Out and about on a sunny day in Nairobi

Whoosh – I have just finished my document from a workshop I have been running for a client here in Nairobi.  Yesterday Kenyans went to the polls in a referendum to decide on whether to change their constitution or not.  I spent much time documenting workshop stuff but managed to slip out in the afternoon to a central park.  The locals were lounging around in the sun and the shade, and I sat in the sun and painted this watercolour.  As I painted a bunch of teenagers came zooting past on the path, on roller-blades – very cute to hear the laughter.

I was not feeling so good and wandered back to the hotel.  On the way I sat at a bus-stop to paint a beautiful building I had seen on the way.  it seemed really old.  While I was working I kept my head down and nobody stopped to chat.  Until I heard a joyful voice.  “Hello Tourist – so you are an artist?”  I looked up and smiled and he sat next to me and looked at my work.  “Oh” he says “this is very beautiful”.  I asked him what is was and he told me it was a very special building.  Someone else told me it was where Kenyans were tortured in past.  Internet tells me it was where Kenyans had to register.   It sounded quite sad.  Here is what I did:

I was half way down – the painting when I guy on crutches came clicking up and told me he was also an artist.  He looked a bit wild so I tried to keep going.  Then he told me he could fly an helicopter so I tried to get done.  The Citi Hoppa busses stood in the way and my head was swimming so I packed  up and left the helicopter pilot haranguing a bus conductor and went down to the Stanley Hotel.

And now I need to pack my stuff ready to head out – eek – I have to be up in two hours…

5 thoughts on “Out and about on a sunny day in Nairobi

  1. Wow! Buildings! That was my first thought on viewing these, Stephen. I like the division of the landscape in the first one and how that beautiful tree on the right helps to pop the building. Sad story about the second building but you certainly found the beauty in the architecture.

    • Hi Leslie – Africa is full of sad stories like this – as is the world I guess. As I painted I sat with my back to another beautiful but ramshackle old building that I had the wisdom not to sketch as it had barbed wire around it and a military set up on one side. Someone told me afterwards that people were tortured there in the recent past. The Kenyan people have weathered some terrible times and I was taken with their reserve and friendliness.

  2. What a difference a City makes! I like the new paintings from Nairobi. Your trees in the first one compliment the structure of the building very well.

    I like the details in the second building very much even if the story of it was sad.

    I laughed at your helicopter flying, artist commenter. He’d be right at home in NYC with all the other weirdos. And people wonder why I don’t paint outside.

    • Oh how nice to hear this – of course you would enjoy the city. Well there was certainly hustle and bustle and the traffic was thick and chaotic though I saw no aggression. And the city was so clean. Not a scrap of litter! Just dusty. Kenya is a major tourist destination and the hotel I was in was full of American and Asian tourists getting ready to go on safari. I suppose they enjoyed this part of the adventure as well.

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