If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you may know me as a photographer. But like most creatives, I have other skills as well. Some people call it ‘the artist’s curse’ because with so many skills, one tends to get confused about where to focus their energy. An artist may have 5 or more artistic talents and asking them to pick one is like asking a mother to choose her favourite child. (Although some people readily play favourites with their kids). But I digress.
Unlike others, I consider it a blessing to be multi-talented. I can’t imagine how boring life would be if I had to stick to one thing only. And so I thank God for blessing me with a Fine Art talent. I have been drawing since early childhood (sounds cliché, but it’s true). But I only discovered I could do fine art after high school. My dad offered to take me to Art school during the gap year between high school and university. Previously, I had been drawing cartoons and flowers from newspapers and books. But Art school opened up a whole new world.
The first drawing I was presented with seemed quite intimidating. I was asked to draw from observation and also do the shading. I took up the challenge and the results were amazing, even to me. I mean, I was mind-blown! For someone who had never done fine art before, I had outdone myself. My parents shared the same sentiments and that’s how my love affair with Fine Art pencil sketching began.
The more assignments I did, the more fun it became. It would take me 2 days on average to complete a drawing. The sketches covered a range of subjects and varied in complexity. Naturally, I found myself preferring nature-related drawings, and why not? The natural world is amazing – full of beauty and so many things for us to learn.
I got to meet a lot of interesting and weird people at art school. For instance, there was this one lady who played the same music playlist every day – every single day for the entire 3 months I was there. Man! It drove me up the wall. One of the interesting peeps turned out to be a classmate at university! I also got to delve into the interesting world of watercolour painting. I found it more challenging than pencil sketching (still do), because blending/ grading colours is much easier with pencil. Or is it the paper I was using? By the way, my paint from 2008 is still in good working condition! One of the few things that actually work well and last long.
To wrap up the Fine Art course, we had to take an exam. It involved 2 assignments: a still-life setup and your own composition. I sketched the outline of the still-life at school and did the shading at home. The drawings were supposed to be A2 size – quite the challenge because all along we had been using A3 sketchbooks. But nilijikaza (I did my best). For the second task, I merged part of a photo with a scene from 9/11, and also drew this from home. An artist has to know how to get creative, right? It took me a week for each of the drawings.
I passed the course with stellar marks, but didn’t think much of it in terms of continuing with fine art. It had just been something to pass time, which was ironic because during our first year at campus, we did a lot of sketching – a lot. I studied Architecture. Maybe, just maybe if I had revisited Fine Art I would have got better marks in that year, but such is life. Sometimes it hits us long after the event has come and gone.
It was only until my fifth year in campus that I went back to Fine Art and surprise, surprise, I still had the touch. I replicated some of my sketches from Art School with great accuracy. Then I toyed with the idea of selling them. I got someone to do the frames which I then spray-painted black. Getting clients for artwork in Kenya is no easy task though. An artist recently said, “If Kenyans bargain for the price of basic goods that they can’t do without, what do you expect when selling art?” I have sold 5 pieces in 4 years. #TheStruggleIsReal
Last year during my free time (when I was looking for work) I decided to redo some pencil pieces in watercolour. It was an exciting exercise and a great way to ease the frustration of job searching. A long- time friend bought one of the paintings. Thank you Dennis.
And now for a very embarrassing confession: I haven’t sketched/ painted since August last year. Sigh. I guess I got busy with learning photography, blogging, tours and generally trying to figure life out. In other words, ‘adulting’. Also maybe because of the discouragement that comes with the difficulty of getting clients?
I may not have called on Fine Art in a long time, but I still love it. Hopefully in the next few weeks I’ll resume sketching. If you’d like to purchase some pieces, please get in touch on the address in my Contact page.Especially my fellow Kenyans. Show some love for one of your own, ei?
Big shout out to all creatives. Don’t let the world dim the light that is the talent within you. Keep doing what you’re doing!0