Jumshed Qaisar paintings at Mussawir Art Gallery

A little while back, I stopped by at Mussawir gallery and I couldn’t help but be completely drawn into Jumshed Qaisar’s amazing Islamic calligraphy pieces.

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Born in Lahore, Qaisar is a renowned artist specializing in his unique interpretation of Arab calligraphy. As well as all over Pakistan, his work has been exhibited in countries such as Russia, Kuwait, Moscow and UK.

What I really loved about his pieces is how they are spiritually inspired yet still very beautiful, aesthetically. I like how he incorporates the lettering in a very unconventional way.

Traditionally, calligraphy is created in a linear way from right to left, but the artist uses the letters more like patterns to creatively fill in spaces and so he produces the most unique, abstract masterpieces.

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I like how the letters intertwine with each other and how he combines the calligraphy with other elements such as shape, form and colour as well as his clever use of negative space.

The letters vary from intricate and delicate to thick, bold and pronounced, while still keeping consistent and harmonious as a whole.

His choice of colour palette is beautiful and tasteful, sticking to just a few complementary bold shades which really make a statement.

I like the unexpected zing of lime green in this one.

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As well as the tiniest sliver of orange in this monochrome one. It really works, visually.

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Blending classic tradition with innovative, contemporary abstraction, his work exudes all the mystery of Arabia.

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My fashion illustration Collaboration with Rami Kadi

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

As soon as I laid eyes on the “Le Gala Des Mysteres” collection last year, I developed a deep “designer crush” on Rami Kadi and his DIVINE ball gowns. The tulle, the embroidery, the beadwork – it’s honestly what dreams are MADE of.

Imagine my sheer delight when I got a call a few weeks ago from Rami Kadi Couture in Lebanon to say that they would be interested in doing an artistic collaboration with me for Fashion Forward this year!!

I was elated and couldn’t wait to get started!

I couldn’t share any information about the upcoming collection until it was over so it was QUITE a challenge keeping it schtum.

His theme for the show this year was fairy tales and his collection had strong French Rococo elements and took inspiration from the set design of the film Marie Antoinette. It consisted of beautiful Laduree inspired colours, opulence, indulgent fabrics, decadence and femininity.

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To set the tone for his show, his idea was to print out actual illustrated mini story books which would be placed on all the seats at the runway. (800 to be exact!)

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In addition to this, those same illustrations were going to be projected onto the screen of the catwalk show before it started and the story was to be narrated live in front of an audience.

Here’s how my final illustrations turned out!!

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His catwalk show finally took place last night and it was such an exhilarating experience to see my illustrations projected onto the screen. I’m still totally buzzed from the show!

As for the collection itself, it was absolutely breathtaking. The models all wore these magnificent peony headpieces which really complemented the outfits and made it look even more theatrical and dramatic.

The embroidery was so ornate and the fabrics were plush and lavish especially the embossed damask motifs. I really liked the shade of gold he used in the collection. It wasn’t highly glossy or metallic – just a very pale subtle sheen which was far more flattering and sophisticated than straight up gold; especially combined with pale blue.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Although the colour scheme was mainly soft pastels, brighter sorbet shades were also included which broke up the collection, keeping it from being predictable and giving it a sense of bold freshness.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Even though the silhouettes were extravagant, they were all incredibly tasteful and well executed. I loved how luxurious and heavy the fabric looked, the way it trailed behind on the runway and how the fabric was draped. My favorite gowns were these two.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

I cannot wait to draw them!!!

There’s MORE – I’ll be publishing an exclusive interview with the designer himself in the VERY next post to find out more about his design process and inspirations.

More information will be up on the blog in a jiffy!!! 🙂

Khaleda Rajab, Fahad Almarzouq and Linda Farrow collaboration

Now, don’t get me wrong … I like elegance! I like it just as much as the next person BUT do you ever feel this constant regurgitated idea of presenting yourself elegantly can have a tendency to get a little … Unimaginative? Uninspired? Or worse…downright predictable?

