“Art Does Pay” – Doreen Mueni On Finding Her Voice Under The Mukuru Art Collective Organization

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Art is a broad area of creativity. Artists can be good at singing, acting, drawing and the list goes on and on.
Painting however, can be described as one of the most fascinating subjects of fine art. It is a completely different world of art, full of colors and sketches. To some extent, painting is a talent; it cannot entirely be taught to anybody.
A lot goes into painting, including a keen eye for detail, concentration, imagination and creativity. Nowadays, there are various opportunities for artists, including showcasing their craft in art galleries, museums, corporate spaces and even education facilities.
In Kenya, projects like the Mukuru Art Collective have been helping budding artists excel in their craft through mentoring and training sessions at their studios in Nairobi’s South B.
For one Doreen Mueni, painting was somewhat a career lifeline for her. Through the mentorship of Adam Masava, she has been able to improve on her talent and become one of the most notable artists in Kenya.
WoK spoke to Doreen to hear her inspiring story and to share how sheer passion, intent and hardwork made her the artist she is today.

Please introduce yourself and tell us what you do

My name is Doreen Mueni. I am a painter, creating oil and acrylic paintings on canvas. I started painting professionally back in 2019. I am also part of the Mukuru Art Organization.

When did you start painting?

As I mentioned, I started painting professionally in 2019. After completing my high school studies I went to college to study HPPC, (Hair Practitioners Certification Course), which was ideally not what I wanted to pursue. Later on life took a different direction and I decided to start doing what I love to do, which is painting.

Tell us a bit about your childhood and if it had any influence on what you are doing now

My childhood was pretty amazing. I was always the best in my class when it came to art. That is how I discovered I could draw. I was able to work on my drawing little by little until I became pretty good at in even through my adult life.

Were your parents supportive of your decision to paint full-time?

My parents did not like the idea of being an artist. They had a belief that artists are poor or I think they were just worried about my future. So at the beginning they were a bit skeptical of the idea, but over time they have accepted my decision.

Making a living is an integral part of anyone in any career. So, Doreen, does art pay?

Yes, art does pay. Since the beginning of the year I have had more than five exhibitions and have sold my pieces in each show. Being able to sell my paintings at a relatively good price is testament that art does pay.

What is your most valued piece of art?

My most valued piece of art is the 1st piece that I created when I started painting 3 years ago. It is a 90 by 70 cm acrylic paint on canvas.
I cannot put a price on it. I am keeping it in my apartment to remind me of where I came from in my art journey.

Would you recommend doing art full-time?

I would recommend it if someone is passionate about the craft. Doing what you love and earning a living out of it is a gift.

Is there enough support for artists and painters from the government?

I am not sure if the government is doing enough to support artists. I believe they can definitely do better. The government can create public art galleries where artists can be showcasing their work. This way they will be able to reach a wide range of customers and sell their art.

What challenge did you encounter in your journey to become a painter?

My main challenge was when I started painting I did not have enough cash to buy art supplies. Art supplies in Kenya are very expensive.
Finding my voice as an artist was another challenge. Being able to really understand my path and growing it into a personal brand was a bit challenging.

How do you deal with creative slumps?

When I am not inspired to work I do a lot of sketches. I also watch other artists as they paint to motivate myself.

What inspires you as an artist?

I am a feminine and also a mental health advocate. All my pieces have a story about the same. I am also inspired by old masters of art. For example, I try to create chiroscuro pieces and I get the inspiration from Michelangelo Merisi (carravaggio).

Who do you look up to in this industry?

I look up to Adam Masava, my mentor and founder of the Mukuru Art Collective Organization.

What is your proudest moment as an artist?

My proudest moment as an artist is when I sold my 1st piece one month after joining the organization when we had an exhibition at the Village Market.
I also recently sold a piece at the Museum of Kenya. It was my 1st time to showcase my work at the museum.

Where can we find you and your work?

You can find my work on the following platforms.
Instagram: doryn_art.
Facebook: doryn mueni
You can also visit our studio located in South B shopping center.

What is your advice for people who want to pursue art?

My advice is to the young people is trust yourself. If your passionate about art pursue it. Also remember to practice and be patient with yourself. Everything will work out .
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