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?

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Facing a Fear: Small Abstracts

Hi there,

I came back to Abu Dhabi last week and so happy to be back. I’ve been busy doing housewife things like organizing closets and picking out duvet sets, etc. Blah blah. But in the process, I’ve developed a newfound respect for being more organized. I have been on this organization rampage and my studio is not exempt! Happy to say it’s almost up to par and ready for me to make some big moves this month.

As with any break, the trouble of starting back up again in the studio can be daunting. So, I decided what better way to ease into the swing of things than by starting small abstract paintings on canvas.

I’m pushing for color these days. Maybe it’s the shuffle & transition of leaving one home for another, the coastal, desert landscape, or just my own form of mood management, but I want to see more bright and saturated color these days. Bright pinks, impossible greens. I want it now but I know it will take weeks maybe to bring it out of me. It’s hard sometimes to go bold. Here is my first attempt. It’s a small abstract (40x40cm), something I struggle with now as I continue to create larger and larger works of art.

Why do I struggle, you may ask? Well, it’s hard to maintain control of an abstract piece when the canvas is so small. It can easily get crowded. I lose sight of focus. The paint takes for ever to dry. Etc. Etc.

This piece was actually prompted to get this done early in the morning. I work up at 4am for suhoor (a pre-dawn meal prior to fasting). And, true to form, I could not get back to sleep in the morning. My mind is far to active or inspired when I first wake up. I was wondering, specifically, if I could use purple as a neutral. Strange thoughts in the AM, I know. But, I was considering the possibility. I know it’s a color and generally, when you think neutrals, you think grays and beiges. But, if it’s one thing I’ve learned over the years is that a color is only as relevant as the color next to it.

Here’s the piece, and here is my progress shots along the way.

I also decided to experiment with some of my new materials, including Krink paints and Posca acrylic markers. The verdict? In love!

I like to first mark the canvas with a few lines. Just making the space less empty. Some like to tone the canvas. This is also helpful, especially for more figurative painting. For abstract pieces, I tend to dive right in, though.
I like to first mark the canvas with a few lines. Just making the space less empty. Some like to tone the canvas. This is also helpful, especially for more figurative painting. For abstract pieces, I tend to dive right in, though.
progress shot_amira rahim
I mixed a few cool colors on my palette and then went in establishing some forms using my favorite flat brush.
See what I mean? It get's busy really fast with the smaller pieces. This will definitely get toned down.
See what I mean? It get’s busy really fast with the smaller pieces. This will definitely get toned down.
I move right in with my new Krink acrylic paint marker. This teal color grabbed me and boy is it beautiful. It has a nice sheen to it and it drips on the canvas just the way I like my paints! It's a keeper.
I move right in with my new Krink acrylic paint marker to mute out some spaces. This teal color grabbed me and boy is it beautiful. It has a nice sheen to it and it drips on the canvas just the way I like my paints! It’s a keeper.
I added a few lines and muted out some spaces. I like the moodiness of the piece. It's not as bright as I would have hoped but..
I added a few lines and muted out some spaces. I like the moodiness of the piece. It’s not as bright as I would have hoped but..
progress 7 amira
Here’s a shot of the piece hanging on my newly covered canvas walls. I’m happy with the use of purple in this piece. And I enjoy the sense of control that the bars of paint achieve. I will be creating more pieces like this over the coming weeks. Stay tuned, I’m just warming up!

Thanks for reading. As a note, this is my blog. To visit more of my work, please go to my official website at www.amirarahim.com.

“Orange Attack” New Original Abstract Painting

"30x40" acrylic on canvas, Available
“30×40” acrylics and gold paint on canvas, Available

Heyyyy, feeling orange? I don’t know why, but I’m obsessed with orange! I think it’s my aura color. I remember one time in 8th grade I planned for weeks one outfit. I had orange nail polish. Orange shoes. Orange shirt and pants. Basically if it came in orange and could be put on my body, I collected it. I wore it all on one day, and I’ll never forget walking onto the block of my middle school only to see a group of men in orange prison jump suits dutifully collecting the trash (tells you something about my school’s neighborhood right?). Aren’t you glad that whole matchy-matchy trend back from grade school is over?

