Log In

Reset Password

Portrait of a young artist

In the shadows: Self-portrait in white pastel on black paper by Samantha Gosling

At age three, Samantha Gosling drew a Christmas scene of Santa on the roof of a house in such detail that her parents recognised their daughter had a special talent, and with their encouragement and support her interest in art has been nurtured ever since.

Today, she is a painting major who is about to begin the second of a four-year degree programme at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), from which she aims to graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

"I love the school, everyone is a lot of fun and really nice. The faculty is really good and all of the teachers are so supportive. They will help me to become a better artist," she says. "Providence is a small college community, which I like. I can't wait to go back."

The road to RISD began at the Bermuda High School for Girls, where Miss Gosling received her general education through to GCSE level at Grade 11, and where she excelled at art. In fact, even as a young schoolgirl she knew instinctively that this would be her chosen career path.

Because the art programme at Williston Northampton School in Maine better suited her needs, she completed her junior and senior years there, and earned the senior year Painting Prize along the way.

In fact, such was the artistic progress the young Bermudian made at Williston that she gained early admission to RISD — the only art institution she ever wanted to attend.

Like any freshman, Miss Gosling's first year gave her an insight into the various areas in which she could specialise. Initially, she thought she would focus on Illustration, but realised its many commercial aspects would not suit her type of creativity. Meanwhile, she took a painting course, during which her closest friend and fellow art student noted that she seemed to have a "real knack" for it, and she thought, 'Why not?'

"The foundation year is the hardest, and I am hoping that the next year won't be as hard so I can focus on getting more expressive things done," she says. "Painting is one focus that I will have time to work really hard on to create something impactful. My goal is to create a really impressive final piece for the Senior Exhibition. I will aim for the best work that I have done."

Meanwhile, Miss Gosling has been spending her summer vacation completing 15 commissioned pastel portraits of children. So successful have these been, in fact, that she already has commissions lined up for next year. In addition, she has completed three charity pieces.

In fact, the latter is how the willowy young artist got into doing commissioned portraits in the first place. Her old alma mater, the Bermuda High School, was holding a fund-raising art auction last winter and she was approached to donate a piece of artwork. Instead, Miss Gosling displayed her portfolio and offered to do the portrait of the highest bidder. She was both surprised and delighted to learn that her offer went for $1,500. A similar request from the Masterworks Foundation led to her promise of a portrait going for $2,300.

Her third charity piece, a pastel portrait of a Ugandan grandmother, came at the invitation of African Baobab, a US charity group which assists 25 Ugandan grandmothers who have adopted Aids orphans.

Miss Gosling very much enjoys helping charities, and says that she has always thought if she was very rich and famous she would be "one of those people who do charity work, like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt".

Then, thanks to a combination of her mother Beth's networking, and word of mouth, the RISD student found she had so many commissions that she has spent the summer working away in the tiny, temporary studio overlooking a South Shore beach which her father Gregory fitted out for her. Next summer, she envisages doing portraits in oils — a medium about which she will learn more in the interim.

Looking to the future, Miss Gosling says that following her graduation she wants to go to a city like New York "because there is so much happening there". She also wants to see where her portrait work will take her.

"My dad is determined I am going to be a famous artist, and says, 'If you work hard you definitely could be'," she smiles. "I want to work really hard to be as successful as I can be. My parents, who are both artists, are very supportive. They have done everything for me, and my mum has been my complete manager."

• Miss Gosling can be reached via this e-mail: beth@transact.bm