A new year’s awakening - and the covid pandemic - were the catalyst for Clinton Christian to make the shift from a career in architectural design to his true calling in art.
“Apart from maybe painting something over the Christmas holidays my art was pretty much nonexistent since my school days,'' says Clinton, who lives in rural Waikato with his wife and two teenage sons.
Those school days had seen him excel in art, but given little direction towards making it a career. “My love for painting and creating art was suppressed for many years by the time constraints of family life and working hands-on in construction and later as a self-taught architectural designer for 12 years.”
Over that time Clinton’s creativity was channeled in practical ways. “I'm a real hands-on person and am pretty confident I can make or create anything I set my mind to such as my own home, many renovations, and even a large concrete swimming pool.”
But after facing some personal life events from 2015-2017 including the passing of his mother, a shift of focus for Clinton was needed. Career-wise he was tired of “sitting behind a computer all day dealing with councils and building consents”.
“On New Year’s day 2018 I woke up with an overwhelming feeling that my purpose was to be creating. At the time I was unsure exactly what but thought let’s just do it and see what happens.”
He made the huge decision to pursue his creative purpose full-time – quitting his job, building a studio – and painting. Lots of painting.
“Some of my close friends didn't even know I could paint and possibly thought I was having a midlife crisis!”
With a supportive wife, Clinton’s 6-month plan turned into a 12-month one, and now, with the help of The Learning Connexion, it is finally becoming a sustainable one.
“I decided to join TLC during lockdown 2020 as a distance student, as I felt I needed some support as well as something that would help me grow creatively.”
With the help of mentor Linda Evangaline-Smith, Clinton now has the crucial ingredient of someone to discuss ideas with and keep him focused. “Linda is great and often throws something out there I haven't considered as well as giving me some accountability.”
TLC has also seen a change of direction in his work. Exhibiting paintings since 2018, including solos and collaborations with other Waikato artists, Clinton has now drawn inspiration from his Generation-X childhood for a new series of works.
“My current new Retro Pop work has been created while studying at TLC and is a bit of a directional shift from 2020 work so we'll see how that goes. So far it is being received really well and I have had a few sales as well as a few requested commissions.”
Clinton says he doesn’t find it hard to find inspiration, with nostalgia for his 70s/80s childhood a big one. A recent work called 'Young At Heart' resembles a giant 3D Lego-style artwork. “The resin finish coat is a wow experience and takes the work to another level.”
“The more you try things the more you want to try things differently. Inspiration is everywhere but generally thinking of the things I love or loved as a child and trying to imagine the colour and joy those things would bring to others in a unique or personal way.”
Another big focus has been creating new work for The Auckland Art Show this December. A large feature piece called 'Frenchie' will be displayed on the Top 10 wall.
It’s that kind of success that sees him optimistic about his goals. “I feel I have come a long way in a short time but am only just taking my first steps. I'm so excited about what I will create in the future and can't even imagine what that may be!”
Clinton has one piece of advice for people thinking about enrolling at The Learning Connexion for 2022. “If you feel it's your purpose just go for it.....create, create, create....the more you do, the more you learn and grow with confidence.”
See more of Clinton's work at his website.