Every time I paint, I feel like I’m learning a valuable lesson.
I’ve spent a lot of time recently reading about painting; colour theories, techniques, and trying to get to grips with my craft. As it turns out, taking a more painterly approach, as apposed to an artistic one seems to be my current muse.
At the moment I’m working on a series of three oil paintings which express what it means to be maasai; the semi-nomadic warriors of Kenya and Tanzania. Their culture centres upon intricate rituals and rites of passage, their unique relationship with the land and the natural world; the maasai don’t eat wild animals but herd livestock and obtain the vast majority of their sustenance from their cattle. They also have a complex and often hostile relationship with lions, their adversaries; lions have targeted the maasai’s cattle, and lions have thus been killed both in retaliation and as a rite of passage for the young maasai warrior coming of age. Today though, the maasai’s traditional ways of life and lifestyle are changing; former enemies; maasai and lion have become a unique partnership. One’s knowledge of the other allows the maasai to keep their precious cattle safer, whilst protecting the lion, which has rapidly reduced in numbers throughout the African continent. And it is this changing dynamic between human and animal which fascinated me in my series of painting The Endangered Peoples.
Working on the first of three paintings, featuring a zebu, one of the species of cattle common to the maasai, I’ve discovered that its the process of painting; planning and applying colours, laying on specific sweeps of colour, then at other times a random flick of a palette knife here and there…the process of creating the work is not about conceiving the idea and then simply laying it on a canvas, but deconstructing its elements, and then constructing it again in away that is unique to you.
Finding happiness as a painter is the first step to finding happiness as an artist.
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