Reflections On My First Solo Art Exhibition

It’s been a very busy and inspiring month. A few months back, I was featured in The National newspaper and then Time Out Abu Dhabi magazine and started garnering more attention in the capital and my new home.

When I was contacted by the Art Director of Brighton College to see if I would be interested in exhibiting my work with their gallery for a month. Of course, “HELL YES!” was pretty much my initial reaction. The only thing was, my entire show had to be ready by the first week in October. So, after my trip to Sudan for 10 days in September, I came back to a studio of empty canvases and nestled paint tubes and proceeded to do what I love and know most: painting.

My exhibition launched October 12th, and consists of a good portion of works I produced earlier this year, as well as several new works that I’m quite proud of in both the abstract and pop/fauve/abstract realism style I’ve been doing with animals.

30x24" canvas  Available
“Friendly Falcon” 30×24″ canvas
Available at www.amirarahim.com
Giselle
“Giselle” 24×24″ canvas Available at www.amirarahim.com
30x24" canvas  Available
“Gino” 30×24″ canvas
Available at www.amirarahim.com

I expected it to be hard work painting under such a tight deadline and it was. I spent many nights reworking some paintings, fine tuning things. But fortunately, much of what I painted were things that I wanted to explore for months now. I had them inside and they couldn’t wait to come out. What I didn’t expect was the emotional aftermath of the experience.

Without sounding overly dramatic, I definitely bond with my paintings during their creation and completion. Many of them were hanging in my home for my eyes to feast for months. So, to pack up everything and drop them to a gallery for a month on end, was bittersweet.

 

"Brave Heart" 20x40" canvas Available at www.amirarahim.com
“Brave Heart”
20×40″ canvas
Available at www.amirarahim.com

But, unlike some artists, I do create my work with the intention to sell. I love when I can make a piece of art that moves someone else just as much as it moves me. I love even more when they decide to take that piece of art and place in their home to enjoy for a lifetime.

In a year’s time, I’ve sold countless paintings and prints, made great friends, and established a good fan base. I now feel like my budding art career is ready to take the next step. With that said, preparing for this exhibition was good practice for my next endeavor: being a gallery-represented artist. I made sure each painting was produced with high quality materials. I varnished everything in the best fashion I could, and really treated them for what they are–fine art to be handled with care. I tried to have harmony between my pieces, color palettes, and styles. It was a beautiful ride, and I am very happy to have the chance to share my work with the Abu Dhabi community.

"Fae Flowers" 28x40" canvas Available at www.amirarahim.com
“Fae Flowers”
28×40″ canvas
Available at www.amirarahim.com

Since my exhibition, I’ve received three requests for commissioned paintings (one of which will be going to the US), and have sold one painting, “Humphrey’s Back”. He’s the first sell, and I shouldn’t be surprised. My camels are the first to go and I can’t quite explain the energy and emotions these creatures bring up.

A week after my opening reception, I got invited back to speak with the 5th, 6th, and 12th year students at the school on being an artist in the UAE. Just getting the opportunity to inspire young kids and encourage them to pursue art education and practice was really fulfilling. Every class asked me loads of questions in the Q&A, and one kid was so kind, that he stood up and told us how now, he is inspired by me just like I am inspired by so many artists living and passed. It was so much fun and I really couldn’t have asked for a better person to work with. Thanks a lot Kathryn Wilson for your support of the arts and artists in the area!

The exhibition is on for two more weeks! If you’re in Abu Dhabi, please stop by Brighton College Main Gallery for a visit.

Me and the 5th grade art students of Brighton College

 

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My Abu Dhabi Essentials!

One of the requirements of being an expat in a foreign country, is opening your mind and eyes to new ideas and learning to adjust. It hasn’t always been easy, and I often miss home. But, Abu Dhabi has exposed me to cool things I wouldn’t have normally used. Here are a few things I can’t live without:

1. The Ample Supply of Art Supply Stores in the City

Abu Dhabi is essentially a big shopping center in the desert made up of an infinite supply of shopping malls. These malls house bookstores, and in Abu Dhabi, most bookstores carry art supplies. This means that with any trip to the mall I can quickly pick up a few canvases (or a lot) and paints to keep this artist happy!

Recently, I also discovered Green Branch, which is a fabulous independent art supply store in the city with walls and walls of materials. I do believe it is the best art supply store in the city. Don’t be fooled by its humble accommodations, this place is a gem!

2. A Black Abaya

 

The black abaya has traditionally been worn in the desert for over a thousand years. Fast forward to 2014, the abaya has since evolved into a fashion-forward, sometimes sexy, often expensive garment for the modern Muslim woman. In the UAE, everyone wears them and for almost any occasion.

I love that I can throw one over my pajamas for a quick errand or two. Or I can jazz it up for an upscale event. It’s versatile, elegant, and to be honest, I feel like a princess when I’m wearing it.