The same Audrey-esque LBD , the same string of pearls, the same subtle accessories? I’ve recently been feeling a restless quench for something new and creative. Something fresh and innovative. Something that makes a statement. Something like THESE …

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Now that’s unexpected!!!! If you are looking for statement sunnies that make you stand out from the crowd, look no further because I have the solution right here. It’s the brand new exclusive range of cat-eyed sunglasses by designers Fahad Almarzouqand and Khaleda Rajab. They have collaborated with Linda Farrow Gallery and on Thursday was the launch of the new collection at Eye boutique in Dubai Mall.

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Both designers have a rather impressive repertoire. Khaleeda Rajab, originally from Kuwait had opened her own exclusive boutique named Khaleda Rajab Haute Couture a few years ago. She supplies her designs to international department stores such as Harvey Nichols, Saks fifth Avenue and 51 East. The designer dressed the likes of dancing with the stars Elisabetta Canalis and her couture was featured on the episode of Kourtney & Kim Take Over New York.

After immense success with his debut collection of menswear shoes, Fahad Almarzouqand then proceeded to start his own brand name HbyF Designs. Fahad’s next step was to release an exotic leather handbag collection in May 2012 at the well-known Alothman Boutique in Kuwait. In October 2012, he began retailing at Harvey Nichols in Kuwait. By January 2013, he released another handbag collection at Qatar’s premier luxury retailer 51 East and at Saks Fifth Avenue in Dubai and Bahrain.

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Just like the sunglasses, the launch party was stylish and luxurious with a vibrant, youthful energy.

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You know me – i love a good canape, and selection they had were delicious! Beautifully presented and I can assure you, they tasted just as good as they looked! Especially the octopus!

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Even the cupcakes were fashionably attired, with their very chic cat-eyed frames!

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I had a chat with the owner of Eye Boutique, Sanaz Saadat to find out more about the inspiration behind the collection and what exactly makes this range so special and fashion forward.

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She mentioned that the detail was in the design – particularly the interpretation of the classic cat-eye style. This is the first time that a designer has separated and divided the lens into four, giving an extremely avant garde, futuristic twist which is both unique and attractive. They are handmade with a thin rounded double frame contour and pointy frame corners. Featuring a curved silhouette line, they include a top frame attached to acetate temples. The glasses are finished with the “Khaleda Rajab and Fahad Almarzouq” and the “Linda Farrow Gallery” logo printed on the inverted side of the temple.

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And last but not least, here are some illustrations of mine. I decided to draw the designers themselves for this post because something drew me to their style. They look a bit like a group of extremely trendy, stylish students at an art college who have their own cool table at the cafeteria. Upon observing them, you can just tell they appear to be a cut above the rest. I just loved Fahad’s subtle metallic taupe blazer and Khaleda’s hat with her birdcage veil and red lips. She combines 90’s grunge with 40’s glamour perfectly!

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I also wanted to show how the shades would look on my fashion illustrations. As you can see, paired with the right outfits they really really do make an unforgettable statement!

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Fashion Illustrator Hatty Pedder

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Ok, I have to confess … I have a crush. An “art crush” that is, on Dubai based illustrator Hatty Pedder.

British born Hatty had studied in the UK at Central St Martins in London. She has exhibited her illustrations in numerous international locations such as Frankfurt and Mumbai, as well as working on a myriad of illustrated projects and commissions in Dubai as well.

When I first came across her illustrated column “Caricouture” in Time Out magazine, the first thing that struck me most about her work was her amazing confidence in lines.

A sense of chic simplicity is something I really admire from a lot of illustrators such as David Downton and Jaqueline Bisset. As someone who has a habit of putting in tonnes of detail into my own work, I love how Hatty’s lines have so much variation in weight and there is such a fresh sense of spontaneity.

