Mon Dec 22, 2014, 5:07 AM
The marathon has ended! Tomorrow I get back to work, but I have managed to pencil and ink the entirety of volume 6! All I need to do now is colour, which requires less focus so it'll be easier for me to sneak in some work on the comic so that updates are not so spaced out and the saga closes no later than this year Thanks for the support and expect a couple new ones within the next few days...
I decided some time ago that I was going to take advantage of the holidays to catch up on my poor comic. I'm not flying home this year, but am still going to rest from my all-consuming art practice and take advantage of the season to have a Malaak marathon. That's about 12 days of single-minded comic-making. We'll see how much I manage to finish, here's my progress:
Starting Dec. 21:
Pages to pencil: 0
Pages to ink: 0
Pages to colour: 36
Sun Oct 19, 2014, 12:26 AM
I have had a very exciting month. Life has given me a large and luminous new space to work in, the largest I've ever had at my disposal, and as a result my work has exploded. I have 3-4 large pieces in the making at any given time, and small studies all over the place.
Up on the wall, below, are planning sketches for pieces in progress... Lots in the works! I also look forward to hosting some courses and open studio events here. There is no internet access, which is a highly recommended state of affairs. On the other hand, Borough Market is nearby (heaven on earth for a foodie), which is a whole other level of distraction.
The first piece I completed in the new space is a monumental version of in wood, a stunning 122x122 cm:
To go with this new era, I made some changes to my website. I had been puzzling over what to do for some time, wanting to give the calligraphy its own space without removing everything else, and also wanting to make the contents directly accessible, as opposed to having to click through a splash page first. In the end, I resuscitated Cedarseed.com to host all my more personal or past endeavours, while Majnouna.com is now solely devoted to khatt. A simple click from the main menu flips you from one to the other, so they are still connected, literally two sides of one coin, but it makes it much easier to direct press and clients to the calligraphy. I still need to get my work of the last few months on the site, and for that may need to rethink this page, but this can wait a little longer...
Tue Aug 12, 2014, 4:04 AM
Good afternoon from Chiang Mai, Thailand! I don't even know if any of my current followers remember when I last posted a journal from there, all of 8 years ago! The whole family gathered here from 4 different countries for my cousin's wedding, and as the guests go home in waves, I find myself trying to turn my neurons to work again (in-between splurging on scarves, good God, how many scarves can one have?)
On the art front I'm busier than ever, and the better things are going, the less it seems I can share online, so I'm constantly sitting on new work and good news. What I can say about my calligraphy now is that it's getting very big, size-wise, and though I can't post all of it anymore, if you follow me on Instagram you'll catch glimpses, and if you subscribe to my newsletter you'll get to see some of the work I otherwise don't post. Also, courses are now a regular thing, so if you're in the London area and interested in studying anything with me, drop me a line.
Mainly I wanted to let everyone know that in parallel to working bigger, I've been working on smaller things, i.e affordable art, for people who love my work but can't do originals. Check out my calligraphic mini-prints (actually semi-handmade) which I made for a recent event, but hurry! They are strictly limited editions and there are very few left – availability is indicated under each image. I ship anywhere and take paypal I'm going to have to think of something else to make for next time...
- Listening to: Thai pop
- Watching: The tuk-tuks whizz by
- Drinking: Mocha
Fri Apr 25, 2014, 1:16 AM
I hope you all had good Easter holidays :easteregg: – I spent them on a farm in Devon, with horses, sheep, chickens... the works!
I'm teaching calligraphy, and you can see/hear me talk about the course in this nice interview that also shows glimpses of my class.
I also opened a Society6 shop!
That's all for now, back to being busy
Mon Dec 16, 2013, 12:20 AM
Two months and a half since my last journal! Come to think of it I've barely been around dA at all since, and yet I'm working on so many things.
First and more importantly: If you're interested in my calligraphy, please subscribe to my monthly newsletter for proper news, sneak peeks, offers and other interesting tidbits. As I'm working towards a show on a different scale, I don't know how much of it I'll want to post here.
My beautiful letterpress card sets are now available individually, or will be again after Christmas: a small festive market at the Arab British Centre last week absolutely wiped out my stock, my God!! And I have a handful of screen prints that are slightly worn by handling, very little but enough for me to prefer not to display them. I want to sell them at a clearance price so please note me for the list.
