We had the good fortune of connecting with Romaine McNeil and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Romaine, why did you pursue a creative career?
In all honesty, pursuing a career in the arts was never really a conscious decision. I just knew from a very young age there was this undeniable connection to express myself visually, drawing or painting, to explore creative ideas on paper and canvas; it was just always there and I always felt the need to do it. Before even taking up a pencil or a paintbrush I could see clear images and concepts in my mind as if they were sitting right in front of me, engaging me in this deep uninterrupted conversation that became so fulfilling and cathartic. I think the idea of it becoming a career happened when my father bought my first ever painting, a landscape with a waterfall, and placed it in his office for everyone to see. I was around 13 years old at the time and that was very encouraging.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
What sets me apart from others could be the way I interpret and perceive the world around me. Everything has a story and every story has the power to impact any individual, if told in the right way. Being a surrealist is what I am most excited about because it allows me to truly express my thoughts in a way that is provocatively intriguing to the viewer. I got to where I am today by not adhering to the norm, by stepping away from the narrative that I would have to paint a certain way to survive, that landscapes, seascapes or even market scenes which I grew up seeing as “art” in my community was the way to go. I wasn’t exposed to various painting styles until much later in life. It wasn’t easy getting people to view my work, it was peculiar, maybe a little too peculiar.
Overcoming any challenge takes strength and determination. You have to approach what you do and love with a certain level of confidence and a firm belief in yourself and your cause or purpose, and I use that to propel me further and further into my career. I understood over time that the work took on a life and energy of its own.  It encompassed all of our hardships, emotions, questions, decisions, perceptions about life and love, anger, failure amongst other things and maybe the issue was never the work but those who had limited vision of the power within the work itself.

I’ve learnt along the way that my journey is one worth sharing, that my art is worth sharing, that the concepts that marinate in my mind are beautiful and that people can connect with the message in each of the pieces. My work is a mere reflection of a deeper inner universe that we are all a part of, that we share the struggles, the love, the pain and suffering, that we are all connected on a greater level.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Ahhh I am such a foodie! I do enjoy the company of an excellent meal. LOL. My taste buds always crave variety and color the same way my mind does. I would say these places to eat and hang out are my absolute favs in Kingston, Jamaica. The Haven, Café Hibiscus, Susie’s Bakery, LemonGrass Ja has an excellent variety of Teas and I am an avid tea drinker. For outdoors, Holywell Park in the Blue mountains is an excellent place to hike, camp and hang out and also just to get away from the city and connect with nature, Negril beach in Westmoreland, the full 7 miles is worth the walk, especially during the sunset hours. Dolphin Cove in Ocho Rios, St. Ann, The Pelican Bar in St Elizabeth is the bar that is situated in the sea, separated from everything else. There’s wonderful live music with The Jam is Back at 22Jerk in Barbican. The Sky Gallery is the newest gallery operating in Kingston and it is truly an experience everyone should have. The view from the roof is amazing and the artworks are modern and cutting edge. The whole vibe there is about allow creatives and non-creatives to connect and interact about work and life as it unfolds. All these places above mentioned are where one can visit and just unwind; and in a world where everything feels so hectic at times, these places are gentle reminders to breathe.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My parents were, from the get go, my biggest supporters. My brothers and close family members. Octavius Gordon and his family have been like a second family to me on this journey of making a career out of painting, their support has never swayed over the last decade or so since we made our connection. Great friends along the way, Donat Ingram, Scott and Kamala Saulter, Tanisha Lincoln, Courick Clarke, last but not least Dana-Lee Singh for having provided a tremendous amount of support and encouragement these last few years and also during the pandemic, and for giving me an amazing space where I have an amplitude of freedom to create and be expressive without limits.

Instagram: @romainecreates

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