New Techniques and Inspiration in the Studio

Creating art on a daily basis is no easy feat. It’s so rewarding, but can take a lot out of you and not in ways one would expect. The most obvious example is the ever-present idea of Inspiration. What is it and how do we cultivate it? Can you lose it? Can you sustain it over long periods of time?

These are the questions that I’ve been exploring lately in my own practice and I’m happy to say the results have been positive. I feel happy and healthy when I am in the studio and when I am not. Outside of the studio. This is key. Many people artists, and others alike, may think of the creative process as starting in the studio. But for many of us, it begins well before we enter our caves and grab our brushes.

I have found this increasing need to fill my artist well, as Julia Cameron discusses in “The Artist Way” (great read, btw). And part of the way I am learning to fill the well is by taking care of myself, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Traveling (or even just looking at places to travel), enjoying a slow afternoon, or spending time with family are all ways I like to recharge.

These last few weeks have been a flurry of deadlines, traveling to Oman, and preparing for a very exciting exhibition (more to come on this later). In between my “have-to’s”, I’ve also been painting a series of camels, giraffes, and more abaya women, just because it brings me joy and it’s fuels me creatively.

But, that’s a lot of canvas. That’s a lot of painting. Some days I get stuck. I feel frustrated, and I know it’s time to take a break. Go have a cup of tea or meet a friend outside for lunch. It’s a give and take.

I’ve been really excited, however, at this increasing interest in textiles and patterns. I’ve been watching and reading about surface pattern design from a distance now for the past two years. It’s fascinating to me how illustrators can turn a drawing into a vector and repeat pattern and then have it placed on a product. What artist doesn’t want to see their art go as far into the world as possible? While I have a strong handle on illustrating and I never shy away from drawing, design seemed way out of my reach, like some luxury item only for a girl to dream of.

Until recently. I am finding ways to incorporate pattern and texture into my work in ways I could have never anticipated. I am able to work out some of the imagery that’s been playing in my mind now for months and this is only the beginning. I am adding to my visual vocabulary daily, and quite frankly, it’s torture! I have soooo much buzzing on in my head but it just needs an outlet, some graphic design, and lots of planning. Patience, Amira, patience (never been my strong suit).

Here are some of the fun things I’ve been doing in my latest release of paintings, coming soon:

Stencil

I find these arabesque Islamic geometric art very inspiring. I am trying to incorporate this all. This picture is from my recent trip to Oman.
I find these arabesque Islamic geometric art very inspiring. I am trying to incorporate this all. This picture is from my recent trip to Oman.

Stencils and giraffe

 

stencil and camel

Collage

 

 

Collage work in my upcoming abaya paintings. These are found papers featuring Klimt.
Collage work in my upcoming abaya paintings. These are found papers featuring Klimt.

 

Collage work in my upcoming abaya paintings. These are found papers featuring Klimt.
Collage work in my upcoming abaya paintings. These are found papers featuring Klimt.

 

And of course, playing around with gold leaf. This is from my last commission of a Bedouin woman.
And of course, playing around with gold leaf. This is from my last commission of a Bedouin woman.

Modeling Paste

Modeling paste is applied to my canvas using a palette knife. It is a very nice ground for painting on and the end results are quite stunning.
Modeling paste is applied to my canvas using a palette knife. It is a very nice ground for painting on and the end results are quite stunning.
You can see the effects on a piece almost finished. It creates this sense of delicacy and texture that I really enjoy for this series.

 

IMG_0027

 

So, these are just some of the things I’ve been adding into my art practice. Would love to know what you are doing differently in your art practice if you’re an artist. And just in general, if not, how do you recharge and get inspired after a burnout?

Advertisements

Finding Inspiration in Oman

Back from Oman this weekend and I had the trip of a lifetime! A few weeks ago, I was asked by Zee Arts to join 9 other artists to represent the UAE in Oman for a cultural exchange. We were met with 10 Omani artists and our fantastic hosts Paragon Arts Community.

As you can see, I found much inspiration in this beautiful country. It was a feast for the eyes. The arabic lanterns, the souks, the people, and the amazing landscape. It was quite refreshing and I found it much needed as a refuge and break from the day to day grind in my studio.

On the last day of our trip, we participated in live painting at a mall in Muscat. We were joined by two great musicians and it proved to be a very conducive environment for painting.

Here is a video of what I ended up working on:

Back home, I completed the piece and it is now available on my website.

