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The eldest of seven children and a mother of one, Halcian Pierre, grew up with her grandmother in St James after her mother migrated to the United States, in search of a better life.

The former commercial artist, soldier and journalist said she loved art from childhood, recalls getting spanked by her grandmother for drawing on everything possible, especially her school textbooks. “Mine always had doodles on the corners of the pages. I’d sometimes draw on the pictures themselves, adding speech balloons and words,” she said.

“After my granny complained to my mom that I was drawing on everything, my mom sent me drawing books, markers, coloured pencils and crayons. I was in heaven!

“My granny never considered art as a job, so much so, that she used to buy my art supplies last on the booklist but art was my favourite class. Oddly, though, my granny’s colourful head ties inspired my art aesthetic.”

One of Pierre’s early expressions of art as a professional was at t-shirt print shops. As a reserve soldier in the T&T Defence Force, her portfolio of artwork expanded to include signage, badges of rank, and the Teteron Barracks and Camp Ogden coat of arms. “I always loved writing, too,” she revealed.

Encouraged by former schoolmates, Pierre attended a meeting where she got the opportunity to do an illustration and write.

“It was a random story to vent on a robbery at my home that gained the attention of the then editor-in-chief. Kathy-Ann Thomas liked what she read, sought my permission to publish it, then offered me a job to write,” she recalled,

“I was assigned to the Features desk and also to do a weekly cartoon column, Yuh is a True Trini If, which highlighted some of our little idiosyncrasies. I hope to turn it into a book when I am financially able.”

Pierre worked in the media for 19 years, gaining an associate degree along the way and experience from tenures at three local media houses. After she was retrenched in 2017, stints at advertising agencies where she did copywriting and voiced ads added to her range of skills and experience. “My creativity ran wild, so no matter what life threw at me, and how hard, my art was always there,” she said.

She said with her characteristic humour that “my sideline became my mainline” as she took the plunge and became a professional artist. Pierre’s, style is Caribbean neo-pop, combining elements of realism, Caribbean folk art and classic pop art. It is a bright and colourful aesthetic with a focus on women.

She explained: “I generally use acrylics and gel pens for my miniature and large pieces, but from time to time I also do spot colour and monochrome work, depending on my mood.

“My first solo, I, Woman, was in 2016 at The Art Society of T&T. All proceeds were promptly donated towards the healthcare of comedian and actress Beulah (Shirley King). She died that year.

“My second, Macafouchette, in 2018, was at UnCorked Wines and Spirits Ltd. Again, I was able to donate the proceeds from my paintings—Rub a Dub Dub, Three Men in a Flood, to Habitat for Humanity. My third, I Woman Part II, Who We Are, was this year at the Arnim’s Art Galleria, then located on Woodford Street.

“Unfortunately, the timing was the worst as the day it opened happened to also be the day the nationwide lockdown commenced. It was painful, but there was still love. In all, I had 34 pieces and sold seven on-site, and two more after the show closed. I am forever grateful to those buyers. The Rape Crisis Centre would have benefited, but the painting, Confident in her Worth, is still to be sold. I hope it can be, off or online.”

Pierre says art is her love and her life and has kept her going throughout the pandemic. “There is always something to create and appreciate, from food to fashions, festivals, flora and fauna. When my fellow art buddies create and post their works online and I see them, it makes me even happier because it shows everyone that creativity is not lost. I keep saying that art is needed, and we need our artists,” she said.

Pierre just completed the TT ArtOber challenge, a project on her Instagram page where she did a drawing a day using daily Trini word prompts including maco, zandolie, bush bath and meggie.

A member of ASTT and Women in Art of T&T, on November 6 Pierre will be taking part in the Fine Art Market at the Anchorage in Chaguaramas, On December 19, she will be at Upmarket, Lions Civic Centre, Port-of-Spain.

Halcian Pierre can be contacted at [email protected] Follow her on Facebook at Art by Halcie and on Instagram at @artbyhalcie