BRAND NEW BLOG!!!!

Hello everyone!!! I’ve been very under the radar lately because I have been working on a brand new blog design and the best part is it’s synced up to my original website! YAY!!!

Here is the NEW blog address and a preview of how it looks! From now on I will be posting on the new address so it you would like to stay updated, here is the address and don’t forget to hit subscribe! 🙂

http://sarajapanwalla.com/blog/

how it should look

Middle East Film & Comic Con 2014

#ootd - "Alice through the looking glass"   Costume rented from Dark Horse Event Management

#ootd – “Alice through the looking glass”
Costume rented from Dark Horse Event Management

I can’t explain how extraordinarily bizarre it is to have a gorilla wearing a shell-bikini tap you on the shoulder and politely ask if he may take a photo with you.

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It’s MAD. Absolutely mad.

But as Cheshire Cat quite rightly says “We’re ALL mad, here.”

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I think this statement sums up Middle East Film & Comic Con perfectly! A bit like “The Muppet show,” it’s weird, it’s wonderful and above all … it’s unpredictable – absolutely ANYTHING can happen.

One minute you are having a delightful conversation with The Grim Reaper about the weather.

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The next – you are interrupted by a collection of monsters dancing to Gangam Style!

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It’s a place where you can enjoy catching up with old friends ….

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and make a few new ones!!!!!

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I finally found white rabbit ...

I finally found white rabbit …

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Meanwhile, in the corner … an Arab looking Mario and Luigi getting up to all sorts of tomfoolery.

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Yep!!! It’s just a normal day here! Totes legit.

Mind you, I was no better … don’t you LOVE my new bazooka?!

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As well as the costumes, it’s a great place to browse through the creme de la creme of limited edition comic books, rare anime and manga memorabilia. You can spend all day here oohing and aahing over the impressive array of graphic collectibles.

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You can even mosey around casually donning a cape (and no, I don’t mean an Anna Wintour style “cape” coat, I mean, a CAPE cape). Duh.

If you’re lucky you might even spot a celeb or two from your favorite TV series. (LUCKY being the key word…I was GUTTED I missed Seth Green!)

FINALLY! You can leave the stressful world outside and let your cheeky neon streaked hair down to come out and play by getting your “game” on (literally).

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No Judgement. Just games.

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My FAVORITE part of the day was seeing the cute little kiddies in their adorable costumes. I always wanted to run away and be a disney princess at Orlando. Now I know what it feels like to be one …

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I urge you to join us at the next comic con. Loosen up that tie and fall down the rabbit hole ….

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You won’t be sorry.

Playing Dress up at Dark Horse Event Management

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This Saturday afternoon, I plan to venture where NO fashion blogger has EVER gone before ….

The Middle East Film and Comic Con, that’s where!!!!

For three days, the world trade center is transformed into a wonderfully weird and and magical land full of limited edition comics, anime, manga and gaming!

Although we often jest that Comic Con is solely for geeks, I have to say – I beg to differ.

I went last year, and I found it really creative – ESPECIALLY the outfits! I think it’s wonderful how everyone makes such a huge effort with costumes. Last year, I looked wistfully and enviously at everyone else’s amazing ensembles. They ranged from classic superman get-ups to retro super-nes characters…I even spotted a few Japanese lolita cosplay outfits! It was AMAZING.

Alas!! It would be a waste for me to purchase an outfit that flamboyant just for this occasion. After all, I don’t go to conventions like this very often (shocking I know!)

What I NEEDED was a costume “fairy godmother” …

Well, I found one …. In the form Dark Horse Event Management…

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They are the largest creative production & entertainment house in the Middle East and they organise various events, PR and marketing activities for brands and clients, as well as providing a unique brand of entertainment.

As well as this, they also offer costume rentals for fabulous prices!!!