“Omani Procession” 24×32 acrylic and oil pastel on canvas, View

39 Signs You’ve Been Living In Abu Dhabi for Too Long

I’ve lived in Abu Dhabi now for 2 years. That’s just enough time to realize all the things you love to hate and hate to love about a place. I feel blessed to call this place my home for the time being. And when I go back to the U.S. now to visit family, I’m shocked to realized how much I’ve changed. Here are “a few” things I’ve learned about living here that I wanted to share with you all. But, keep in mind, this is mostly my perspective as an American, a wife, and a female. Enjoy 🙂

39 (originally 25) Signs You’ve Been Living in Abu Dhabi for Too Long

  1. You know that stop signs are purely for suggestion, turn signals are completely optional, speed bumps are more like hills, and you want to flip someone the bird at least once a week but can’t because it’s illegal.
  2. You’ve gotten sunburned before…in December.
  3. Because of this, you wear sunscreen year round.
  4. You’re friends are jealous because you post beach pictures all year long.
    "Fauv Mini Camel by Amira Rahim at www.amirarahim.com
    “Fauv Camel Mini”  by Amira Rahim
  5. You’ve looked up at least once because you thought someone was spitting on you, and then realized it was just the sky trying to rain.
  6. You can’t get anything done between 1-4:30 because businesses close down for afternoon break.
  7. You know that finding a parking space in most places is a gift from God and you wiggle in your seat when you find one. Or…you just do what the locals do and create your own.
  8. You or someone you know drives a Land Cruiser or Nissan Patrol.
  9. You no longer double take when you see a Corvette, Masserati, or Bently. But you will stop for Ferraris, Maclarens, Lambourginis, or a beautiful vintage piece.
  10. You’ve gotten used to the creepy guys that stare at you like you’re from out of space.
  11. You have an umbrella that serves no other purpose other than sun protection.
  12. You’ve cancelled plans just because it was too hot outside and didn’t feel like being slapped in the face by the humidity.
  13. You’ve ordered ridiculous things like toilet paper, a case of water, ice cream and more to be delivered to your doorstep and you’re not ashamed, even if the store is in your building.
  14. You brunch, lunch, and coffee morning with the best of them, and always looking for the next restaurant to spend a leisure afternoon.
  15. You know there’s no such thing as customer service here, and that no matter how many times someone says “Yes, Madammmmm,” in a sing-song tone, you still struggle to place an order, remedy a mishap, or file a complaint.
  16. You’ve switched 5-6 lanes in moving traffic and didn’t feel like a complete douche.
  17. You swear your family back home has never tasted a proper shawarma, falafel, baklava, or hummus.
  18. You’ve gained at least 15-20 lbs (see the above) and have no idea how to drop it.
  19. You’re constantly planning your next getaway, vacation, or exotic trip.
  20. You know that hiring help is perfectly necessary, and wouldn’t dare live without your nanny, housekeeper, or live-in maid.
  21. You say things like “Khalas” and “Inshallah” because no other phrase seems to express what you’re feeling.
  22. You know that most things are negotiable. Nothing happens on time. And “official” rules and regulations change regularly.
  23. You give friends directions to your house by citing the nearest mall, landmark, or GPS coordinates because there are no real addresses here.
  24. You’ve had so much things shipped to your home that you’re starting to feel like a cartel.
  25. You go to Dubai for shopping, good food, and fun on a regular basis.
  26. You’ve drank 14karat gold at Emirates Palace.
  27. You know how to order in broken English when necessary (i.e. “same same”, “special full”, “big big one”, etc.)
  28. You have friends from places you’ve never heard of until several years ago.
  29. You look forward to cloudy days.
  30. You own at least one expensive pair of shades and don’t sweat it because you wear them all year long.
  31. You know that if you search hard enough, anything can be delivered to your door. Even Pinkberry.
  32. You’ve ridden a camel, smoked shisha, got a henna tattoo, and attempted to belly dance at least once.
  33. You expect everything to be open until midnight. And know that during Ramadan the city never sleeps.
  34. You’ve had ongoing construction in every single neighborhood you’ve ever lived in. 
  35. You’ve seen a sandstorm and said several prayers because you were sure this would be your last day on earth.
  36. You live in a high rise apartment over-looking the city and you’re not rich.
  37. You’ve pulled up to a store or establishment in your car, placed the order, and then waited for the guy to bring it to your car door, like a boss!
  38. You know to buy perfumes to take back home to your family and keep some for yourself.
  39. You’ve made some of the best friends in your life and can’t imagine ever leaving!

