By Ramona Pintea
I hope my story will inspire you to look within and discover that you are enough, that dreams do come true and that it is never too late – and also to look at who you are trying to please.
I grew up in a communist dictatorship. My parents got divorced when I was nine, and my brother and I were separated. My mother was often ill and I had to look after her. The worst part was living in a country under a dictatorship and I hated everything about it. I decided as a child that I would leave the country one day.
My chance came in 1991 when I was 18 years old and communism fell. I left for London, UK, all by myself with £200 in my pocket, a bag of clothes and big dreams.
I opened my first business when I was 25 years old – a fashion company that grew rapidly. Soon, our clothes were selling in 300 boutiques all across UK. I fell in love, got married and had our daughter.
In 2009, my family and I moved back to my native Romania and I started an interior-design business that began making six figures from year one. However, my passion was always painting.
I had studied fine art in college in London but I never had the courage to pursue the dream because of the ‘starving artist’ mentality I grew up with; there was a belief that artists could never making a living just from art. So, I started painting at night and weekends as well as running my business during the day.
One day in 2013, after I turned 40, I walked into my office and told my staff that I was going to close the business in order to pursue art. My passion could not be ignored – I needed to follow my art and my heart.
What followed were many years of extremely hard work. I made it a point of putting in extra efforts on my skills as well as finding my artistic voice. Being a self-taught artist meant that there was a constant voice in my head telling me, I am not good enough. I needed the approval of ‘the art establishment’ to validate me.
I got that approval in 2018 when we moved back to London and I worked with some well-established galleries. I exhibited in central London and had my art sold to, in the words of the gallery owner, “Very important collectors”.
However, life has a wonderful way of teaching you what you need to know.
During the lockdown I read an article in Forbes magazine about seven women heads of states and how they dealt with the pandemic. This sparked an idea.
In that article, Angela Merkel of Germany, TsaiIng-wen of Taiwan, Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand, Katrín Jakobsdóttir of Iceland, Sanna Marin of Finland, Erna Solberg of Norway and Mette Frederiksen of Denmark were acknowledged as leaders who had the best responses to the coronavirus pandemic.
This inspired me to create a new series of paintings that explore women in leadership, our strengths and vulnerabilities, our inner power, and our role in our modern society. I started sharing my thoughts and my art online and the response was amazing.
Women from all over the world connected with my art and with my message, telling me how inspiring and uplifted it made them feel. I literally had hundreds of messages.
My inspiration is every woman who is a leader but is living in anonymity. I want to bring every woman into the spotlight who runs her household, raises her children, puts up with her boss, looks after her health, and shows strength and courage in her everyday life. They all deserve to wear crowns.
Kristen from San Francisco, a nurse on the front line, was sleeping in her car during breaks and messaging me to tell me how my art is giving her hope to raise her two daughters in these fear-filled times.
What was I thinking? I never needed the approval of the ‘art establishment’. All I needed was to serve in some small way. To make someone’s perspective on life a little better. To inspire someone to go within and discover that they can do it.
This collection is called Urban Queen (a name given by one of my Facebook followers). I guess the paintings have taught me a very important lesson: that I am a Queen too (we all are!) and that a queen serves. And through serving others you find your passion and your purpose.
Here’s to all of us, and to knowing that it’s never too late.
Ramona Pintea is a UK-based artist who works primarily in oils, with occasional forays into acrylics and mixed media. Her paintings have made it to private collections in the US, Norway, England, Canada, Hong Kong and the Philippines.