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When I found out about this, I dared by art blogger BFF Danna from dannawrites.com to come join me to play dress up!!! Being the gutsy woman that she is, she accepted my challenge (much to my delight!) Even though comic con is predominantly about comics…as far as costumes go, anything goes …

Let the games begin!

We started off innocently enough, just trying on a few hats. Something subtle to warm us up …

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That Danna! Honestly, I don’t know why she insists on ruffling feathers …

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Here she is again, looking like an extra from The Lion King.

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This…Is….SPARTA.

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I experimented with the Mad Hatter look, whilst Danna opted for the “sexy zebra” (The actual description..which really intrigued us)

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Let them eat cake.

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If Marie Antoinette was a Dubai blogger, this is would be her #ootd pose.

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We then felt the urge to partake in a dance.

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Here’s Dana as a regal White Queen.

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It all got a bit stressful for her, so she took a few minutes to do some serious reflecting …

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OFF with YOUR head.

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That about wraps up our bizarre-yet-brilliant fashion show. If you are ever in a dire need for costumes, I’d highly recommend to pay Dark Horse a visit. As you can plainly see, their handmade costumes are highly unique with their gorgeous little details and they obviously have a huuuuuuge variety, as we’ve demonstrated!

Can you guess what I will be dressed up as?

Hint! I will be chasing a little white rabbit …

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What do you know? I guess blondes DO have more fun!

Fashion illustration workshop at The Archive

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If there’s anything I have noticed about teachers, it’s that there are generally two types.

There’s the bitter ones who have had big career dreams in the past but failed and so they ended UP teaching, much to their dismay. As a result, they’re disillusioned and don’t hesitate take it out on their students. These are the ones who are skeptical, negative and revel in giving you a good hard daily dose of their (not so) delightful “realistic advice.”

On the flip side of the coin, there are the teachers who genuinely love to teach and let you in on all their secrets and tricks of the trade. They are teaching from a place without scarcity and truly want you to succeed. Those are the ones inspire. Like Miss Honey from Matilda. I’ve encountered both types and I’ve always known that if I were to teach fashion illustration, I’d strive to be the latter type.

In short, I wanna be a Miss Honey.

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When I was invited to teach an illustration workshop at The Archive, I knew this was my chance to inspire. After all, I love what I do and so the idea of sharing what I have learned so far in this field really appealed to me.

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As I mentioned before in a previous post, The Archive is an art community center/library and cafe located in Safa Park, Dubai. I thought their location was perfect for my class – the tables were large and spacious with plenty of natural daylight flooding the room – just perfect for a leisurely afternoon of illustration! Another upside is that because it’s in a library, there’s lots of reference material to browse through for inspiration.

The workshop was an introductory one which was primarily used just to gauge if there is any interest in the subject. I’m happy to report that it turns out there was an abundance of interest!!! I had lots of people wanting to sign up, and a great turnout for the first class!

In a nutshell, we went over some basic 101 watercolour techniques. These included tips on how to control the paint, what brushes to use for what purpose, how to shade and render fabrics, how to draw clothes on the body and a little information about prints and simple ways of covey them realistically.

I was very impressed by my students’ work! Here’s a few photos of what we got up to!

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And here I am with my adorable youngest student who is just ten years old! Talk about a prodigy in the making! 🙂

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It’s still early days, but hopefully we plan to include a much more intensive course in March spanning over a few weeks where I will cover an array of illustration related topics in even more detail.

Hopefully this will keep the art aficionados happy! Until then, as Dori would say (if she was an artist) just keep sketchin’ …

Humphrey the Hippo

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One trait that everyone always notices about me is that I am very imaginative. I always have a habit of envisioning bizarre humourous scenarios in my head and then when telling a story, I laugh much harder than anyone else in the group …followed by several minutes trying to explain why it’s so funny, followed by quizzical looks and an awkward silence and sparse hesitant chuckles.

You just had to be there.
In my head.

This is why the art of storytelling appeals to me so much. I can finally put my imagination to good USE.

