My visit to Tacoma Art Museum near Seattle, WA, USA.

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Checking out online before choosing which gallery to visit is a good way to know how to find what suits you. I watched the video of the Tacoma Art Museum and loved it. Tacoma is 45 miles from Seattle, the city is a harbor and very scenic. Most museums are located near each other, quite close to the entrance of the city. TAM suited my requirement to see paintings of Native Americans  as well as to see contemporary art of America. It also boasted having the famous Seattle glass pieces as well as some sculptures. The best part was that it had no nudes as we know them. Though I love European art, however the profusion of female nudes in it, is not something that I’d like to see. I believe it is not respectful to a woman or girl.  So, this museum was the best: its size was just right, so it wasn’t tiring at all.  The displays had a bit of everything. Most importantly, the staff was very helpful and welcoming.  It was decent in every way. In fact I loved my trip there. So, I’ll just leave you to pictures I took.

Continue reading “My visit to Tacoma Art Museum near Seattle, WA, USA.”

Categories Art

Jimmy Engineer – a dynamic artist and social worker.

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Last week Jimmy called me, “I’m here for a week, so I’d like to meet you and see what is going on in Islamabad.” It was great to hear his voice after 1982.  Last time we met in Lahore, when my exhibition of paintings was opening next day in Shakir Ali Museum. He wanted to come to see if the work was being displayed properly, and approved how Mr. Bhatti had set it up. He particularly liked a landscape which he asked me to keep and sell when I’m famous. – Naturally, that was the first painting to sell! – I didn’t want to bet on becoming a famous artist anyway.

Continue reading “Jimmy Engineer – a dynamic artist and social worker.”

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Master Painter

Just read these verses by Rumi…. .

I think reading Rumi’s verses can actually make one a bit dizzy. They really tend to hit home. As life goes on, you realize that there are times where you just have to surrender and trust Him. Many times we do not understand what is happening to us. It only hits home much later.  Then, we get to understand what life at that time, was actually all about!

Funny! How brilliant we think we are, with all that education and all those degrees, and accomplishments. – All that is just a tiny dot in the larger canvas of life.

I’m very much into Time Management and Self-Management. Love to try out all that I study in the books that  I read. Then I sit and plan everything out. Suddenly there is a silent ‘bang’ and I find myself on another road, walking towards another destination. It means another ‘reality check’ with my new direction in life.

I wonder, what I’m doing here. Then I realize there must be a ‘Master Painter’ who is behind all this. Then I’m content. I know He knows best.

He has always known best.

Like the time I wanted to go to NCA .. National College of Arts, in Lahore, Pakistan. I wanted to become an artist and study art. But then my parents felt I was too young to handle the co-ed college with that bad reputation. They put me in College of Home Economics, Lahore, Pakistan, instead. They promised that after graduation (when I’m older and more mature, they’ll put me in NCA.) That never materialized. A  big scandal took place there, and that was the end of that. So I ended up doing MSc in Related Arts, from College of Home Economics instead.

As it turned out, I still became an artist. I also learnt how to manage my home and family in such a way that I could pursue my interests without letting my family get affected due to it.

It worked out fine.

Somewhere along the line, while exhibiting, and getting posted to different places, and having three lovely girls, I became a writer too.

So, what I’m trying to say is. One must try to do one’s best, in every situation. But after that – leave it all to the Master Painter. Let Him make the final moves. When He makes a move, just go along with it, knowing He really does know best.

Call it Karma, call it Destiny, call it Stars, call it an act of God, – whatever you like. But whatever happens, happens for a reason. Sometimes, you tend to feel your life has let you down. People have let you down, and what not.

Wait.  Breathe deeply.   Watch …..

Find the solace,  that has been planned all along. Find the peace within. Find that elation, which comes from surrender to the Master Painter. Get totally enveloped by it all…..

