Painting, for aesthetics, not the ‘important’ one like a house, office, school, or hospital walls in Kenya has been shunned. Kids are always being pushed into the sciences, and the arts deemed as useless and not able to sustain a living. Humanities are now slowly being accepted, with programs such as hotel and restaurant management, tourism, and even catering being seen as ‘worthy.’

I was lucky enough to get parents who fuelled and helped me hone my talent in the arts. I still had to do the sciences and maths, but they never allowed my talent to die, even when I really didn’t feel like it, they pushed. Here are 5 life lessons that my art taught me

1. Patience
patienceAny painter will tell you, patience is forced on you. Perhaps soon science will develop fast drying paint, but until then, painting is a test of patience. With each layer of pait you put on your canvas, you have to wait, sometimes even a whole day, before you add the next layer.
In my life I let this teach me how to allow things to mature. Step back for a bit, let it grow, before I get back to it with fresh eyes. This always gives me new ideas and often I see where I went wrong with the original coat.

2. Magnificence of Nature
natureWangari Maathai was a great woman, what she did for this country was phenomenon. I paint a lot from nature. Nature is just wow. Think about it, on a hot hot day, drizzling will cool you down, but that same water can cause El Nino and destroy your home. Then a few months down the line, there is draught…just wow. Nature is all up in your face, it is soo cool, so awesome and so overwhelming.
We cannot do without nature. Rain, feeds the fields, with feed us and domestic creatures, which sustain us. Wangari figured this out.

3. Harmony
harmonyEverything in this world is intertwined. The cycle of life atones to this. Nothing and no one can successfully exist in a vacuum. I learned to respect all and expect anything from anyone. You never know when you would be on the receiving end with the person you just encountered. If you learn to treat all with due respect, life can be harmonious. Paintings are a harmony of shapes and figures, if they do not complement each other, the painting can send mixed messages. Even when disharmony is deliberate, there is always rhyme.

4. Purity of Colour
colour purityThe best colours are in nature. Although we may copy these colours in paintings, nothing gets as close the actual vibrancy in nature.
The world we live in today demands caution. There are lots of people ready to take advantage of you or even rob you; your innocence, your cash, or even organs. Don’t let this fear however rule your life. It is in living within this fear that you lose yourself, you lose your colour, your vibrancy.
Fashionistas and psychologists have proven that the colours you wear are often a reflection of how you are feeling.

5. I am a Creator
creatorMy heart is mine own, my style uniquely me. I am an inventor, a creator. Painting carries with a sense of power. You get to create a world on your canvas, you may draw inspiration from anywhere else, but whatever you reflect back to the world, is yours alone. That is how you can also recognize an artist’s work even without knowing the person. Each person has their stroke.

By Zarha