I was born in Kisii district, Nyanza province, Kenya and am 30 years old. My secondary education had big challenges in terms of school fees. I had to go to Kisumu where my uncle lived. My uncle was happy to support me and offered to pay for my education as an electronic engineer. But I would do nothing else but draw. Then we agreed that I should go to the art school. Here I was lucky– I met a Dutchman who liked my paintings and he offered to sponsor my education as an artist. Both my parents are alive. They depend on small-scale business. I am third born in a family of five children, three boys and two girls. Currently I live in Kisumu city. Married and I have two lovely kids. When I was a small child I loved to watch my mother while she was drawing. “Let ́s see which one of us can do the best drawing,” she challenged me, and this was what I loved most. By that time I didn’t have any idea that art can put food on the table. Even my mom didn’t know that she had a great talent and mostly this was due to lack of information about art in our region. I first used a paintbrush when I moved to Kisumu to stay with my uncle, but it was a big disappointment because I didn’t know how to use it with watercolor. My teacher, Jost Pieper from Germany is a very good social friend of mine, he taught me how to draw and paint using watercolor. My brother kept on encouraging me to do what my heart wanted. My parents did want to hear anything about art. It took time before I made the first sale. By that time I was still a student in the Art School as a first year. Visitors from Denmark came to see our program. I was lucky to sell a good number of A4 watercolor paintings than the third years. I was extremely happy, and it encouraged me to work hard to be like some of the third year in that time whose paintings were very good. Pricing my paintings was a big challenge that day.My paintings are built up in acrylic and watercolor and the expression is deeply poetic
and romantic. I mostly use acrylic and palette knife and like doing mixed media stuffs.
My favorite piece is The Tunnel Singer, my first painting to do on a canvas. It reminds me a true story of my grandfather how they used to go to mountains to perform some dances and songs to please their gods of rain to let rain pour down so that to could carry on with their farming. They visited the mountain only when there’s no rain for a long time. Art has done me great things, it has transformed my life, and has given me hope. Sometimes I ask myself, what if I did not become an artist? Or what if I decided to be what my parents wanted me to be.. repairing radios, TVs and other electronic devices. Have made so many friends through art.
George Omondi Odongo
I was born in 1986 in a remote village of Kanyimach, Awendo in south Nyanza. I was trained as a fine Artist and am based in Kisumu, the third largest city in Kenya. Since childhood, I have always had a passion in Art, which fortunately has become my job– an opportunity that not so many people get to have. My career started rather the hard way for I was brought up by parents who did not allow me to make my own decision in terms of what I wanted to be, hence almost choking my dreams. With regards to going the extra mile in my work, I owe that to my high school Art and Design teacher and my college lecturers who never gave me a moment’s rest during my studies as they pushed me to excel in almost everything I did. My works are inspired by the daily happenings in my surrounding especially the way African women walk with pride, dress, talk and carry out their daily chores wearing their sharp and vibrant colored lesos and kitenge cloths around their waist. Being slum dwellers, I’m also inspired by the slum life. I use my paint brush to address the shortcomings or the moral decay in the slum- drug abuse, crime, childhood, prostitution among others. Despite the many financial challenges, I wish to join a university that offers Art and Design to study fine arts and become a lecturer.
David Jairo Okoth
I was born in Kisumu, Kenya in the year 1977, in the KANO plains on the slopes of the Nandi escarpments as a third born amongst six siblings. I went to school at Kisumu Boys High School, and later to MWANGAZA ART SCHOOL and completed a three years diploma course. After being a freelance artist and graphic designer for 7 years, I got married and got a job as an art instructor at Kisumu Senior and Junior Academy. I have two kids, a boy and a girl. With all of my parents having passed away, my wife and kids are the only people that could fill the vacuum left by my parents. I try to balance between studio work and teaching art.
