Paintings first for English performer (7)
I believe the answer is:
'performer' is the definition.
(an artiste is a performer or entertainer)
'paintings first for english' is the wordplay.
'paintings' becomes 'art' (painting is a type of artwork).
'first' becomes 'ist' (ist resembles 1st).
'for' is a charade indicator (letters next to each other).
'english' becomes 'e' (abbreviation).
(Other definitions for artiste that I've seen before include "Attires (anag.)" , "One entertaining" , "nightclub entertainer?" , "Theatre performer" , "professional dancer?" .)