‘Painting in Oils’ – Refinement of Skill and Personal Style Through the Study of Birds. Analysis of the Work of Zephania Lukamba, Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya

  • Kamau Wango, PhD Kenyatta University
Keywords: Oil Painting, Colours, Refinement, Textures, Skill, Proportions, Brushstrokes, Background
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The gradual acquisition and constant refinement of artistic skills in whatever genre of art are important for the ultimate development of personal styles that enable artists and students alike to fully engage in their artistic endeavours. The development of personal style in painting is particularly important in this regard and it is inextricably intertwined with the development of the prerequisite painting skill. It can be argued that there are two critical stages in the holistic development of personal skill in painting; there is the stage of acquisition of skill and the subsequent stage of refinement of skill. The stage of acquisition of artistic skill is perceived to be the period where skill is gained, attained, and consolidated including the time spent in formal art school. Consolidation of skill includes the harnessing and organizing of underlying or embedded artistic talent. The stage of refinement of artistic skill is perceived to be the period where acquired artistic skill enters the realm of refinement. Although these stages obviously tend to overlap, there is a point where one ‘feels’ by virtue of acknowledgeable work that he or she has acquired the prerequisite or commensurate skill to be able to perform specific artistic tasks and that that prerequisite skill only needs to be subsequently refined over time. The wider concept of the development of personal style itself lacks such demarcation of time and definition since it is always evolving and adapting to new challenges, innovations and environments and is, therefore, seen to be lifelong rather than time specific. In examining the featured oil paintings, this paper seeks to explore the concept of refinement of skill and determine whether or not there occurs significant visual refinement of skill within a time period of four continuous years, the time frame within which the paintings were created. The artist, who is a Masters student at Kenyatta University, undertook the paintings of birds as a matter of personal artistic interest over the said period of time and did not have prior knowledge of an impending specific study of his work in this regard. Subsequently, the level of skill, technique and personal style as displayed in the paintings were both spontaneous and authentic. In the initial review of the paintings and other prior work by the artist, the study determined that the artists had attained the level of skill necessary to be classified as having surpassed the stage of ‘acquisition’ of artistic skill and was, therefore, no longer seeking to acquire painting skills for purposes of undertaking his work. Subsequently, the focus of the study shifted to the realm of refinement. The number of paintings featured (34), painted randomly over time, that is, without any prior reference to or inclination towards the visual interest of the study, was determined to be sufficient to extract the desired outcome. In addition, the paintings were created as a matter of the artist’s sustained personal interest in the study of various types of birds; their colours, shapes, forms, textures, and environment. Although the artist engaged in other types of paintings within the same time frame, the study, however, selected the artist’s own sustained interest in the subject of birds as a matter of consistency of subject matter and its renditions


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17 April, 2023
How to Cite
Wango, K. (2023). ‘Painting in Oils’ – Refinement of Skill and Personal Style Through the Study of Birds. Analysis of the Work of Zephania Lukamba, Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya. East African Journal of Arts and Social Sciences, 6(1), 167-198. https://doi.org/10.37284/eajass.6.1.1174

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