Dear Ms Badrawi,
My colleagues and I are teachers in a small school on the south coast of Britain. Our topic this term is 'where in the world' and we are focussing on Egypt. As part of our topic we are learning about you as an artist. We have explored your style and technique and the children have used this to create their own images. They came up with the idea of making contact with you as you are an artist that is 'still alive'! This has been a revelation to some of our children.
Would it be possible if you could write a short e-mail that we could read to the children and maybe give them some tips?
Many thanks and the children look forward to hearing from you soon,
Medmerry Primary School
We then exchanged emails and the children asked me questions (listed and answered below). They also sent me these beautiful drawings based on my own paintings!
- Have you always known that you have wanted to be an artist?
No, not really. As a child, I liked to draw and paint to fill my time when I wasn’t doing homework or playing with friends. When I was sick in bed with the flu, we didn’t have electronic games or even much to watch on TV here in Egypt, so I spent a lot of time with colouring books and my sketchbook. When I was about 15, I realized that I could be an artist and that whatever I did as an adult would have to be related to art somehow.
- How do you make your paintings so realistic?
Practice! I spent many long hours staring at whatever was in front of me, looking very carefully at what I saw and trying to make my hand draw what I saw. Being observant is very important for an artist, because that’s how you SEE how things look… how a shadow falls on the ground, how many colour greens actually make up a plant, and how something closer to you must be drawn bigger than what is farther from you even though the object closer to you may actually be physically smaller than the other object! Drawing something realistically means drawing what you see, not what you know.
- How do you create reflections in the water?
Good question! This is one of the hardest things to draw. Again, you have to draw what you see…which takes practice… a reflection should be the same colour as the object being reflected.. In the painting some of you chose to draw, the one of the palm trees and the Nile river, you’ll notice that I used the same green colour of the trees in the water but I used short brush strokes to make it look like water. Then I used a little bit of blue and white from the sky in the same way… and so the combination makes a reflection!
- Have you a particular painting that is really special to you?
This is a very tough question. I don’t think I can choose only one painting - there are many. And the reasons for favourites are usually because they have, in some way, accomplished something I worked hard to achieve. Sometimes it could be that I got that reflection JUST right, or I managed to paint a face to look like the person… painting is always a challenge and when you achieve the goal, the painting becomes special.
- How long does it take you to complete one painting?
I usually take one or two days to complete one painting. I work intensively for several hours at a time (with breaks of course!) until I finish. I don’t like leaving a painting unfinished because I then get bored of it :)
- What different media do you work in?
I mainly paint with oil, but I also draw with charcoal and pastel. Leaning to become an artist I have tried almost every medium, from bronze sculpture to batik, but usually an artist chooses a favourite medium pretty quickly.
- Where do you get your inspiration from?
This is probably the hardest thing for an artist. For me, I have always been inspired by my everyday life in Egypt. The scenery, the architecture, the people. But sometimes inspiration can come from one’s imagination and feelings; the key for me is to continually be observant - to SEE what is around me and try to show it to people in a different, beautiful way.