In the summer of 2018, I was contemplating a thoughtful gift for my dear friend’s birthday. Peter is a beautiful soul and an amazing artist. I started working on a silhouette, canvas painting of Peter meditating alongside his favourite teacup and kettle, under the blissful light of the full moon. After a bit of trial and error I got there. I call it, ‘The monk in the desert’.
As a child, I often expressed myself by scribbling and colouring on the walls of my parent’s apartment in Mumbai, India. At school, the weekly art class was the only class that excited me. After university, during the spring of 2000, I registered for an artists’ boot camp to learn about the ceramic arts and painting on canvas. This experience inspired me to organise classes for art enthusiasts like myself. I wanted to share the joy I felt. This lasted for about 3 years.
After my marriage, after migration and under pressure from ever-increasing responsibilities at work, I took a long break from painting; until I started painting Peter’s birthday gift.
As I painted Peter, I realised just how much painting means to me. So, I bought a box of art supplies in July 2018, during the summer break at my sister’s new house in San Diego, California.
Each room in this house welcomed one of my paintings, which I hung on the wall. My sister looked at the paintings and said, “Now this house feels like a home.” Perhaps she was thinking of Mumbai.
During my course, I realized I do better with non-toxic, acrylic paints and explored the use of different brushes and sponges to create different effects.
Over the years, I have given my paintings to friends, relatives and colleagues. I feel that there is no stopping me now. In fact, since 2018, I have completed over 100 paintings.
The experience is liberating. I realize that expressing myself through paintings is an excellent way of cultivating my emotional growth. I find solace in painting and feel a sense of healing from the distress of painful personal experience.
I plan to hold an exhibition of all my paintings this year, in fall in Dubai. All the money collected will be donated to good causes that support child education, refugees and the prevention of global warming. These are the issues closest to my heart .
Tasneem Sheikh is a university lecturer and a passionate advocate of the empowerment of girls and young women. She is a self-taught painter. After a long gap of 15 years, Tasneem has found herself painting again and there is no stopping her now.