I’ve always had a soft corner for children’s books – particularly the offbeat zainier ones by Roald Dahl or Dr Suess.

With Roald Dahl, I just loved how some of the stories were so tragic YET so hilarious – for example a kid being orphaned because his parents got eaten by a killer tiger at the zoo (sure…because that happens all the time?!)

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Don’t even get me started on the illustrations of Quentin Blake! His illustrations seem so impulsive with such a unique sense of character ..I just adored them! The Twits was my personal favorite! It was genius, random, mad and wonderful!

I always wanted to get into children’s books and my dream came true when I teamed up with American author Kelly Sheehy Degroot to create the Princess Charleston and the Isle or Palms series. It was such fun to do those books because Kelly gave me such freedom to explore and interpret her characters and scenery so I had a grand time experimenting!

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I’m proud to announce that I am finally releasing my very OWN children’s book, “Humphrey the Hippo.” This is very exciting for me as it’s the first time I have written a book as well as illustrating it so it is a very personal project.

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The story is a very simple and relatable one – it’s about a shy hippo who has a tendency to worry and over-analyse every situation. One day his classmate throws a party and, Humphrey being Humphrey, imagines all the possible terrible embarrassing potential situations that could arise. In the end of the book … you’ll just have to wait and see what happens! I’ll leave you in suspense! Tonight the e-book version of the book releases precisely at the stroke of midnight (how very cinderella!!!) It is being published by American publishing house Tuxedo and Beans. Here is a sneak peek of some of the pages and illustrations.

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Enjoy!

Abu Dhabi Art Fair

What a dilemma I had this weekend! On Saturday I had the choice of either going to Abu Dhabi for the last day of the art fair OR attending Al Quoz for QuozHappens. They were both happening on the same day! (Curses!!)

‘Twas a tough decision which I mulled over for quite some time. In the end I decided to see the Abu Dhabi Art Fair simply because I had never seen it before and quite frankly, I was extremely curious!

So after a loooong and perplexing drive I finally made it to Saadiyat Island. Luckily, I had just missed the brief spell of rain and as a result the weather was so pleasant with a cool, post-drizzle breeze. As soon as I entered I whipped out my phone and got rather snap happy and I just had to take a photo of this very interesting looking chair installation.

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This installation was at the near the reception just as you enter.

Now, there was an abundance of incredible artwork at the fair but I’m just skimming through and giving a very brief overview of what really stood out to me, what I personally noticed and my favorite highlights.

Abu Dhabi Art Fair has an impressive and extensive range of curated shows, workshops talks and activities available every day of the fair. To name a few there is the Modern contemporary design galleries, Signature, Beyond, Bidaya and Artist’s Waves. My first instinct was to have a browse around outdoors where there were a number of small pavilions, from solo shows to magazine kiosks. I was intrigued by this exhibition taking place with an assortment of beautiful African inspired cultural line illustrations. I spoke to the curator to get a bit more information about this and the idea was so raise awareness and funds for women in Africa suffering from childbirth complications due to poor medical resources and equipment.

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Ayyam Gallery had some gorgeous new work by Syrian artist Safwan Dahoul. I really am a huge fan of his paintings and his Surrealistic/Pharaonic style. His pieces are both haunting and melancholy. Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes I think his work reminds me of the legendary Pakistani painter Sadequain.

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I loved this artwork by Firat Neziroglu made from hand woven tapestry on a loom entitled “Mamma’s Girl.”

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A very beautiful painting with a kaleidoscope quality by Mahmoud Obaidi named Morpheus and the Red Poppy.

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This creatively designed pattern by Moataz Nasr was made entirely using different colours of matches.
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“Happy Lucky 4” by Lebanese English Robert Hammond explores contemporary allegories through the mechanics of modern interfaces and the modern visual realm. Elementary shapes, symbols and smiling faces are combined to obtain whimsical harmonies and resonances – isolating our perception to patterns, surfaces, textures and reflection and their relations. This is made from coloured steel and glass 10 cm deep.

