Transition Exhibition: Bringing the Middle East to London

On the 16th of August, 42 Middle Eastern female and male artists came together in London to exhibit a collection of fantastic artworks. The transition exhibition was curated by Sara Foryame under the Reconnecting Arts platform, which supports Arab emerging artists. Over 300 people visited the Menier Gallery for the private view.  

I was very pleased to be one of the exhibiting artists along side lots of creative ones from across the Middle East. Each artist was bringing forward their ideas and own expressions, which created a mix of diverse and creative works. A full list of artists names can be found here

The painted patterns I chose to exhibit also known as Islamic Illuminations were completed in the traditional methods as I shared with you in previous tutorials (Introduction to the Traditional Art of Persian Illuminations). For the transition show, I tried to step away from the usual traditional combinations and styles to widen my spectrum and experiment with new colour combinations and text backgrounds. I stayed true to the methods and illuminated the patterns with 18ct gold and 23.5ct.  

The show is until the 2nd of September 2017, but if you cannot visit, you can enjoy a few of the photos of the show below: 

A Golden Flower A Day Challenge تحدي وردة ذهبية كل يوم 

I have been wanting to draw and illuminate more flowers and today I came up with an idea to push myself and I am hoping you guys can do it with me and even share your flowers! Let's fill our instagram with beautiful golden flowers! 


Start Date: 7th May 2017 and End Date: 21st May 2017. You don't have to completely follow this, but these are my only free dates, so I will be doing it. The advantage if you do it with me at this time is that I can feature some of you and it's fun to do it together! 

منذ وفترة وأنا أريد تقوية مهاراتي وعلامات فرشاتي في فن التذهيب الإسلامي. خطرت في بالي فكرة هذا التحدي وأحببت أن أشارككم إياه لتنضموا إلي. التحدي مجرد تحدي تشجيعي للتسلية والتعليم. مدته ١٤ يوماً إبتداءً من الأحد السابع من مايو إلى يوم ٢١ مايو. فائدة عمل الرسومات معاي هي تشجيعنا لبعض.

Here are 14 flowers that we can paint. I numbered them to show you which ones I intend to start with. All flowers are taken from the Persian book Khataei Decorative Designs by Amir-Houshang Aghamiri. 

هذه التصاميم التي أنوي أن أرسمها وأُذهبها. جميعها من كتاب نقوش الختايي للفنان أمير هوشنك آقاميري

Tools: Printed Flower Design, Tracing Paper, Pencils, brushes,  real gold or gouache gold, watercolours and/or gouache colours.

الأدوات: الورد المطبوع + ورق شفاف + أقلام رصاص + ذهب حقيقي أو قواش + ألوان مائية و قواش + حبر أسود للتحدي + فرش

btw, if they are hard for you and they will be then simplify the design or draw half of it. Be as creative as you want.  إذا كان التصميم صعب أو معقد إذن قوموا بتبسيطه  

After you are done, post it to instagram or Facebook and tag me @islamicillumination and add this hashtag #AGoldenFlowerADay You can write this as well as a caption:

This photo is for the #AGoldenFlowerADay challenge by @islamicillumination
We are painting one flower a day for the next 14 days to practice our illumination/tezhip skills.
You can participate too! All Flowers we are painting, illuminating and outlining are on   

بعد إنهاء الرسمة، الرجاء مشاركتنا بها عبر وضع تاق لنا في الرسمة وإستخدام الهاشتاق: #وردة_ذهبية_كل_يوم. بالإمكان وضع هذا الشرح تحت الرسمة أيضاً: هذه الصورة من ضمن تحدي #وردة_ذهبية_كل_يوم مع حساب التذهيب الإسلامي  @islamicillumination
سوف نرسم ونلون وردة يوياً لمدة ١٤ يوم لتقوية مهاراتنا في التذهيب والتحديد. بإمكانكم المشاركة أيضاً جميع المعلومات موجودة على موقعهم  

Love For the Prophet

Last week, I went with few friends of mine to visit the "Love for the prophet" exhibition. 

"An Islamic art exhibition celebrating the Prophet Muhammad’s 1446th birthday with the works of prominent Turkish calligraphers. As a part of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) celebrations, the Hilye-i Şerîf exhibition “Love of the Prophet” at the Yunus Emre Enstitüsü." 

"Hilye-i Şerîf is an Islamic art form consists texts that describes the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) physical as well as moral beauty in the best manner possible into superb works of art as calligraphy and illumination." 

It was really interesting seeing the intricate details of calligraphy and the cutout Islamic geometry! If you haven't been able to go, here are a few photos! 

Persian Illumination Books كتب التذهيب الفارسي من إيران

Persian Illumination Books كتب التذهيب الفارسي من إيران

When I was in Iran about two years ago, I went to a small bookstore in Shiraz next to the Karim Khan Hotel. I walked in and asked for "tezhip - islimi - khtaie" books. These are the ones I purchased in person. I am so glad I got them. They are such good resources and this is where I trace a lot of my patterns. Some of them are sold in bookstores in Turkey, but I am not sure which ones. They are worth getting! 

Update: some of the Illumination books can be purchased from Karin Sanat online

قمت شراء هذه الكتب شخصياً من إيران من مدينة شيراز وتُعتبر مصدر قيم للزخراف والمعلومات عن فن التذهيب الإسلامي. أتوقع بالإمكان شراء بعض منها من تركيا. 

Over to you: Are there any other practical illumination books you like? Where did you get them from? *comment below!*

إذا لديكم أي إقتراحات لكتب التذهيب الرجاء كتابتها في التعليقات 

What is Islamic Illumination?