Tutorial news: I am now a contributor to Vectuts+ and have been revisiting my tutorials on the fundamentals of drawing humans for that site, in a more text-based fashion. This alternative approach may suit some of you or at least complement the charts, so you'll find them here (doing them in order is recommended).
Last time I wrote, I was moving; I've been properly installed since and am very happy here in this warm flat where I have room to both work and bake my heart's content! I haven't had an open house like this since I left Beirut, with friends always dropping by for tea ^^
Well, merry Christmas and may 2014 be real!
Wed Oct 2, 2013, 12:28 AM
I'm at Goldsmith Jewelry Fair all week helping a friend at his stand so I just have a quick couple of news items: I'm moving from my small room out East to a flat in King's Cross (and looking for an art studio nearby so I can get back to calligraphy on a large scale!) and the Fanaa' silkscreen prints have arrived! They are exceptional, my screen printer lived up to the challenge and produced an amazing fading effect for the silver. Sorry I don't have good photos yet. For dA members only they are £95 including shipping (normal price is £110), please note me for purchase. I haven't had time to put them on Etsy or anywhere, I'm juggling so many things. One other piece of news is that I will have cookbook news as soon as I receive the proof that is winging its way to me now Gotta run now!
Tue Sep 3, 2013, 5:50 AM
... the childishness, intellectual laziness and sense of entitlement on this site are seriously wasting your time?
I'm seriously tired of dA at the moment.
Update: I'm not speaking of leaving at this time. I'm indifferent to controversy, and I find trolls mildly amusing in their attempts to rile me. But of people who refuse to use their brain, don't bother to read, and then throw a tantrum because you don't serve them (ignoring the fact you're already providing something for free), I've had enough. Absolutely enough. I am simply getting too old for this site. A Peter-Pan-syndrome ward managed by teenagers, with the mere sprinkle of members capable of adult exchange (all those who commented on this journal so far fall into the latter.)
I'm just going to have to ignore all comments that waste my time, if I don't end up disabling them altogether. Believe it or not, I do this for the work, not for followers and social media.
Mon Aug 19, 2013, 1:16 PM
I came back from Iceland yesterday night and went straight to work with an icon painting workshop all of this week. Here's a glimpse of my icon at the end of day 1 of work:
While I wade through the 1,101 photos I shot, here are the answers to what I was asked in my last journal!
asked: Who are some of your greatest inspirations?
Some of these show influence in my work, others inspire me by their vision and work approach rather than their style. In no particular order:
Samir Sayegh (my dear teacher), Hassan Massoudi, the anonymous early Arabic calligraphers and Qur'an illuminators, Alphonse Mucha, Nicholas Rœrich, George Nakashima, Alan Craxford, JMW Turner, JRR Tolkien, Ibn Arabi, Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, CG Jung, David Cranswick (I hope he never finds this!), Bruno Gazzotti, Alan Moore...
asked: What do you do if have no ideas left in your head?
That happens very seldom, usually I have too many ideas so I freeze But it depends. If I don't have to finish something urgently, I take a break and do something completely different. Shopping, socializing, cooking, baking, cleaning up my files or work space... It's actually a good opportunity to do things I don't do when I'm swept away by inspiration.
If I'm stuck on a job that can't wait, I look at sources of inspiration. I read comics if I'm working on a comic, I browse calligraphy galleries if it's that kind of job... Sooner or later it causes a spark that gets me back to work.
asked: What is your favourite type of art you like to do?
At the moment, calligraphy, clearly Closely followed by illustrating food.
asked: How do you work so huge? I've thought about how nice it would be to work large, but then scanning becomes a problem. Do you hire a photographer?
First I'd say that if I want to work large, reproduction is not a consideration, as solutions can always be found eventually. As a matter of fact, I have not been able to take good photos of the enormous pieces you saw in my last journal, simply because I can't step back enough for it where I am, but that'll be remedied once they're up at the client's.
Some work around A3 size can be scanned and reassembled. I did this for the entirety of my comic Malaak because I inked on A3 paper. I scanned in 3 parts to accommodate for the distortion that happens at the edges of the scanner, knocked out the white background and put them back together. It's lineart so it's quite easy to do it seamlessly. I've done this also for some watercolours, which requires a bit more work but still works, just remember to scan in 3 or 4 parts even if it looks like they can fit in 2.
