Procrastinating with watercolours – my favourite new procrastination method

You know when you have so much work to do and you don’t know where to get started so you pick up a brush and start painting instead? Happens to me quite often. Having too many hobbies is a good thing but allows for too many reasons to not get on with work.

My hobbies include: gardening, travelling, reading, music, painting, and food. I am forever procrastinating with these distractions. Especially when it comes to painting and gardening, it’s so easy to get lost in your own world and before you know it, hours have gone by and you haven’t checked a single task of your to-do list.

I usually visit North America from Dubai once a year and am always excited to get my hands on affordable art supplies as art supplies in Dubai will definitely hurt your wallet. I’m especially excited to visit Michaels Art Supplies (present in most major cities across North America) as you can always find a 40% off coupon on their website for one item.

The weather in Toronto has been phenomenal this February. Usually February suffers from the worst climate but it’s been like spring and the sky has mostly been clear. I tend to get cranky when I don’t see the sun so it’s been a great trip so far. Painted a few random pages since I got here.

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Michaels, downtown Toronto. Huge store, great for stationary. Not great for watercolor supplies. Very limited range of watercolours.

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I don’t recommend the below beading container as a watercolour pallet for obvious reasons. This wasn’t a very smart purchase on my part. img_20170220_085616img_20170220_085522

The above watercolour set was unbelievably affordable with a 40% off coupon. img_20170220_085629

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Curry’s Art Story – Expensive Good Quality Artist Materials- this branch near College and Yonge is closing soon. Went there to buy watercolor brushes and paints, though the supply and range was fantastic, they were definitely beyond my budget.

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I can’t remember where I found the source photo behind this quick painting but I remember reading an article about an entire generation of children who are being raised in refugee camps around the world. Most of these kids do not have a single item of belonging to call their own and are sometimes living with four to five siblings and their parents in these make-shift tents. There are some youth enrichment programs in place for many of the older refugee camps and these children get to play a game of football and make their own toys from recycled items. A world so far from my own. A world I can hardly relate to. Yet some of these refugee camps are less than 3 to 4 hours away by flight from home. It’s pretty tragic how we say we live in such an interconnected world yet are so disconnected from the plight of those suffering closest to us. It’s now time for me to go back to Dubai – will update you soon with more paintings and musings.

Don’t forget to follow my page !

 

National Day Weekend in Dubai!

Usually National Day weekend means either leaving the city for a weekend getaway with friends or family, or visiting the endless events, parades, brunch, etc, usually set up for the weekend. This year I decided to stay in and take part in the Dubai Family Street Markets in Dubai Marina Walk.

Having taken quite a hiatus from painting (apart from the quick watercolour sessions I’ve been recently taking to de-stress), I wanted to get back out there and go and meet people and see how they interact with my art.

I’ve spent the last few months representing and showcasing other amazing artists who have decided to collaborate with us on the AJALA Project and haven’t showcased my work at any fairs/events/etc. Luckily, this weekend was the perfect time to do so with amazing sunny/breezy weather and a great festive air at the Dubai Marina Walk.

We were set up by Plan3 Media at two different locations on two different days – On Friday the 2nd, the market was set up in front of Stefano’s and Nando’s in Marina Walk, on Saturday, the market was stationed in front of Dubai Marine Yacht Club. Both amazing locations with such great views of the Marina.  So much fun to watch and interact with all the young visiting families and Marina residents. With the amazing weather, I’m going to make sure to make more time to actively participate in these events.

Click on the individual thumbnails below to see the full sized image. Sorry for the low res images, my phone doesn’t take the best pictures :(.

You can also check out the rest of my paintings and cushions on this link:

http://www.littlemajlis.com/shop/narmeennasersart

 

What I wish I knew before I started growing zucchini in Dubai

I’m not sure what compelled me to pick up a packet of zucchini seeds in July this summer. I’ve had a useable garden for 7 years now and never did it occur to me that I could use it to grow my own food. Especially in Dubai, an urban desert, I always thought you would require specific greenhouse conditions to grow any form of fruit or vegetables in the region.

