Linah Sofi talks about the Blues Of Life…

1) Are you enjoying “The Blues” in your life and how do they affect your art?

“The Blues” are a collection of Art I created in a span of 4 years. I started the project to reflect the longing I felt for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Since I moved to the U.S., I have realized that the Saudi Arabian Muslim woman in me will always be attached to Jeddah, its sea, and its culture. So they mostly express the melancholy (blues) and the Red Sea of Jeddah at the same time. I participated in two art showcases in San Francisco so far; Impact by Raw Artists in April 2019, and Chocolate & Art in December 2019.

2)How is life as an artist in a crowded city and can you tell us something about the art scene in California?

It is not easy to be an artist in a city of Artists, that’s San Francisco in a nutshell. It’s definitely challenging and motivating at the same time. The city is famous for its unique diverse art scene. Every day there’s an art gallery happening or an art festival/event taking place. Free street artists exist at every corner. Murals are world famous, like the ones that exist in the Mission district, for example, expressing the struggles of immigrants. At the same time, the aesthetic atmosphere inspires artists, so we’re rarely out of ideas. We feed on each others’ imagination.

3) Is Islamic Illumination your favorite form of art, and how it connects to you?

Yes! It has become my favorite since I discovered it last year. I am still learning a lot in that area, and hoping to continue learning. The reason I found Islamic Illumination and Geometry very intriguing is that it connects with the Muslim person I am. I take pride in the fact that I come from Saudi Arabia, and am a practicing Muslim. However, living in the U.S. and communicating in only English most of the time sent shivers down my spine when I realized I might lose my identity. Driven by fear, I have changed a lot of my daily habits to enforce the Muslim / Arab identity, and one way to do so was to start learning the Arts of my people. After all, what’s better in the world than spreading culture through art? 

4) You have also made some amazing abstracts, what do you want to express?

Mostly myself. Abstract expresses the person I am. I am not very detail oriented. I look at the big picture. I want the gist of stories. I need results, I don’t care about the ways. Something I am struggling with in Islamic Illumination and Geometry since they’re all about the details and precision. They’re teaching me patience, and training my eyes for details, which again I think is part of the Muslim teachings; patience has always been a highly rewarded virtue in the Quran. 

5) How does it feel to be a Saudi woman and an artist?

I feel privileged. Especially in the U.S. where most people are intrigued by the different cultures and art that I bring to the table. People are interested in knowing more about my country and want to be part of the women empowerment movement happening in Saudi Arabia. 

6) What techniques and tools do you use for your artwork?

For my Blues & abstract painting, I use acrylics and a range of techniques. I kind of decide on the technique while I paint in the spur of the moment. I sometimes underpaint with burnt umber especially if I am knife-scratching the paint later on to add details. I also build up texture which works best with acrylic because it’s fast drying. For Islamic Illumination I am using Gouache. They’re perfect for giving an opaque effect. 

7) What is your best advice to beginner artists around the world?

Don’t let the abundance and generosity of resources and information found online and in books to overwhelm you. I went through a frustrating phase where I didn’t know where to start and what to start with. I thought there was a universal designated start point where all artists start from. That’s not the case. You can choose your own starting point and go on from there. Keep in mind that there will always be more resources that you’ll never have the time to cover, it’s okay. After all, we will never acquire all our knowledge. Art is an ocean of knowledge and information. —
Linah Sofi


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