Now for the calligraphy, you're correct, photography is needed. Not only because of the size but because gold leaf simply can't be scanned. I do my own photography. It's not as perfectly sharp as hiring a professional, but let's be realistic, those guys charge the moon, and with a bit of post-processing I get results that are just fine for my needs. When I get real famous (ha) I can worry about getting the best possible photos. Shooting objects and artwork is something we've always done in the house because my mom's a photographer, so here are tips from me to get good photos of a piece of work:
1. The higher-definition the camera and its settings, the higher-resolution image you can get. I can get equally good images from my pocket canon and my DSLR, but the former will only look good on relatively small sizes.
2. You don't want direct sunlight on the work, EVER, unless it's filtered through a light haze (or you have something semitransparent you can use as a screen). My ideal shooting conditions are putting the work in the brightest part of the house that's not a direct sunlight, and overexposing by two clicks. NO artificial light (unless it's studio lights), NO flash.
3. The side of the work that's closer to the light will always look brighter in the shot. To compensate for this, use a large piece of white card on the opposite (darker) side to reflect light onto it.
4. It's critical to shoot the piece perfectly flat, and for this, it MUST be placed flat on the floor until you have enough experience to do otherwise. Then you can position yourself so the lens looks straight down (make sure you're not casting a shadow on it). The crosshairs should be centered and the other guidelines should be as parallel to the edges of the paper as possible. I never use a tripod but of course that's an option.
5. If your camera is too close to the target, there will be a distortion. If you're too far (standing on a stool for instance) and zooming in too much, the definition will suffer. So you have to find an even ground.
6. Shoot many versions. I can take as much as 30 pics of a tricky piece to find one I can work with.
7. Photoshop retouching will be inevitable, adjusting balance, restoring perspective, stamping out small things, etc, but I don't think I need to go into that
also asked: How are you able to travel so much?
I don't anymore, so I don't know how I can answer that accurately! When I did, living in Lebanon which is neatly at the centre of the Old World was helpful. When you're as isolated as America is, I guess travel is hard. Also, rents used to be very low and I live very simply (hardly any outings or shopping) so I saved a lot and that went towards traveling. Finally, I simply picked destinations based on my budget. There are countries where you can stay on $10 a day and that includes accommodation (when you're willing to live rough); I took full advantage of that! Flights to some places in low season can also be ridiculous. Hostels/ guest houses, and eating locally, are much cheaper than hotels and looking for the kind of food you're used to. Ditto public transport rather than taxis. The fact I don't need visa for most of the planet also cuts down on my expenses. I never used couchsurfing, but that's free accommodation anywhere. The fancy trips I've been on are usually family trips, where pooling our resources and renting an apartment rather than hotel rooms, and taking group tours, makes it reasonable where it would be completely unaffordable for a lone traveler (case in point, this trip!) There are ways! There's a series of books called "... on a Shoestring" that are full of good advice.
And time-wise, I've been self-employed for a decade. When I worked remotely for a game company, it was agreed that I could take off anytime I wanted provided I gave warning and made sure everything was in order for my absence.
asked: What is your favorite dish that you like to cook?
That's real tricky, I can't single out one thing I particularly like to cook, but I can say I love working with batter, melting chocolate on a bain-marie, and mixing or kneading dough with my hands So that makes cake, tart and bread recipes my favorites, even if they're not my favorite to eat!
asked: I love how clean your lines are in your recipe images. How do you get them so perfect and smooth?
I normally ink on paper, but as I've had to do it digitally for the past 8 months and that's what you've been seeing, I'll focus on that. Below is a screencap of inking in progress. There's no magic trick, really, but you do need a graphic tablet. I just zoom in a lot on the sketch, because you get smoother lines when you do that, than if you try to ink at 100% scale. I use a basic round brush but make sure that the spacing is set to 0% (even though it's 1% on my screenshot, bah) for an extra smooth line. Beyond that, I just make my strokes as long as possible (as opposed to hatching mini-strokes all the way), and if necessary I use the eraser to smoothen big kinks! This all takes place on a new layer, naturally, not the sketch layer itself.
asked: Do you ever get burnout on long professional projects (or simply when working for a long time without a break), and if you do, how do you handle it?
