Where to find Islamic Patterns to paint?

Where to find Islamic Patterns to paint?

Although I have addressed this questions previously on DMs, in person chats and email. I am dedicating a whole post to this. So let me tell you all about where to find Islamic patterns to paint and I will be focusing on biomorphic/vegetal/arabesque patterns that are used within Islamic illumination. The type of art I teach and paint.

Geometric patterns are different however and although you can find templates for them, I would recommend doing the construction yourself with a compass, but that’s another topic!

Please note, you should not “borrow” or “use” other living artists work. First that’s just disrespectful and second they all have copy right and it just causes unnecessary friction!

Finding patterns to paint is not difficult, but it might have not crossed your mind. This post will give you four ideas on how to find pattern resources that will get you painting!

Painting process of patterns following the traditional way of Islamic illumination is on my online course!! It’s closing end of June.


Pattern Books

The best resource for painting patterns is the pattern books that can be found in Turkey and Iran. They are just amazing with ready templates to follow and get inspired from. I have a list of Persian books that I bought when I started learning about this art form and I still frequently use them for practice pieces.

Persian Illumination Books

The only problem is that these books are difficult to find in the Western world mainly because of sanctions on Iran and taxes on shipping things from Turkey. If you happen to visit those countries in person, make sure to visit their bookstores (don’t ask me which bookstores, you would have to research that yourself).

Mosques, Gardens and Palaces

All the books and resources today that we have of patterns are documenting the real life patterns that are found in the interior and the facade of mosques, gardens and palaces of the Islamic lands from the 7th to 18th century. If you are in any Muslim country, make sure to visit historic sites and you will get an eye-full of gorgeous patterns that will inspire you for years! The trick is to take flat pictures and good close-up images of the panels and the walls to be able to trace those patterns and paint them! It’s not even fancy or difficult. Take a photo, print that photo, trace the pattern from the photo, transfer it into a paper and PAINT IT!

Painting process of patterns following the traditional way of Islamic illumination is on my online course!! It’s closing end of June.

Museums and Galleries

As I just said, you cannot use a current artist’s work, but you can use OLD work from masters that have their work displayed in Museums and galleries. For example, if you happen to find yourself in London, you can go to the Victoria and Albert Museum to see really old carpets, rugs, plates, tiles and manuscripts, where you can photograph all the work and take that to your advantage. For my March Golden Flower challenge, I did this exact thing, where I went to the V&A and photographed the flowers and painted them!

Digital Libraries

Have you been on the Digital British Library website? It is a treat and you have to get on it NOW! They have a good collection of Persian manuscripts, where you can flip the pages as you would a real one and the added benefit is that you can zoom right in to see all the beautiful details, which will help you see and learn the techniques of Islamic manuscripts such as the beautiful Shāhnāmah, by Firdawsī from late 15th century.

“Persian manuscripts are being digitised with the support of the Iran Heritage Foundation, Bahari Foundation, Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute, Friends of the British Library, Soudavar Memorial Foundation and Barakat Trust.”

Digitised Manuscripts

There are a few Arabic ones too, but the ones on there are not very detailed. It’s worth looking at the options they offer.

Digitised Manuscripts

I hope that at least answered your question and will get you going in terms of painting patterns until you start designing your own! Please don’t send me emails asking me where else you can find patterns. These are the resources I personally use and are shared for your benefit for free on here. Sometimes you have to do a little bit of work too!

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