This morning, I received an email asking me about Islamic illumination and what it is. I realised that I don't have a post explaining it, so I decided to write one to share my limited knowledge on the subject. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

What is Islamic Illumination?
Quran from Afghanistan, Herat. Timurid Period. 1434. Found in the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art

Quran from Afghanistan, Herat. Timurid Period. 1434. Found in the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art

The Quran is the main source of Islam. It was recorded using Arabic calligraphy. The first calligrapher is the prophet's cousin and son-in-law Imam Ali Ibn Talib (Nasr, 1987). The writing of the Quran was regarded highly since it was the visual representation of the word of God. From that point, the writing and the presentation of the book became an art.

Later on, "Art of the book" extended to other books such as poetry and story books. Collecting and gifting highly adorned book of that nature became a symbol of status.

"The Art of the Book" contains FOUR areas:

  • Calligraphy
  • Illumination
  • Illustrations (miniature)
  • Binding and other technicality related to book making. 

All four became dedicated disciplines of Islamic Art (Gruber, 2010). In this post, I am only sharing the meaning of Illumination. 

The 'Khamsah' of Niẓāmī 1539-1543 Source

What is Illumination?

It is the art of applying gold 

Illuminating the Quran started when artists added a little gold to decorate the Quran to physically represent the enlightenment that comes from the word of God.  

Islamic illumination is the use of gold to paint geometric and/or biomorphic patterns (organic and floral forms and motifs) to decorate the pages of Quran and books of poetry. Biomorphic patterns have a geometric grid that is usually hidden with the painting and illuminating.

Usually, the cover and the frontal pieces are very elaborate, but the rest of the pages are decorated less. 


  • Nasr, S. (1987). Islamic art and spirituality. 1st ed. Albany: State University of New York Press.
  • Gruber, C. (2010). The Islamic manuscript tradition. 1st ed. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
The 'Khamsah' of Niẓāmī 1539-1543 Source

The 'Khamsah' of Niẓāmī 1539-1543 Source

Islamic Illumination Teachers in London:

Islamic Illumination Teachers in Istanbul:

  • I am sure there are many, but I only know my Turkish teacher Dilara Yarci. I did a 15 hours private class with her and she is wonderful. 

Islamic Illumination Resources: 

Islamic Pattern Units الوحدات الزخرفية الإسلامية

Islamic Pattern Units الوحدات الزخرفية الإسلامية Islamic patterns are divided to four major units: geometric unit, vegetation unit, animal based unit and Arabic calligraphy unit.

Introduction is translated and summarised by Esra Alhamal

original Arabic text: Source: AlNahas, U. (2006). Units of Islamic Patterns. 17th ed. Cairo: T. DN.

Islamic patterns are divided to four major units: geometric unit, vegetation unit, animal based unit and Arabic calligraphy unit.

Geometric unit is the most significant and most notable in the world of Islamic patterns. All the geometric patterns start with circles creating shapes that are equal in size that are connected in seemingly complex ways. In fact, the geometric patterns have simple rules. The stars created in the geometric patterns are the most representative. That type of pattern has spread in the Mamluk period in Egypt and Syria, the Saljuk period in Iraq and the Moorish period in North Africa. The patterns are used on wood, metal and paper.

Vegetation unit first came from the Greek and Byzantine arts. Then they were heavily influenced by Persian arts. This type is also used on a number of mediums. It is also included within the geometric patterns to fill the space.

Animal based unit is inspired from animal shapes, but look very abstract in comparison. These are mostly Persian and Byzantine inspired. This is commonly used in detailed textiles.

Arabic calligraphy unit includes several writing styles such as Thulth, Kufei and so on. The shapes of the writing had a pattern of its own and it completed the geometric and abstract patterns. 

The book also includes over 200 patterns (six fold, eight fold, twelve fold and more). 

الكتاب بالعربي وموجود كامل في الرابط في الأسفل. المقدمة التاريخية مفيدة وتستحق القرأة. 

Source: AlNahas, U. (2006). Units of Islamic Patterns. 17th ed. Cairo: T. DN.

Making Shell Gold for illumination Tezhip طريقة صنع الذهب للتذهيب

I am still leaning to make my own shell gold, but this is one of the methods I have been using. I learnt it from my teacher Farkhondeh Ahmadzadeh. Hope you find the video useful. 

Places to buy shell gold: 
Wrights of Lymm:
L. Cornelissen & Son:

هناك عدة طرق لصنع ماء الذهب أو الذهب الخاص بالتذهيب الإسلامي و الفيديو يشرح إحدى الطرق التي تعلمتها من مدرستي Farkhondeh Ahmadzadeh 
أتمنى أن تستفيدوا 

أماكن لشراء أوراق الذهب من بريطانيا:

Wrights of Lymm:

L. Cornelissen & Son:

توصليهم من موقعهم عالمي

Geometry + Illumination Instagram Accounts I love

Geometry and Islamic illuminations go hand in hand. Sometimes the geometry of the illumination is hidden with colours and motifs, but it's always present in the symmetry and the balance. Here are some of the accounts I follow and love in both areas on instagram. Seeing these forms of arts by these very talented artists is always inspiring!  

Over to you: What are you favourite Geometry + Illumination Instagram accounts?

Islamic Art Tools أدوات التذهيب الإسلامي

Hi everyone! 

Islamic Illumination Tools

I get many questions about the paints and papers I use for my illuminated Islamic paintings. So here's a list of the main paint brands, paper and other art tools that I use in my work. Please click on the images to be directed to Amazon to buy them. Hope you find it useful. 

