Thursday, 8th April 2021

Festival of Joy – Sight

Interview with H.E. Sheikha Fatima Mubarak Al-Sabah

1. Can your describe your art journey to date?

I have always loved art and loved going to art exhibitions. I never had a talent for drawing, in fact at the age of 10 I almost failed art class and never took another one. In 2007, I discovered the joys of photography and became very enthusiastic about it and in 2011 and 2013 and 2015 I did a photo a day challenges for myself which were very exciting.

Then after suffering from burnout in early 2018, I decided to take a break and I met an artist by chance who insisted I had an artistic touch even tho I kept explaining that I am not very capable at drawing but I do love colors very much! After our first class I was surprised that I was able to draw an eye quite realistically and by the 3 rd class I was drawing full on portraits, it was shocking! I couldn’t believe my hand was doing all this. After a while my inquisitive mind started working and I started experimenting with different techniques and ways of playing with art including finger painting and then later on even throwing paint and see what happens. I love the flow and the unexpected results and the sense of freedom.

I rented a studio and started just playing and experimenting and posting my videos online and everyone kept saying we want to make a mess with you so that’s when I started Barbis which is my business in which I encourage people to play with paint and enjoy the joys of play. Because after starting to play I realized that we as adults do not actually play, we either compete or we don’t. We have forgotten the joys of just playing and the process. So for me, art is the process, not the result. And the process has to make me happy and has to be enjoyable or else I don’t really benefit. I love the feeling of my brain feeling clear and happy after playing with my art, that’s why I seem to love abstract art and simple shapes because it is more exciting and not exact.

2. How does your life influence your art? And vice versa?

After I realized how fast my art flowed and my artistic talents growing so fast without that much hard work, I realized that’s how I want my life to flow. If I have to spend so much time working on something and the results do not flow and exceed my expectations then I am not interested. When I was running two organizations simultaneously, I used to work very very hard, non stop, no time off but the results were not really showing. I describe it as swimming in mud.. or trying to get through a concrete block.. you work so hard but it is very difficult to make progress. With my art journey, I do work but it’s not hard, the process is enjoyable and the results enjoyable too and the rewards are massively exciting!

3.How can art affect how we feel?
I find art to be a release, I am quite an over thinker and it’s something I enjoy, but when it gets out of hand, art is my way to calm myself and take myself to my happy place. Whenever I feel overwhelmed I go to my studio and just play and somehow I feel much better. I don’t analyze what or why I am feeling, I just play and whatever negativity seems to leave without me making a big deal about it.

4. How has your style or technique evolved?
I started with drawing and being surprised by my skills but then I realized that drawing took up too much time to plan, with finding references and then the disappointment of the drawing not looking like the reference and working hard to be exact felt like work, whereas when I play with just simple shapes and simple techniques I felt much happier because all I did was feel fully engrossed in my process and watch how the paint flowed and admired how the colors sat next to each other. My art is always colorful and bright because I simply adore colors and they make my heart sing. I tried making art that was darker or “more serious” but it never felt like me so I stopped taking commissions for anything that wasn’t what I was making.

5. How do you stay inspired?
Colors inspire me, nature inspires me, especially all the imperfections in nature. I realized from looking at leaves or just watching waves crash or looking at the rocks that although there is a method, nature never has perfect shapes, there are many “mistakes” that realization has really helped me overcome and accept my own imperfections when I make a wrong movement or when the shape in my art isn’t perfect. It really relieved a lot of my stress and I am constantly reaffirming this realization with more observations of nature and it’s beautiful imperfections.

6. What gives you joy?
I find joy in the little moments in life. Watching the waves crashing and the birds flying, watching the sunlight from between the branches of a tree. Seeing my pets excited to see me. Watching colors mix in water or on the canvas. I love all the unexpected moments in life.
I find joy in everything that makes my heart smile, but mostly just looking at colors makes me happy. So I just make sure I surround myself with colors all the time. And I have simple ways of playing with colors that bring me joy.

7. How can we use art every day to find joy?
Simple art is the best art, at least that’s my motto. I have actually come up with what I call watercolor meditation, and it is watching watercolors flow into water and just observing the magical shapes they make. It’s art you can do that is just for you, because you can’t capture it on a paper or canvas and it’s so beautiful to watch.

Other ways I use art daily is through simple doodling, super simple shapes that you repeat. It can be lines, or dots or circles. Any shape that makes you comfortable drawing and just repeating that until you fill up the page. It is so calming. I actually started doodling in April 2020 because we went into lockdown here in Kuwait and it was so calming, I fell in love with the whole concept and now I always have a small notebook and a pen in my handbag for doodling on the go.

Any art that makes your brain calm and sparkle is art that will help you find joy. So always experiment and try and see what you like. We are all different and we are all incredibly intelligent and intuitive, so just go with that flow and you will find joy.