Saturday, 31 December 2011

On The Hill Of The New Year

I watched the Giza Pyramids silhouette sink below the horizon slowly while carving my way through the city traffics, heading south towards my Faiyum oasis. 

I cruised down the pleasurable lush green surrounding, passing by herds of goats gaily trotting across the road 

breathing in an enchanting palette of colors made of variegated hues of green, yellow and brown 

while Lake Qarun, stretching across prolongs the illusion. 

Until I reached the far end of Qarun Lake at the limits of the desert gate and upon seeing the light colored domes, the olive groves atop a familier hill facing the lake, that's when I felt my heart skipping with joy and I was overwhlmed by a great since of belonging, I was back to a place I call home, I was back to Tunis Village. 

Twenty five years ago, Tunis Village was a remote farming settlement like many others in the Faiyum oasis. Now it is home to a growing colony of potters, writers, artists and intellectuals from Cairo and elsewhere. And it all started when The Swiss artist Evelyne Poret fell in love with this land and was among the first to 
settle in this hill top village and founded the Tunis Pottery School. 

Since then the reputation of Tunis village as the “pottery village” has spread. 

the pottery of Tunis village is mostly decorated with something that looks like naive art, depicting the things the artists see in their daily life. 

Standing on the hill top gazing at the vast lake, observing the rolling of the last day of an eventful year, while dipping my toes into the warm sands, in my mind's eyes I'm expanding my roots into the soil of this land affirming my place among  families of palm trees. I smell the damp earth aroma carried by the high wind and I'm reminded of the first time I sat  foot in this land and how it had changed my life and taught me and still teaching me so much, I'm forever grateful and thankful to this land. 
I stand with the amber pup looking forward with joy to the start of a new year and new adventures in our lives. And before we hide behind the wild reeds, We both hope you had a joyous Christmas and we wish you a happy healthy new year filled with magic, adventures and many good deeds.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

The Garlands Of Autumn

His eyes have looked at me through my quick passed Autumn.

 Now our days are shorter, nights are longer and the skies are covered with the cloudy cloak of winter. 

I remember seven years ago, when I first laid eyes on a certain amber joyful trickster, he seemed to have stepped out a fairy tale book and rooted himself into my nook, with  mischievous grin he won my heart and changed the flavor of my life.
Looking upon this furry soul while resting his head right on my lab as I weave these lines for you, he's sinking deep in dreams of bird chasing, trail sniffing, bones chewing and many wanders to come. I can't discribe in words how deeply his presence have affected me and I'm joyfully grinning and thankful for much love and happiness he brought into my every day.

In keeping my promise to my amber companion I share with you my work of late inspired by his autumn garland covered coat.

Through dried leaves wounding his way  back home after his morning wanders, with muddy paws and coat covered with wonders

 leafs & twigs, birds & bugs, snails & mushrooms, flowers & feathers
 and many delights of autumn tales tangled into his wild amber hair..

If you take a closer look you'll see.. a bird standing on a branch of  a tree. 
to that bird there is a tale,  it starts with once upon a messing tail...

I met that lonley gray feathered minstrel of spring, his flock departed beyond the sea like all megrants birds do, but he couldn't follow without his lost long wing tail.. in gray to  grayish plumage he stood out amongst the green of the park behind my house.. singing, announcing his presence proclaming his territory.... every morning I was joyed to hear his distinctive melody of day break that carried in the freshnies breeze of our morning wanders as he followed us from tree to tree..

until next spring when he had found a partner, despite her long wing tale she decided to stay, to share a nest to share with him a branch of  a tree..

four eggs she laid, and the tree where one lonesome shrike stood, was soon covered with 6 healthy singing shrikes, celebrating their new wings among the rustling golden leafs of autumn.
Until one morning I didn't hear their songs of my past year, I searched every park and I looked at every tree, the wild gray feather songsters left without a trace.. and all they left behind is a one signle feather covered with dew.. and a warm memory of  a song that still echos within my heart too. 

