How I Display Art: Oil Paintings and Food Illustrations Gallery Wall

How I Display Art: Oil Paintings and Food Illustrations Gallery Wall | By Yaansoon IllustrationI usually arrange my gallery walls a bit haphazardly, but this time my husband and I went for more of a symmetrical arrangement to display my new oil paintings, along with these other food illustrations that I created in 2014 way before I started calling myself an illustrator!

So, this is a “themed” gallery wall, and the theme as you can see is Middle Eastern food, with a hint of gardening.

How I Display Art: Oil Paintings and Food Illustrations Gallery Wall | By Yaansoon IllustrationI might post each artwork individually in the future, but I just wanted to share the idea of creating a gallery wall that carried one theme as well as a cohesive colour scheme.

What I like about this wall is that it looks like a magazine. You have your full-spread paintings, as well as other smaller ones zooming in on the ingredients. Moreover, the arrangement falls into a grid, which my husband created using thin stripes of twine and tape just so we could see where everything was before we committed to nailing them to the wall.

There is also a bit of a space in the middle, which helps draw the eye to two separate areas… as if the wall is two magazine pages, and the spaces between the frames are filled with text. We do intend to fill the spaces with little trinkets and paintings, but we’re not sure yet as to what exactly.

How I Display Art: Oil Paintings and Food Illustrations Gallery Wall | By Yaansoon IllustrationWe had other art as candidates for the gallery, but these did not quite fit into our story. We wanted to create something that looked both aesthetically cohesive, as well as belonged to the same story line. We even had to change one frame and its background to make it fit into our scheme. At one point I wanted to include a couple of pattern-y watercolour paintings that had no food in them. They totally looked out of place and we had to remove them.

To be honest, I love creating gallery walls because they shed a new light on my work and create sort of an expanded context for them. It’s like being part of an editorial project or a wall “book” of sorts!

Well, I do hope you’ve enjoyed today’s post, and I do look forward to seeing you in my next one!

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Container Gardening and My New Oil Painting Style

Container Gardening Oil Painting by Yaansoon IllustrationThis is the first time that I share with you all one of my oil paintings. The truth is I have been creating artwork using oil paints on and off for a while now. But non of my earlier paintings really reflected my vision as an illustrator and artist… until I created this container gardening oil painting – which I think reflects what I truly love, in terms of subject matter and style.

The last time I posted anything on my blog was almost a month ago, and I have also been minimally active on social media. The reason for this mini social media cleanse is that I have been busy attending a self-initiated summer “art bootcamp,” where I made it a point to keep my interactions with the outer world as minimal as possible. I have been in search for my true voice in both illustration and fine art, and to achieve this I had to bring the noise and the distractions to a bare minimum.

Container Gardening Oil Painting by Yaansoon IllustrationAs a result of this mini social media (and real life) break, I was able to regroup, and be very mindful and thoughtful of the art I created. I freed my mind from obligations and worries – like social media posts – along with it the need to impress, express, or talk when all I needed was silence and peace of mind. I needed to know who I really was as an artist without any of the external factors that could sway my judgment or affect my behaviour.

Solitude, Container Gardening, and Artistic Style

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that solitude is a powerful thing. It helps us tap into who we really are and frees us from a lot of mental, emotional and even physical clutter.

When I wasn’t illustrating or learning something new about art and illustration, I spent my time container gardening. I got so much into it that it helped me phase out from art itself, and also helped take my mind off my little quest to hone my style. I got so busy looking for pantry seeds to grow, watering techniques and ways to keep a healthy homemade tiny garden. And in the simple act of container gardening came my most powerful inspiration.

Container Gardening Oil Painting by Yaansoon IllustrationOne day I got out my canvases, brushes and oil paints and started sketching and painting away. It was so effortless, honest and direct. It felt like the time was ripe for my style to come to fruition and become a reality. Something inside of me became more “flow-y,” less controlling, and more at ease.

I can’t help but feel like gardening had a lot to do with my growth as an artist. When we first plant a seed in the little bit of soil we have, we need to give the seed the “solitude” it needs in order to grow. It needs to “hide” inside the soil for a while, meanwhile receiving the water and the kind of nurturing it needs before it “appears” in the world. A seed sprouts in its own time. I grew a handful of legumes the other day and noticed how each grew in their own time. The little green stems appeared in varying times above the ground, which I think is a powerful metaphor for our growth as people. No two artists are alike, and no two people are the same. We all bloom to our own rhythm, and there are no rules to when we will find our “voice” or “style” or even the kind of career we want to follow.

I hope you have enjoyed today’s post, and I do look forward to seeing you again in my next one!

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Travel Illustration: 10 Things to Pack When You’re Traveling to Morocco

Travel Illustration: 10 Things to Pack When You're Traveling to Morocco | By Yaansoon IllustrationEverything about Morocco is exquisite and special! Its architecture, home decor, food, local fashion and traditions, are all a delight to the senses. Rich with colour, motifs and patterns, Morocco is not like any other country. This North African gem is steeped in tradition, yet very hospitable and welcoming of visitors from all corners of the globe. To make sure you are prepared to experience the Moroccan culture, here are a few fundamental packing tips to help you pack.

