Religious and Spiritual Themes

I’ve been noticing a spiritual/religious theme running through my drawings as of late, specifically the ones I take pictures of and post to my twitter account.

Look at these 3 works:

a drawing made in black ballpoint pen of a large flower poking out of two large leaves with a smaller vine of leaves growing out of its side in a spiral. signed KAM 2019
Untitled
a drawing made in black ballpoint pen named doorways to the same heaven. landscape orientation drawing of two door shapes on their side, each decorated very differently with a line separating them.
Doorways to the same heaven
a drawing made in black ballpoint pen named "place of worship" of a temple-like buliding. it has a dome on top, symbols and patterns all over, and a narrow archway decorated with a floral border, with a lightbulb hanging down the center.
Place of worship

I’ve put them in order of least to most obvious (in my opinion) 😉

I felt weird about leaning towards these religious images and ideas, so at first, I questioned myself. Am I feeling inadequate somehow, spiritually? Is there something I should be doing more?

Or is there something I should be doing less?

And yet when I look at these, I don’t see anything particularly troublesome, and I certainly don’t feel like anything is wrong. I know what was in my mind as I drew, and it was more about feeling unity than anything else.

The truth is that I have to accept that religious iconography is so easy to draw. It helps when I’m drawing without a plan, or when I’m feeling that making art is hard.

Being the first set of images I was given and encouraged to memorise, how is it surprising?

I mean, because Arabic is not my language, but I needed to know how to read it to participate in my religion, the Qur’an is full of symbols to me rather than a language*. And those pages were always adorned, and mosques are full of art!

When I feel proud of my upbringing, my heritage, or the cultures I’ve been exposed to throughout my life (due to being a Muslim and being brought up in the Middle East and Mauritius) part of it is about being proud of the images I have in the back of my mind.

That’s why looking for some broken part of me to act as answer means I’m misinterpreting what’s happening.

I think the art world loves tragic stories; loves spiritual conflicts. So people who paint religious icons are often seen as having a fixation on, or a desperate need to challenge, their religious history. While I do think that those reasons to express yourself are just fine, that prevailing metanarrative must have influenced how I see religious imagery in general.

The truth is that to begin with, the images make up part of an artist’s language, and there’s no positive or negative to it. The context is what builds it up and adds emotional depth. It’s what will tell you whatever else you need to know.

*I would like to invite anyone who hasn’t heard of Shahzia Sikander to look her up. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit she had a profound influence on me.

Island Beauty

Lucky me! I’m currently visiting my home country of Mauritius. I drew this before arriving; not as a landscape that directly resembles features of the geography, but as an ode. As I’m sitting in the car on drives around the island, these are the impressions I get: green mountains, bodies of water, the curves of the landscape.

Now that I am here, I am too entranced by this place to draw! But my feelings of awe are side by side with sadness. We humans truly do not deserve this beautiful land. We never have. Since we arrived hundreds of years ago, we plundered the Dodo and many more of nature’s gifts. I fear that soon, these drawings and whatever is stored in our minds may be all that is left.

Doodles in Colour

colourful doodles

Here’s a collection of doodles I particularly love that came out of experimenting with new coloured pens. I’ve been making great use of the pens ever since!

I posted a tweet on my art twitter account that showed a part of this page some time ago. I tend to share doodles there more often, but I am sure to share complete doodle pages from my sketchbook here every now and again.

Walking out into the world, lost

This isn’t as depressing as I think I’ve made it seem by the title. It’s just my way of looking at life.

lost

It’s how I think everyone starts their story. Without knowledge, and barely themselves. So all our life we are struggling to be who we are. Hence the imagery of a cell, our basic biological unit.

I’m not the happiest with the pencil lines, but at the same time I like the way it feels unfinished, like a life. So it’s doing right by me.

 

God bird

bird egg

Today’s drawing continues to explore some themes/imagery I find myself using again and again. This God bird you could say is a direct “friend” of another drawing from one of my previous posts; when I recently started to draw with pencils. This one ended up being a lot more playful, so playful in fact that I didn’t crop out the ripped end of the sheet. It seems to work with the God bird’s personality.

This drawing also uses some imagery from carpets, which I’ve used deliberately (and unconsciously) before. This was definitely deliberate. I imagined the little particles suspended around her. Doesn’t the God bird look like she is waddling over to you through a cloud of flourishes?