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Little Morran

As many of you know, I made a sketch of a pup name Morran for Camilla Engman's The Morran Book Project.

While working on my own contribution, I got to know Morran through the eyes of Camilla while browsing through the photos of her little pup and I started to feel acquainted with Morran while working on her inpsired sketch that I was overwhelmed with sadness upon Camilla's sad announcment of Morran's departure.

Despite the grief, the book project was completed and there were too many contributions for this project that Camilla decided to make two books, one of which includes the jurry's selection of 77 sketch and illustration and the second will include all the 236 contributions. I was honored to have my sketch of little Morran included in both books.
You can browse through the book pages here, and you can purchase the book here.
Also worthy of mentioning that all the book's profit will go to WSPA - World Society for the Protection of Animals - Sweden (WSPA international).
Terri Windling also listed my sketch along with information about the project on her Friday Recommendation post.

This is the first time to have a mention of my work and the first time to have my work published, it sure is exciting and I'm grateful and thankful to Terri, Camilla....

And to you too Morran!

Magic For Terri

I should have posted this earlier alas I just knew about it early this morning myself, and it's still not too late!
The admired editor, artist and writer Terri Windling who has been a great inspiration to me and to many others, lately has been struggling with a seriouse financial crisis due to helath and legal difficulties. Her circle of friends and mystic artists around the world started a fundraising auction to assit her, the auction includes arts, books, collectibles, music and many more delights from the fantasy realm artists and community. Please go here and support by bidding or spreading the word. The bid will end of on December 15 night at 5pm pacific Standard Time.
Terri is surly well deserving of our support.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The Graceful Visitor

Once upon an early morning doodle of egret, palm & blue lotus...

lurking right outside my balcony..

none but the graceful white egret.
In this isolated part of Cairo, he brought nostalgic memories of the land of water falls and ever turning water wheels, my beloved Faiyum oasis.
Every morning this beautiful creature, exhibit grace with it's noble stature, roaming through the lush greenery of my village....
now he's far away from home.. and so am I

In Africa, the Heron was thought to communicate with the gods. In ancient Egypt, the Heron was honored as the creator of light, nowadays we call it "Abu Qerdan", which means “father of ticks", a name derived from the huge number of parasites such as avian ticks found in its breeding colonies!

The White egret has been conquering my dreams and thoughts of Autumn.
It all started when I was approached to design a logo for Doris Frei, the patron of Little Swiss Oasis, a lovely tiny hotel atop the hill of Tunis Village.

such an exciting comession I must say and Doris has been
the perfect client any artist could ever wish for, she gave me the ultimate freedome to be able to create genuinly with out any interferance.

I found inspiration in the beauty of the egret while he transcend into my sketch book without a plan.. there he is... the majestic egret with his graceful stature with a grape vine leaf-one of the crops my oasis is famous for- entwined into his feet.

Doris was pleased and my work is complete.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Painted Gate Way

Smiling cyclopes on cement tiles...

Blue Star, palm tree, mushroom & flowers..

Bicycle, cherries, smiling faces & loving words to beloved mother..

Some mysterious young artist painted my morning with colorful chalk of yesterday and warmed up the path to my garden's gateway.

Saturday, 29 October 2011


Laying on a bed of dandelion, concertina player in the full moon

Morran is the tiny companion of artist Camilla Engman, and this was my
submission for her upcoming project "Book Full Of Morran", I sure hope my work will get Morran's tail wagging!

Meanwhile I can feel the piercing looks of my amber pup, so I made

a promise that my next sketch is going to be of my own mischievous, grinning companion.

Monday, 17 October 2011

First Red Of The Season!

From palm...

To Palm...

to a memory of an old trick from once upon my childhood..grandpa says: eat date skin, keep the perianth attached to the seed...

right in your hand, a hermit will stand, with a big old hat and a secret revealed.. and that was grandpa's magic treat!

Friday, 9 September 2011

The Lantern & Colors!

