Royden Sealey has always had a passion for art and as a child had expressed this in ways which landed him in hot water.
“I would draw in all of my books: English, Social Studies; every other page had a drawing. I used to get into a lot of trouble for it. During primary school I got into trouble for drawing in my books, the desks, the walls; I drew on almost anything,” Royden said.
“Art was always a part of me. I used to draw more than anything else. I started from a very small age; from the moment I could draw a line I started drawing objects. My mom noticed I was very good with drawing. She said I got it from my father since he could have drawn too. It was just an ability to draw. He was an artist in his own way. He’d draw first then make like cupboards and toys. I had started drawing cartoons at first: Spiderman, Superman, Looney Tunes [characters].”
Today Royden’s focus is specifically on abstract and surrealism paintings and manual as well as computer graphics designs. He also dabbles a bit in drawing, ceramics and sculpting.
In an interview with The Scene, he recalled that while at Friendship Secondary he and three other third formers took part in a Global Warming Competition under the theme ‘Using forms of Energy’ which was presented by Banks DIH. Their drawing depicted the use of solar panels which earned them the third place.
Later on, only he of the four once budding artists would take art seriously. Everyone else went their own way except for one guy who did branch off into tattooing.
Royden said he has always had the support of his family, especially his grandmother who pushed for him to have himself qualified in the field.
And so Royden took his portfolio of tattoos, designs of cars and cartoons to the ER Burrowes School of Art, which opened a whole new world of art for him.
“I thought I was a good artist until I joined Burrowes School of Art. Drawings became more challenging, time consuming and we had to learn all the principles of art. I really learnt about art. In the first year of Burrowes I was challenged a lot in understanding drawing; figure drawing,” he shared. “What was equally challenging was that we had to get experience in all the areas; drawing, painting, graphics design, ceramics, sculpture, leather craft and some other theoretical subjects like human anatomy, history and photography.
“After the first year I settled with painting as my major and graphics design as my minor. My first painting instructor was O J Smith. He helped me to develop my painting skill. It was during his class that I first held a painting brush and engaged in canvas.”
In their final year artists have to complete a project before graduation; they call this project the major task.
“For my major task I wanted to combine all the areas and elements in art that I would have studied. So I went back and forth wanting to do a collection of different paintings… but time was against me and I could have only done one which I called Wall of Emotions.
It took me a month to complete it; three weeks alone to come up with a concept, a lot of thinking, sketching and writing. It took me one week to get the actual task done,” Royden recalled.
Wall of Emotions was done in acrylic and emulsion, two of the common materials Royden uses to paint. Each face, he said, represents a different personality of the same person.
Like other artists, he recognises that it is difficult to make a living from his craft. He feels that this is because many Guyanese do not recognise art for what it is.
“Artists put a lot of time, emotion and effort into creating a work of art and when somebody devalues it, it’s the worst feeling an artist could get,” he said. “It seems like only the people in the middle class can afford to buy art.
People don’t really see that having art is having a one of a kind thing. Even if you try to recreate it, it will never ever come the same. So when somebody has a piece of art, nobody else has that.”
He added, “Art is always priceless and when numbers are attached to it, it’s just to express [its value]. Getting value for your work is the most difficult challenge.”
Nevertheless, Royden is all for pushing for more exposure for art. “Someday I hope to have my own art gallery exhibiting not only my work but the work of budding artists as well, exposing their abilities. I’d want to have my own art class as well to develop and foster the minds of young artists,” he outlined.
When asked about his hobbies, the 1990 Scorpio-born says, “I enjoy sports [volleyball and table tennis], reading…, writing poetry and photography. I don’t consider art to be my hobby. A hobby for me is something you enjoy doing during your free time. Art for me is a passion. Everything I see relates to me in an artistic way. Art is a part of me.”
Royden considers himself to be man beyond of his years, since he’s always grasping as much knowledge as he can, and a philosopher also.
“I interpret art as common behaviours in people. Art reflects the thoughts of man. Sometimes [it can be used] to send messages to people. Art is a direct representation of a person’s life,” he said.
“Art has enhanced me socially and it’s extended my mind to learn as much as I possibly can as an artist.”
Some of his pieces are Mountain of Thoughts, Frozen Fears, Self-Motivated (graphics design painting), Mass Corruption, The Marble-way, Galaxy, Caribbean Woman, Finding Childhood, and Manipulation.