Pollinator Paradise

I get a bit of cute aggression when I see fuzzy bumblebees in my garden, especially when they fall asleep in a trumpet flower with their chonky behinds covered in pollen sticking out of the flower. They are the cutest garden visitors ever. I have dedicated several art pieces to these adorable muses and their plight, including three at art battle, which I am happy to say went to new homes. Thank you to all the amazing collectors and buyers who support me! A portion of all sales and paint events are donated to charity.

As you can imagine I was completely over the moon when I was awarded a neighbourhood impact grant this year, by the Mississauga Arts Council, to paint a public mural dedicated to pollinators, featuring my favourite flying floof, the bumblebee. Not going to lie, writing a grant is a huge pain, but it was worth it. I also found out that strangely enough even when you offer organizations a free mural, they seem to hibernate/go on vacation/disappear from the face of the earth/not want to email you back in time.  Luckily I was finally able to nab one organization that was not only responsive but just as excited as I was with the possibility of bringing this mural to Mississauga. A huge thank you to the Parks, Forestry and Environment Division of the City of Mississauga! You guys are honestly the best!

It was so satisfying to paint large scale, although very physically exhausting, I feel blessed to have been working at a project where I couldn’t wait for the next day to get back to work. Fringe benefit: it was an incredible workout, everything hurt, but #lifeisshortsoimcramming ! The wall was actually rocky so painting detail was such a challenge, getting fine lines to work on such an uneven surface was extremely time-consuming. Another huge shout out to Parks and Forestry, especially Anna Ferguson, who prepared the wall with three coats of primer! That wall just sucked up three coats!

Another huge shout out to the weather for being pretty cooperative most days I was out painting. It was such an amazing experience, bringing art to the community is always a joy, thank you to the Mississauga Arts Council for supporting artists to do what they love to do. You can visit the mural, Pollinator Paradise, at the Mississauga Valley Park. Fingers crossed for more public murals to beautify Mississauga!


Tip of the Iceberg

Turquoise Spray. 10 X 14 Acrylic.

As I sit here trying to write this blog, I’d just like you to know I have wasted quite a bit of time procrastinating and I really should be cooking dinner right now. And that is basically the theme of this post. We only see the tip of the iceberg. You will only read the blog and hopefully like it, not knowing that I am sitting here in the most unflattering sweat pants and a worn-out shirt that I didn’t bother to change out of this morning because if I am at home, then I believe in spending the day in my PJs. I am not sitting at some aesthetically pleasing desk on a fancy laptop. I am sprawled on my little sofa covered in sesame seed brittle crumbs and surrounded by their wrappers. I am also talking to my cat because he agrees with most of what I have to say and contrary to popular belief cats really are non-judgmental.  The point is, that stuff you see posted on Social Media is just the nice stuff. The painting I sold, the mural I completed, the workshop I conducted. The smile on my face. But I like being honest, and that is not even half of the story. The truth is I have dozens of rejection letters for every project I did get, and poured blood, sweat, and tears into every painting I made-not all of them sell. As an introvert, I have had to battle with myself to overcome my dread of talking to people even if I know them, I never know what to say, I never quite fit it. I’m blunt and don’t have the tact of a politician, so I will say something that maybe I shouldn’t have-and often do.  Don’t even get me started on how hard it is to introduce myself to new people. But I do all this and eventually, over time, it pays off. But it doesn’t happen overnight, no one hands it to you on a silver platter. You have to put it in the time, effort, have thick skin, fall, get up and dust yourself off, wipe your tears, suppress your ego, your anger, your frustration. You have to suck it up.

I felt the need to say all this because I have been getting questions from many artists just starting out. The answer to many of your questions is above. There is no overnight magic. The tip of the iceberg is what you see on social media, the truth is there are tonnes of ice below the surface that I built up over the past years to get that little bit above the water. I have practiced, I have pursued learning, I have done endless amounts of research and reading. I have put in ridiculous amounts of time looking for opportunities and spent equal amounts of time writing up proposals, artist statements, artist bios, and taking and editing pictures of my work. I have saved up to invest money towards art supplies,  entering exhibitions and applying for memberships. Half of which replied with polite but ice-cold “no thank yous”.

If I stop and the ice below melts away eventually the tip of the iceberg will disappear as well. You don’t really stop, you have to keep working at it. So if this is your passion be prepared for hard work and failure (or as I like to think of it “lessons on what not to do next time”) for as long as you want to continue on this journey. It is a long ride, but I don’t plan to get off this train. I’m having too much fun.

Plein Air Painting

This year I finally did some Plein air painting. Pixie Blue Studio had organized a session at the Arts at the Port event this summer. Since I am in my #lifeisshortsoimcramming mode I thought I should finally try this out. So glad I did!