Stay Blessed, my dear reader. 🙂

Categories Art

Art classes by Hajra and Mansoor Rahi

 

 

 

 

These days, I’m making another one of my dreams come true. Attending art classes by the world famous artists of Pakistan: Mansoor Rahi and Hajra Mansoor. Their art classes are like getting a ‘two in one’ deal! The moment I enter the class I feel quite happy to have made the effort to get out of the  endless ‘business’ of today’s world. To enter this world of fun and development of one’s skills, its truly a great privilege.

Naturally, one ends up next to other class mates closer to one’s own age and skill groups. However, a quick walk around the room is a refreshing experience. Watching the work of young and upcoming artists feels great too. Some of them are awesome. – Students of all levels and ages are welcome here.

Mansoor Rahi, who recently celebrated his seventy eighth birthday, is a national icon in the field of art in Pakistan. His programs on painting on PTV morning shows in 1994 and beyond are still remembered by many. His speech which is a mixture of English and Urdu in his Bengali accent is charming. As one enters the class room, you see him fully engrossed in observing the work of some student. As you wish him,  he will give you a welcoming look, and a remark full of humor.

When I first went to him in 2004, he said “You can come any time you feel.” He knew I had already exhibited my work in many solo exhibitions and so on. However, I realized that without a commitment, you never get down to anything. So, I insisted that I’d like to be his and Hajra Mansoor’s student. Then circumstances took me away, till I returned to Islamabad again in 2011. Then, again I had to drop my classes.

So, being in the classes on and off, I’ve realized its best to remain ‘on’. There is a tempo and an environment of these classes which really invigorates me. As works build up exhibitions of student’s work are held in prominent art galleries of Islamabad.

Sitting there, surrounded with the serene and dreamy paintings of Hajra Mansoor, one goes on painting. Looking up at the paintings really inspires one.

What I like best about these two icons, is that they are so cool and pleasant. They do their teaching, and telling one the basics or whatever is needed. They do not get upset, when they see us doing exactly the opposite thing! Many of the students just go their own way. That too, is fine by the two experienced artists. They never try to impose their ideas on anyone. In fact, they help you get where you want to go. – Even if it is something totally different. Everyone is noticing the improvement in my work recently. I wonder why?

That is the beauty of art. It is free. It is multi-dimensional. You can literally go anywhere you want to go. Here in the classes you are blessed with the best guides to take you where you want to go!

 

Categories Art

Ideas on art and its value.

An article written in 1996 printed in Dawn’s Sunday Magazine, now I’m sharing it with you after updating it. 

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Only a few years ago, if someone had said I was going to be a writer, I’d say ‘Me, a writer? Never! I am only an artist. And an artist cannot write – she paints!’  But here I am writing!  Who could be better equipped to write about my work, my art and value of art – than myself?

I have held ten solo exhibitions, taken part in many group exhibitions. I have written over seven hundred articles. I have painted in many styles and mediums but oils and acrylics are my favorite.

Everyone is talking about ‘developing a style’.  I believe that one should paint what one feels.  . I accept assignments which are close to my heart.  I am at home with abstract art as well as with impressionism, expressionism and realism.  I like my subject to suggest the best medium for it. – Rather than to impose myself on my subject.

Artists donate work: I believe, that artists must donate works to organizations for health, education and libraries.  These institutions deserve works of art, because they help humanity! I’ve donated several paintings to libraries, hospitals and schools.

Finding time to paint: As a mother of three children, with a job and a home to take care of, I still found time to work.  It is all possible, because my art is important to me. I keep my stock of paints and canvases handy all the time.

Sometimes, at the end of the day, when I am going to my ‘studio’, I am already exhausted from my day’s commitments but it is just my body that is tired, my mind is eager to express itself. Ever since I started writing, my paintings have become more serene.

