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Tingatinga painting

Was your childhood mind fascinated by the bright, colourful and funny animals that danced, sang and told stories on Walt Disney's hit show - the Tingatinga tales? Have you ever wondered about how those humourous characters came to life?

Read along to learn about the origin of the Tingatinga paintings and how to create one yourself.

The famous Tingatinga paintings were brought to life by a nurse, Edward Said Tingatinga, in a small town in Oyster Bay area in Tanzania in the year 1968. Edward began his work using recycled and low cost materials like masonite squares, ceramic fragments and bicycle paints. These surrealistic and humourous paintings were a huge hit among tourists as the paintings were of a size that were easy to carry, brightly coloured making them visually appealing and usually based on stereotypical African icons such as the Big Five.

A Tingatinga painting depicting some common animals found in the African continent

Edward and his painting style were beloved and this gave rise to a large school of followers who conceived the Tingatinga Arts Cooperative Society, registered on 28th July, where they got together to produce Tingatinga paintings and sold them. The early school followers including Omari Amonde, Mohamed Charinda and Maurus Malikita, imitated his original style of work as it was. And, the new school followers including Abdullah, Akihmari and Hassani developed on the Tingatinga style to form unique styles of their own. The Tingatinga art style gained popularity with intense speed as evidenced by the first exhibition that took place outside the country in Denmark at the National Museum of Copenhagen just 8 years after the art form began. Unfortunately, Edward Tingatinga was unable to witness the legacy he left behind as he was prematurely shot by a cop in a case of mistaken identity.

Even now, half a century later, the Tingatinga painting style is a heart rob with CNN's Inside Africa covering a story on the Tingatinga Arts Cooperative Society and BBC, in collaboration with Walt Disney, airing a hit show, the Tingatinga tales, that used characters of this style to describe fun facts about animals and to narrate African folk tales about the origin of animals.

Create your own Tingatinga painting

Materials Required:

1) Canvas, paper or masonite tiles if you want a more authentic experience.

2) Paintbrushes- one round tip paintbrush and one flat paintbrush.

3) Paints- Acrylic, oil or bicycle paints for a more authentic experience.

4) Carbon paper

5) Pen

6) Printout of an animal silhouette


Step 1) Use a big flat brush to paint the entire background using a bright colour.

Step 2) Paint horizontal lines of another bright colour at intervals over the existing background colour.

Step 3) Blend the two colours well to smoothen the transition between them.

Step 4) Let it dry.

Step 5) Draw an outline of your favourite animal on the background. Do not stress about getting the dimensions right as this art form has a very surrealistic and humourous style. For those of you who are too intimidated to draw free hand, use a printout of an image you want to paint and transfer the image on the background using a carbon paper and pen.

Step 6) Uniformly fill in the entire outline with a bright colour preferably one that is similar to the original colour of the animal.

Step 7) Use the fine round tip brush to draw repeated patterns or shapes resembling the original shape of the patterns on the animal coat. Add in other details wherever desired.

Step 8) Draw background details to symbolize the setting of the painting, like silhouette trees or a Savanah sunset.

Step 9) Let it dry.

Step 10) Your work is finally finished.

Yay!! Now that you have learned about Tingatinga paintings and have created your own personalized Tingatinga artwork, put your new creation up on the wall and admire it with pride!


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