Seven Questions for Janice Angengo

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“Chloe” (2015). Pencil on watercolor paper.
“If society would stop treating art as a hobby or side hustle, and think of it as a business, that would be great. People love your work until you ask them to pay for it. Artists invest a lot in their art. We buy the best materials that our pockets can afford and most importantly we spend a lot of time practising and developing our techniques.”
– Janice Ochanda, artist.

I caught up with Janice, (whose artwork featured in this piece) and asked her 7 questions about her art and her journey as an artist. You can see more of her drawings by checking out her Facebook or her Instagram. 
Wanjiku: Hey Janice, what is your first (like first, ever) memory of drawing something? What was it and how was it received?
Janice Angengo: Drawing a tiny un-proportional cartoonish girl with a really long neck and a big head looking at herself in the mirror. At that time it felt like a masterpiece. It wasn’t! It was terrible haha! But funny enough the very few people who saw it liked it.
W: When did you realize that you enjoyed drawing?
JA: After drawing a map of Kenya during GHC class (primary school) and shading it nicely mpaka I added texture (lol I really pushed it ). I put one page of my exercise book flat on the desk (It was rough) then I shaded on top. I also enjoyed drawing those science diagrams….lungs, kidneys, the heart, etc bila complaining. That was the only time I was fully awake during class.

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One of Janice’s earlier drawings. “Dr. House” (2012). Charcoal on Paper.
W: What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever drawn/painted?
JA: I’ve drawn many strange things (especially in high school, during singing practice**. My hymn book was a freak-show) But the most weird thing I painted was myself. It just felt plain weird! The painting is now long gone…I threw it under my bed then it just disappeared…very strange…
**NOTE: Janice and I went to the same secondary school, and every Saturday afternoon the school would assemble for Singing Practice in preparation for Sunday Mass the next day. In our time most people had handwritten hymnbooks which we sang from.
 W: What’s the piece that you’re most proud of?
JA: A drawing of Baby Chloe [see the top of this post]. I took all the time I wanted and I used the best materials. Plus I consulted my mentor, the amazing Andrew Kamiti who gives me occasional drawing lessons.
W: Describe your creative process:
JA:
a) someone wants a drawing of themselves or loved ones and I ask for many pictures that I can choose from so that I get the best one ie the one with the best details 
(Or a) I find a picture of someone  that would look better as a drawing.)
b) I draw the outline and basic shades
c) I add more layers until the drawing looks solid
d) I put details till I get saturated with the drawing
e) I put the drawing aside and look at it days later with fresh eyes.

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“Graphite Cat” (2012). Graphite on Paper.
W: Where do you usually draw? 
I draw anywhere where I’m comfortable, and when no one is staring at me or asking me questions like “Mbona hizo macho zinakaa triangle?” or “Mbona hizo meno ni black”? 
 W: What kind of support do you think artists would benefit from from society/ the government/ corporations?
If society would stop treating art as a hobby or side hustle, and think of it as a business, that would be great. People love your work until you ask them to pay for it. Artists invest a lot in their art. We buy the best materials that our pockets can afford and most importantly we spend a lot of time practising and developing our techniques.
But society is changing… I think..
 W: Final Thoughts?
Yes. I still haven’t yet figured out how to balance Geology [her major in university] and art. It’s a work in progress.
**
Follow Janice on Instagram and like her page on Facebook.

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She drew me!! “Wanjiku Mungai” (2014). Pencil on textured watercolor paper.
One last note: I asked Janice what she thought of the idea of “blooming” and she talked about growing as an artist and the fact that she doesn’t like to look at things which she drew a long time ago because it feels like she’s grown such a great deal since.