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I adored the sense of craftsmanship in this artwork by Korean artist Kim Duck-Yong entitled “Jawoonyoung.” Just look at the iridescent surface texture with that mother-of-pearl like finish. Anyone who knows me is aware that I’m a stickler for art that is more traditional – be it renaissance, Ancient Egyptian sculptures, japanese silk painting. I found this simply beautiful! I’ve included a close up for you to see the surface.

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Being completely obsessed with the sea, mermaids and sirens, I found I was drawn to this piece by Lebanese artist Nabil Nahas. As well as being inspired by the repetitive geometric designs of Islamic art, his work frequently has a coral-reef like quality to it with his favorite motif being a starfish. Believe it or not, this painting is made entirely from Acrylic paint! I love how pigmented and vibrant his colours are.

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Last but not least is an amazing sculpture by Mondogo called “I’d settle for being able to sleep.” I love love LOVE Mondogo’s work and I have seen some of their epic pieces at Art Sawa in DIFC. I love the innovative manipulation of their materials and their beautiful use of colour and texture and how they use mixed media. They frequently incorporate the barrios of their own native Argentina making their works very atmospheric.

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A famous quote by Mark Twain is to “Write what you know” in order to be a successful writer. It seems that Montogo definitely took Twain’s advice and follows this rule perfectly as they successfully draw from their own personal cultural influences thus making their artwork relatable, informative and create a more engaging dialogue.

Absolutely wonderful fair and I look forward to seeing it next year!

Ancient Painting Technique Course in Florence

IMG_0040It just occurred to me that I hadn’t really had the chance to talk about the amazing experience I had in Italy yet, so I thought I’d just write about that on todays blog post!

I had really really wanted to visit Italy and do a painting course for as long as I can remember. I felt a connection to Italy and always thought it was the kind of place I would love!!! I’m crazy about classical Renaissance art and I adore Italian architecture, historical Roman mythology and not to mention pizza, pasta and gelato!!!! Bingo! It has always been my dream destination.

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Last year, I got fed up of dreaming and decided I wanted to pursue my adventure by hook or by crook so I looked up some short courses to do over the summer. I settled on the Michelangelo institute in Florence, which is primarily for languages but they have a seperate art building with an array of art courses too. It was an AMAZING experience!!!!! I had always been keen to learn art exactly in the same way the artistic master painters at the time did and since I was hungry for something different, I chose the two week Ancient painting technique course, which specialised in traditional Tempera Italian painting.

Tempera paint is a permanent fast-drying painting medium consisting of colored pigment mixed with a water-soluble binder medium (usually a glutinous material such as egg yolk or some other size). Tempera paintings are very long lasting, and examples from the 1st centuries AD still exist. Egg tempera was a primary method of painting until after 1500 when it was superseded by the invention of oil painting. This method is very long and laborious.We had to start completely from scratch, manually stretching out the canvas on a wooden panel and mixing the tempura pigment powder with an egg mixture. What’s interesting about this is that you have to paint the artwork in layers as the paint is made in such a way as you cannot mix the colours together, you need to paint several coats, eventually building it up and making it richer and richer. (Kinda like photoshop!!!!) The piece de resistance( or in layman’s terms “the fun bit”) of this experience was adding the gold leaf right at the end, to give that really authentic look! Here are some photos of me creating my replica of a famous Botticelli painting, from painting the layers to adding gold leaf!!! I threw in a few photos of me and my very beautiful glamorous sister soaking in the wonderful sights!!! (Couldn’t resist)
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Let’s not forget the DELICIOUS pasta!!!! Just look at how HAPPY I am about it …

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I would highly recommend the Michelangelo Institute for anyone who is contemplating a painting course abroad! You even have the option of mixing in language courses alongside art courses and being taught in Italian!!! How cool is that?!! My experience had been extremely enjoyable and someday I plan to visit again, hopefully for a much much longer 6 month course!!!! 😀