It was a beautiful summer day at Port Credit and I found the perfect spot, a view of the lake and the Port Credit gazebo through the trees. I painted my favourite muse, a nice little wave on the lake.


That first experience got me hooked! I said what the hell and signed up for the McMichael’s Plein Air event, not really expecting to get a reply. But they invited me! No harm in just taking a chance and applying I guess.

The McMichael gallery grounds are beautiful, but to be honest I had a hard time finding what I wanted to paint, there wasn’t enough water in the river that runs through the grounds. There were huge vicious mosquitos everywhere and I got tired walking all over the place trying to find inspiration. Till I saw this….


I realized I would love to present a unique view to the audience. An ant’s eye view, everyone else was standing with easels to get a human’s eye view, this would be something fun!

Needless to say, I broke my back in the process.

However I loved the way my painting turned out,

Unfortunately, there were no points given for originality. All the winning work and honorable mentions were very group of seven style. But I should not have expected anything else, McMichael is the permanent home to more than 6 500 pieces of art, much of which is Tom Thomson’s and the Group of Seven.  I still like my ant’s eye view though! I guess I’m just a snooty artist.

The Secret Life My Family Doesn’t Know About (And Other Interesting Facts)


60% of your brain is fat. We are all literally fat heads. That’s an interesting fact.

Yesterday I was live painting at an event, I love to live paint, and when I was done painting I sat around enjoying the music. My toes were tapping, my head was bobbing and it suddenly dawned on me. I was at a hip-hop concert. My kids and husband had no idea. I have a whole secret life they have no clue about. I moonlight as a cool person. This is the height of awesome for the girl who used to wear green nylon bell-bottoms that her fresh-off-the-boat parents had picked out. Who even am I? It was such an epiphany. Then the dilemma, do I let my kids and husband know how cool I really I am? I mean I just live painted at an album release/hip-hop concert.

Will they believe I do all this cool stuff? No.

Should I just relish this secret life on my own? Yes.

Dilemma solved.

A huge shout out to Vivek Mehmi on the success of last night’s event, his album release #rightasrain. Also, hip hop with violin music is an amazing combination. Incredible violin accompaniment by Isaac Daniel Eng. You can find them on Instagram : Vivek Mehmi  and Isaac Daniel Eng. Thank you to Common Ground Cafe for hosting such amazing events!


All Photographs Courtesy of the Mississauga Arts Council.


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Street Art Mississauga

This summer was super busy but no complaints! A busy artist is an extremely happy artist. If you are driving around Mississauga then be sure to watch out for our growing number of public murals!

In May I completed two Bell Boxes for the Mississauga Arts Council’s Banners and Boxes Project, integrating heritage buildings along with some fun stuff. Who doesn’t love sheep and foxes? The Culture Department had arranged for nine artists, including myself, to repaint the Sculpture Court and Skate park murals.

If you pass by them take a selfie and tag me! Another big mural is coming up soon, if you see me painting a wall in a park then come say hi. Also please bring coffee and a bagel for me!

From Frumpy to Fashionista

Okay maybe not fashionista, but this is as close as I am going to get. Life is short, this may be my only chance to be cool. Or at least convince a couple friends I’m cool. So I am owning it. Excuse me a second while I cut off a really bad hangnail…aah that feels so much better. I couldn’t find the nail cutter so I just used my teeth, you’ve all done it too so don’t judge me.

Anyways. I was that frumpy kid in the class. The brown girl. The one whose immigrant parents went shopping to the equivalent of what is now …um…actually I don’t think they have anything that bad anymore. Oops never mind, God bless the internet, Google has informed me that Bi-Way is going to be resurrected. I am so sorry all you children of immigrant parents, I feel for you. I was there. I got through it. You too will survive. Maybe even become a fashionista. I was the brown girl with the bad haircut in dark green nylon bellbottoms. With shirts that can’t even be described.  It was traumatic. I still get nightmares. To top it off it was the 80’s. Even the fashionable fashion was something you never want to remember. Those awful white short shorts that George Michael wore ugh I bet he’s rolling over in his grave right now. RIP George, I will speak of it no more.

So back to the point, yes I do get distracted, because life is short so I’m cramming, gotta get all my thoughts and memories out there. Don’t want to miss anything. I am now a fashionista. I know this because I go to a lot of events. I mean like there are some weeks where every night is spent out. That’s a lot of events for the lame brown girl turned fashionista. At these events, ladies will come right up to me and tell me they love what I am wearing. Then they will happily listen to the story behind where this incredible said outfit came from. That makes me a legitimate fashionista. So I have started reading up on fellow fashionistas. I don’t understand the language, or I do but don’t want to admit that I don’t exactly fit into those categories. For example, Queen of Fierce Outfit Inspiration, um no I need way more clothes than that, that is something that most people don’t even dare to wear at the beach. Also me+hijab. Total Boss Girls With Badass Style. I guess not. Not boss girl, even my cats don’t take me seriously.  Bold Prints, Graphics and Cuts. I don’t even know what that means. Monochromatic Street Style. I am too old to get on a skateboard and I don’t know if insurance will cover all the damage.  So where are the women my age? The ones who wear normal stuff and still look nice but all the cool people refuse to acknowledge? Is there a name for us? I will be fashionista to the underrepresented and marginalized. I have made my own category and I am going to own it. #fashionistatotheunderrepresented because that sounds better than #fashionistatothelame

