Portrait of a Bedouin: Behind A Commission

Hi!!

Hope you’re well. These last few weeks have been somewhat of a storm for me, but I’m embracing the rain. April showers bring May flowers right? I’ve had some amazing opportunities come up and I’m scrambling to get it all done. More details on that in a future post. But for now, I wanted to share with you something I’ve been doing on the side as well.

A lovely client contacted me in March right before my vacation with a desire to commission an original painting from me. She liked my style of work and we agreed to meet in person to discuss her vision. Many commissions begin with a photograph or an idea. This client had come across an old photograph of a Bedouin lady as shown below.

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The photograph really spoke to her. It just so turns out that I, too, have been collecting vintage photographs of the “Old UAE”, particularly of the women. The photos are usually black and white, the women’s faces are always covered in a traditional burka mask revealing only their eyes. It amazes me how emotional I get when I look at these images. To many foreigners, these photos show the mysterious, elusive nature of the Islamic world with veiled women being the main subject. But for me, these photos seem to take me back in time to a people that worked very hard and in the harshest conditions.

Women carrying water jugs on their heads, men fishing and diving for pearls, camels being transported and cared for, bedouin merchants in the city souks. These pictures are nothing short of a “Night at the Museum” movie for me without all of the animation.

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Anyway, it is my task and artist to take these black and white photos and reinvent them with color and modern elements. To breathe life into a time that now ceases to exist. It is magical.

smiling eyes bedouin_amira rahim_1

 

This is
This is the gold leaf I attached to this piece. I purchased it in the US while on vacation. The leafing was very delicate and inter

For this commission, I worked on a fairly large canvas 24×36″. I worked primarily with acrylics, but I knew I was going to work in some gold leafing as well. This mixed media component adds texture and a reflective quality that could not be achieved with paint alone. The title “Smiling Eyes” comes from my client herself and I think it’s very fitting.

Here is my rendition of the portrait. I emailed progress photos as the painting progressed so I could make any adjustments to the work. Thankfully, after a few emails of updates and feedback,  I’m happy to say my client is pleased and told me “it’s perfect!”. This painting will be set for pick up this week.

 

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“Smiling Eyes” 24×36″ acrylics and gold leaf on canvas

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Thank you for reading. I am currently still open for commissions (both abstracts and figurative) for June. Feel free to contact me at amira.rahim@gmail if you’d like to set up a consultation.

Best,
Amira

www.amirarahim.com

 

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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

Abstract Art Workshop in Abu Dhabi

Last Friday, I had the opportunity to spend the afternoon with some eager art students and teach them a little about abstract art. Friday is the first day of the weekend here so for these kids to sign up to spend the day painting with me, already tells you it was going to be a great day.

I divided the 4 hour workshop into three main objectives that we would explore: 1) Color Harmony & Contrast, 2) Self Expression & Mark Making 3) Exploring the Unknown. These are all things that I look for in my own work and seek to achieve.

By the time we got through with the first hour, we could barely get them to put their brushes down and reconvene for the next session. Abstract art can be addictive!

Here’s some shots from the day:

I think they did pretty awesome, no? We had lots of fun. Thanks Brighton College Art Department and Director Kathryn Wilson.

Photos: Kathryn Wilson

Thanks UAE + 2 New Paintings!

Needed to take a moment and say thank you, UAE. More specifically, thank you Anna Seamen for your amazing interview and journalism. And thank you, The National for highlighting my “quest for color”!

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I was totally stoked for the last few days. I’ve been on cloud nine. I even started dancing with this crazy lady in my apartment. All because of this great news (literally).

A few months ago, Anna contacted me about covering me in the paper. She arrived at my Reem Island apartment and studio and we talked about some very deep ish y’all. Not just about my art, but about life, changes, and surviving the bleak landscapes of the desert. I was honest, thanks to her being so easy to talk to. It was actually quite fun.

Other than that, I’ve been dancing in the studio too. Check out my two latest pieces:

"Girls in Brooklyn" 30x40" canvas www.amirarahim.com
“Girls in Brooklyn”
30×40″ canvas
Inquiries: www.amirarahim.com/contact

 

"My Particular Infinite" 30x24" canvas www.amirarahim.com
“My Particular Infinite”
30×24″ canvas
Inquiries: www.amirarahim.com/contact

Back to painting, or zumba, haha!

A Note to My Art Students

Wrote a rather bold email to the members in my art class. Last week was tough. People were quitting. I’m sure if it was a different place, they’d be swearing at me. For veteran artists, we’ve all been there. Feeding into all those negative voices, doubts, and fears can eat you up if you let it. This was a bit of what I wrote them today:

Artists_Palette

Many of you ended up with dark and muddy colors on your paper. You mixed a lot of stuff and it wasn’t all pretty. But those dark greys, scary greens, and endless blues are necessary. It helps those other colors shine that much brighter on canvas and that’s what last week’s classes were about.

You may have felt like you were wasting paint. You didn’t waste a thing. That frustration you felt, tap into it. Own it, and challenge yourself to feel it again.

Making art is an emotional thing. You’ll discover more about yourself painting than probably most moments in your life. Watching TV, surrounding ourselves with noise, or being workaholics for someone else’s dream all take us away from our greater truth.

Why we’re here and what we can offer the universe. That’s what matters. I make art to tap into all of these things and I’m still learning myself.

If you have time today, no actually, make time today–think about things you’ve been feeling lately. Feeling damn good about life? Relish in it. Got some regrets, or fears? Own it. Dreaming of a brighter future? That’s wonderful.

Think long and hard about where you are in this exact moment and be prepared to experiment with documenting that on the canvas tomorrow.

Really eager to see this group develop and grow into something magical. Because art is magic, right?