Yes, that happens cyclically. I get a burst of energy and then inevitably after a couple of weeks I get a serious energy dip that is basically a burnout. I treat it with the same respect I give my body when recovering from illness: I give it time and space. I stop working until the energy replenishes itself. Sometimes it means doing nothing but reading or playing game son my iPad for two solid days; that's fine. I don't beat myself up over "time wasted" because that's silly, recharging batteries isn't wasting time. If clients are involved, I communicate, but also I never promise too tight a deadline. Clients, particularly agencies, often behave like the world will END if a job isn't finished in two hours. I don't play into that nonsense. Everything can wait but your (physical and psychic) health.
asked: Who is your all time favorite artist and what makes this person your favorite?
Man, that's so hard. That's just not possible to answer, so I'll have to answer with the artist I have the closest relationship with: my calligraphy teacher. He is, to me, the archetype of the Artist. His work is his life and he's gone so deep into it it's awe-inspiring; he has no interest at all in what the public may want, all that matters is the integrity of the work and going ever deeper into its deeper meaning, into new techniques, into the places where it communicates with the work of other cultures. Despite his being a recognized master and scholar (everyone calls him Master, even the grocer), he's really humble, welcoming anyone sincere into his workshop for a cup of tea and a philosophical discussion or calligraphic advice (most of the world's better-known Arabic typographers of today owe him everything). At the same time, he never allows the work to be disrespected (he refuses, for instance, short and shallow interviews that wouldn't leave any room to really explain what the work is about). He never wonders if a piece will sell because his work is his prayer and his only religion, and he spares no expense or time to bring an inspiration into form (I would know, how we toiled on some of those!)
Also, very simply, I love his work to pieces, it has that energy coming through that betrays the real artist, the one who just brings through something from beyond his ego ^^
asked: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Have you always wanted to be an artist, or is it just something that happened along the way?
I wanted to be a naturalist! I was seriously engaged in that direction; Gerald Durrell is still one of my greatest heroes and I haven't read any books as many times as his. I loved to draw and create, of course, but it was only during my penultimate school year, during an orientation session, that it occurred to me to have a creative career. I heard of graphic design for the first time and decided that was it. Living in Lebanon and not willing to relocate at the time, there was really no scope to be a naturalist or work with animals as I would have wanted to, and I was getting increasingly aware of that, so I took the opportunity that was presenting itself when I saw it. I don't regret it, art is my real vocation (I've ditched design in the meanwhile) but I never lost this longing for the animal kingdom. You can tell from my tutorials, right??
Sun Jul 28, 2013, 6:14 AM
I stole this idea from Droemar, to liven up my forsaken journal: "I will answer 20 art-related questions, to be answered in my next journal. Anything you guys want to ask me about, I will do my best to answer. Process, creativity, etc.
It's kind of first-come, first serve. I can't think of any other way to do it. The first twenty questions will be answered!
What's happened since my last update? Well, I went to Beirut unexpectedly as a client flew me in to deliver this massive calligraphy commission:
I wouldn't mind getting a couple of these a year, I can tell you!
I brought back most of my remaining possessions, including my spice rack, which makes me very happy ^^ I'm spending so much time cooking at the moment.
I finally managed to open a bank account in the UK, meaning OMG I have a paypal account at last. I could cry with relief.
I have plenty of new stuff in my Etsy shop, including the calligraphy card sets: www.etsy.com/uk/shop/Majnouna
I'm off to Iceland (again!) in a couple of weeks on a family trip! Rawk!
Tue Jun 11, 2013, 1:08 AM
I almost forgot to post this here! I'm part of the Art•Marylebone art fair this weekend, which may be of interest to those of you in London or nearby! It's a free entrance event and a chance to see my best work up close where it really shines. Below is the info and some sneak peeks.
What you'll also be able to see up-close are the Scribe sets. My first stock is sold out but I'm now taking pre-orders for a new stock that should arrive in July. Contact me if interested: There is free shipping on all pre-orders paid for by June 21 (yay Solstice!)
Hope to see some deviants there!