مرحبا جميعاً،، توصلني أسئلة كثيرة عن الألوان والورق المستخدمة في التذهيب الإسلامي، فجهزت لائحة بالماركات التي أستخدمها وبالإمكان شرائها من أمازون أو أي مكان أخر على الإنترنت. الرجاء الضغط على الصور للذهاب لموقع الشراء مباشرة. أتمنى الفائدة للجميع. 

Islamic Art, Islamic Patterns, Islamic Geometry Books

Books about Islamic art, patterns and geometry are very valuable and they add so much knowledge to you as an artist or as a student. I would highly recommend reading a few book about your chosen subject of Islamic art because that will give you further understanding of the art, its history and how it was formed. 

What does Islamic Art mean? 

The whole study of Islamic art is still considered new. Just the definition of Islamic art is an area of study. Islamic art definition usually means any art and craft that was originated in the Islamic lands by Muslim artists or artists from other faiths who happened to be in an Islamic lands from the 7th to 18th centuries. Obviously, this is very generic and an unfair definition for Islamic Art. There are many arts that fall under this vast filed of study such as Islamic illumination, Islamic manuscripts, Islamic geometry and more. 

Islamic Art, Islamic Patterns, Islamic Geometry Books

Recommended books for Islamic design and patterns

After some research, I found a few books that only discuss Islamic geometric patterns and Islamic illumination. I have compiled a list for you. Make sure you at least read some of them if you are interested in the practical art form. Please click on each book to get directed to the Amazon buying link. 

Paints, Papers & Brushes for Islamic Illumination - الألوان والورق للتذهيب الإسلامي

Paints, Papers & Brushes for Islamic Illumination

In my two previous tutorials and Persian Illuminations Tutorial  and Turkish Illumination Tutorial Tezhip. I mentioned few of the needed tools for the art of Islamic illumination, but this post will have more details about which brands and places I get my tools and supplies from. 

في الدرسين السابقين مقدمة لفن التذهيب التقليدي الإيراني و التذهيب بالطريقة التركية التقليدية أعطيتكم نبذة عن بعض الأدوات التي أستخدمها وفي هذا المقال سوف أخبركم عن هذه الأدوات بتفصيل أكثر. 

Paper - ورق 

I use watercolour paper (hot press) It's is smoother than the cold press. I stain it with tea and paint a layer of sticky liquid. After it dries, I burnish it with agate or smooth shells. 

أستخدم ورق الألوان المائية الأملس المعروف ب هوت برس لأنه يكون أكثر نعومة. أصبغ الأوراق بشاي و محلول لزج وعندما يجف الورق أقوم بتمليسه أكثر باستخدام مقبض العقيق أو أصداف ملساء. 

Brushes - فرش

I use a lot of different brushes, but like my teacher Farkhondeh Ahmadzadeh, use a long and very fine tip. Rosemary and Co Brushes series 33 are really nice. There also the Da Vinci brushes, but I didn't totally love them. You should experiment with few brands and find the one you love. Natural hair brushes are also recommended as long the animal isn't harmed. 

The brush sizes I use start from 1 or 0 and go down to ten zeros. 

أستخدمت العديد من الفرش المائية المختلفة. القاعدة هي أستخدام فرشاة رفيعة و فيها طول لتحمل الألوان. الفرش اللتي أستخدمها حالياً متوفرة أونلاين. ماركة روزماري رقم ٣٣ من فرشي المفضلة و فرش دي فينشي جيدة أيضاً. الفرش بالشعر الطبيعي أيضاً محبذة إن لم تتم الأساءة للحيوانات. الأفضل تجربة أكثر من فرشاة لتجدي المفضلة لديك. 

مقاسات الفرش المستخدمة تبدأ من ١ و صفر إلى عشرة أصفار لأن العمل دقيق و صغير الحجم.   

brushes for tezhip islamic illumination فرش للتذهيب الإسلامي

Colours - ألوان 

I use Winsor and Newton watercolour and gouache colours. I like trying lots of different brands too, but these are the ones that I travel with mostly. Sometimes, I like to experiment with watercolour pigments, but I am still learning how to make them. 

بالعادة أستخدم ألوان مائية و قواش ماركة وينسر و نيوتن. و تباع في مكتبة جرير في السعودية أو أونلاين على أمازون. أحياناً أشتري الألوان المائية التي تأتي على شكل مساحيق من محل كورناليسنس في لندن و الذي يوصل عالمياً و لكن صنعهم ليس سهلاً لكن نتيجتهم جميلة. أضغطوا على الصورة للدخول على الرابط لشراء الألوان. 

Click on the photo to get a direct link to buy the colours. 

colour pigments ألوان على شكل بودر
ألوان للتذهيب الإسلامي colours for islamic illumination tezhip colors

Gold - ذهب 

I usually use ready made real gold (22 ct to 24 ct), which I got from Karin Sanat in Istanbul. They deliver internationally.  You can also prepare your own gold, but that's a long process that takes two days to be completed. Learn how to make your own gold with this video: 

الذهب الذي أستخدمه هو ذهب حقيقي مطحون و مجهز للتذهيب. يكون بيقراط ٢٢ إلى ٢٤. الذهب الجاهز أقوم بشرائه من تركيا من محل كارين صنعت وفقط يحتاج إلى إضافة قطرات ماء مخلوطة بالجيلاتين بالطبع تستظيعي صنع الذهب من أوراق الذهبية لكنها عملية غير سهلة تستغرق يومين من التجهيز. إن لم يكن لديك الإمكانية لإستخدام الذهب الحقيقي بإمكانك إستخدام لون قواش ذهبي. طريقة عمل الذهب: 

shell gold ذهب للتذهيب tezhip

Relevant Posts: 

What other tools do you use for Tezhip/Islamic illumination? 

