Ndambo hails from the Mwawache village in the Chawai area of Taita Taveta in Kenya. He is now in his 60s. John derives his inspiration from the tribes people he saw while growing up and watching them go about their daily routine. The colors and vibrancy that these people showed, without their realization as to their beauty, made him pay attention to details of life in his area.
Ndambo studied at Mwawache Primary School and then Mwafuga High School. His skills with the palette knife came to him naturally and he was able to impress both his school mates and teachers when he painted their portraits. Few artists in Kenya stick exclusively with the pallette knife. One reason is it is ‘paint heavy’, using more paint than a brush. The area painted with a palette knife uses the same amount of paint as three brush-only paintings, which can be expensive for an artist. On the flipside, palette paintings have a rich deep color often making them look more dramatic while having more dimension and depth.
Ndambo has exhibited his work in London and the Edinburgh Art Festival in Scotland in 1995, 1997 and 2010. These events were organized by the Royal Overseas League who offered a special invitation to a few select African artists concentrating on paintings.
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