As a young lad, fellow classmates would often approach him, seeking for guidance and handy tips on how to complete their class assignments, some of which required use of illustrations.
It was not long before several teachers began to notice his growing interest, and they would regularly encourage him to draw.
“I was regularly asked, and even instructed to illustrate on the blackboard – diagrams for the biology, agriculture or physics lessons,” recalls graphic designer-turned-painter John Njathi.
Growing older, he begun to dabble in doing sketches, and shading colours on drawings he would create while idling in the classroom.
Years later on, Njathi plunged into the engaging world of visual arts and now pursues art fulltime, as a professional illustrator, painter and visual artist.
In a gesture, which is akin to giving back to the community, he often shares his passion
for the arts, by instructing children on rudimentary skills.
Often, the artist prefers to work with children in lower primary classes, mostly in schools wherein art lessons are not part of the curriculum.
This implies children, who at this formative stage, may be skilful or talented in creative arts or drawing have limited options.
“Those keen to explore and nurture their drawing capabilities can only undergo instructions from private tutorship,” argues the artist.
The scenario prompted Njathi to approach numerous private schools on Nairobi’s outskirts with suggestions for the introduction of children’s art classes.
One of his pilot projects, for instance involves pupils who are self-motivated and interested in artistic drawings.
He targets those aged between eight to eleven years – the best stage to tap into their budding and potential skills. “The young ones are receptive to ideas, eager and keen to learn,” he notes.
There are for instance, children whose verbal skills take years to develop. And yet, the same child may portray tendency to concentrate intensely while sketching, drawing or using colours.
“This could be a source of strength as they seek to gain self-confidence required to express their thoughts, and communicate. They should not be denied the chance to draw or play with colours,” remarks Njathi.
The artist conceptualizes educational, colourful drawings, whose primary aim is beautify blank walls particularly within kindergartens compound and stimulate kid’s interest in the arts.
Besides painting colourful artworks to depict varied muses, he designs logos and undertakes illustrative assignments – experimenting with artistic techniques such as cartoon strips, sign writing and wall murals.
He concurs that there are myriad challenges, which especially upcoming artists face in their quest to sell artworks to a society not too keen to embrace the purchase of paintings and sculptures.
Handful operational galleries meant to display artworks have been on spotlight for insisting artists generate cheap curio-theme pieces targeting visiting tourists or an expatriate clientele.
“In the long term, this trend stifles individual creativity and consequently, sales for original paintings have become inconsistent”, he remarks.
And as other artists grapple with fluctuating dictates driven by rising inflation, Njathi is determined to channel his creative energy into sharing his creative passion with children.