Bold and expressive brushwork to convey the beauty of the mundane ordinary subjects around us is what I love to do. Hello! I am Dr Shaazia Hawai, a dentist by profession and an artist at heart.
Art, for centuries, has been a means to express individualistic creativity. To me, art is a language that I intend to speak fluently. It thrills me when I see someone who has mastered the language of art. It intrigues me when I discover someone adding new layers to its tapestry of possibilities.
Being a dentist, I was miles away from indulging in anything creative. Science and Art are very different after all. I started painting as a means to explore my creativity after a visit to an art supplies store.
I felt overwhelmed looking at gorgeous landscapes, realistic portraits and stunning abstracts. ‘Still Life Painting’ or ‘Object Drawing’ had this strange attraction for me. It was something that I felt I could dabble with. And that is how my journey as an impressionist still life artist began.
I enjoy painting with acrylics as the medium is versatile and allows room for experimentation. Painting still life has its advantages like the subject doesn’t get tired, doesn’t move and it’s so easy to procure ( just raid your kitchen). I suggest painting one new object daily.
For the initial few months, I used to paint only in my spare time. As time progressed I started dedicating more time to paint because I was enjoying the process. I set up a small workspace in the corner of my bedroom for painting. That really kickstarted the daily morning ritual of painting. The ritual then became a habit. It got me focused and gave me clarity with regard to what I needed to do with my art.
If you are beginning your journey as an artist my suggestion to you is to form your own daily routine. I saw massive progress in my painting style and brushwork with this system of practice. I started posting my artwork regularly on social media.
I was approached by an art supply store to conduct online workshops for them. I had not learnt painting the formal way and so teaching art or even painting in front of a live audience gave me goosebumps. Overcoming my fears and conducting the first workshop was a game changer for me.
Not only was the workshop a success, but I also had a blast interacting with fellow artists. This gave birth to my Saturday live paint-along sessions on Instagram. I still conduct them. You may drop by and check my page to join the party.
The idea of being around like-minded people enhances creativity. We challenge and help each other by supporting the artist community.
My paintbox consists of primary colours (red, blue & yellow) and white. A few flat and round brushes ( I use mostly 6,4,2 flat brushes & 6,2 round ones) a substrate on which you will paint ( paper, canvas, wood, cardboard, etc)
A great tip that I have learned is that – acrylic paints tend to dry dull if diluted with water, so I usually use a medium (gloss/matte) to increase the flow of the paint and limit the use of water to only for cleaning brushes. (Note: Wash brushes immediately while painting with acrylics)
Let’s Paint ‘A Pear’
It is best to simplify the object. A pear looks like an alphabet ‘A’ or a triangle over a circle. After establishing a loose sketch, I apply a thin wash of neutral colour. This underpainting helps eliminate the whites of the paper and creates depth in the painting. Next, I establish the dark tones in the painting and paint from dark to light. You can also paint from light to dark. It depends on your chosen medium.
A loose brushwork like mine can be achieved by holding the brush at its tail end. Then I add the highlights, background and fine details to bring out the likeness of the subject. One can always add more details and finer brushwork to make the subject more realistic. But if you prefer an impressionistic style like me, leave it in a loose expressive state.
I am a firm believer in what Van Gogh said, “Paintings have a life of their own that derives from the painter’s soul.” An artist paints from his soul to produce magic on canvas. That’s why a true artist’s work is easily recognisable such as Van Gogh’s starry night, Monet’s lilies, Cezanne’s still life & Klandinsky’s abstracts.
My suggestion to all beginner artists is not to copy styles or trends on social media. Paint what your heart desires, and you will make mistakes but keep practising because Bob Ross said, “There are no mistakes in art, only happy accidents.” And as you embrace these happy accidents, you will evolve as an artist.
Dr Shaazia Hawai is a dentist, who spills her love for colours onto the canvas. She is also adept at Arabic Calligraphy and Paper Quilling.