3. Burning Bakhoor

I have a feeling bakhoor can be found in every flat and villa in the Emirate. Purfumed wood or “oud” is set on burning charcoals to smoke your home into a decadently smelling abode. It’s faster than burning candles, and with the many shops in the city, you can experiment with countless fragrant combinations including rose, frankincense, french perfumes, and more. Lately I’ve been loving the stronger “Oud” blends which are a favorite amongst the locals. In fact, I have some burning now!

4. Sandals, sandals, and more sandals!

I have to admit, I’ve never been much of a sandal-wearer. But in this sand-pit, you quickly get over any inhibitions at showing your pretty piggies. The weather is often too hot to wear anything else, and with Steve Madden, Aldo, and other shops being just a drive a way, what more can a girl want? I’m currently rocking these beauties from Steve Madden. BADEN in Gold/Cognac. It’s a sexy one.

5. Sunscreen and Sunnies

My absolute favorite sunscreen. I’m pretty much allergic to everything else. This one keeps my face safe from the scorching desert sun. Oh, and yesterday’s temp? 113 degrees Fahrenheit. Yea… cover up!

And last but not least, my beloved Ray Bans. Still the sunglass of choice in the Emirate, and an absolute essential with my black abaya and handbag.

What are some of your expat essentials?

 

Images sourced from Pinterest and Steve Madden

 

 

If You Think You’re Going to Fail, Make Art Anyway

It’s a strange concept. Failure.

What does it mean to fail at so449ade0fc68f908a22d600372155c0d4mething? It’s even more obscure as a creative person, as a working artist. The longer you devote yourself to your craft, and decide that it’s worth your life’s pursuit, the more obstacles and challenges you’ll face.

In being a professional artist, many of us make the mistake of assuming, because a painting didn’t sell it isn’t good. Or because you didn’t make a certain amount of money this month, you’ve failed.

We have to overcome this fear of failure if we’re going to survive as creatives.

Lately, I’ve been having a very successful time here in Abu Dhabi selling my original paintings, connecting with more artists online and in person, and even being featured in The National‘s Art Blog. It’s really made me think about what success would me to me as an artist. My dreamy-colorful-art life would look something like this:

  1. Having the courage, audacity, and strength to create beautiful, authentic, and moving works of art everyday.
  2. Having a lifetime supply of family, friends and followers who support me on my art journey and believe in my work.
  3. Sharing my knowledge and experience with others in the form of workshops and classes regularly.
  4. Having a solid relationship with interior designers and art dealers as in love with abstract art as I am.
  5. Successfully operating my very own sustainable and prosperous art business.

I pray to God these things happen for me, and so I challenge myself everyday to work towards these goals because I know it won’t happen by wishful thinking. But say I accomplish this? Say it works out. Then what? Do I stop creating. Do I relax?

I want to share with you guys this very awesome Ted Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert (who, by the way, gives amazing Ted Talks) on how our Creativity must survive its own success. Very powerful concept, and very inspiring speech for anyone out there trying to do anything.

 

Remembering Maya Angelou

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Today, I was reflecting over my connection to Maya Angelou. Saddened by her passing, I searched for inspirational quotes of hers and landed on this one, which I placed over my painting “Electra Street.” I hope you guys enjoy her words.

In high school we recited her poems. Our mothers collected her wisdom and passed it down for us to read in our maturity. Her stories made us embrace her, and her speeches made us embrace ourselves. What a woman, what a human being.

New place, new studio!

 

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The view of Gate Towers, looking up

Hey guys!

It’s been a lovely, but crazzzyyy busy week. We’re officially moving into our new place and I’m just so excited. It’s hard to believe we’ve officially spent a year in Abu Dhabi, and in a hotel apartment, at that! Our new place is Gate Towers, one of the newest properties completed in the capital. It’s pretty spectacular if I do say so myself.

http://www.goodnewsfinland.com/Kone_Gate%20District%20Towers.jpg
Gate Towers

 

The views are outstanding. From our flat, we can see the Grand Mosque, Saadiyat Island, and lots of water and inland islands. Quite the change from our previous views of the buildings directly in front of us, and the screeching construction outside 6 days a week.

 

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Getting my new studio together

I can’t believe it, but I’m actually a bit nervous. I’ve had such success in my old studio. It was a struggle at first, I’ll admit, but I was soon forced to make the most of it and man, did some beautiful paintings come out of there. Moving into a new place means I’ll have to find a new zone, new vibes. I’m worried that I won’t find my mojo in time, haha.

The best part about this place is the lovely light pouring in on all of these white walls. I get to hang my art everywhere! The colors just make me sing. I love it. It’s so vibrant, I had to take some preliminary iPhone shots and share it with you guys:

 

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“Happy Not Hippy” and “Prayer Rug No.2”
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My art, my walls! 🙂
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“April Blooms” in my dining room

I’m happy we get to start our lives in such an amazing place. They say it takes about a year to get used to living abroad so I’d like to count this as our new start. Hoping for good things to come out of this place, and I can’t help but get excited every time I look down our corridor into my new studio.

Anyway, I better get back to unpacking here. More posts soon!

Stay cool folks,

Amira

www.amirarahim.com