ما هي الأدوات الأخرى التي تستخدمونها في فن التذهيب الإسلامي؟ 

Islamic Pattern Inspiration from Granada

Here are some photos of the beautiful Islamic patterns from Alhambra in Spain to spark your imagination and inspire you. If you would like to see more of the Alhambra and read about it in details, please check my travel blog

Islamic Pattern Inspiration from Marrakech

Here are some photos of the beautiful Islamic patterns around Marrakech to spark your imagination and inspire you. If you would like to see more of Marrakech and read about it in details, please check my travel blog

Persian Manuscripts Exhibition in London

With the Persian new year (noruz), my Persian illumination teacher Farkhondeh Ahmadzadeh had her first solo exhibition -Haft Payker- in the Prince's School of Traditional Arts in London. The exhibition's concept is derived from the seven princesses poetry by the Persian poet Nizami. Each princess had a day of the week, a colour, a number, a shape and a planet. Farkhondeh Ahmadzadeh touched on all of that in her work and represented it beautifully. All the pieces were done by hand including the paper and natural colours preparations. To read more about a similar making process check the tutorial I published a while ago after attending a couple of classes with Farkhondeh Ahmadzadeh.    

Inspiration from Christian illuminations in Iran

During my Iran trip, we visited Vank Cathedral, lovely Armenian church in Julfa. it dates back to 1606. I loved the mix of biomorphic & geometric patterns and the icon paintings. The biomorphic patterns in the church were the same as in the mosques. I loved seeing the commonality between the Islamic and the Christian places of worship. 

Why is art important?

Ten Reasons to Learn Art

From the first week of May 2015, I decided to truly dedicate myself to learning more art. I am an interior designer by education and I have been learning art and different skills for a while, but I wanted to learn even more and improve my skills further. I felt the answer to how become an artist is to take intensive classes and surround myself with creative people. Many people admired what I was doing and it made me so happy, but some comments like "It is great what you are doing, but I will never be able to do it" made me slightly sad. I don't think people realise the importance of art sometimes. Everyone should at least give themselves a chance to learn arts. Art is something that could be learnt and practiced. I really encourage you all to start learning art and here are ten reasons to convince you.

Why is art important?

Importance of Art, 10 reasons to learn art

#1 You get to learn something new

Learning never ends. From the second we were born we have been learning and as humans we are always eager to prefect ourselves even if we do not realise it. We owe it ourselves to learn new things and art is the way to go. 

#2 It is a great therapy for your mind and soul

When the creative juices flow from your brain to your hands, big changes will happen and you will suddenly feel content and happy with your being. It is extremely fulfilling.  

#3 Your time will be filled with productivity

I don't know about you, but when I am productive, I love myself even more. Seeing the fruits of my hard work in class just fills me with joy and self appreciation.  

#4 You will be inspired

The more you do art, the more you are inspired by it. It will keep your brain creatively wired. Every time I start doing art my brain swells with even more ideas.   

#5 It is an eye opener

Before I learnt to draw the Islamic illuminations, I had no idea how much work is involved. It really opened my eyes at a new world and gave me a new sense of appreciation to the progress other artists go through 

#6 You will never be bored

The great thing about art is the endless possibilities. Art could be done and used in endless formats. For example, if you learn to paint, you can paint on paper, wood, walls, plates and anything your heart desires. You can use any colours, any shapes and anything really. There is no place for boredom in art and even if you feel bored, you can start all over again! 

#7 You will uncover your hidden powers

When you are making/learning art, you will discover new things that your brain and hands are capable of. It is a journey to self discovery. 

#8 You will be able to understand other cultures

Art does not only exist on its own. It is usually an extension of a culture or a heritage. For instance, some of the ladies I met during my Islamic illumination classes got much more than art on those classes. They learnt about the Persian, Arabian and Turkish cultures. 

#9 You have the perfect excuse to dress in crazy and unusual outfits

Because you are an artist! You can just say "I am an artist" and people will just node their heads in approval. For example, when I take insane amounts of pictures I just tell people "I am a blogger" and I get nods of acceptance. So go ahead, express your style even in your apparel. 

#10 You will make new friends

Some of my really good friends that I can't imagine my life without, were art classmates. I met them there first and we instantly connected on art and now we just get together to do more art and encourage each other. Having artists friends is so much fun, they just see the world differently. Plus, you can also find art friends online and build a network of artists friends on Facebook groups. 

Relevant Posts: 

Over to you: Why do you think learning art is important? 

Islamic Pattern Teachers

Islamic Pattern Teachers

Hello everyone! Since I started practicing traditional Islamic art, I have been getting a lot of questions about resources to learn Traditional Islamic art, so I thought it will be helpful to write a post about the teachers of Islamic patterns I know in the UK and Internationally. 

Traditional Islamic Art Teachers in London, UK:   

  • Art of Islamic Pattern  

    This is a private studio in London run by Richard Henry and Adam Williamson. They were my first teachers of Islamic geometric and biomorphic patterns. They are AMAZING and very generous with their knowledge and skills. I did a couple classes with them in London and I went with them on their international study trips inGranadaFez and Istanbul. Most of my current good friends were their students that I met in their classes. This is more than an art studio. It's a whole community. Highly recommended. 
  • Prince's School of Traditional Arts

