Slum Boy from Eldoret who has Found Joy Making Extra Money in Painting

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Kennedy Mulaha is a talented young man.

That is not in doubt

However, growing up under difficult circumstances in one of the sprawling estates in Eldoret, Mulaha never thought he would one day develop a strong liking for painting; now a life skill that has helped him make some extra money while still studying.

He grew up in a squatters’ slum called Kambi Somali within the town.

He started his learning at St Patrick’s Primary School in Eldoret then went to Mbale High School. He is currently studying Aerospace Security and Logistics at Moi University.

He started painting to earn some extra coins although he says he has been passionate about art for a long time.

“I started painting for commercial purposes last year. I was mostly into performing arts until last year when I came to love painting more. I realized I could really express myself and my emotions more through playing with colors and paint on canvas than in performing arts,” he says.

Mulaha developed a liking for painting after interacting with a painter who used to do backdrops for his theatre performances.

He thought it was amazing how he would paint an entire story line in a single painting.

“My inspiration came from this guy Kennedy Githaiga. He used to paint my backdrops that I used for my theater performances. I just loved the way he would sum up the entire story line into a single painting.”

He started as a performing theatre artist. That involved artistic use of voices, bodies and inanimate objects. This experience would become the root to his successful career as an artist.

Although he would perfectly express himself using theatre art, he still felt incomplete. He later found what, to him, is a perfect way to express himself and his emotions.

Mulaha says painting has enabled him express his emotions more freely/courtesy

Mulaha has perfected his skill and does amazing paintings covering fairly everything he can think of.

“From the few painting skills that I have tapped from a close friend, Kennedy Githaiga, I have grown day by day developing and perfecting my touch in paint brushes on canvas. I have so far been able to do portraits, landscapes and animals painting and many more types of artworks like string arts,” he says.

One of Mulaha’s amazing artworks

He also does good interior designs for homes, something he learnt on his own in the course of perfecting his artwork. He is more of an interior decorator than a designer. Through experiences, Mulaha has been able to design a number of homes from creating foyers, and also decorating offices and shops. His main activities in decoration are blending colors and playing around with light and decorative mirrors to get good visual impressions.

Mulaha’s Quick Takes:

Why Painting

I would encourage anyone to try out art. For one, you’ll be self-employed, it helps keep you busy and as youth you will avoid idleness. Secondly, it is fun painting, it’s like therapy. Lastly, do it because you are passionate about it, if you are doing it for money, it can really disappoint you. An artist can never sleep hungry.

Challenges

The art industry has many challenges especially on matters authenticity of someone’s artwork. Painting can be imitated and the original one becomes useless. Also finding market for the painting is a huge problem for most of the artists.

Market plagiarism is one big challenge that I have experienced so far. Getting an appropriate place to display your pieces of art is quite a challenge because the cost of renting a shop in town is so expensive thus hard to afford. Also, the printing industries have made the cost of painting to go so low.

It’s unfortunate that a client will prefer to purchase a printed piece of the same painting artwork that I have drawn and will be given at a very low cost. It makes the painting irrelevant and it’s heartbreaking since a lot of material would have been used to come up with a good painting.

Also it consumes lots of time and energy. At times, we get a small amount of money that cannot even buy another canvas and brushes. The government can be of great help to artists if they came up with something to showcase artwork and campaign against plagiarism.

I’m happy that my family has been the backbone to every step I have made in my career. They even support me if I get any constraints financially.

Mulaha paints just about anything. Here is a painting of former longtime Cabinet minister Henry Kosgey

What’s His Future Like?

I’m looking forward to opening one big gallery and art school where both foreigners and fellow citizens will come to experience and explore a world of creative arts. I would love to mentor more talented young men and women in art and help them have knowledge of this great skill that even though is not a white collar job, it can bring food to the table.

Advice for Youths

Art is something that can be learned overtime, I encourage youths to try it and it will for sure help the government in solving unemployment and thus crime rates will go down gradually.

I thank God I have been able to nurture four young men who are doing really good right now.

More of his paintings

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