When we go for a picnic, my water colors or acrylics are with me. I settle down and do the complete work on location.  When I paint an abstract, it is not done  consciously. It just happens. Sometimes at 2.00 am.  But it has to happen. Sometimes when I am feeling serene my painting looks serene.  When I am angry, my painting is angry too!  After all, my art and I are one. My feelings, my observations, my thoughts, my arguments – all are there. Sometimes I do not paint for months.  Sometimes I do two paintings in one day  (once I did six paintings in two days!).  I have never worked as a routine. It just comes in patches.  Sometimes I am buried within a project for days, sometimes, I do not work for weeks.

Value of paintings: There is a great deal of talk on ‘value’. This is why gold is ‘valued’ so much. It is the same with paintings. A painting of mine which did not sell at Rs. 5000/- many years ago, got sold at four times the price only few years later. Paintings are collected and kept for generations as items of value.  People pride themselves for their collection of paintings by famous artists.  The value of a painting includes the quality of work and material used, it’s current market value and specially the name and fame of the artist.

Most important of all: The moment a well-known artist passes away, a full stop is placed on his or her work. The present work immediately gains in value. Much as we love the great artists. It is silly to copy them, except to learn from them. There is no place in this world for two Leonardos or Michelangelos, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Gulgee or Sadeqain.   No one can afford the paintings of these famous artists today. These are too expensive. But people would have been able to, when these artists were alive!

Smart people invest in arts: So the smart folks invest in art works and just wait till the value keeps increasing with time.  Just like investing in antiques, and hand- made carpets.  You can easily afford to buy genuine works of art today at the price of a mobile phone, laptop, dish antennae, or a dress, or even a pair of shoes . However, where will the value of these items be in a couple of years’ time? You immediately lose a couple of thousands upon purchase, – it’s a used item now!  In fact it will most probably become half it’s cost within a few months. But the same money spent on a painting will continue to increase. At the same time, it gives emotional and mental peace and pleasure for years to come without losing it’s value. The most you need to do is to change it’s frame (if at all!).

How each person who enters your home reacts to it (or doesn’t!) means something to you. The comments, the attention, the thoughts, the sparkle that it creates in people’s eyes, the conversations it triggers. And most of all the appreciation, of your own good taste ! As Hajra Mansoor says, I realize the taste of people I visit by the collection of their paintings.

Abstract paintings:                   There is a lot of controversy about abstract paintings.  It is an artistic language which uses lines, colors and strokes to create a certain affect. The artist may have tried to depict something from his own experience. But you can only react to it according to your own experiences. You might find something in a painting that brings out another memory or feeling in you. That is fine. Two people look at the sun. One notices the color and beauty, the other sees the glare and heat, a third person thinks of skin cancer, another thinks “Goody, let me get some free vitamin D!”. So the item remains the same, the reactions differ.   All reactions are correct from that persons’ point of view. It is the same with paintings.

No two people feel the same way about paintings. The fact is, they don’t have to. Each person has a different understanding of it.

While one is painting…  Suddenly, something strikes the right code, and it starts working out.  Each painting is like life itself. You have an idea, and then you start working on it. The process of painting is something you have been gifted with, and yet you need to develop your skills and expertise. I believe, that the talent of painting or any creative quality is a responsibility. It needs to be worked on, improved, studied, brushed up (literally!) and then when it comes out ‘right’ the feeling is awesome!

 

 

 

Categories Art

The Need to become a recluse.

 

It is hard to pursue your interests while being in the middle of a city. – Especially in our caring culture like ours. Where others interfere with your time schedule, sometimes you, yourself interfere with your own time schedule. You can become a victim of your own goodness. Between the deaths and the marriages and the illnesses…. there is a barrage of good will which takes a toll on your work. But then, its great when you are the recipient. So then, you do it even more because you know what it means. I know how much our friends did for us during my husbands’ illness and subsequent death. Finally, after almost four years, now I can use this word (death). Still, it hurts. You see, the death of your spouse in not just a death. It’s the taking away of the roof over your head and the ground under your feet. The relocation is horrific. Its emotional, physical, financial, legal and psychological aspects are hard to deal with too. Now, that I’m getting back to my own work again, I’m realizing why through time, always anyone who achieved anything became a recluse for some time in his or her life.

