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AS Tiffany Blake walked into the offices of JMMB to interview for a job as a branch ambassador, the first thing that caught her eye was a painting on the wall. She told them in the interview that she was passionate about painting, but she never imagined that she would be painting for the group CEO Keith Duncan a few months later.
In fact, Blake never imagined that she would be a painter at all. It was just over a year ago that her hidden talent emerged while grieving the death of her cousin.
“My cousin Damani Blake, a twin, passed away suddenly in December 2017,” she told All Woman. “We were very close. It was a shock to everyone in the family. He had just turned 30. I was looking at the last selfie that he took with his twin brother and his father. Everybody was smiling in the photo. Just looking at that photo I remembered how much he loved art, and another time when he took another photo beside a painting and said that one day he'd be able to buy as many paintings as he desired. And it just came to me. I decided that I was going to try to paint him, just as a memory for his father and twin brother.”
Although she came from a family of artists and had been involved in music, Blake had no background in painting. Before her cousin passed, the closest she had even got to painting was an offhand sketch on a letter-size piece of paper every now and then.
“The night before his funeral we went to his family's house and everybody was there. And when I presented the painting to them there was not one dry eye in the room. I was shocked, everyone was shocked. They encouraged me to not to let this talent go back to sleep.”
After her eureka, Blake realised that painting was therapeutic for her, too. Still in awe of the first piece, she decided to paint a picture of herself.
“I wanted to be able to paint a picture of myself to see if it looked like me, and to be able to catch every detail of it.”
Pleased with her self-portrait, Blake grew more confident in her newfound talent. She took one of her pieces to work one day, where she was encouraged to display her paintings at an upcoming expo for team members. It was there that she got her first client, the group CEO, who ordered a painting for Christmas. Blake is still amazed at the quality of work she produces.
“I know that this is a gift from God. When I look on the paintings I can't believe that I did it. I think this is just a gift that I've been blessed with,” she said.
While she is happy to be pursuing her passions, she has no plans of quitting her job to paint the town red.
“Even though I'm working the 9-5, one thing I've learnt is that your 9-5 is your job, but 'afterhours' is your purpose, and your 9-5 funds your purpose. So I'm basically intertwining the two,” she said.