Updates!

sorting hat

Here’s a short update for my lovely blog visitors 🙂

It’s been a topsy-turvy month since I last wrote. The Artist’s Alley went splendidly, and so I’ve been ramping up my presence online. Here are some of the things going on:

1. I’ve been doing Inktober! Check out my twitter profile (@khadejalidraw) to see how it’s been going. Spoiler alert: really, really well! I can’t wait to share it all in one place (here) once I’ve completed it. 🙂

2. I started an Etsy store! Yeah! You can find it here! If you buy something, make sure to let me know you read my blog and I’ll throw in something just for you. *wink wink*

3. I created a ko-fi page. I have a link to it on the side, but here’s another one!

Thank you for reading and learning about me through my art. I have some more for you to discover in the coming weeks.

Before I leave, let me tell you something about the drawing I posted above! I didn’t just do it for the sake of it. I absolutely love this season; my art definitely fits in! This is an older drawing I made based on some witchy and autumn themes. It’s cool to see some of my older patterns; they exist, but in more evolved forms.

Walking further along

Tomorrow, I work my first ever Artist’s Alley! I’ve been reflecting a lot on my past works and how much I’ve developed as an artist.

No longer are doodle pages the majority of what I do. They are still a huge chunk of my time, and incredibly important (I cannot think of a way to truly express just how important they still are!). And yet, now I am finding myself drawing pages of sketches where I am specifically experimenting with skills I want to improve upon.

It’s like the doodles get my ideas or spirit out onto paper while practicing with the skills I have. The sketches where I am practicing a skill specifically use content that comes so naturally to me. I’m glad I spent so much time drawing purely from the heart as I have, otherwise fixing my attention onto skill-building would seem too daunting.

Check out the above pictures of some sketchbook pages I’ve shared on Twitter recently. I’m trying to improve the faces I draw, the perspective of important objects, and still life realism (respectively) in these pages. While they aren’t perfectly executed, I’m proud. Those are skills I’ve never felt confident in, but have always wanted to improve.

But in terms of my themes and the content of my works – they are still creepy, weird, and emotional. I’m still drawing lots of personal explorations, along with my monsters and more fantastical or abstract representations; I don’t fathom those will ever go away (or can).

The main thing I hope to achieve at the Artist’s Alley tomorrow is hopefully realistic enough: to have more people see what I do. Secretly, I hope that out of those people, I will have a chance to interact with the one who looks at my works and sees their own weirdness.

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.

Her tears are tearing

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus due to a huge life event that just happened – my wedding. I didn’t do much drawing or posting here or on Twitter (@khadejalidraw) but right now I’m slowly getting back into things.

I thought I’d start with a sentimental piece, to jump right in!

drawing of decorated connected eyebrows over two thickly lashed eyes. two ladel-shaped abstractions are hanging back to back, with the "spoon" parts facing outwards. on the right, the ladle is filled with water and a thick tear runs from the right eye into it. The left ladle has eyes made out of nooses.
“Her Tears are Tearing”

I’m pretty darn sensitive; most definitely a crier. This piece is about how my extreme emotional states are a beauty and a burden.

There are some things that should be kept to the viewer. However, there is something behind this work that informed my lines. The lens with which I see my life isn’t just coloured by my emotions. My emotions are the lens.

Finally, me

pencil sketch drawing of left hand next to self-portrait sketched in pencil with "KAM 2018 (#1)" written lightly in small size font in top center
Sketches of me and my hand

It’s the scariest thing in the world, to put yourself out there – especially not your “best self.”

I find drawing myself very difficult. It’s also not something that I find as interesting as say, creating a fantasy creature or plant. So, I don’t do it often.

However, I do also enjoy forcing myself to do things I am uncomfortable with. And while I personally don’t think I look like the drawing, I see myself in it anyway, so I’m pleased with it.

It may be interesting that I recognize my hand more than my face in these drawings. Then again, how often do you look at your face? I constantly look at my hands. So this says something about me that I don’t even notice too much about myself.

So, why would I show something on my website that I am not too happy with? Because these sketches force me to confront myself, from the process of drawing to the viewing of it. Things run through my head like memories and personal philosophies. The obvious example: it made me think back to college when I took that one drawing class and did terribly – but gained further understanding of the things I did want to draw. Even now when I look at it, I think about how I see myself, and then how the world sees me. It’s deep stuff!

See? Even in mistake-riddled works, there is value. I say show it all.

Raw doodle

abstract pencil drawing of eye crying tears that turn into spiky abstractions and black tears; mehendi influence

Excuse me for the messiness of this pencil doodle and the difference in quality. I do not have a scanner where I am right now. It’s all part of what I am trying to portray, although it doesn’t quite seem professional. This was drawn in an emotional state and I wished to capture that.

Because of my general affect, it’s hard to see strong emotions from me. I naturally have a resting stone face and what looks like an easygoing demeanor. But inside I feel and think way too much. That’s why movies, books and songs can make me cry really easily. That’s also why some people question my ability to understand, or my intelligence. Believe me, I understand what’s going on. I am merely unable to react until it becomes an explosion. 

When I draw or doodle, I am desperately trying to show the things that I find difficult to emote. Here I am trying to show the effect even one hypercritical sentence can have on me.

To everyone who has trouble showing how they feel to others, I truly feel for you and send you all of the love that is kept from you as a result of how others misunderstand you. I understand you and I care about you.

Grayscale Universe

Abstract drawing in black coloured pencil with 4 kite-like abstract forms flying in a column over a black planet-like dome
Grayscale Universe

My art is a victim of my tendency to rush. This artwork is an example of that. I am very happy with the composition and content, but I can see where taking my time would have made the gradient, lines, and shapes more of what I wanted them to be.

But honestly, I love this piece even with its imperfections. It was such an accomplishment once it felt finished. It’s a hopeful, loving, peaceful depiction of the universe. Between you and me, reader, I’m not the best at depicting the world as…positive. I see things I love about it, but I’m too nihilistic in general. This artwork reflects what good I do see.

I chose grayscale because I only wanted to use one coloured pencil and thought black–since it is sometimes explained as absorbing all colours*–was a good choice. I hope you think so too!

*I did my reading! Check out this link I found handy when I looked up, without shame, “is it true black absorbs all colours” 😉