This is why Holy prophet Muhammad (PBUH) used to go out of the city of Makkah to meditate in the cave of Hira. He didn’t have the distractions we have. Still he would go. We all need this space between others and ourselves to be able to study ourselves, meditate and try to fathom out and understand things. It is vital for our own personal growth and development.

You will find artists who keep themselves aloof, are real successful. They are the ones defying fashions and lifestyles because this is the only way to achieve one’s personal goals (paintings!)

I remember, everyone making fun of my cousin Shahbaz Khan for having long hair when all others kept theirs short in the seventies. Once, long ago when he was in his first year in NCA,  we had gone to his hostel to see his latest painting. It was a scene with over fifty to seventy figures in it, showing the typical village scene of races of cows. My grandmother was in the car waiting for us. While my father, aunt Mubarak (artist’ mother) and I went to his room upstairs.  When we were being seen off by the artist, my grandmother said to him “Puttar, kadi naha wi laya kar!” (Son, please bathe sometimes also!) She was looking at his disheveled demeanor. So, there you have it. All of us had been telling her of how amazing the painting was, but all she could see was the artist. She was genuinely worried about his well-being. He went on to greater heights as an artist.

Shahbaz Khan has built a house outside the city of Lahore. Didn’t get married, and lives on his own terms. (He is the only one to have refused being interviewed by me for Dawn!) He feels that all this is unnecessary. Sometimes he won’t even sign on a painting. At a time when one of the usual paintings sold for Rs.500/- his sold for Rs.50,000/-, a few years later, when others paintings sold for Rs.50,000/- his sold for Rs.700,000/- ! Shahbaz Khan has painted one of the longest paintings in Pakistan which is over 100 feet long, and it’s about the ”Evolution of Man”. It can be seen in the NDU or the National Defense University in Islamabad. Another 37 feet long painting of his was for the roof of a dining room in Lahore. The house belongs to a business tycoon, the head of the largest dailies and news channel (The News and Jang Group, and Geo tv).

Allama Iqbal wished for a cottage in the wilderness surrounded by natural beauty in his poem ‘Aik Arzoo’ (A Wish). That is how you can come up with your own work. – by cutting off for some time from others, till your work is done.

Danielle Steel the famous writer, locks herself up in a cubicle which is 6 x 6 feet till her novel is complete. . I also know that most Hollywood writers have their own retreats to do their work in.

So, these are the tricks others do.

So, when we were planning our home, my husband encouraged me to plan out a studio in the basement (which I made sure has plenty of natural light. So, finally my studio is all set and my work has begun. The sad part is that he is no longer there to see it completed and functioning. Most of my life, when my kids were school going, I’d make them sleep at 9.00 pm, then go off to my ‘office’ which would be in the dining room, and write or paint till 12.00 or 1.00 am while my husband worked on his files in his office in our bedroom. That’s how I was the ‘artist’ and ‘writer’, and next morning went off to school with the kids, turning into the ‘educationist’.

Usually, I worked on two facets on a full time basis, and the third one sporadically. Making sure  to give time to my family whenever they needed. Somehow it worked out.

Today is the opening of an exhibition at AQS gallery with Generation Rahi. – Another of my dreams coming true, to have  my work exhibited alongside with my mentor. He is my guide, my mentor and my teacher. There will be thirteen professional artists latest work  shown today, which have never been exhibited before. The Bangladeshi ambassador shall perform the opening. This exhibition shall be opened be at 5.30 this evening. It is 12.00 pm now. Hajra Mansoor is wife of Mansoor Rahi, who is also my mentor and guide. The couple work together with everything. I shall be meeting them along with the rest of our art group.

 

 

Categories Art