One Friday evening, 16-year-old Fran Halpin, painting an abstract portrait alone in her art room at school, lost track of time.
"When I went to leave, the entire school was locked up. Panic! No mobile phones back then so I did the only sensible thing. Using my heavy bag of books, I hit the glass doors. It eventually shattered, setting off the alarm. I jumped through the doors, ran home. I can't believe that I didn't get into trouble."
Halpin's passion and determination still hold. From Tallaght, Halpin's talent was encouraged at home and spotted in primary school. But "my mam thought they were saying I should do art because I was no good for anything else and when I wanted to go to art college my mam discouraged it, but I dug my heels in".
Nights and weekends in Burger King helped Halpin pay her way through college. During first year her father, a milkman, became ill with motor neurone disease, and a hardship fund helped out.
"I was so determined to follow my dream. I just kept going. I was/am dyslexic and never diagnosed. My daughter is too and I recognised it, got her tested early and she gets all the help she needs now. I spent years thinking I wasn't smart, still struggle, even though I run a business."
Halpin also paints "enormous murals" in hospitals and schools. "I can go from a very busy building site, where I'm the only female, to a very quiet studio where I spend most days alone."
Childhood trips to the seaside in summer, "as soon as Dad got back from his milk round", were magical.
"I always remember the moment, the collective wow, when the sea would come into view on the way to the Silver Strand at Brittas Bay.
"This painting of Killiney beach is called Clarity because I had a moment of clarity, an awakening: I would work towards a collection. My kids, husband and I chose our favourite pebbles."
Back in her studio, "I wet the pebbles, photographed them, edited in Photoshop... The most challenging part was making the pebbles look shiny and textured and making the paint blend while making them look real."
William Blake saw "a World in a Grain of Sand/ And a Heaven in a Wild Flower". Fran Halpin, too, sees a whole world in this lustrous and beautiful work.
www.franhalpinart.com www.instagram.com/frantheartist facebook.com/frantheartist
Sunday Indo Living