Arabesque: Drawing Biomorphic Designs (2-Session Series)

**This series started on January 23rd. You can still register and we'll send you recordings of the last session to catch up.

Live from Amman, Jordan

Join us as we journey to Amman, Jordan to explore a new facet of traditional Islamic design, taking a deep dive into beautiful Ottoman Arabesque patterns with guest VAWAA artist Ruba. Taking inspiration from natural forms (usually local plant life), these biomorphic patterns are found in manuscripts, armoire, textiles, and tiles across the Islamic World and inspired artists, poets and designers ever since time began.

This series will take place over two Saturdays, January 23, 11am-1pm EST and January 30, 11am-1pm EST. We'll learn how to draw motifs (half stylized) that are inspired by nature and found in Ottoman architecture to create biomorphic patterns using geometry as a construction. Then we'll learn how to paint using negative technique (a traditional Ottoman painting style).  

With plenty of time for feedback, questions and discussion, these sessions will take you on a quest through centuries of artistic wisdom, and are sure to be the kick start you need for 2021.

If you are not in EST time zone, be sure to convert the time.

What to expect

Session 1: 

  • Construct the base geometry of the pattern
  • Extend the pattern with curves based on natural patterns: taking inspiration from waves, flowers, shells, butterflies and more!

Session 2:

  • Learn the "negative" technique of Ottoman painting, which highlights the blank space between shapes
  • Adorn your design with color and form 

What you'll need

  • A compass 
  • A ruler
  • Paper size A4/ A3 
  • Drawing pencils 
  • Tracing paper
  • Zero Eraser/ eraser
  • Optional – Coloured pencils
  • Optional – Fine line drawing pens 
  • Paint (gouache)
  • Brushes (one small brush and a larger brush)
  • Cup for water (to use during painting)
  • Palette
  • Heavy paper for painting

How to join

We'll be hosting this VAWAA Online on Zoom. You'll receive link and details to join via email a few hours before it begins.

About Ruba

Ruba is a Jordanian visual artist focused on biomorphic design, traditional Islamic art, and architecture. Growing up in an artistic household with an artist mother and father who was a talented Islamic vocalist, she crystallized her interest in traditional Islamic arts at an early age. Ruba studied traditional Islamic art and teaches biomorphic design, freehand drawing, and geometry at the Islamic art and Architecture Institute in Jordan. She has honed her skills learning from masters from several countries, including Turkey, England, India, Morocco and Egypt. She also works on miniature paintings, mosaics, illumination and abstract paintings with watercolor. 

Sessions are ticketed to support artists, makers and our small team. If you’re experiencing financial hardship, please do reach out. We may have a generous participant who has paid it forward. We would ask that you pay the love forward by sharing online sessions with friends.