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Moreover, she gets right to the point. Hatty doesn’t faff about with excessive lines, too much colour or detail. She knows exactly how to use JUST the right amount of information to keep her illustrations retaining a very distinguishable character and style. Her work is always fresh, unique and with a dash of mystery, leaving people (like me) craving more. Just feast your eyes on these!

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love love LOVE this one! Look at the hustle and bustle happening in the kitchen.

Love love LOVE this one! Look at the hustle and bustle happening in the kitchen.

See what I mean? The random (but very deliberate) splashes of colours, the quirky, stylised characters and just the all around “cool” factor. She’s really a master at capturing her environment and one can easily gauge at a glance what the ambience was like at each event.

In fact, her technique and impulsive strokes remind me a lot of one of my favorite illustrators, Quentin Blake who, as we all know, illustrated for Roald Dahl books.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Hatty for the blog so she can tell us a little bit more about her techniques, her inspirations and a bit about her solo show at Mojo gallery.

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How long have you been doing illustration for? When did it all start?

I studied at Central Saint Martins in London, where I gained a degree in Graphic Design and specialised in illustration. My journey into the land of illustration began 20 years ago. My first commission was for Conde Nast in London, where I worked before heading out to Dubai.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

My inspiration comes from everywhere – fashion, people, life style, Art Nouveau, Pop Art and a wealth of other sources buried in my subconscious.

How does the illustration/art scene in Dubai differ from other countries you have worked in? Are there any advantages to working as an artist in the UAE?

The whole art scene here has evolved so much in Dubai in the last decade with the boom of the Art Dubai Fair and all the magazines, events and galleries. With the internet and being able to work remotely I think you can now be located anywhere. Being in Dubai with all its amazing events and fashion events definitely for the way I personally work always provides me with huge reference material.

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You are quite specialised in commercial art, yet your work still appeals to the contemporary ambiance of a fine art gallery. This is a very challenging thing to do and most artists find they have to either market themselves as a conceptional artist i.e painter/installations OR a commercial artist (graphic designer, illustrator) How did you successfully merge the two together? Do you have to tweak your work accordingly when doing exhibitions as compared to commercial projects?

This is an interesting question I get asked a lot. I regard my illustration as answering a brief. The commissions that I take on are only ones suited to my style and tend to be in the fashion and life style genre. Whenever I am answering a brief I am communicating the clients vision, and I have to find a way to achieve the correct tone and message whilst keeping myself and style in the final piece or pieces. I find breaking up my personal painting with touches of illustration work refreshing, stimulating and sometimes puts me out of my comfort zone which I enjoy. I have also started recently doing life drawing at VIP events which I love.

My personal art which I exhibit is where I solely express myself and is totally derived from own inspirations. I love to visit new countries to gather fresh inspiration, from which I create collections on different cities. I also take on private commissions for some of my collectors. My work is always derived from people and life style, and combines photography, photomontage and mixed media. I feel very fortunate to have found a balance between Artist/Illustrator.

What is your favorite medium to use and do you experiment with elements of a prefered digital medium too, like photoshop?

My favourite medium to work in is mixed media – which I play with and can keep adding new materials to the mix.
I only use photoshop when I am involving photography in my work. For my illustration I tend to scan or shoot my artwork, and if required make any tweaks in photoshop afterwards.

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You have such a great line quality and energy with your live drawings that you create from events. Is it very challenging to capture that ambiance with minimal line and time constraints? How do decide which lines are important for your gestural illustrations and is this something you’ve perfected with years of experience?

My blog Caricouture http://www.hattypedder.com/blog which I shared with Time Out, was all created from photographs I took whilst attending the events, and then created afterwards. These are very spontaneous pieces and I love doing them as they keep my hand free. For this series I used a dip pen which I use in all my work.

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I love the innovative rich way you’ve used mixed media in your work at your solo show. It’s almost like the 3D layering of material gives your art pieces the impression that they’ve been “built” rather than drawn. Tell us about your solo show, your ideas behind the concept and a bit about your unique technique.

