The annual JQA International Environmental Children’s Drawing Contest, in Japan, is an opportunity for children of the new generations to be made more aware of their global environment through themed art.
“My mum remembers me drawing stick figures ever since I was two,” says 12-year-old Mariam, in response to my query about her earliest interest in art. Since then she has grown to draw sketches, landscapes and scenery.
Like most artists who have just had their talent recognised, Mariam is innocently unsure of her artistic prowess, as she shows me canvases and drawings coated with strong strokes of bold colour. “I’m not very good at drawing scenery,” she says nervously, although her drawings clearly show otherwise, depicting her liking for black, midnight blue and lavender colours.
Awed by her work, I inquire as to where she draws her inspiration from, to which she says: “I look at artists I come across on social media and YouTube, then I develop my own style. For my sketches, sometimes I see people’s outfits and wish to draw them, so I do.” After putting some music on, usually Jason Mraz, she gets to work. “I have to draw quickly, though! If I stop drawing after an hour, I lose my inspiration,” she explains jovially.
Regarding her winning drawing, Mariam passionately explains her process, saying: “My Art teacher at Al Wisam School, Mr Jess, told me to draw something in relation to the environment. He gave me ideas to choose from, and guidance, and I drew my picture with the message of helping the environment in mind.” She elaborates on the procedure, which involved initially covering the blank space with soft, coloured pastels, then coating it with a soft black pastel, followed by finally scraping the black pastel off (using a sharp pen), in order to reveal the picture she had envisioned.
She smiles as she remembers finding out about her win, and says: “I didn’t know Mr Jess had sent it to Japan, and what a big deal it was, until I came to school one day and my teachers congratulated me!”
More than pleased with her win, she thanks her mum and her best friends, Aidah and Sarah, for being supportive of her ability to draw, and is especially grateful to her mum for constructive feedback, vital to her improvement.
Unsure of what the winning prize is, Mariam says, “I hope I win a ticket to Japan, as I love travelling, and want to see the world with my mum.”