    PSTA is where Richard and Adam attended to learn traditional arts. So, it was only right to checkout the source. PSTA open program offers a number of really good courses in various areas such as geometry, arabesque, illumination, gilding, miniature, calligraphy and more. I took five short courses with them that were taught by different teachers and each one was very talented and giving. I received their open program diploma in Traditional Arts last year. I still have few courses in mind that I want to attend. The teachers who taught me there were Tom BreeDr. Lisa DeLongAmber Khokhar and Farkhondeh Ahmadzadeh.  
  • Esra Alhamal (This website's curator and writer)
    Esra has studied with the Art of Islamic Patterns and Prince's School of Traditional Arts (mentioned above). She also did more private training. She usually teaches short workshops and teasers in galleries and universities. Contact Esra if you are interested in hosting a workshop or learning from her.  
  • Ayesha Gamiet

    Ayesha is one of the PSTA graduates and she teaches with them and in her private studio. She has a range of different classes especially for illumination. She is a very talented artist and a wonderful teacher. 
  • Samira Mian

    Samira is a friend of mine with 12 years of teaching experience. Her understanding of geometric pattern comes from her maths expertise. She is super fun and very skilled. She is giving a number of workshops around London.  
  • Eric Broug

    I haven't done any classes personally with Eric, but he is a Facebook sensation. He also gives lots of workshops around the UK, Internationally and online. Not to mention that everyone who is interested in Islamic pattern most probably owns his book. Check his website for a list of his workshops or contact him on Facebook. He is very responsive and active on there. 

Traditional Islamic Art Teachers in Birmingham, UK:   

  • Shaheen Kasmani

    Shaheen is a great artist and teacher. She is a PSTA graduate and she offers workshops on geometric/biomorphic patterns in her studio in Birmingham and around the UK. 

Traditional Islamic Art Teachers in different places in the UK:   

  • Saba Rifat
    I haven't personally taken any classes with Saba, but she is a popular arabesque and geometry teacher in the UK and she has a published book with patterns too. 

Traditional Islamic Art Teachers in Istanbul, Turkey

  • The Istanbul Design Centre  

    I went to Istanbul with the Art of Islamic Pattern and we spent the week in the Istanbul Design Centre. I found out that the centre offer a number of classes. I think mainly in Turkish though. 
  •  Dilara Yarcı Diniz

    When I was in Istanbul, I really wanted to learn the Turkish illumination style, so I asked around until I found Dilara. I did an intensive private week with her. She was so good and she speaks great English. 

Traditional Islamic Art Teachers in Saudi

  • House Of Traditional Arts

    PSTA and Art Jameel have collaborated to bring this training centre to Jeddah. It teaches Islamic patterns and other traditional Arts. Full details and workshops on their website. 
  • Dana Awartani

    Dana is a very talented artists. She graduated from PSTA and she gives workshops and short courses in Jeddah and the gulf. She announces her workshops on her Instagram account. 
  • Maram Al Hidmi

    I only talked to Maram through Instagram, but she seems to be qualified and talented. She gives some workshops in Jeddah with Tasami Creative Lab.    
  • Mojdeh Afsaneh Khalighi

    I saw her on instagram and her tezhip work is beautiful and she gives a number of courses in Riyadh. 

Traditional Islamic Art Teachers in Qatar

  • Katara Cultural Village

    Katara offer a range of art workshops and sometimes they host PSTA or other Islamic pattern artists to give classes. It's worth checking out if you are there. 
  • Aziza Iqbal

    Aziza is a very talented artist living in Qatar. She gives a number of workshops on Islamic geometric patterns there. She announces her workshops on Instagram. 
  • Museum of Islamic Art

    The Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar is the most recognized museum in that area. They give calligraphy and Islamic geometry workshops. I noticed that they website is not up to date with some workshops, so it's good to contact them directly to find out more.   

Traditional Islamic Art Teachers in Kuwait

Traditional Islamic Art Teachers in the UAE

  • Bayt Alqandeel  

    Bay Al Qandeel work with the Art of Islamic Pattern and they offer intensive Islamic pattern courses twice a year in Abu Dhabi. You can either contact them or contact the Art of Islamic Pattern  directly. 

Traditional Islamic Art Teachers in Toronto, Canada: 

  • Unaiza Karim Arts

    She is a PSTA graduate and gives workshops on Islamic illuminations. She was suggested by one of our followers. She seems very accomplished.  

Traditional Islamic Art Teachers in the USA

  • Parvin Sepehr

    Parvin gives workshops on Persian miniature, which is part of the traditional Pre&Post Islamic. She was suggested by one of our followers.   

If all these locations are far from you, then you can keep an eye on these inspiring Instagram accounts and Facebook groups:

By the way, if you know about more teachers and schools that teach Islamic traditional arts then please share in the comments below :)

Islamic Pattern Inspiration from Fez

Islamic Pattern Inspiration from Fez

Here are some photos of the beautiful Islamic patterns around Fez to spark your imagination and inspire you. If you would like to see more of Fez and read about in details, please check my travel blog

Turkish Illumination Tutorial Tezhip التذهيب بالطريقة التركية التقليدية

Turkish Illumination Tutorial

My first time I learnt about Islamic illumination was in the Prince's School of Traditional Arts in London. I learnt Persian illumination and loved it! You can read my full detailed tutorial here. My love for illumination grew and I decided to do another course this time in Istanbul! I was already there for the Art of Islamic Patterns for an Art trip in Istanbul

I was very fortunate to do an intensive illumination course with the very talented Turkish illuminator Dilara Yarci. In the course we focused on the order of making the design and the painting techniques. I really enjoy spreading the knowledge, so the steps and the techniques I learnt are below.

خلال الشهر الماضي تمكنت من الذهاب إلى أسطنبول لحضور ورشة عمل خاصة مع الفنانة التركية المتخصصة بفن التذهيب التركي ديلارا. كان التركيز في ورشة العمل على تنفيذ الرسمة أكثر من طرق التصميم و هذه الخطوات التي تعلمتها و أستخدمتها لإتمام اللزخرفة التركية. أتمنى أن تستفيدوا منها. 

