KALASIN — With each painting of lush wet rice fields with leaping catfish, each blooming lotus pond with palms in the background brings one 18-year-old boy closer to his dream of being an architect – and preserving his hometown’s beautiful environment.
Krittamet “Earth” Saisaen, 18, has been painting landscapes of Kalasin’s rural countryside, in hopes that he will save enough money for the university when the new semester starts, and raise awareness for environmental protection at the same time.
“I’m not sure how far this can go, but I’m starting to have hope,” Earth said by phone Monday.
Earth lives in the rural part of Phimun subdistrict with his farmer grandparents Direk Phu-uad, 77, and Fong Phu-uad, 75. Earth’s mother died two years ago, and his father abandoned him and his younger brother under his grandparents’ care.
During their mother’s time in the hospital before her death, Earth and his brother traded off taking care of their mother and going to school for two days at a time. He is currently in Matthayom 6 at Huai Mek Wittayakhom School.
In order to make extra income for their impoverished household, Earth turned to his childhood love of drawing, beginning by selling drawings for his neighbors for as little as 20 to 50 baht.
He really began honing his skills in Matthayom 2, the equivalent of Grade 8, aided by his school’s art teachers and YouTube videos. Since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down attendance, he’s been hunkered at home selling paintings. But his passion for the future is to be an architect.
Earth had Googled his dream’s school’s tuition – 60,000 baht for the first term at Arsom Silp Institute Of The Arts in Bangkok, which requires 10 terms for a degree. His dream was simply too expensive for a rural farmer family.
“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,” he said. “Although I have my dreams, if I can’t go to school then I can let it go.”
Earth said he could not afford to take on student loans. His paintings – he can draw any landscape painting as well as close-ups of flowers and other objects, but not portraits – start at 1,000 baht minimum and can sell a maximum of 2,000 baht.
“Earth is like a white elephant in a huge jungle, a talented role model for the youth,” school director Thawatchai Samranwong said Monday, praising Earth for his filial piety. “Our school community stands behind him so his dreams can come true.”
Keep Kalasin Beautiful
Thanks to the news coverage over the past couple of days, Earth had orders pour in – he said he had 30 orders for landscapes alone on Monday. Earth now seeks to use his newly gained fame to help the planet that is his namesake.
“Maybe people pity me, because they heard about my story,” he said. “But I want to raise the issue of the environment too, to put the focus on that. There’s so many issues in this area – deforestation, trash pollution, burning trash, chemical fertilizers…”
Earth spoke at length about environmental issues plaguing Kalasin. Kalasin, one of the country’s major hubs for trash sorting, has also been treated as an e-waste dumping ground.
He hopes painting the pristine landscapes of Kalasin – mostly from his imagination – will inspire people, especially the young, to take action to take care of the environment.
Even with full time work and study, Earth is already planning to pay it forward. He’s following YouTube instructions on building an eco-friendly earthen hut where he can teach peers how to paint for extra income while learning about how to preserve the environment.
Plus, he said, it was difficult to paint out in the open, with wind, dust, and even animals disturbing his painting.
“The issue is about both the environment and art,” Earth said. “I want children to care for nature and the environment.”
If interested in buying Earth’s paintings, contact him at 094-258-6777 or his Facebook page, My Mud Hut, My Home, Your Home. His bank account number is 020-1621-75862, Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives.