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Thai teenager dreams of being an architect, sells his artwork to earn tuition fees

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PHOTO: Khaosod English

A talented teenager in the north-eastern province of Kalasin has taken to painting landscapes of his local area and selling them to earn his university fees. 18 year old Krittamet Saisaen, known as “Earth”, dreams of being an architect, but the prohibitively expensive fees put that beyond his reach. Earth’s mother died 2 years ago, at which point his father abandoned him and his brother to the care of their farmer grandparents.

While their mother was ill in hospital, Earth and his brother would alternate time in school with time spent looking after her. It was at this point that the young boy returned to his childhood passion of drawing in order to make some money. He started out by selling his work to neighbours for as little as 20 or 50 baht, all the time improving his skills with the help of You Tube videos and an art teacher at school.

The arrival of the Covid-19 lock-down provided him with extra time to focus on his art, reproducing more of his hometown’s rural landscapes. A report in Khaosod English says Earth’s long-term goal is to be an architect, but he found the Arsom Silp Institute of The Arts in Bangkok would cost 60,000 baht for his first term. In order to get a degree, he would be required to complete 10 terms, something his farmer grandparents could never afford.

“I would not have had money to go to school, unless my grandparents sold off their farmland, our family’s last asset. I won’t let them sell it because I love nature and I love the land. Although I have my dreams, if I can’t go to school then I can let it go.”

The teenager says a student loan is also out of the question as he couldn’t afford the repayments. Instead, he is relying on his talent with a paintbrush, saying that in addition to landscapes, he can produce still-life work such as flowers and other objects, although he draws the line at doing portraits.

After his story was highlighted in various media outlets, orders have started to flood in for his work, with each piece priced between 1,000 – 2,000 baht. Earth is also hoping to use his newfound success to shine a light on the environmental challenges faced by Kalasin, and hopes to build an environmentally-friendly hut in which to teach others how to paint while caring for the environment.

“Maybe people pity me, because they heard about my story. But I want to raise the issue of the environment too, to put the focus on that. There are so many issues in this area, deforestation, trash pollution, burning trash, chemical fertilisers. The issue is about both the environment and art. I want children to care for nature and the environment.”

Anyone interested in purchasing Earth’s work can contact him through his Facebook page.

SOURCE: Khaosod English

 

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