Tucked away in an alley in one of Cairo's oldest quarters, craftsmen weld small metal pieces that will come together to form a traditional lantern. Ramadan lanterns, known as 'fanous' (singular) or 'fawanees' (plural), light Cairo nights in celebration of the holy month of Ramadan.

The traditional fanous are shaped from tin, wire rings and coloured glass, and lit by a candle. Plastic battery-operated versions are available these days, but they lack the charm of the original.

In Ramadan Egyptians turn to lanterns, Fanous is a time-honoured accompaniment of the holy month. As a symbol, the Fanous is somewhat similar to a christmas tree or menorah. It is hung on balconies during Ramadan and takes the center of dinner tables when families gather to break fast together. The history of Fanous in Egypt streches back to Fatimid era, which ruled large swaths of the muslim world starting the 10th century. Actually there are many different stories about the origins of the fanous. The most interesting story dates from the reign of the Fatimid Caliph, Al-Hakim Bi-Amr Allah. Apparently women were only allowed to go outside their homes during Ramadan, and they were preceded by a little boy carrying a copper lantern so that men in the streets would move away. But even after the laws were relaxed, people liked the lanterns so much that their children would carry them in the streets every Ramadan. Since then, fanous has always been an integral part of Ramadan in Egypt. However, the most probable origins of fanous were described by Al-Maqrizi. He traces it back to the Coptic Christians who celebrated Christmas by decorating the streets of ancient Egypt with colorful candles. The tradition of celebrating with lights goes back even further to the torches used by the Ancient Egyptians, which was continued by the Copts using candles, and endures today with Fanous Ramadan.

Nowadays children still take to the streets in Ramadan nights carrying their candle-lit lanterns and singing the famous rhyme, “wahawi ya wahawi iyyaha,” which some researcher believe is an old pharaonic song to the moon deity. In one version of the song, the children say, “if it were not for Ramadan, we wouldn’t have come, or bothered to get our feet tired, o merciful God.” In another version, they say, “the sultan’s daughter... iyyaha, is wearing a caftan... iyyaha, with tussels... iyyaha, let’s go get it... iyyaha.”

My work here is a tribute to the holly month of Ramadan and also to Adly Rizkallah, a writer and painter whose work I have long admired since childhood. I was starry-eyed to meet him and his work in flesh couple of years ago before his departure from our world. I was humbled to have him admire my work and this memory of our encounter, even though brief effected me deeply, and his words of encouragment still echo in my ears every time I hold a pencil and set to work.

(Hussam Elsherif, I see my youth in you, I wish you success. Adly Rizallah)

I was inspired by one of his books that I deeply enjoyed, the book is called "The Lantern & Colors" and it speaks of Ramadan's flying lantern and it's three guardians that roam the skies in search of someone worthy of the colorful, musical and magical lantern. It struck me that this was the only fantasy book dedicated to children that speaks of the spirit of the Holy month of Ramadan!

I thought that since the book of which my inspiration came from is called "the lantern & colors" It's only appropriate to color my sketch. Coloring is far away from my comfort zone, unlike working with pencils, once you add colors there is no going back. but I guess in order to learn we have to travel beyond our comfort zone and experince new alternatives and realities which in turn could change the way we comprehand the world around us.
I've tried experimenting with colors on a draft of this sketch but I wasn't satisfied with the result, I think there are many details which makes it difficult for a first step with colors, so I decided that I need more time to experiment with colors, get equanted and hear their voice...
So here they are.. the three lantern guardians...

riding the glowing orb that flies, soaring high through the skies
They play their instruments, they sing it loudly
those ancient rhymes of "wahawi ya wahawi"

With the beginning of September we said goodbye to Ramadan, after a month of daily fasting it is a joy of all Muslims to celebrate the three days long "Eid Al Fitr" that translates as the breakfast feast. People went out with family and friends, and it's tradition to buy new clothes and then to show them off of course.

And every where there was colors colors colors!