What else would you add to this list?

Blog of artist Amira Rahim

Sand, Safari and Bedouins

Hey you! It’s been a sandy weekend. Abu Dhabi has seen one of the most intense sandstorms ever and left much of us indoors for the past few days. We almost cancelled our safari booking, but decided to just bear the brunt of the storm and hope for the best.  Fortunately, I was able take advantage of one of my last few days in Abu Dhabi before vacation and enjoy a traditional desert safari. In a few more weeks it will be too hot to bear!

The camels, dunes, and blanket of stars at night made for an unforgettable experience. Here are some of the photos from yesterday.

 

The timing couldn’t have been better. I am diving deeper and deeper into my collection of figurative abstract women and I managed to complete a set of Bedu women on canvas.

"Bedu 1" 20x30" acrylic and gesso on canvas, SOLD
“Bedu 1″ 20×30” acrylic and gesso on canvas, SOLD
"Bedu 2" 20x30" acrylic and gesso on canvas, SOLD
“Bedu 2″ 20×30” acrylic and gesso on canvas, SOLD

I am happy to say they have already gone to a swift and trusty collector of mine (thank you, if you’re reading!). I will be doing more with this motif in the future. I love the monochrome scheme for this theme, and I think it lends to the nostalgic quality of these figures that move me so much. I may also explore them in red.

If you have any feedback or more ideas, feel free to share in the comments below!

Things to Do During the Day When You’re Alone

What an ambiguously strange title that is? But, that’s all I could come up with that made sense for this.

These last few weeks have been a colossal ball of business, art business that is. Thanks to so many orders coming through in the last few weeks (thanks ya’ll!), I’ve been out of the studio most of the time driving around the city getting prints made, works framed, and then seeing them off to their forever homes. But like every high, there is an equal low.

I’ve been spending much of my time completely alone, as the mister is off working and many of my friends here only socialize on the weekends due to their own jobs. As a self-employed creative, artrepreneur, many of you can relate, most of the time is spent doing things completely alone. Usually it doesn’t bother me, and it is a necessary part of my profession, painter. But with commissions to finish and orders to fulfill, my creative time has been limited. Maybe it’s the time of year, I always get nostalgic around fall and just want to be close to home. Maybe it’s the fact that I haven’t seen my mom and siblings for 10 months. Boo frickity hoo. I don’t want to throw myself a pity party, so today I thought of several fun things to do when completely alone in the day:

 

sketch

Sketching is a great way to work on creative ideas that I can’t put to the canvas just yet. Lately I’ve been exploring figures and looking forward to incorporating them into my abstract work.

Read. The other day, I was determined to sit by the Corniche beach, get some fresh air, and catch up on some good reads. Lately, I’ve been reading Gone Girl (the movie was so good, I needed more), A Place of Yes (Bethenny Frankel is the real deal), and now recently Art, Inc. by Lisa Congdon. Would love to get some more recommendations, so what are you guys reading?

Listen to TED Talks. Ever notice how the time goes by when you’re listening to good TED talks in procession? And then there’s that added bonus of feeling like you’re actually back in college and your brain is still capable of soaking up new information. Feels good. The last really good TED talk I heard was by “Pico Iyer: The art of stillness.” Give it a go.

Visit unfamiliar places. I’ve been meaning to go to the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation. It’s the closest thing to a museum in the capital, and I love to learn about the ways and cultures from the past. So, looking forward to this.

Pamper yourself. Baths are great. And no one says baths can only be at night. I also like to light some essential oil blends in a diffuser and keep my apartment smelling fresh. And sometimes, you just need a trip to the mall and buy those things you’ve been meaning to get. Pampering is especially nice alone, so take advantage of the free time if you can!

Get your shit together. This may not be that fun, but sometimes it’s nice to get some organizing done around the house. In addition to laundry and things, there are other ways I’d like to get organized. Mainly, organizing my photos and files on my Mac. Since I got this laptop in March, it’s been great, almost too great. Because the moment I save or upload something here, it’s off into the mysterious cloud or neverland, and I can’t figure out how to see all of it at once and purge the unnecessary.

 

I really like this quote, and it’s something I’ve deliberately adopted this year. When you treat each day like you mean to wake up, then you have a lot more control over your mood. We’re all human right? We will have those days. Hoping to stay present and enjoy this moment while I can.

Peace and Blessings,

Amira