Pat has been painting full time for the last 30 years, making a living out of selling her paintings and also teaching adults how to paint.

“The first time I taught an adult class at college I suddenly realised I hadn’t a clue how to teach!” she states. “I quickly enrolled at university to learn how to teach adults; it’s a completely different method from teaching children and an interesting challenge. Adults come with a wealth of knowledge and a world of living. It’s a give-and-take relationship and you end up learning an awful lot yourself in the process.”
Pat says most of her students are women who are mid-life, divorced, retired or simply finding themselves at a stage where their children have left home.
“Sometimes their artistic dreams have been squashed in their early school years and they come to my classes asking whether I think they really have the ability to paint. Then suddenly they become insatiable and it turns into a lifelong learning process,” she confirms.

Pat says she begins by teaching her students the basics – colour systems, composition, drawing, and so on, to provide them with the skills to pursue their own art and this was the mode of teaching that she employed while in the Cayman Islands, even though she was only able to teach two short courses.
She says the experience in Cayman was wonderful as her class was so incredibly eager to learn.
“Although this has been my first visit to Cayman it certainly won’t be my last!” she says. “My hosts have been so gracious [Pat stayed at her friend, Janet Walker’s beautiful and artistically inspiring home on South Sound] and I have been so excited by the natural beauty all around me here. In particular I cannot wait to get painting the incredible blue sea and the exciting foliage from the plants and trees.”

Pat is a busy lady for all of her 82 years and is looking forward to an up and coming exhibition of her work of around 30 of her water colours based on her most recent trip to the Artic, a particularly inspiring landscape, according to the artist.
“I’m always busy,” she confides. “Having been married twice and divorced twice I’ve had to make my own way in life. I’ve developed a successful business from my art and from teaching art and I’m not stopping now!” she says.
As well as an intrepid traveler (she has toured most continents and visited her favourite Artic many times), voracious painter, lecturer and business woman, Pat is also a passionate advocate for women’s rights and helped to establish the first centre for women in Canada, which, among many services, provides a hotline for women in trouble in Canada, as well as assist them with obtaining jobs, counseling and further education.

“I don’t just paint,” she says. “I have been given so much in my life that I feel I must give something back,” she states.
Taking this idea even further, Pat has taken her art into hospitals, helping those with life threatening diseases to focus on something positive such as art. “Art can be a great healer. It helps people and their relatives come to terms with their illnesses.”
Pat left an incredibly positive impression on her class here in the Cayman Islands, as Terry Grimes who enjoyed undertaking the Visual Arts Society course says, “I thought the workshop was brilliant. Pat was able to explain and demonstrate colour theory over a couple of hours and then have us all applying bold juicy paint to paper. I think it was an eye opener for most of us….a really enjoyable weekend.”

Karen Coles adds, “I admired Pat’s work immensely and as we progressed through the week I began to understand her use of the Munsell Colour System and therefore the clarity and brightness of her paintings.  Having almost given up on water colour painting prior to this course, I was certainly inspired by her to persevere with them.”