Fadwa Al Qasem
I Am what i art
Confessions. Art Journaling. Art. Writing. Poetry. Play. And everything life in between.
Dear creative souls,
Last week I made a decision to do what I am calling "Three Week Immersion Rotation" program. Basically, I will focus for three hours every day for three weeks on a particular topic of interest to me. Clocking up 63 hours worth of new knowledge every three weeks. My first self-imposed program started on Friday 17 November, and the focus is Art: Major artists who influenced the art scene since the early 1900s.
So I am working my way through this by:
I know I will not get to everyone during this first three week period, but that's why there is the rotation. So I can go back and continue the journey. I need this change because I find it hard to focus on one topic for longer. The reason being I have so many other interest I want to immerse myself in, too.
But, having said that, I seem to have main, big picture topics I keep coming back to. These are: Art, Writing. Music, Dance, Language, Photography, Women's Rights and the question of Identity. There's a whole universe under each one! So I should be quite busy learning till my last breath, I think.
Which is how I like it. I want to live a life of getting better, of enjoying many things. I'm more of a learner than a teacher. I am not a coach. Writing blog posts with headlines such as ten ways to improve your life are not things I can do. Nor do I want to. This is a personal journey which I am sharing with you, it is the way I choose to learn about life - through reading the personal journey of others. It may not be the "idea" way to blog. Much of the advice out there does not really agree with the way I blog. I'm hoping that you, dear creative souls, agree with me and you find value in what I share.
So what are your thoughts on what I share? And do you like the idea of the three-week-immersion-rotation? (It's a mouth-full!)
Fadwa Al Qasem
I Am What I Art
I have no time to waste on immortality, as an author, as an artist, as a mother. What a sad state to say that everything I create, I create for the immortality of my thoughts, ideas, my genes. Truth is, I create to emulate a creator.
Because if I do not create, then who am I?
But I do not want to create in my own image - I'm still learning what my image is. And I do not want to control my creations - how dull that would be. I do not care if these creations speak my name, remember me, thank me, kissing my hand is not something I desire from them. They are free, to outlive me, to perish. I do not stand as an idol nor as a role model.
I create selfishly. To fulfill a need in me, a need to push beyond the confines of my mind.
To see how courageous and how skillful I can be. I can't claim to really know myself. And I'm not sure I should spend my life trying to know me. There is no point, as I seem to be contradictory in many things, despite a handful of core values. I am a complex composite of many things over which I have no control, and a few things over which I do.
I am something but I am nothing. In me there is everything, but without me the world loses nothing. I may change the world of a few but the world is hardly affected by the few things I do. This does not detract from my personal experience, it just humbles it. And it is liberating.
Within the tight folds of this liberation, I may actually end up doing something worthwhile.
Artwork: Pages from my art journal.
Fadwa Al Qasem
I Am What I Art
Just a quick note to let you know I've created a pack of 12, limited editions prints on high-quality paper. And they come beautifully wrapped. Perfect gift for Christmas or anyone who loves art and words. Each face has a story on the back. Here's one story:
On Making A Dent
There's this seemingly desperate trend of wanting to make a dent. Of wanting to be remembered.
But here's the thing, seems to me people who are remembered are remembered for making a valuable contribution of some kind.
Their starting point was their passion for something rather than a passion to be remembered.
Plus, once you're gone, no one can confirm yet if you actually know or feel that you are remembered.
Seems to me we're better off doing things out of love, passion, compassion, and enjoying the fruits of what we create with those we love while we are here.
Being remembered is not really your choice.
It's the choice of others who may see, enjoy, or benefit from your work.
Ultimately they decide.
And this, perhaps, is the ultimate democracy.
Email me for details and to order.
When I was about six or seven years old, my mom got me my first pair of bright red roller skates. They were the kind you strapped over your shoes. Metal base that expands to your size, red leather flaps that you fasten like a belt – one over the toe area and the other holding your heel and ankle. I was in heaven! What an amazing feeling to fly fearlessly without cape or wings. And then, of course, it had to happen. I fell hard on the stone asphalt; skinning my knee so bad I could see the white ooze come out. I still have the scar.
It hurt like hell, and my eyes burned with tears. But, without anyone telling me to, I got up and skated back home. I didn’t take off my skates and walk back home. I kept them on, blood and puss and tears dripping, and I skated back home.