"Orange Attack" 30x40" acrylic and gold paint on canvas, Available
“Orange Attack” 30×40″ acrylic and gold paint on canvas, Available

I started this painting in August last year, right before my 26th birthday. It has oozes of pinks and purples but from the beginning, it was clear that orange was going to be the winner here. I justttt finished it up today during my open studio session (thanks guys for painting with me). I love it for what it is, and what it’s not. It’s not serious or overly worked. It’s fun, upbeat, and makes me smile.

Side note: I had an amazing consultation with an award winning artist early this morning. I was so excited to get her expert advice, and boy was this consult needed! We talked for almost 2 hours on the next steps to take in getting my art out there and into the world (yes!). I can’t wait to start implementing all of her great tips and suggestions to connect with more fans. And, in the short term, my website is about to get a ma-jor facelift! Ahh, whoever said artists just sit in the studio all day smoking cigarettes and waiting for inspiration is sadly mistaken! So fortunate though for all of the clarity 2015 has brought to me thus far.

I am eagerly waiting for the chance to work on my next batch of camels and veiled women. In addition to my abstracts. In addition to living. In addition to life. Yea.

Love,

Amira

30 in 30: Day 24 Abstract Expressive Painting

"Episodic" acrylics and oil pastel on 16.5x23" paper
“Episodic” acrylics and oil pastel on 16.5×23″ paper, Available

I decided to submit this as my Day 24. “Episodic” was started in December and I finished it up yesterday. Mainly adding the expressive squiggly lines in oil pastel, and adjusting the colors a bit more. I have to say, I love this color scheme and the feel of this painting in general.

The name came a bit by accident but seems fitting. I’ve been thinking about a young one in my family who started having mild seizures. She would be the second person in our family with epileptic seizures and it’s all a bit scary. It’s a hard thing to watch your loved ones suffer through, especially because you feel so helpless. My prayers are with the little one, she’s not even 5 years old yet.

I know I endeavored to paint just faces for this challenge, but abstract art is like my second hand. It just flows sometimes and I hate to block that part of my creative process because it feeds so much into my life and healing. I also recently sold a set of 4 abstract pieces that I completed in my morning studio session a few days ago. Will be posting those soon to catch up as well hopefully. It was the buyers first art purchase and a gift to herself for turning 40! I love it when that happens.

Thanks for viewing.

30 in 30: Day 21 Hand-painted iPad Cover

Hand painted iPad Cover, not for sale
Hand painted iPad Cover, not for sale

Hey hey! Back. It’s January 21st right? haha, I’m so behind. I’ve been painting around the clock, but I’m learning that with the Daily Painting series, more jobs come up. You get commissions. You get busy. And so, I am just going to pretend it’s the 21st because I am trying really hard to keep up!

This weekend, I got to visit some of my first sold paintings here at a collector’s home in Abu Dhabi. She was kind enough to invite me over and see all of the art in her home. I’m pleased to say, she has well over 10 pieces of my work, ranging from watercolors, camels, and landscapes. One of the perks of selling/buying local is that you can keep in touch!

Well, in between my other work, I decided to just paint my iPad cover. I use it so much in the studio and I hate to admit, it was getting pretty “artsy” with paint accidentally being placed on the cover. The cover itself was on a nice, textured material and was teal colored. I applied my acrylics directly over it and just had fun with it. I inadvertently painted something very similar to my original “Dancing in the Rain” painting, which coincidentally sold the same day!

After I painted it, I signed it and sealed it with a sprayed varnish to keep it protected from the elements. Now I can take a piece of my art with me wherever I go!

Fun and functional. 🙂

P.S. My initial photo is blurry, so here’s a little more from my iPhone.

The cover, with its matching painting :)
The cover, with its matching painting 🙂

amira rahim_ipad cover painting