From mere sketch to showpieces
Almost three decades ago, Victor Collector, 54, had no idea that years later he would be making a living from paintings. What is more, he had no idea he could even draw until he did an idle sketch one day while “cooling out”.
“After I left school, I was still looking for a career to get into; and one night my brother, a friend and I, we were just cooling out doing nothing and we decided to sketch; and I drew a man off a back of a book and it impressed me. And from then on, I kept sketching all the time,” Victor told Barbados TODAY as he sat in his home-based art studio.
“I never knew I had the talent at school. It is only that night with the sketch of the man off the back of the book I realized
I could draw a bit,” he said while smiling.
He was in his late 20s at the time. Victor, who had a burning passion for farming, attended the then Erdiston Primary School.
“Like most people then, I was thinking about being in farming or something exciting like that. It was exciting at the time,” he quipped.
It was no surprise then that after leaving the Parkinson School, Victor landed a job in the Ministry of Agriculture
doing work “a couple months a year”.
He also worked in Canada “with the Farm Labour Programme”.
Victor said when he later “discovered” his talent he did some art classes at the O’ Level Institute where he sharpened his skills.
A reserved Victor says his journey since then has been “good”. However, he holds that while Barbadians generally have an appreciation of art, “it could be better”.
For him, selling a painting over the years has never been a problem. In fact, he said all he had to do was “do the paintings and somebody will come along and buy them”.
He said people were willing to pay the price for his work, although some would sometimes ask for a discount.
However, Victor acknowledged that his business was not spared the effects of the recent economic downturn.
“It impacted greatly. I don’t really get sales like before the recession,” he said, stating that since around 2008 people were not requesting special pieces as much as before.
“Not that I mind though, because I like to paint what I feel like,” he added.
Evident from the scores of pictures in his work area, Victor said he travelled across the island taking photographs of various sceneries, capturing some of the local culture.
Whenever he is ready to do one of his masterpieces he would then go through his stock of pictures and “whatever
hit” him at the time he would then start to paint while sitting at a small window in his Pine Plantation Road, St Michael
home-based studio –– Collector Arts.
He readily admitted that he did not offer portraits, but pointing to the few that hung on the walls inside his studio, Victor explained: “I did them just to prove to myself I can.”
Victor, who said he was able to look back at a painting and tell where the picture was taken, specializes in oil and watercolours on canvas. However, a few years ago he started to sell prints of some of his paintings.
One glance at his work, and you have to take a second, and even a third, to convince yourself it is not a picture taken with a high definition camera. He tries his best to capture every intricate detail from the original photograph he takes.
Pointing out that paintings called for time, Victor said a piece could take him as little as three weeks to as long as four months, “depending on how big it is and how many details are in it”.
He said the best part of his job was when he finished a piece and he and others could admire it.
He admits some pieces could be “difficult” because of the details, and he would have to spend much time figuring out how to get it done. That, he said, was his biggest challenge.
The entrepreneur has entered a number of shows and competitions, including the National Independence Continued on Page 17.