My fashionista outfit for today’s event, the Arts on the Credit Tour. It got many compliments, thank you very much. I also wore it to an Opening Reception at Artworld Fine Art. Yes, I repeat outfits. So does Kate Middleton. I bought this gorgeous blue printed silk dupatta (long fabric draped over shoulders) in Lahore once. I have had it for years ( I will not admit to how many) when I recently went to Karachi I took it with me and bugged a tailor till he caved and sewed it to my specifications. He doubted my fashion sense at every step. I wish I could go tell him I was right and he was wrong. Whatever. I wore it with a neutral coloured tee shirt and creme coloured cotton trousers because it is still summer. I don’t care that pumpkin spice everything is now available.

This long cardigan style thingy can be worn over anything and make it look super elegant. I could wear it with ratty old jeans and a dirty tee-shirt and still look decent to go to a party. Also dangly earings help. When all else fails pull out the dangly earrings and wear them. Plus to all my fellow hijabis, turban style hijabs are life. Wrap that scarf around your head like a queen and no one will know you haven’t ironed it ever. Do wash them sometimes though. Please. No one wants to smell that unwashed hair aroma.

How gorgeous do my paintings look on those walls?

Spring Exhibitions Opening Reception at the Art Gallery of Mississauga

Haven’t been to an exhibition in quite some time, so I was more than happy to go to the opening of the Spring Exhibitions at the AGM (no not Annual General Meeting- the Art Gallery of Mississauga, we all get that in our heads too!). There are two exhibitions up for the Spring, ” niigaanikwewag” which means “leader women” or “they who lead ahead/ in the future” in Anishinaabemowin. It refers to the female artists as leaders in Indigenous Arts. The theme embodies the fact that  Indigenous women have always been present, nurturing art, culture, family, and community and that they are tied to one another and the earth.  There is beautiful (and haunting) work by Joi T. Arcand, Shuvinai Ashoona, Catherine Blackburn, Aylan Couchie, Ruth Cuthand, Thirza Cuthand, Dayna Danger, Raven Davis, Bonnie Devine, Maria Hupfield, Nadya Kwandibens, Amy Malbeuf, Jane Ash Poitras, Ningiukulu Teevee, and Arielle Twist. We were lucky to attend the Opening and witness a powerful and heart-wrenching performance by Raven Davis. It was a much-needed reminder of the past cruelties endured and more sadly the fact that even today countless Indigenous Sisters are missing and still being abused. I can’t put into words what a tragedy this is or how beautifully this artist portrayed that tragedy. You just had to be there. I will post about the second exhibition in another post as niigaanikwewag needs its own special place. It is a must-see exhibition,  and you can still catch the Curator’s Tour on Saturday, April 6 at 1 PM. Don’t miss it, the exhibition is up till June 16, 2019.

For more information: Facebook Event Page


Art Resin Geodes

I absolutely love resin and all the shiny magic it allows me to create. Just finished a commission for a set of four resin geodes and I can’t tell you how sparkly they are. Yes, I love shiny stuff.

See some geodes in action here and here!

Exhibiting at Queen’s Park Legislative Building


October is Islamic Heritage month and I was really honored (and just a bit over the moon!) when I got a call from Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath’s office to exhibit my work at a reception they were hosting at the Legislative Building. Would I like to share my art at the Reception? Um…yeah!! My Rumi inspired pieces were the perfect fit and they were all ready to go. I am also happy to say that they have since been sold and have a loving new home.

The evening was great, the reception was well organized, met plenty of old friends, made some new ones and got to chat with Ms. Horwath (bonus!), she also gave an inspiring little speech.  There was also a delicious dinner (what can be better than good food?!) An evening of art, friends, good food and meaningful conversations, yes it was a perfect night!



Art Battle

Just participated in my fourth Art Battle, this time in Toronto at the Great Hall. It is 100% pure excitement just to watch and even more so to participate. I have been lucky so far to always reach the final round, keep your fingers crossed that I win it sometime soon!

Have to thank the Art Battle team (and founders) for providing artists with such a great opportunity to push ourselves to higher levels, share our work (and yes even sell!!) as well as get some great exposure. If you haven’t attended a battle yet check out their Facebook page or Website to find an event near you, you will not regret it!