 I read one or two articles before sowing the seeds and came to the false assumption that Zucchini is a prolific plant and grows well in full-sun with little or no specific feeding conditions. I was under the impression that all one had to do was sow a few seeds in a well-watered area and come back in a few months to pluck fully ripe zucchini for our Winter BBQS.  That is definitely NOT the case. 4 months later, I’ve realized that there is a lot more to vegetable gardening.

Things I didn’t know before sowing zucchini seeds:

  1. Full July summer sun in Dubai is not the same as a full summer sun in most places in the West.
  2. Better to sow zucchini seeds straight in the garden unless you have the ability to be really delicate  and gentle when transplanting the seedlings. I clearly don’t have these skills.
  3. Zucchini is a heavy feeder and requires fertilizing regularly. Actually, most vegetable plants require feeding. Seems like common sense now. :S
  4. You can not just dig three inches of soil and plant anything. The quality of your soil will determine the growth of your plants. We haven’t changed our soil since we first moved in and our soil is basically very sandy with very little nutrients in it. You need to invest in new soil before starting any gardening project.
  5. Do not sow all the seeds in the packet at the same time. Again, seems like common sense now. After seeing the first set of seeds germinate within a few days ( Zucchini seeds are VERY FAST germinators),  I excitedly sowed all the others :S.
  6.  Do not rely on your gardener and automatic sprinkler system to know the needs of your zucchini plants for you. You need to build your drip and sprinkler irrigation system to water your plant at specific times. By October, the 3x a day sprinkler sytem was overwatering the zucchini plants and I had to figure out how to configure the sprinkler system for the cooler temperatures. I previously relied on our gardener to do this.

I sowed the first seeds in the last week of July and some plants died or failed to grow, the few that were remaining were thriving until I came back from my two week US trip in late-October and found them all wilting or dead. I now have one left from the 25 plants I had earlier. Sad life.

I guess I’ll try again next year.

Sowed First week of August

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First week of September

Third week of September – After transplanting from original pot

 

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There was so much hope :'(.

End of October – Early November – when everything started going downhill 😦

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All the leaves were yellowing and the plants were getting too leggy with only one major stem. Anyway, they had died and wilted once I came back from my break and my gardener blamed it on the change of temperature :0 – Why would better weather cause all my plants to wilt?

 

For the Love of Dubai!

2 years ago, an Egyptian architect and photographer living in Dubai decided to start his own fitness community. He started to engage his network to come out and carry out various sporting activities with him, with each week that passed his network reached out to their own personal network and the group began expanding. He actively promoted fitness to his community while asking them to support various causes around the world and has now almost 2000 members in his community. Active members of his group, called ‘Dubai Daily Fitness’, are also encouraged to lead various fitness activities  and also take part in expeditions that would support social issues around the world. 2 years later, and 2000 members strong, Dubai Daily Fitness has proudly supported initiatives in over 10 different countries and created a large community of happy fitness enthusiasts in Dubai. His community has welcomed many newbies to Dubai and helped them feel at home by integrating them into their free community events and exploring the GCC together.

A local hero, Ahmad ElDessouki is admired for his activism and his commitment to strengthening his fitness group, on top of working full time in Dubai. Ahmad was featured on our AJALA project earlier this year and we were ecstatic to find out he wanted us to be a part of his group’s 2 year anniversary. This event took place on 11.11.16 at the amazing Warehouse Four. We had local fitness gurus teach various classes every hour from 8am to 6pm. Classes included Zumba, Contact Improv, Yoga, AcroYoga, Cardiofit, and Meditation by Taijitu House of Om. (If you haven’t heard of Taijitu House of Om before, its an open community center with a meditation room, Praying Altar, library, business centre, 2 activity rooms, outside lounge, fireplace, inside and outside kitchens, BBQ setups, swimming pool, fountain, water wheel, tree house, maid room, 5 bedrooms, recreational room and a guest room. – A must visit for any Dubai resident).

Upstairs, we at the AJALA Project engaged our local artists to come and provide free workshops for the DDF ( Dubai Daily Fitness) community. We also had amazing artists come and and paint live for the crowds. Such a beautiful intimate event and we were really honoured to be a part of it. The AJALA Project even got an unexpected award from the community for our dedication and commitment to social impact :).

