Drishti Vohra gives art lovers a chance to harness their talent with a series of master classes. Six world-renowned artists are covered in hands-on sessions designed for both amateur and professional artists.
“I called it the masters series because I watch masters of art from all over the world,” she said. A trained and practicing artist, Vohra has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in Kenya, Dubai and India. His art is influenced by natural landscapes, wildlife and figurative works.
Paint Like Van Gogh was the first in the series of masters, held last month and focused on the Dutch Post-Impressionist maestro, Vincent van Gogh, known for his impasto style, bold brushstrokes and his emotionally moving images.
“He is one of the most important masters of all time and his style is easy to teach to a beginner and someone who has some knowledge of the art,” Vohra said.
The two-hour sessions take place at Bookworm, Gigiri, Nairobi. The studio and library space she co-founded in 2021 is a converted shipping container. Classes are small, only six people per session, and I found a few children among the adults. Having previously taught both young people and adults, Vohra says it’s not difficult for her “to adapt my workshop to any level, whether people have experience or not”.
Prints of various paintings by Van Gogh were provided to the students so that they could select the image they wanted to paint. In the first part of the session, they learned the basics of painting such as mixing basic colors, drawing a composition and creating the background of the painting. In part two, they were shown how to bring more detail to their illustrations. Everyone must keep their works.
Vohra says she chose this direction so her students would feel comfortable trying out different styles. “Art is an investment event and if you learn, you better experiment and enjoy seeing where it takes you,” she said.
She prefers acrylic paints for her workshops because of their quick-drying properties and less toxic components, although, she says, that means working faster.
Born and raised in India, Vohra studied art in high school and holds a degree in commercial arts from Sophia Polytechnic in Mumbai. From her university years, she gave private art lessons to interested people on weekends, and it was thus that she discovered a latent love for teaching.
After working in the advertising industry for a few years, Vohra became an art teacher at the American School of Bombay.
“I’ve always loved children, but teaching wasn’t something I expected to do full time because I don’t have a teaching degree,” Vohra says, adding that “but I realized that it inspired me to see children working on their artistic ideas.”
She was also drawn to the American way of teaching art which she believed gave learners more freedom to create.
“I think my studio is also a place where people can come and explore and see how different artists create their work.”
Vohra moved to Nairobi in 2015 with her Kenyan-born husband and continued to paint throughout.
Recently, she decided to go back to teaching because she feels people are looking to do things they once loved and never had the opportunity to pursue. “I feel that art is one of those subjects that is never fully considered in many schools. And as a practicing artist, the class is a way for people to connect with someone who actually lives from art and can teach them.
For the March workshops, she will focus on geometric shapes and patterns in art using mixed media. The masters chosen for these sessions are Wassily Kandinsky from Russia (1866-1944) and Sayed Haider Raza from India (1922-2016). Another style that Vohra might explore in the future is the art of pointillism.
“I want people to try different techniques, develop their skills and see what they do well,” she says. After the workshops, individuals will have the opportunity to further develop their talent if they wish. “Instead of simply copying a masterpiece, a student can create whatever they want and in the style they like.”