My latest exhibition “KOSH BOSH!” is inspired by Beirut and is currently on at The Mojo Gallery. This collection was inspired by a series of trips I made to Beirut and all the contrasts with in the city. This series was more conceptional than my previous exhibitions, and more experimental in materials. I used aluminium, neon plexi, car mirrors, acrylic sheets combined with photography and my strong linear ink work mixed with acrylic paint and water colours.

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And finally do you have any words of wisdom for young illustrators out there who are just starting out in this field?

Only stay true to yourself – follow your passion and work hard!

Ruben Sanchez and eL Seed at The Archive

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Don’t you just love that feeling when you discover a great new place hidden away in some corner of Dubai? That’s exactly how I felt this weekend when I came across The Archive for the first time. It is a community space located at gate 5 in Safa Park and it’s a library, cafe and art center all in one. The Archive focuses on the arts and culture of the MENA region and frequently holds workshops and seminars on the topics of art, illustration, murals and all things related. Funnily enough, The Archive has been around for 8 years already and I’ve only just discovered it! (Doh! How slow am I, eh?!)

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Often featuring some pretty impressive talents, it also has an awesome collection of coffee table books to browse through and excellent food to nibble on! Exhibit A … my eggs Benedict which had some serious om nom factor.

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I stopped by because I was very eager to check out the joint live collaboration that über talented artists Ruben Sanchez and eL Seed were working on.

To give a brief overview, Ruben Sanchez is a Barcelona-based urban artist whose inspirations include break dancing, skateboard and graffiti culture of his native Spain. He has been living here in Dubai for a year as part of Tashkeel’s art residency program and has been doing a variety of interesting projects and commissions all over the city as well as a recent solo show at Tashkeel.

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I really love his vibrant tribal style.

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His use of pattern remind me of Aztec/South American designs and motifs. Regarding his murals in particular, I love the contrast of his bright, cheerful and eclectic work on the sandy, broken down walls of Satwa. It’s like he has given these old areas a fresh new lease of life, and breathes an unexpected zest with his quirky, imaginative art.

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As for eL Seed – to put it plainly..(and not to sound like a total groupie) he is a LEGEND!! The French Tunisian street artist is known for his signature style which is a hybrid of Arab calligraphy and graffiti. He coins his unique invention as “Calligraffiti ” and believes that the art of graffiti brings people together. He is most famous for his decorative (and some say controversial) Calligraffiti work on the minaret of the Jara Mosque in the southern Tunisian city of Gabes in 2012.

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Some of his other work

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He’s also known for his artistic limited edition collaboration with designer Louis Vuitton on luggage.
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Soo..getting back to the point, these two amazing artists were joining forces for the day to beautify The Archive walls with a massive graffiti style mural. The air was heady and artistic that Friday afternoon with the addictive aroma of spray paint. It really was a sight to see and experience. The best part of it was that it was completely interactive as passers-by could partake in the project and actually join in with spray cans, impromptu style.

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No-one was excluded. In fact, even kids could have a go with their creative input!

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The joint painting paired up with the gorgeous sunny December weather at Safa Park made the energy a very infectious one, indeed!

With the intriguing projects, the massive library and the delicious food that seduces my taste buds, I have a feeling The Archive will become one of my new favorite haunts – right up there with Bastakiya!

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the finished mural

S*uce Micaroon Launch

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I’m sure you’ve all heard the old fridge magnet phrase which goes something like “I’ve never met a chocolate I didn’t like.” Well … chocolates are okay, but I definitely have never “met” a S*uce party I didn’t like.

For instance, the S*uce in the Hood launch a couple of weeks ago was youthful, entertaining and an all round riot. (the good kind!) I really enjoyed the music, watching the break dancers’ smooth moves and not to mention sinking my teeth into the crisp cinnamon crunchyness of a perfectly baked churro. Ah .. magnifico!