The following suggested list includes the very basics, but you can always build on it. It’s also a list for the ladies, as I am sure men have different needs that I myself wouldn’t know very much about :)

  1. Souvenirs: Bring along a few light-weight souvenirs that reflect the culture of your country, but make sure nothing in there is too controversial or culturally offensive (I drew a Dala Horse in my illustration above, assuming the traveller in question is from Sweden). Moroccans are very hospitable, so don’t be too surprised if a total stranger insists on inviting you over to a family meal at their own home. Be prepared with a few interesting trinkets as a thank-you gesture.
  2. 1 pair of sneakers: You will need them for hikes and long walks around Morocco’s beautiful souks and markets.
  3. Socks
  4. 1 pair of flip-flops
  5. 1 pair of loose-fit jeans: Baggy jeans are your best bet as they won’t attract unnecessary attention in public souks. Since it can get very hot during the summer, a loose-fit will also help you stay cool. The general etiquette in Morocco for Women usually involves modest clothing.
  6. At least one long-sleeved shirt, that is also loose-fitting: If you’re planning to visit one of Morocco’s beautiful Mosques, you will need modest clothing for the occasion.
  7. A scarf: Having a scarf on hand is a great idea, especially if you happen to pass through a religious corner (Zawya) or district.
  8. Sunscreen: The sun in Morocco can be very intense during summertime. You will most probably get a tan by just walking down the street during daytime!
  9. Your mobile phone
  10. Your charger + adapter

My enchantment with Morocco began as a little child. Back then I had no idea I actually had Moroccan ancestry from my mother’s side. I found out relatively recently that I have a great great grandfather from Morocco, and then one of his descendants married a Moroccan lady. I couldn’t be happier knowing I actually had roots in a culture I so admired and found to be so inspiring and resourceful.

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s illustrated post. I look forward to seeing you in my next one!

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My Travel Illustrations Journal: Tunisian Ceramics

'My Travel Illustrations Journal': Tunisian Ceramics | By Yaansoon IllustrationThe most breathtaking ceramics I’ve ever seen are handcrated by Tunisian artisans in this wonderful Mediterranean country. I’ve been collecting Tunisian ceramics long before my first visit to this North African gem. For this post, I have illustrated my Tunisian ceramics collection, consisting of large display plates, Tajine pots, tea cups, and tiny small dishes. This is also the first official page in my newly created blog series, dubbed ‘My Travel Illustrations Journal.’

A few years ago, I traveled to Tunisia as part of a music tour and multi-cultural project, organised by the British Council. We stopped in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, for a night on our way to Tabarka, a pristine coastal town famous for The Tabarka Jazz Festival.

That morning, the bus took us to a small mini-market opposite the sea in a quite corner of Tunis. I remember standing in awe at the sight of the deep blue sea – as I stepped out of the mini-market with my bag of water bottles and snacks, before going on a 10-hour drive to our destination.

'My Travel Illustrations Journal': Tunisian Ceramics | By Yaansoon IllustrationI think the navy-indigo hues of the Tunisian sea-view of the Mediterranean have a lot to do with the rich colors used in Tunisian ceramics, with their beautifully glazed surfaces, hand-painted patterns and intricate designs. Blues and navies are an essential colour in the Tunisian ceramics tradition, as well as a backdrop of white that seems to always help the blues to pop!

'My Travel Illustrations Journal': Tunisian Ceramics | By Yaansoon Illustration

Tunisian Ceramics & Food Gatherings

I’m generally a strong advocate of a beautifully arranged table setting that invites the senses and creates a certain welcoming and enticing mood. Food in my culture is much more than just a few bites to calm a hungry stomach down. There is a long history of hospitality and attention to detail associated with food – as a social event, a cultural activity and a a ritual that involves several disciplines of the arts.

'My Travel Illustrations Journal': Tunisian Ceramics | By Yaansoon IllustrationIn a previous post, I wrote about how in my family Tunisian ceramics, as well as other handcrafted dining accessories and cutlery from other countries, are an essential part of our food festivities. You can read all about it in this post here – Illustration Inspiration: Colourful lunch the Mediterranean Way.

I hope you have enjoyed today’s post, and I do look forward to seeing you all in my next one!

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Illustration Inspiration: Colourful lunch the Mediterranean Way

Illustration Inspiration: Colourful lunch the Mediterranean Way | Photography by Yaansoon Illustration

We had a nice family lunch a few days ago and the table setting looked absolutely fabulous. It encapsulated the multi-cultural world my husband and I live in, with all the colours, motifs, and textures that inspire my illustrations. Each piece was curated to remind our family of the places we’ve been to. The patterned red-white-and-gold tablecloth is a vintage piece from Damascus, the plates from Tunisia, the trivets from the UK, the water glasses from IKEA, and the blue ceramic bakeware from Jordan.

Although I was under the illusion my camera phone had taken some really nice pix at the time, I realized that most of the pictures were actually out of focus once I transferred them to my computer. To camouflage the terrible lighting and focus issues, I used filters that were applied rather heavy-handedly in a lame attempt to salvage some of these photos. So please accept my sincere apology for the poor-ish quality of these pix.

Illustration Inspiration: Colourful lunch the Mediterranean Way | Photography by Yaansoon Illustration

Today’s post is about a multi-cultural lifestyle and a home filled with love and a mix of world patterns.

When I was a kid, I was the one in charge of setting the table for my mom’s many lunch and dinner feasts. I didn’t know what seemed like a chore back then was teaching me something about art and design.

Illustration Inspiration: Colourful lunch the Mediterranean Way | Photography by Yaansoon IllustrationMy mom has a large collection of dinnerware and plate sets from different parts of the world. My task was to mix and match these sets against a suitable backdrop (the tablecloth), polish the silverware, and set up a separate tray for the turquoise and navy-blue glasses.

Illustration Inspiration: Colourful lunch the Mediterranean Way | Photography by Yaansoon Illustration

Although these days I prefer a rather more minimalist approach to home decor in other areas of the home, I still love a feast with busy and colourful patterns.

I hope you have enjoyed today’s post, looking forward to seeing you in my next one!

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