Step 1: Getting the design on the paper الخطوة الأولى: نقل التصميم من ورقة الشفاف إلى الورقة النهائية 

Illuminated Sun Design

We composed a design based on previous practice, but any design could be traced from Turkish illumination books. After having a design on tracing paper in HB, B1 pencil, we flipped the tracing and placed it on our final paper and traced it again. It is a good practice for the lines. I would advice you to use a darker coloured paper because the flowers will be in white later on.

بالتعاون مع الفنانة ديلار صممنا هذه الزخرفة بناءً على خبرة مسبقة و لكن بالامكان أخذ تصميم جاهز من الكتب التركية. رسمت التصميم بالرصاص على ورق شفاف و ثم قلبت الورقة لوضع جهة الرصاص على الورقة النهائية و قمت برسم التصميم مرة أخرى و يعد ذلك تدريب مفيد. أنصح باستخدام ورقة نهائية بلون أغمق من الأبيض لأن لون الورد في التصاميم التقليدية يكون باللون الأبيض غالباً. 

Step 2: Painting the branches and leaves with Gold الخطوة الثانية: تلوين الأغصان و الأوراق بالذهب 

The first painting is always done with gold. You can prepare your own gold from gold leaf or just buy ready made gold. The gold is usually for the branches and the floral motifs. After it is applied, you need to use a burnisher for your gold to shine. 

دائماً في تلوين الزخارف التقليدية نبدأ بالذهب و أنا أستخدم ذهب حقيقي مصنوع من أوراق الذهب و يختلف الوزن من ١٨ إلى ٢٤ قيراط. هناك وصفات منزلية لصنع الذهب لكن بالإمكان شرائه جاهز من محلات التذهيب أو بعض المكتبات في تركيا. في العادة الذهب يُستخدم لتلوين الأغصان و الأوراق. بعد التلوين يجب تلميع الذهب باستخدام أداة تلميع مصنوعة بحربة من العاج

Illuminating a sun
Painting with shell gold

This is a quick video with Dilara on the illumination stage. هذا فيديو على السريع مع ديلارا لمرحلة التذهيب.  

Step 3: Paint the flowers in white gouache الخطوة الثالثة: تلوين الورد و الحدود بالقواش الأبيض

In Turkish traditional design, the flowers are usually painted in white and then shaded in any colour. When you are painting, pay attention to the form and the shape of the flower. It’s important to keep the correct shape you started with. I also did the main outlines with white for this design.

في التصميم التقليدي التركي يكون تلوين الورد بالأبيض لأن التظليل يكون بألوان متعددة. من المهم في هذه المرحلة أن تحافظي على شكل الوردة، في هذا التصميم قمت بعمل التحديد بالأبيض أيضاً. 

Step 4: Shading the flowers الخطوة الرابعة: تظليل الورد

Shading is usually done on the flowers only in the traditional methods, but my teacher, Dilara, likes shading on gold as well. To shade on gold, just use a little of watercolour on the tips, clean your brush and then move the colour slowly to cover the rest of the golden leaf. To shade the flowers, make three shades of the same colour by adding white paint to it. The lightest shade will be the first layer, after it dries paint the medium shade and after that dries paint the final shade of the dark colour. Use the original colour for the centre. 

في الطريقة التركية التقليدية التظليل يكون على الورد فقط و لكن الفنانة ديلارا تظلل على الذهب أيضاً. لتظليل الذهب يجب استخدام ألوان مائية على طرف الورقة المذهبة و من ثم يجب تنظيف الفرشاة ثم تحريك اللون من المركز و توزيعة على الورقة. لتظليل الوردة في الطريقة التقليدية يجب عمل ثلاثة ظِلال من اللون نفسه بإضافة اللون الأبيض للون الأصلي. 

Step 5: Outline the design in black ink الخطوة الخامسة: تحديد التصميم بالحبر الأسود 

After painting on the gold and the white and shading the flowers, outline your design with black ink and a very thin brush. For this design I used five zeros. The lines need to be very fine.

بعد الانتهاء من الذهب و القواش الأبيض و التظليل تأتي أصعب مرحلة و هي التحديد بالحبر الأسود و الفرشاة و لصغر حجم التصميم أستخدمت فرشاة مقاسها خمسة أصفار. و تتم هذي المرحلة بهدوء و تركيز لتحديد الذهب و الحدود البيضاء و الورد المظلل. 

Step 6: Paint the background الخطوة السادسة: تلوين الخلفية 

In most Turkish design, there are empty spaces behind the design and that should be painted to complete the traditional look. You can leave it empty if you like. It will still look charming. The two traditional backgrounds are painted in royal blue and ruby red.

بعد التحديد بالحبر الأسود تأتي المرحلة الأساسية الأخيرة وهي تلوين الخلفيات و بالامكان إستخدام عدة ألوان في هذا التصميم أستخدمت الأزق الملكي و الأحمر الياقوتي. بالامكان جعل الخلفية فارغة أيضاً لكن في  الطريقة التقليدية يتتم تلوين الخلفية. 

Islamic Turkish Illumination - Painting Process

Step 7: adorn with last touches of gold الخطوة السابعة: اللمسات النهائية بالذهب 

If there are few spaces in the background that you would like to fill then you can add few touches of golden dots. 

إن كان هناك فراغات في التصميم بالإمكان إضافة نقاط و لمسات بالذهب فوق الخلفية. 

