Follow your bliss, be a rebel

Hey!

"Rebel" 28x30" acrylic on canvas, Available
“Rebel” 28×40″ acrylic on canvas, Available

So the 30 in 30 challenge is officially over! I managed to complete 28 paintings in the month of January, more than I probably ever did before. Each week was a new experience, a new interpretation of my initial motivation to paint faces. Many of you purchased these paintings, commented and liked along the way. So, thank you so much for your patronage and support!

Today, on the first day of February, I wanted to share with you the latest painting off of the easel. It was actually painted over an older painting that I did a few months back. I didn’t mind at all. Sometimes, you have to destroy a perfectly decent painting to get to a better one, right?

This piece was created with hope and perseverance. I returned home from a rough day of trying something completely out of my creative interests. I learned that you have to stay true to yourself, even if it makes you the odd ball out.

Sometimes, it’s okay to get it wrong. To freely go after what moves you. I think it’s the rebels in this world that make the change. And so, I named this painting “Rebel” after my own heart this weekend, for surprising me with how fearlessly it dared to be itself.

Thanks for reading xx

Words Today

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May your day be filled with love today. May you eat the finest chocolates and hydrate your body with the best of water. May you hug harder than ever, may your kisses be deep. May your heart flutter with the laughter of a child. May you soak in the sun. May you make a funny, crappy drawing that awakens your soul. May you live today! like never before ❤

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

Interior Design Art Collaboration with Saudah Saleem for AphroChic!

Hey guys,

December’s almost halfway done. Whattttt? I’m scrambling around the studio finishing up commissions and getting orders out from sold out art on my website (yay!). I’ve been meaning to share this cool project that I had the pleasure of participating in earlier this year, but had to wait for the green light.

Several months ago, U.S. interior designer Saudah Saleem contacted me to feature my “Hijab Figure Study” painting in one of her upcoming design projects. I love her work and design aesthetic, so naturally I said yes. The only thing is that it was a top secret project and I wasn’t allow to share it with you guys until recently! So here it is:

Her beautiful design of the perfect tween’s room is now featured on AphroChic.com!

 

 

I love the color palette and modern feel of this room. The light is perfect, and truthfully, there’s nothing kiddy about this girl’s room. It’s very chic! Can you spot my piece yet?

The room was designed with her daughters in mind, who share the space. The art, the mirrors, the dressing table, and look at those pillows! I shared a room with my little sister for many years so this room takes me back to those happy times.

The gallery wall is a mix of fun frames and shapes, witty and inspirational words, and abstract art from contemporary painters. It’s a great combination of beauty and function.

And there is my hijab figure painting in the gorgeous frame. I’m so happy for this room and the girls that get to inhabit it! It’s brimming with inspiration and personality.

Saudah explains here motivations for the space here:

“I used African-American silhouettes near the beds, vintage fashion and travel prints, inspirational quotes and lots of bright colors and pattern to incorporate a sense of who we are as a family as well as who they are as individuals.  The selections remind the girls of where we come from and the endless possibilities that exist with regard to where they can go in life if they work hard and pursue their passions,” Saleem explains.

The sky’s the limit!

Source: Saudah Saleem Interiors

Using Meditation in My Creative Practice

"Prayer Rug No. 2" 48x36 inch canvas Available
“Prayer Rug No. 2”
48×36 in on canvas
Available

It’s that time of the year again: Autumn. Back to school. The days are getting shorter. The temperature cools. The leaves change. And our hearts change too. It’s always been my favorite time of year, literally the mark of new beginnings.

One thing I’ve been aspiring to implement into my creative practice is meditation. It’s not anything new. And even in our Islamic tradition, there is much on the topic of reflection, contemplation, and sitting in solitude–absolute stillness, and reconnect with The One. And yet, we seldom do it. Sure, praying five times a day is a spiritual discipline, but without a pure and undistracted heart, it can quickly turn into a chore.

I have to admit, I didn’t start meditating out of any religious encouragement. I see a lot of literature circulating on social media around meditation, but it’s mostly for the physical and mental benefits, which I can surely use.

There are so many benefits to meditating, and this post is certainly not the expanse to explain them all. So, I just thought I’d share a little of my thoughts on how it’s going for me.

Today, I decided to meditate for only the second time. I am using the Headspace app which I highly recommend because it guides you every step of the way without it feeling too “goo-goo gaga”. I’m not into that (or maybe, I am, but don’t realize it yet).

Some immediate things that have happened to me when I meditate:

  1. I concentrate on my breathing. This is really important. I have recurring back pain and at my last chiropractor visit, I was instructed on how to breathe properly. Turns out, I’m not even breathing right! Meditation makes you more conscious of your breath, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
  2. I realize exactly how much anxiety I’m feeling that day. Good or bad. I’m an anxious person. When I have a creative spark, I cannot rest until it’s out, expressed. On my best days, I am a happy, loving artist flowing colors from my magic wands. Today, in meditation I realized just how much I wanted–no, needed–to paint today. Which leads me to my next point…
  3. I feel the colors that resonate with me the strongest when my eyes are closed. You know how it goes. You’re in bed, trying to fall asleep, and then BAM! Hoards of painting possibilities seem to fly through your mind endlessly. I am been trying a mental practice of staying in bed, sleeping yes, but before sleeping, take a mental screenshot if you will of the paintings in my head. In the morning, I can usually remember what I loved the most. Meditation helps me know for sure exactly where I want to go.
  4. Today, I asked myself, my soul, my spirit, whatever you want to call it: “What do you need today? What do you want to feel? What do you want to love like, eat like, be like, today?” It’s a strange concept at first, but really comforting. Just saying to myself, I’m going to fulfill you. You are fulfilled. You are fulfilled.
  5. You get this cool, hippie vibe of general chilled-outness that I love. I’ve always been a worry-wart, self-prophesed perfectionist. That was cool and all in college. But I’ve made leaps and bounds in my self-awareness since then. It feels great to be honest with myself, to relax, to say “You got this,” “you’re good.” I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. Taking 10 minutes to meditate each day is like giving life, society, people, the small voices in my head, whatever, a fat hand to the face. A pause. A complete stop, as I take a moment to…well, enjoy this moment.

How do you use mediation in your creative practice or in general?

"Hijab Figure Study" 12x16" on paper SOLD
“Hijab Figure Study”
12×16″ on paper
SOLD