30 in 30: Day 22 Original Portrait Painting

"Tracee" acrylics on 16.5x23.7 heavy paper, Available
“Tracee” acrylics on 16.5×23.7 heavy paper, Available

Oh, don’t you love when inspiration just bite you in the bum and next thing you know you’re off! That was me today. I’m pacing (racing, rather) trying to catch up in the 30 in 30 challenge. I refuse to drop out and being the overachiever, I actually want to do 30 paintings before this weekend ends.

This painting was inspired by today’s muse, the gorgeous Tracee Ellis Ross. Some of you may remember her from “Girlfriends”? Her character Joan was my icon. I would watch that show and get an idea of what a “real” lawyer’s life looked like (back when I was hell-bent on being an attorney). Friends, relationships, aging, all of it. I miss that show.

She has such a great energy about her and I snapped several of photos from her Instagram gallery for inspiration. Thanks for viewing!

30 in 30: Day 17 Abstract Figurative Painting

"Souk Dwellers at Dawn" 12x16" acrylic on canvas, Available
“Souk Dwellers at Dawn” 12×16″ acrylic on canvas, Available

It’s me again! Today I finished up this painting that I started last week. I was pulling from several different images and ideas, and just worked through them intuitively. I love this series! The yellow glow reminded me of sunrise so I decided to include dawn in the title somehow.

I’m still two days behind on the 30 in 30 challenge, so I will be trying to post two paintings each day. Fortunately, I have had no shortage of inspiration this month so the ideas are literally more than the canvas available.

Thanks for viewing!

pet portrait commissioned painting by amira rahim

30 in 30: Day 16 “Zoey” Pet Portrait + Process Photos

pet portrait commissioned painting by amira rahim
“Zoey” 16×16″ acrylics on canvas, commission

Hey guys! Today it rained in Abu Dhabi and stormed with hail in other parts. It’s been a gray, cloudy day, and I’m not complaining. I decided to spend my day indoors and get to some of the commissions ahead of me. This is of a sweet dog named Zoey who passed away recently. She was a joy to paint. I loved capturing her coat and sweet nature. I had many photos to choose from, but thought this captured her in a simple, but pretty light.

I decided to capture the process and share it with you, so here it goes:

This was the reference photo. After a few sketches and composition options, I decided the zoomed in crop of her face and collar would be best.
This was the reference photo. After a few sketches and composition options, I decided the zoomed in crop of her face and collar would be best.
After working out the drawing in pencil, I then went over it in black gresso, bringing in the basic shapes and shadows that would define the painting.
After working out the drawing in pencil, I then went over it in black gresso, bringing in the basic shapes and shadows that would define the painting.
Since the owner wanted a fairly realistic rendition of Zoey, I knew I wouldn't be using much color in this piece. So, I decided to tone the canvas in magenta. It makes for a nice graphic effect against black and white, and it is feminine, which can reflect the dog's sex.
Since the owner wanted a fairly realistic rendition of Zoey, I knew I wouldn’t be using much color in this piece. So, I decided to tone the canvas in magenta. It makes for a nice graphic effect against black and white, and it is feminine, which can reflect the dog’s sex. After the first layer dries, it’s time for the fun stuff! Time to paint!
I used Paynes grey, titanium white, raw umber, and indian red for most of the fur and features. I also decided to lift some of the highlighted areas with a little cerulean blue.
I used Paynes grey, titanium white, raw umber, and indian red for most of the fur and features. I also decided to lift some of the highlighted areas with a little cerulean blue.
Propped my iPad up on the easel for most of the painting. As you can see, I painted from the photograph without any editing or fiddling. Just dove right in. I really need to invest in an iPad stand since I use my iPad so much in the studio!
Propped my iPad up on the easel for most of the painting.  I really need to invest in an iPad stand since I use my iPad so much in the studio! After this, I added the whiskers and detail in the collar. I also adjusted the values in some smaller areas.

I’m happy with how well the portrait came out. I don’t typically paint dogs or cats, but some are just adorable and this girl was no exception. The final portrait moved the original owner to tears, so I can say, my job here is done. All on a rainy day’s work!

30 in 30: Day 15 Abstract Figurative Painting

"Tahajjud" 12x24" acrylic on canvas, Available
“Tahajjud (Night Prayer)” 12×24″ acrylic on canvas, SOLD

This is the companion piece to my previous painting. This was also painted intuitively, no sketching, no references, just imagination. I really struggled to find the faces and people in this one, but slowly it came together. I wanted this one to be a little lighter in the background, and the white motif in the upper right corner gives an illusion of light and space. As the figures began to emerge in the piece, it formed somewhat of a crowd. There appears to be smaller figures on the floor, possibly children, or women resting. And then the three standing figures in the center are facing away.

As I finished this piece, I landed on the perfect title. It reminded me of a scene in a mosque because they appear to be in prayer. “Tahajjud” is the night prayer that is prayed by devout muslims, especially during the month of Ramadan. The ghost like quality of the women is offset by burst of colors to lift the energy.

Here are the pair. I think they really complement each other and could be hung side by side.

"Sisters" and "Tahajjud" 24x24" acrylics on canvas
“Sisters” and “Tahajjud” 24×24″ acrylics on canvas

What do you see?

30 in 30: Day 7 Souk Painting

colorful abstract portrait painting by a
“Afternoon Tea” 12×12″ acrylic on panel Available

Day 7. Today was a tough painting day for me. I started the day already anxious about fitting painting in and having time for some other commitments in the evening. And so, I started my day in the studio as usual right after breakfast. I can’t say painting this was easy.

“Afternoon Tea” was painted from some photos I snapped in Dubai while visiting the old souk with my friend. She is Somali and we gathered around her aunt’s shop that day to have the delicious cardamon tea just before maghrib, hence the title. I love the contrasts in the black and white, as well as the colorful background. And I am pleased with the overall product. But, today especially, I’m noticing a resistance in my hand. It is like I don’t want to perfectly render facial features anymore. After all, I am a self-professed abstract artist. These are the most realistic paintings I have done in years and it’s breaking me somehow. I’m not quite sure what’s going on here or what the next three weeks will look like.

I feel like I may veer into abstract faces with a whimsical, illustrative style. Or even abstract figures with no faces at all. Just blank voids. This seems more natural than what I have been doing these last few days. I’m struggling to find my voice in this challenge and that’s mainly because there is no downtime. By the time I post the day’s painting, the day is over and I’m trying to piece together what will be my assignment for the following day.

If any of you out there have done the 30 in 30 painting challenge before, or doing it now, is this how it’s supposed to feel? Am I outdoing myself here aiming for 30 perfect paintings?

Hope to hear from you xx