Relevant Posts: 

Persian Illuminations Tutorial التذهيب التقليدي الإيراني

Persian Illuminations Tutorial

The start of June, I took two classes with the very talented Persian manuscripts and miniatures artist, Farkhondeh Ahmadzadeh at the Prince's School of Traditional Arts in London. I was very lucky to take those classes. I learnt so much and I loved every minute. I highly recommend the teacher and the school. I know many of you have been awaiting this blog post patiently and as I promised here it is with lots of details and photos :D This post will be written in English and Arabic, so all the Arabic underneath is only a translation and not a new information to benefit a bigger amount of people. 

في بداية شهر يونيو حضرت دورة تدريبية عن فن التذهيب التقليدي في مدرسة الأمير للفنون التقليدية في لندن مع المدربة الفنانة فاركوندة أحمدزاده و هذه المقالة فيها طريقة التذهيب من البداية إلى النهاية و أتمنى الاستفادة للجميع. 

Find Islamic Art Schools and Teachers here

Step by Step Islamic Art Tutorial: Persian Illumination

Preparing the Paper - مرحلة تجهيز الورق 

We started the day with dying the paper because leaving it white will make the colours contrast with each other strongly. All the dyes we used were completely natural. The most popular and most convenient choice is tea and it stains better than coffee. We tested other natural dyes as well such as ground nuts, plants and the dry skins of fruits and vegetables. The best way to prepare the natural dye is to boil the chosen ingredients for few minutes until the colour comes out.  We used a brush to paint the paper evenly. A layer of dye is applied then left to dry. I used tea and after it dried I used chestnut dye. After the paper is completely dry, I burnished it with an agate burnisher to smooth the paper. Then the paper needed to be sized, which meant applying another layer of slippery liquid such as hollyhock flowers, cucumber seeds or egg whites. This step fills in the rest of the paper pours and smooth it further. Burnishing have to be repeated after it dries. 

 في الفنون التقليدية عادةً تُصبغ الورقة لأن اللون الأبيض يكون شديد الحدة و يتحارب مع باقي الألوان. الأفضل أن تُستخدم الأصباغ الطبيعية كالشاي و هو أفضل من استخدام القهوة و أيضاً استخدام أنواع الحبوب و الجوز و قشور الفواكه و الخضار المجففة. يتم تحضير الصبغة بغليان النوع المحدد لعدة دقائق. توضع طبقة على الورقة و تكون بتوزيع متساوي بالفرشاة كبيرة الحجم و ثم توضع جانباً لتجف. بعد أن تجف يُستاطع إضافة طبقات أخرى. بعد الأصباغ يجب تلميع الورقة بحجر العاج او اي حجر أملس بتحريكة على الوقة في كل الاتجاهات بشكل متساوي. لتمليس الورقة أكثر نقوم بوضع طبقة لزجة من مغلي وردة الهولي هوك أو حبوب الخيار أو حتى بياض البيض و يجب التلميع مرة أخرى. 

Paper Used: Hot Press Fabriano Artistico 300 GSM - الورق المستخدم: ماركة فبريانو أرتيستكو نوع أملس بِسُمك ٣٠٠ جسم

Staining Paper with tea and other natural colours

Getting the colour from the natural pigments - مرحلة صنع الألوان 

Everything in the class was made by hand including the colours. They were made from natural pigments that came in the form of a powder. I placed two spoons of powdered pigment on glass then added two drops of gum arabic and one drop of water. I kept adding accordingly. Please note that this ratio is not fixed and it changes from one pigment to the other. I used a glass muller to grind the pigment. The secret is listening to the sound of grinding, when it's quiet then it means it's fine enough. The time differs from one colour to the other. To test the colour, a line is painted on the paper. If it dries with cracks then there is too much gum Arabic. Also rub the colour, if any comes off then there is not enough gum arabic to hold it together. When the colour was ready, we transferred it to shells, but it could be transferred to any other container like the second photo below. 

كل شئ في الدورة كان صنع يدوي و من ضمن ذلك الألوان المستخدمة و التي كانت على شكل مسحوق من أحجار و مواد طبيعية. وضعنا ملعقتين من المسحوق على سطح زجاجي ثم أضفنا قطرتين من الصمغ العربي و قطرة من الماء ثم طحنا الخليط بطاحنة زجاجية شبيهة للهاوند. السر لمعرفة نتيجة الطحن هو الاستماع للصوت. عندما يكون الطحن هادئ فهذا دليل أن الطحن كان كامل. قطرات الصمغ و الماء قد تختلف من مسحوق إلى أخر. لمعرفة الكمية الكافية يجب تجربة اللون برسم خط على الورقة و عند جفافه يجب النظر اليه فإن كان هناك تشققات فالصمغ العربي المضاف كثير المقدار و يجب لمسه فإن مُسح اللون فيعني أن الصمغ العربي قليل المقدار و يجب إضافة المزيد. 

Pigments used were bought from Cornelissen - تم شراء الاصباغ المستخدمة من محل كورناليسونز في لندن يوصل عالمياً 

How to make paint from pigments
Making paint from natural pigment

Making the gold - مرحلة صنع الذهب 

We used real 22 ct loose leaf gold to make gold paint. The first photo shows two types of Gold, loose and transfer. The loose is good for painting and the transfer is good to cover a bigger portion of the page because it has the ability to stick after applying garlic. The process of the making the loose gold paint was spread over two days. First off, I placed the loose leaf and added a drop of gum arabic. I used my index finger to mix and grind until the leaf turned to a muddy-like sticky substances. When it dried I added a drop of water and kept grinding until there was no particles left. This process was repeated with every new loose leaf. Afterwards I added filtered/ bottled water and filled 70% of the container I was grinding in (preferably ceramic). Then left it overnight until the gold settled in the bottom then the water was changed two more times by carefully pouring the water out and leaving the gold in the bottoms. After the third wash, the gold is ready to be used to be painted with. 

