My journey as an artist

I have started a 30-day challenge. To draw a photo, every day. I’m practicing realism, so the challenge helps me improve my drawings. 

Last night I showed Dad my drawings and he told me that I should have studied arts in school (like they would have approved)! I laughed…I remember making drawings and Mom always told me to focus on my studies instead of drawing. They always told me that I could draw after finishing school. So, imagine my munyarwanda ass telling my banyarwanda parents that I want to study art…How would I even bring that up anyway? How would that conversation go?

I would probably wait to tell them over dinner. In a panicked voice, “I want to go to art school.”

“What?”

“I want to study arts…as in drawing…”

They would both have looked at me like I’m some kind of exotic species. And they probably would have called the priests straight away, to exorcize the ‘drawing’ demon out of me. Hehe.

Anyways, 20-something years later, after earning my degree, I’m back at it. I’m experimenting with realism now. And to be honest, I never thought I could do realistic art. Well, I’ve always been good at drawing…I would make nice drawings of houses, school compounds, gardens, you name it. But I’d never drawn realistic human faces…not like these ones.

Gaju Nicole

Kirenga

Yvette

My Ma

A young boy

Thierry

A girl has no name

Ivan

Well, I am still practicing…The drawings are not as good as I want them to be. But I am proud of myself for making such drawings (since I never went to art school). And with each new drawing, there’s an improvement. So with more practice, I hope to make even more realistic drawings. Better drawings.

More practice…

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Introducing Me: Angela, the artist


Drawing has been one of the best parts of my life ever since I could hold a pencil.

I started drawing at a young age, but not continually. I remember helping a teacher at school make cards for her class, for the Christmas holidays. However, as a child, Mom didn’t encourage me to draw because she thought drawing would distract me from paying attention in class. She wanted me to concentrate on my studies. Then studies replaced drawing and my art was put aside. But I always knew that time would come when I could dedicate much more time to it. Because I’ve always believed that such gifts are given to us like seeds to water and nourish them and to let them grow. 

I graduated from college, in Feb 2017 (thank heavens). However, I didn’t want to apply for a job then. Even though I didn’t want to, I couldn’t apply anywhere without licensure. The process consists of sitting for a series of exams and because of that, I had no intention of sitting for another exam any time soon.

Speaking of jobs, today the job market is tough. And too tight. Businesses are too volatile and complex. Jobs that once took a bachelor’s degree, now take a master’s. Then there are young students, working hard and studying for a degree that may not be helpful for finding work. Thus, debt-strapped students wallow in student loans. For some job offers, experience is one of the requirements. 3 years experience or even 5 years experience. Hehe. Yet, as a graduate, one has limited quantity of experience. Sometimes if you’re lucky to get a job, the job is in a rural location with very little potential for growth. Yet one has big city dreams. It is a struggle, and it is (very) hard to remain positive. 

Anyways, since I’m done with school (at least for now) it was a perfect opportunity for me to commit myself to reviving my art. And now I have my mother’s and father’s full support and encouragement. It wasn’t until about the time my best friend was getting married (four months ago) that I began to revive my God-given gift again. I started by thinking of a wedding gift to give her. I wanted to give her something unique. Something made specially for her, and only her. Something that had meaning beyond any words could express. Something that would make pleasurable, vivid memories. Picking up a pencil and starting drawing after a 20-years stop was hard. So, that’s when I started to make decorative art. With the help of a carpenter who made a frame for me, I made a wedding gift for her. 

For another friend’s wedding, I made him also a wedding gift.

And since then, I’ve been drawing though not frequently. For now, the very reason I draw is because I can. I draw because I need to. Because it is fun and fulfilling. It’s a passion that flows strongest in me. It’s like a force that can’t be stopped. It’s something beyond explanation. My natural gift is generated from creative passion. Spending hours on a drawing gives me a real sense of accomplishment once it’s done. 

Claire & Placide

H.E. Paul Kagame

I feel so great when I see my drawings. It is so satisfying. I feel the same with my art pieces. I could spend hours staring at an art piece that I made. My life wouldn’t be the same without it. 

I have wanted to be an artist, for as long as I can remember. Maybe my name will never be in lights or no pictures will be taken of me on any red carpet but I have a dream to do art professionally, not just as an amateur. I want to use the God-given gift to the fullest possible extent to make the world a better place in some way. And I hope my work brings joy to people.

I’m still on the discovery path, exploring many subjects…painting, weaving, calligraphy, collage making. For now, the particular kind of art I’m inclined to do is decorative art. Drawing is relaxing, for the most part. However, it can be challenging and frustrating at times. So I do decorative art because it’s a lot easier (for me) to do than drawing. And I feel it is one of the best means of expressing myself. Few weeks ago, I also began taking classes for (bamboo) weaving. It wouldn’t hurt if I also made some bamboo handicrafts. However, I don’t intend to stop drawing because I want to be an expert in drawing and the only way to get better is to so it consistently.

Even though this is the beginning of my art career, I already feel that relief inside that I am doing what I love doing.