While The World Art News primarily focuses on high-end art, antiques, and collectibles, we’re also dedicated to sharing the real-life stories of hardworking artists from around the world. This is one such story.
My name is Dumisani Ndlovu and I am an artist based in Zimbabwe. I was born in 1969 and raised on a substance farm in a rural area in Lupane District where I tended to cattle and goats as a young boy. Despite the demands of farm life, art came naturally to me as a child. I would spend countless hours drawing on leaves with thorns and creating home-made guitars and stools from natural materials found in the bush.
After attending Mgwegwe Secondary School in Bulawayo, I had intended to become a farmer until the headmaster, Mr. Evans, recognized my talent and encouraged me to attend art classes instead. I eventually graduated from the Mzilikazi Art and Craft Centre in Bulawayo in 1993, and attended several art workshops at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo, where I fell in love with the craft under the guidance of Canadian artist, print-maker Mary Davis.
Nature has always inspired me as an artist, with landscapes and mountains providing much of my motivation. However, developing my own style wasn’t east as I was strongly influenced by other artists who I looked up to. Although I didn’t realize this at the time, I now see that it was a necessary part of my learning process. It took me 20 years to master my craft, and I have to admit that I am still learning it to this day. With that being said, my art has evolved from art for art’s sake to art that tell my story.
As an artist, one of my biggest struggles has been the financial aspect of my work. Being a full-time artist is a challenge, as the money I earn is never enough to cover the cost of materials, bills, and other expenses. It is difficult to find a market for my work in Zimbabwe, and this has only been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. With the market for art dwindling, artists like me are now competing for a smaller pool of clients and collectors. Nevertheless, I try to stay optimistic and seldom feel any pressured from competition, focusing instead on being the best artist I can be. So despite all challenges, I continue to carry on and fight for my craft every day.
The most expensive painting I ever sold was “The Baobab Tree,” commissioned by one of my art collectors. The price of my paintings varies based on size, ranging from US$150 for small paintings to US$500 for larger ones. Smaller paintings tend to sell better than larger ones. I sell my paintings online and in local galleries, promoting my work on Facebook and Instagram. I sometimes seek out buyers, but many find my work through social media. I typically receive 2 to 3 clients regularly, with most of them from Europe, the UK, America, and a few from Africa and Asia.
My artistic inspiration comes from my surroundings, and my unique style, choice of colors, and composition make my pieces stand out. Henry Moore, Rembrandt, and Pablo Picasso are my favorite artists. I am particularly influenced by Picasso’s “Weeping Woman” from 1937 and Henry Moore’s prints due to their style and colors.
I use oil and acrylic colors on canvas or paper, depending on the size of the painting I am working on. Large paintings can take anywhere from five to six days to complete. The process of creating art is not only a profession for me, but a passion that keeps me driven and inspired to create new and meaningful works. I love to be surrounded by colorful artworks, including my own favorites. To become a good artist in Africa, drawing and sketching are essential skills because they stimulate creative thought, increase observational skills, and develop visual ideas in all mediums. Drawing is the backbone of an artist.
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