 استخدمنا ذهب حقيقي ٢٢ قراط و أتى على شكل أوراق مربعة ثم قمنا بطحنها و تحويلها إلى محلول لنستخدمه في التلوين. طريقة الطحن هي التالي: أولاً وضع ورقة الذهب في وعاء سيراميك مُقعر ككوب الشاي مثلاً. ثم إضافة قطرة من الصمغ العربي و الطحن باصبع السبابة إلى أن يتحول الذهب إلى لون طيني و عندما يجف نقوم بإضافة قطرة من الماء المُفلتر إلى أن يطحن جيداً. يجب إعادة الطريقة عند إضافة كل ورقة ذهب. بعد ذلك يضاف ماء مفلتر ليغطي سبعين بالمئة من الكوب و يُترك إلى صباح اليوم التالي أو إلى أن يترسب الذهب في القعر. يتم التخلص من الماء بحذر شديد مع الانتباه للذهب ليظل في القاع ثم يضاف ماء أخر إلى ترسب الذهب و تعاد العملية كرة ثالثة. بعد المرة الثالة يكون الذهب جاهز للاستخدام. 

Note: use filtered or bottled water because it really affects the gold making process. من الأفضل استخدام ماء مُفلتر أو مُعلب لصنع الذهب. 

Gold Leaf Supplier in the UK is Wrights of Lymm Ltd - أوراق الذهب متوفرة لدى ريتس اوف لييم 

Choosing a design and transferring it to the paper - مرحلة اختيار التصميم و نسخهه على الورقة النهائية 

In this class, I chose a ready computer generated design that was taken from a Persian book that belonged to the teacher because the focus was on the techniques rather than the design. I traced the design on a tracing paper with an HB pencil. I then flipped it and tapped it to my final paper. I used the burnisher to transfer the design. 

في هذه الدورة التدريبية كان التركيز على تقنيات التلوين و ليس التصميم لذلك أخترت تصميم جاهز من كتاب قامت المدرسة بإحضاره من إيران. نسخت التصميم على ورق شفاف بقلم رصاص سُمك هاء باء. ثم قلبت ورقة الشفاف و ألصقتها على الورقة النهائية و نقلت التصميم بحك الخطوط بإداة التلميع و بالإمكان استخدام ملعقة طعام و ستقوم بنفس المفعول.  

Persian Islimi design for Islamic illumination

Marking the design with walnut ink - مرحلة التحبير الأولية بحبر خشب الجوز 

After I transferred the pencil marks to the final paper, I painted over it with walnut ink and a super thin brush (double zero) to keep the design in tact so it does not rub off if it stayed in pencil. 

بعد مرحلة نقل التصميم قمت باستخدام حبر خشب الجوز البني و فرشاة نحيفة للغاية مقاس صفرين لاعادة رسم التصميم لكي يظل للأبد. 

Brush Top Tip: make sure it's long with a fine tip. I used double zero. يجب أن تكون قامة الفرشاة رفيعة و طويلة. 

drawing with walnut ink

Painting with gold - مرحلة التلوين بالذهب 

The first colour to be used is ALWAYS gold. I wanted most of my design to be in gold, so that's what I started with and I nearly finished the four leaves I ground earlier. After painting carefully with the gold, I burnished it to shine. 

أول لون يجب التلوين به هو الذهب، ثم يجب التلميع ليقوم الذهب بالتألق و اللمعان. 

Painting with gold and burnishing it

Outlining with black ink - مرحلة التحديد بحبر الخط الأسود

After the gold, it's the outlining with the black ink. It was the hardest part and I spent hours doing it. It's a real challenge. بعد التلوين بالذهب يجب تحديد التصميم بالحبر الأسود و كانت هذه أصعب مرحلة. 

Outlining gold with black ink

Painting the rest of the colours in - مرحلة التلوين 

After the gold and the outlining, the colouring follows. Before I chose my colours I tested few ideas on a copy of the design as you can see in one of the photos above. I chose two colours only because I wanted the design to be consistent and simple. 

بعد التذهيب و التحديد بالحبر نقوم باستخدام الألوان الأخرى. من الأصلح تجربة طريقة توزيع الألوان على نسخة أخرى ثم وضعها على التصميم النهائي. قمت باختيار لونين فقط أنني أردت أن يكون التصميم مترابط و بسيط. 

Painting a Persian Illumination


Final touches - اللمسات النهائية  

Few more additions could be done on the final design. بعد الانتهاء من التصميم بالإمكان إضافة زوائد على الأطرف. 

How to paint an Islamic illumination


Paper preparation, colour making, gold making, designing or choosing a design, transferring and walnut inking, painting with gold and burnishing, outlining with black ink, adding the rest of the colours and finishing it off with any final touches. 

ملخص: مرحلة تجهيز الورق  - مرحلة صنع الألوان  مرحلة صنع الذهب مرحلة اختيار التصميم و نسخهه على الورقة النهائية  مرحلة التحبير الأولية بحبر خشب الجوز  مرحلة التلوين بالذهب مرحلة التحديد بحبر الخط الأسود - مرحلة التلوين - اللمسات النهائية  

All thanks go to the artist Farkhondeh Ahmadzadeh for allowing me to blog about all of the above and sharing it with you all. I know I have included lots of great information, but I would still advice you to attend the classes at the Prince's School of Traditional Arts because you get to learn even more and try your hand at everything before making the investment of buying all the expensive supplies we used above.

Feel free to share your thoughts and methods in the comments below! :D 

Happy Art-ing :D 

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