My name is Sahar, which means Dawn in Persian. I come from Iran and live in Sweden now for almost … poofff! it has been almost 10 years?! Time flies. As a child, I was always doodling on the pages of my notebooks during classes. Maths, Chemistry or Biology, they were all full of sketches and comics about stories I used to share with my classmates. Even now, their excited eyes are the best audience I’ve ever had.
Growing up, I never took art seriously. After all who does? I got myself busy with real stuff! I made myself study Mathematics following Computer Engineering in University. I moved to Sweden to continue my education towards a Master degree in the field of Distributed Systems of … nope! It doesn’t relate to this story whatsoever!
Soon after my graduation, I started my job as a computer engineer. Everything was new and I was struggling to fit in, to act professional and be a normal employee. Almost a year passed and I was practically blended in with others. My job became routine to me and I could put my guards down a little bit. That’s when I noticed…bang!… after 10 years, I’m doodling again in the meetings.
Thanks to endless rebukes of my old teachers at school, I had already mastered the art of multitasking, listening and drawing at the same time. Sketching with a pen in my hand was like a restless leg syndrome to others. Of course, way less irritating!
I think that was when my sleeping dreams started to waken up, I bought myself a set of watercolour for the first time in my life and then, voilà, painting became the best part of my days.
At the beginning, I did it just for the fun of the process. I didn’t care much for the results. It was more like meditation for me, washing the stress of the day away. I almost even came up with a new style of mixing watercolours with detailed line drawings which I call Watercolour Zentangle. Then as I got more comfortable, I dared myself to try out new things. I still do, Acrylics, Alcohol Inks, and gouache. I think we are so blessed with the connected digital world around us. Now learning any new technique is only one click away. Thanks GO…ogle! The rest is only practice.
On average, I paint 1 to 2 hours everyday. I come from work, shed the day off, and start.
My main style of watercolour is very controlled, precise and with lots of embellishments. It helps me to turn off all the buzzings in my head when focusing full engine on the painting. I usually start with a sketch, paint the main layout with watercolours, and then, layer by layer, I add details.
Second layer is similar to line drawing, when I add outlines to my work with black micron pens. I have them in different sizes to get the result I want. Any brand will work as long as it’s waterproof. Finishing this layer, I start to add small decorations with my gel pens here and there, sometimes I even use watercolour brush pens to add the final details if I need full control of the paint.
I have used many different brands but my all time budget-friendly favourite watercolour set has been Gansai Tambi. This Japanese brand has the most vibrant, shiniest and strongest colours. And on top of that, whenever I want to indulge myself, I buy some tubes of Daniel Smith watercolour. Some girls like diamonds, some just love paint tubes!
My set of Gel pens are from Sakura. When I want to add details or make something pop in a finished piece, they are my go-to magic wand. Besides my white gel pen, I especially love my bleed proof white ink from Dr. Ph. Martin. It has saved me a lot of times, acting as a mistake eraser. My set of watercolour brush pens are also from Sakura. What can I say? Japanese have it all when it comes to watercolour!
But recently, my preferences are changing. I have started practising with alcohol inks. I’m trying to loosen up and let go and only wait and watch the ink do its magic. One thing that really helped me was taking Karen Ruane Alcohol Inks eCourse. I use Tim Holtz alcohol inks and Yupo Paper! That’s basically it!
I love animations. They always inspire me to come up with an idea for a painting. Who can watch Miyazaki’s work and not be inspired? Watching the the pictures, I feel something, a connection, a mood that touches me, it will be the trigger point of a new painting. Colour palette and composition will come later. Usually when I start a painting, I have no idea of what the finished result will look like. I start, try to enjoy the process and let it take me with it.
Maybe that’s why I like to work on a few pieces at a time. When I feel blocked in one piece, I move to another one and return to the first only when the sparks of inspiration are back!
It has been a couple of years now since my art renaissance happened, and I can’t believe how addicted I am to my one-desk studio now. I’ve always wanted to be an artist, but for some reason it’s still the hardest thing to define myself as one. At best I can say, I’m an engineer by day and an artist by night.
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“Dreams never die, they just go dormant!”
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!