Here are some pictures of our event:

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Ahmad Eldessouki!

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Acro Yoga Session

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Honouring the Awardees

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Honouring the Awardees

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Live Calligraffiti by Hicham El Yagoubi

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DDF’s most active warriors

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Our team!

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Workshopping

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Artist at work

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..and it begins

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Zambian Artist Victor Sitali created a piece based on our changemakers at the AJALA project

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Live Artists Victor and Hicham

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Yafa Goawily’s amazing mixed media workshop

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Bebo visits the art workshops

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With the amazing artist, Ria

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Final painting from the mixed-media workshop

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We also got the community kids to make cards for the Usmile Ismile initiative to hand out at orphanages in Kenya

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Some of the paintings created inspired by the AJALA Project Changemakers

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Gong Meditation was amazing!

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Hicham writing out some of the greeting cards

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Greeting Cards written by our volunteers to be given to children at orphanages by UsmileIsmile

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Our Award!


The AJALA Project brings together a global community of Artists and Writers to showcase Changemakers and Inspiring Nomads creating a social impact around the world.

If you are an Artist and would like to work with us, email us at narmeen@theajalaproject.com.

If you are a changemaker or know a changemaker ( somebody creating a social impact for marginal communities or raising awareness for global issues), please send in this application form Changemaker Application Form

Follow The Ajala Project on Facebook, Medium and Instagram.

Next event coming up soon!

Sheikh Zayed Mosque – Recycled

Half Melted Ice Cream 45 x 65cm

Half Melted Ice Cream

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45cm x 65cm

This painting/collage/mixed media project was a lot of fun to make. I’ve produced a number of paintings using this style (recycled Acrylic Paint). Since I’m not such a regular painter, I do take long gaps between each of my projects. This leads to numerous containers and palettes of dried acrylic paint. Depending on the type of surface the paint has dried on, the resulting dried paint texture will vary. Some are smooth and glossy. Some remain matte and inflexible. The different forms the paint takes and the blend of colours always amazes me. I love layering these textures on to my recycled paintings. This ones a new favourite of mine – it is titled Half-Melted Ice Cream and is a depiction of Sheikh Zayed Mosque- one of the most beautiful architectural wonders of the world – IMHO.

Why did I title it Half-Melted Ice Cream? Honestly, I wouldn’t be able to tell you why I title most of my paintings the way I do. I probably had a good reason when I was done with this painting, but as I move on with my day and start a number of other projects, whether it is getting started on another painting, or one of my freelance research or writing projects, or working on the AJALA project, I forget what inspired me in the first place. I’m going to make a point to note down my thoughts as soon as I title my paintings.

Half Melted Ice Cream. Perhaps it symbolizes loss of control? The inevitability of chaos? The trajectory of regulation leading to de-regulation? The state of religious and political institutions? The melting away of my childhood ideologies?..Who knows.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The AJALA Project – Call for Artist and Changemakers

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The Ajala Project, a Dubai-based community art project, brings together a global community of change makers, nomads, storytellers, and artists to change narratives about underprivileged and voiceless communities around the world. It is a movement that aims to break down barriers between people and places through storytelling and visual arts. This project was conceptualized in June 2016 and consists of co-founders; Hassan Bayo, Giovanni Morra, and myself.

The objective of the project is to provide a platform to empower artists and writers and to showcase ordinary people doing extraordinary things. The artists who agree to collaborate will be matched up with grassroots changemakers around the world and will be asked to produce an artwork inspired by that changemakers journey and cause. The artist, changemaker, and story will all be published on our various platforms. Once the story and illustration is shortlisted by public voters, these illustrations will then be printed on merchandise, from which a percentage will be given to the artist.

Once you decide to join our project as an artist, we will require a short bio with a picture of you, we will pair you up with a nomad/changemaker and send you files relating to the nomad. We do recommend you do your own research, you are also free to connect with the nomad yourself for better inspiration.

Email us at change@theajalaproject.com or find us on FB at: the AJALA project