Background - My Love For Art
I have always been fascinated by art and it is one of those things that I have had a greater appreciation for in recent years. It never ceases to amaze me how artists create such astonishing work on a canvas. I guess the same thing can be said about musicians' compositions and arrangements. However, I've always felt as though in a past life I was an artist.
With my growing love and appreciation for art, I have been admiring a few artists here in Trinidad and Tobago over the past few years. Some of these artists include Shonari Richardson, Bryan Jordan, De Avion Daniel, Leanne Rattan and Yah Yah (aka Trini Picassa) to mention a few. In fact, the first painting I owned was commissioned by my girlfriend from Shonari Richardson. Overall, I just love that these are all young creators like myself are unleashing their creativity while expressing themselves through art.
Discovering Yah Yah
I encountered Yah Yah's work approximately 2 years ago (from the time of writing) via social media and was blown away by her artistic capabilities. I immediately knew I had to get a portrait of myself done by her. Fast forward to the beginning of 2022, the social media algorithm bombarded me with her artwork and I couldn't resist the urge to reach out and have her do a commissioned piece. After some back and forth, I decided to go with a 24" x 30" portrait of a shot captured by Owen James during my 2020 Republic Day Online Concert.
An in-depth look at the picture
This photo is one of my favourite photos of my playing pan to date. It captures me in my element doing what I love. However, this photo represents more than Keishaun Julien the soloist. It is a representation of the passion of the panman; the blood, sweat and tears that steelpan musicians go through on a daily basis while exerting their love, dedication and sacrifice to keep our culture alive.
Saying that Yah Yah did this photo justice in her painting is an understatement! Words can't describe how this painting makes me feel. Seeing myself so well articulated in oil on a canvas is a priceless feeling.
I couldn't help but ask the artist the question,
"What was your experience like working on this piece?"
Yah Yah's Response
"The first thing that stood out to me about the image was seeing how happy you were playing the steelpan. Your passion for what you do was evident and that right there told an entire story that I definitely related to.
I felt overly privileged to have the opportunity to capture that moment with my skill!
The prepping stages were smooth sailing in terms of getting all the right tools & materials needed. Also my mind was really clear at that time so I was able to start the process with ease & focus.
I would often envision how the final result would be and I used that excitement as fuel to get a bit more creative by adding different textures over the oil paint & a contrast of vibrant colors to really enhance the emotion and ambiance of the piece.
Like every other artist I do experience “creative blocks” in between projects, so I decided to take some breaks whenever I felt a bit over-stimulated or anxious.
I eventually decided to work in smaller increments until I reached what I call my “sweet spot” closer to the completion phases!
During the final stages, I knew that this was gonna be one of my best works to date. Simply having you as my client influenced my end result to a great extent. You displayed so much patience and understanding which gave me a healthy amount of confidence towards this piece and that’s something thats so crucial in my field of work.
Overall, I couldn’t find a better way to say thank you. You now have a piece of me with you."
This is my reaction video to the unveiling of the painting
Video Credit: Kwame Boatswain
You can contact and check out more of Yah Yah's work via the links below:
Leave a comment below and let me know what you think of this masterpiece