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Lucy Muigai: How I am finding myself through art

Self actualisation is a long and complicated journey for many teenagers. The process encourages you to move beyond your comfort zone, to express how you feel and how you want to be seen or heard.

Art has done it for me. It is my therapy and I enjoy drawing and painting to build my confidence and also as a welcome distraction from the day-to-day challenges of teenagehood.

I have learned so much about myself though art. I played the piano a while back when I was younger and more intrigued by its sounds. But I quit seven years later after I realised that it was too elegant for me. I say elegant because I learned that my personality was more hyper and excited and I often felt restricted when playing the piano.

Nevertheless, making that one simple decision to take up piano lessons was meaningful for me. It drew me back to my interests in painting and drawing and my walls are now filled with beautiful creations of who I am and how I see the world. 

Women of colour

Whenever I get creative, I choose abstract features over realism and my focus is often on the glamour of women of colour. This is because I believe women of colour are beautiful in all complexions and body types. One of my favourite pieces thus, is of a woman living with Vitiligo. I painted it at a time when I was stressed about school and my grades and it is perhaps this whirlwind of thoughts and emotions that has since made it my masterpiece.

What I have discovered over time though, is that when you enjoy something or build an interest in a particular subject, the people in your circle expect that you already know everything about it. In reality however, you could know just enough to compose a new piece, paint a new picture, or even create your own form of literature.

And there lies the beauty of art, because it allows you to be exactly who you are at whatever stage in your life. Your music sounds just fine the way you express it, your drawings are as creative as they are because they speak to who you are. And when you recite a poem, you sound more clearer and express your emotions better because you are reflecting your true self.

Artistic styles

Further, finding your own artistic style can play a big part in helping you find yourself as an individual. Whether you choose music or literature; art helps you to become more familiar with the person you are and you end up learning so many other skills without realising it.

As I move along, I may not sell any of my paintings or pursue art as a career. I am certain, however, that I will paint till my last breath for my self and for the spaces I will live in. I will also take up guitar lessons along the way, because I still love music despite my misses with the piano.

For any teenager out there who is interested in art, do keep an open mind. Paint only for and by your true self so that you do not lose sight of your artistic goals. Also, keep improving on your skills and do not compare your work with that of others. I assure you that once you find yourself through art, the rest will follow.

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Lucy Wanjiku Muigai is a 17 year old lover of art. She goes to Braeside School, Nairobi and enjoys bike rides when she is away from her paintings.

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