I first realized my talent way before I even got to high school. I could be called by teachers as well as fellow classmates to illustrate diagrams or structures for different subjects. My first encounter with a brush was in junior school where I used to be very close to my art and craft teacher who would ask me to take part in drawing and painting competitions that were in school. My artistic abilities were furthered by joining the art school after completing high school. I found myself having nothing to do, having lost both parents and no school fees for college. I decided to join the church sponsored art school, a suggestion that was made by my elder brother who was a mason, having felt that he was too weak to do muscular work like building and construction. My elder brothers both supported and encouraged me to finish the course, which proved to be very difficult due to the distance and something for lunch break.I like painting the surrounding activities around the lake region, working in various
media until recently where I invented a style. My newfound style depicts the locals in a more simplified way, with black outlines running through the canvas, emphasizing the images of fishermen, women carrying fish and dancers or traditional music players. The colors are brightly painted juxtaposing the right places what the colors should be actually representing. This signifies the bright and peaceful side of African life, notwithstanding the poverty brought about by unemployment.
My favorite piece of artwork in the same style shows Dunga beach, and a woman carrying fish on a basket in the foreground. I love this artwork, it was the first one I did in this style, it sold immediately at a good price, many of those who saw the artwork appreciated it. Since that time, a trail of artworks that I painted in this style sold, and I would like to acknowledge some of my customers for encouraging me to keep up with the style. I seek to make my future in this career to be as bright as the contrasting primary and secondary colors I use to produce my art pieces, to empower my community through the practice and education of art and design.
I was born and raised in Kisumu, I am 36 yrs old. My primary school was in Kisumu, Lake Primary School, my secondary was also in Kisumu, which I completed my fourth form, though the secondary school never offered any art classes. I attended Mwangaza Art school, a year after completing Form 4.
In my family we are six siblings 4 girls and 2 boys (my elder brother is also practicing Art with me in my studio. My other sisters are married except the last born. My father and mother are in Rusinga Island, enjoying their retirement days:) I am married with one daughter.
I realized my artistic talent, when I was still in nursery school, I used to stare at cartoon magazines and newspapers story series with illustrations, and also cartoon books e.g Tin Tin, phantom etc. Basically articles which had illustrations, and sometimes I would try copying them. In primary school they offered art and craft lessons, and the art teacher identified me to be in charge of the art room, I think when I was in standard six.
My first piece of painting I sold was when I was in the art school. It really surprised me how what I did in oil paints (landscape) study could really have a connection with a visitor who was visiting our college by then. I was somehow happy and some how felt that something had been taken away from me. It got me thinking a lot, but I also realized that I can make a living from my passion.:)
My style is African cubism. I like to simplify my subject into geometric shapes, women, men at work, scenery of the lake and city life are some of my favorite themes. My paintings are the translation of my visions, and thoughts. They are permanent in my mind, so once I think or I see I execute in canvas (it stays). My paintings mean life to me, everyday activities I see around. The message my painting carries is the connection am trying to create in all the three stages of life, low, middle and the upper class its means that everyone can buy and see the other part of everyone’s life of which they are not in.
My current favorite current painting are the CDs series pieces. Ooooh, how they are such a waste and how to dispose the CDs with scratches is always a problem. So I incorporate CDs in my paintings, and sometimes the leftovers from the tailor of which I do incorporate.
Belizeur Louis Beliard
I am a 26 years old Dominican-Haitian who’s actually living in the Dominican Republic.
Currently I am doing bachelor's degree in mathematics and physics and working in an organization called Makarios international.
I am really passionate about art, specially the one that I can express the beauty of the creation through the tools that I currently use.
The medium that I actually using are; watercolor for my botanical painting and charcoal for my portrait drawing.
I am a self though artist, even that I tried several time to go to an art school I couldn’t, but I have wonderful people around me specially my wonderful wife Genesis who always courage me to keep drawing and painting, that’s one of the reason that I think I learned , not just for me but for all these people and to show God beauty in the creation like I said before.
I really think this is just the beginning because even that I love painting and don’t always find time to do it, but this year I will be done with a lot of responsibilities that I have that include college that’s mean I will have more time to be able to paint.
I really believe that even that I live in a country where I don’t have a lot of opportunities to grow as an artist God has a great plan that exceed my imagination with this talent that he gave me, I am really thankful for that and for all the people who believe in me as an artist.