Vice Chair, Stephie Butler recently posted this news on Facebook:

“Hot, dusty and exhausting, but the most rewarding workshop I have ever given.

I’m here in The Gambia and as always will be visiting schools with Sandy, the founder of the charity, Goal for The Gambia whom I support in any way I can. Sandy had asked me if I would consider giving a workshop to some of the children at Kitty school when I visited and I jumped at the chance.

Proud doesn’t even come close to how I felt about these children and what they accomplished, and I was so proud to have been given the chance to be part of it. Even more so to find out later that this was the first time there had been any painting in the 40 year old school made it even more special. Their art consists of pencil and paper, that’s it. How lucky we are and how much we take for granted kept hitting me.

Stephie demonstrating

What we take for granted

It was a bit of a challenge for Sandy to get some of the materials together, things I take for granted when creating art just aren’t available or affordable here. I bought watercolour paints, ink, brushes and paper with me as they just are not available, leaving Sandy the harder task of palettes, water pots and drawing boards. These may sound like the easier option, but they weren’t.

We worked with paper plates to mix the watercolours on, these held up better than I expected and Sandy managed to get together enough glass jars to hold water for everyone. Her husband got some hardboard that they sawed into boards.

Eager participants

There were 12 older children, chosen by the school on their art ability and two art teachers along with one of the charity staff that is situated at the school, all waiting eagerly when I got there.

Some of the younger children were sent off to find twigs that we could use to do the ink work on the tigers we were painting. I kept it to 4 basic colours, showed the students how to mix them and then demonstrated each stage of the painting in parts. Some students got a little carried away with the colours on the tigers, but this was out of pure enjoyment and wanting to keep painting.

I was totally moved by the enthusiasm and hard work they all put into their work. All the work was done in about 3 hours in what had to be the high 30’s Celsius. The heat in those classrooms was almost unbearable.

Prized piece of art room furniture

The result

There had been a delivery of some donated furniture which had including some school open cupboards with drawers. One was instantly claimed by the art teachers, moved into the room and filled. The children had all chosen to leave their paintings at the school and were immediately stuck to the walls.

I am now on a mission to help them build this art class and am already thinking up ideas for next year. I’m truly lost for words to describe how I felt and know this day will stay with me forever. Thank you Sandy for this wonderful opportunity.”

Photos care of Sandy from Goal for The Gambia

How you can help

Stephie is raffling off her stunning tiger painting to raise funds for The Gambia art classroom project. The raffle closes at the end of April. At only £5 a ticket, you stand a chance of owning a Stephie Butler original – buy tickets here.

You can join the class

If you want to learn how to paint the tiger, Stephie has very kindly written a tutorial for members and friends of the SEAW. Find it here