I have been falling ever since. Falling as I skated (I got inline skates much later as an adult). Falling off my bike. The balcony. A few trees. Tripping over mistakes I did in love, marriage, parenting, friendships and at work. In short, everything life. Collecting scars on top of scars. Most of the time I was scared, things hurt, and I cried a little too easily.
When I had the cataract operation last week, the nurse put a bright yellow plastic bracelet on my left wrist. It said FALL RISK.
Although I was not dying, my whole life flashed before me.
My whole life, everyone’s whole life, is just that. FALL RISK. The nurse said this was just to let others know I may need their support going to the bathroom, for example. I was thinking I have needed the support of others for a lot more than that. I was thinking without the support of so many people who love, like, and care for me - or those with compassion – I would have fallen a thousand times more, and hurt a thousand times longer.
There’s a FALL RISK in every step, every thought, every breath. We pride ourselves on doing things alone; but do we really do everything alone? It’s true, our lives are journeys we go through ourselves, and no one is ever exactly in your shoes. But it’s not about others being ‘exactly’ in your shoes. It’s about people walking next to you. Sitting with you. Listening to you. Crying and smiling and laughing with you. Caressing your forehead – like my anesthesiologist did as I drifted into sleep (you can see her in the sketch above).
We are not mountains. Even mountains crumble. The worst is we mistake care and love for pity. Our pride so overpowering we are willing to stay bleeding on the floor than accept a hand reaching out to us.
We are unnecessary too hard on ourselves, believing this hardness to be our inner strength.
In end, after my life finished flashing before me, and just before I fell asleep (pun intended), I thought: wow, I’m going to create a line of very cool, unisex, bright bracelets that say FALL RISK.
I Am What I Art
While the paint is wet, if you are using acrylics, make patterns with your fingers, opposite end of your brush, a tooth brush, mascara brush, nail, feather, card, coin, husband, dog paw, anything else you close at hand. :-)
Your art journal is your personal, private wall of freedom. Your place to say whatever you want, to make the mess you feel like making, to lose control, to take control. Don't over think it. Glue something down, you can always cover it if you change your mind. Or fill the pages with a rant or vent or bitch about something, and then cover it all with collage and paint.
You can show it to others or not.
Play! Always play.
Sometime in the mid nineties, when I was living in Toronto, Canada, I walked into a supermarket and found a packet on the shelf that said “Instant Middle Eastern Tabouleh.” Feeling a little homesick and short on time, I picked it up and went home. When I opened it, all I found inside was the dried cracked wheat. I took the packet out of the bin thinking I should read the instructions: “Just add water. For a more authentic taste, add chopped parsley, chopped tomatoes, chopped onions, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.”
And there you have it, I thought, the ultimate analogy for life! I wish I’d kept the packet.
Why didn’t I read the instructions before I bought it? I knew better! I’ve made tabouleh loads of times before moving to Toronto. The only explanation I had was I had succumbed to the lure of instant gratification. Feeling I was always short on time, and shortcuts were the only solution. And water, after all, was the driving force behind all forms of life.
But, for all the beauty and power of water, it’s not enough. Even if that water were sweat, you’d be getting closer, but it’s still not enough. What you needed to make my life feel like a life (of course, assuming basic needs are met) was time. And spices.
Life doesn't unfold like WhatsApp and email. Just add water is a euphemism for our impatience, unwillingness to put in the time, do the work, and seek out just the right ingredients.
Yesterday I was watching a B-movie about a woman who was miraculously transported from 1946 to 2016 through the power of a comet that only appears every 70 years - I know, but bear with me a little longer. The reason this happened? So she can see the impact of the things she did and said all those years ago.
Cheesy, but it got me thinking. We say we want to help others, but blah blah blah. Because if we are looking for likes, shares, comments, compliments.. then what we are really looking for is instant gratification. For ourselves. And it does feel gratifying. For an instant.
But life? And all things truly meaningful? They need to be soaked in painstakingly selected spices, and marinated in persistence and care. And we need to wait. And we need to not wait as we wait. And we need to go out, do it all again, and marinate, so that everyone who takes a bite - including ourselves - has their life taste buds explode in delight.
I Am What I Art
Fadwa Al Qasem
Email me if you are interested in purchasing my art.
(c) Copyright Fadwa Al Qasem 2015