Every once in a while, nothing beats black ink and musings about trees and nature and life. No matter how much I wish things would look “better” I know that each doodle is a step towards being “better” —
whatever “better” is–
and well, I’m starting to think that whatever feelings I have don’t matter. What matters sometimes is that I do it. You’ve heard me write that before; it bears repeating.
Islamic art has been a part of my life since I was a baby and I crawled around my mom’s prayer mat. It continued when I visited the Kaabah in Makkah as a child, and continues now whenever I gaze at the characters in a Qur’an peppered with floral motifs.
Art is a big part of my spiritual practice. Below is a drawing I made when I felt inspired by the majestic carpets I’ve seen all my life – from Turkey, India, Pakistan, Kashmir, Eastern Europe (Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, etc), Iran, etc.
Recently (a couple of months ago) I got to visit an exquisite exhibit on carpets and motifs present in them over the centuries. I realised that, unconsciously, I had truly been referencing a lot of shapes and patterns from carpets.
My heritage is showing! Without even knowing it, I am passing down the meaningful shapes of those who came before me.
You know me by now, at least a little bit. I’m very much inspired by nature.
Nature provides more than food, or space, or fresh air. To many, it provides inner peace. I’m happy for those people.
However, what I have always felt (as someone with severe ADD whose mind is running all the time, all the time, all the time…) is that nature is so full of detail that it does not bring me any peace.
And I love it.
My father’s favourite place is the Morton Arboretum, in Illinois. He’s taken the family there since my sisters and I were children. I thank him for the gift of those memories.
I never want to forget the impact trees and their world have had on me, even more than an exact picture or a piece of the forest. So I draw those feelings over, and over, and over.
When I’m feeling ill, like I am today, I get nostalgic. Nostalgia is a powerful force! It can start up my inspiration.
I was reminded today that I used to draw mehendi-inspired designs all over the place when I was a pre-teen and teenager in Mauritius. I had already seen some of the beautiful motifs of the Indian subcontinent after living as a child for a few years in Oman. But it was when I hit double digits hit that I truly began to draw!
The motifs come up unconsciously when I doodle. Here I am using the inspiration consciously. It came with ease.
I don’t remember when I started drawing all of these sea creatures.
They flow very naturally out of me. Could it be the influence of Mauritius? Island belonging permeates through every part of you; island people can attest to that. It must be.
Or maybe it’s specifically my grandfather’s stories of finding beautiful shells in unattended coves. Stories he can still tell, although his mind is fading.
Why am I being so fussy? I know that it’s all of the above and everything in between.
I’m on vacation right now in Qatar, and everywhere I look is art.
I don’t usually draw on holiday, but what I tend to do instead is draw as I remember, as a way to process. Some of the best things come out of it.
Sometimes I do draw things with a thing in mind, or I start drawing something and it sets me on a path. I love these drawings as much as the stuff that flows unconsciously from me. It’s a little more like a mural, or a passage in a book, so easier for others to read, but no different in terms of ease for me to draw.
This is an emotional landscape drawing I made of Dubai.