I was truly stoked about this party in particular because my friend (and my very FIRST client) Rima Khoreibi was launching her very own make up line called Micaroons. The adorable brand name is derived from the fact that the make up cases are all shaped like Macaroons. They’re available in tiny little sizes in an assortment of pastel colours.

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I’m sure in the past, you’ve cooed over how gorgeous your macaroon is and how it’s almost too pretty to eat. Well, now with Rima’s line, you can keep these cute Laduree-esque things and use as both a pretty memento AND a conveniently sized gloss that won’t bulk up your clutch on a night out! Perfect!

I went with my sister to the S*uce Micaroon launch at The Village Mall, Jumeirah to check out the new range and bask (unashamedly) in the warm glow of pink girlie-ness. They had me at “make-over.”

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To paint you a little picture of the scene of the launch – there were snack trays full of citrus bright macaroons and edible white chocolate “lipsticks” (genius).

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Felt a little weird chowing down on lipstick - but "YOLO!"

Felt a little weird chowing down on lipstick – but “YOLO!”

Ther was also some neon hair chalk for adding a flash of colour on your tresses without the commitment and stick-on tattoos, so you can get your inner suicide girl on. Will you just look at those “goods.”

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Like two over-excited preteens at a fun fair, we couldn’t wait to try it all out! First, the hair. I went for dark violet shades on the tips of my burgundy hair whilst my sister opted for streaks of magenta ala Jem and the Holograms. Here’s some photos of the event and what mischief got up to that glorious afternoon.

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Check out the tattoo!

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Artistic AND delicious.

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And the taste? Her face says it all.

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And here she is, the hostess with the mostess, herself. Rima is very influenced by all things cute, quirky and “kawaii” and I loved her Japanese street style outfit she sported that day complete with beaded kitty ears! She really pulls it off with a kitsch flair!

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And finally, here is an illustration I drew inspired by all the activity that went on at the make-up launch. Micaroons really is a brand that sticks in your head as something unique, pretty and with a child-like whimsical nostalgia that is just wonderful! Congrats on your launch, Rima! xoxo

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Live Illustration for THRIVE at Music Room

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Last week, the very slick n’ sauve Ethan Auguste asked me if I’d like to illustrate live for the season re-launch of Thrive. I have to say, I jumped at the chance to be part of it!

For those of you that are unfamiliar with Thrive, it is a series of industry nights managed by Ethan Enterprises. It’s specifically for us bright young things to sparkle in all fields of fashion, art, music and entertainment. A perfect setting to network in a chilled out, youthful and bohemian ambience.

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As much as I love events, I’ll admit that sometimes the art/gallery scene in Dubai can have a tendancy to get a little “stuffy” and “uppity.” What I like so much about Thrive is it’s refreshingly open and friendly with a warm atmosphere. Everyone is very welcoming, and game for a lively little chat with no airs or reservations and just upfor a good old fashioned night out. I have to say that it was so interesting to see the sheer variation of people from creative fields at this event. From graffiti artists to Saudi hip hop musicians to hypnotherapists – there was never a dull moment!

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Presenting the event was the very sexy and sassy host Sheena Kay from Radio one. She introduced a myriad of talented musicians for the evening and, I have to say, her bubbly banter and incredible singing voice was the icing on the cake! She was styled by West L.A who were also there promoting their fabulous outfits.

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Speaking of fabulous outfits – Kanztee were there too. Ofcourse that is expected seeing as they are such a trendy young brand – it’s typical of them to be always one step ahead and hot on the trail of happening arty events!

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As for me, I was at the back of the room in my own world – drawing up a storm whilst soaking up the amazing environment! I wanted to create something moody for the evening in a spectrum of blues. I opted to illustrate a fashionable and chic cocktail party.

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And this is how it turned out …

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I hope to see you at the next Thrive event. It really is a wonderful energy and worth checking out. I definetley think Dubai needs more events like this!

Viva la Revolution!

All images courtesy of The Studio. Link to more of their work is below

https://www.facebook.com/TheStudioDubai?directed_target_id=0

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!!!! 😀