Tue May 14, 2013, 3:21 AM
Exciting news! I now have a limited number of these in my hands:
Love Story: Longing, She, Love, Thankfulness
These 3 boxed sets were produced by Morus with my designs and close collaboration. They look absolutely amazing, each box containing 3 each of 4 designs around a theme. Each of the 12 cards(12x12cm) comes with its envelope and an insert explaining the word and describing the design process, including work sketches. The letterpress printing and hot foil embossing make them look nothing less than precious!
Communion: God, Bond, Grace, Remembrance
What makes these even greater is what a true labor of love they are. Made by artisans and people with special needs, from 100% recycled paper, every step of their creation was filled with personal involvement and passion for fine craftsmanship.
Subtleties: Mind, Heart, Soul, Mystery
The retail price for a box is £22 or $35, and if you're in London or Beirut, you can pick them up directly with no added shipping costs. Contact me soon as I currently have a very small stock, to be replenished in summer.
Thu Apr 25, 2013, 3:00 PM
Beirut was a madness of moving, packing, and sorting, but I successfully shipped ALL my framed art pieces and 2 boxes of possessions to London. Barely had time to collect them and I was off to Switzerland for the weekend with friends. It was 20ºC and a sunny summery day when we arrived; 2 days later we wake up and do a double-take. This in the space of one night?!
Still, it was quite fun. Now I'm back to work, having two large commissions to design, and looking for a studio space to get down to some serious painting! I finished and picked up my gesso boards when I got back, and started mixing and testing egg tempera on this new surface: amazing stuff! I can't wait to try an actual piece, it's so luminous and glossy and beautiful. I was talking to a fellow artist the other day and saying how I never want to go on holiday again, nothing could give me more pleasure than to be plunged in my work without interruption. Which is true! And I've never felt so respected for what I do.
Still, taking a train to Paris in a couple of weeks to finally visit family (I was waiting for France to thaw!), and then I'll have a long stretch with more exciting courses, an exhibit or two, and we'll see what else
Oh and I spent a day or two making a catalogue for my calligraphy with links to all printed products :sees double: It's not fully complete yet but can be found at majnouna.com/khatt/catalogue.h…
Thu Mar 28, 2013, 2:00 PM
Just landed in Beirut for a 2-week stay... It's nice to step out of winter at last! It was still snowing in London last weekend :dies:
I have some quick news and one question.
First, I went to visit one of my art teachers the other day and we had tea and snakes. For real. I shall never feel quite the same about tea now that I've experienced it with a carpet python wrapped around my arm.
Second, I do have a tumbler now, but don't know if it'll ever become much; anyway, it's joumajnouna.tumblr.com
Third, remember the children's books I make with my mom? They are now available as ebooks! The e-bookshop hasn't been officially launched yet because I'm still finetuning, but as you can see, we have 13 titles out by now.
Last but not least, I'm starting to look into creating more screen prints from my work, as they're attracting a lot of interest in London! I'll be doing this gradually, two at a time. Please tell me, if you were to have two of the following on your wall, which you would want? (the yellow in these images would be printed in gold.) Cheers!
Sat Mar 9, 2013, 3:04 AM
I've had an intense, physical, and completely amazing week learning to grind my own pigment and prepare my own paints. Our teacher is a wonderful man who gave me some very inspiring advice and I'm looking forward to my next workshop with him – so much to learn there!
Below are just a few photos: visit the blog to see everything. It's worth it!
Sun Mar 3, 2013, 1:23 AM
First a quick note: If like me you're driven insane by the inanity that is More Like This, you can disable it for yourself thanks to parallellogic:
This journal is to keep track of my progress on the cookbook. I'm not reveal everything in details, but I need to keep track of how many pages it runs. I'm always faced with the dilemma of keeping the price low for the user (meaning less pages) vs. making it a really good reference (more pages, more printing costs). I hope to find a good middle ground. I must say also that I've been working on a parallel booklet focused on spices, but in my efforts to keep it short I ended up having a lot of compact text. So I stopped while I decide how to make it more engaging again.
1. Penne express √
2. Garlic-yogurt mushrooms √
3. Garlic-lemon spaghetti √
4. Scrambled eggs with tomatoes √
Salads and sides
1. Lentil salad √
2. Guacamole √
3. Moroccan salad √
4. Salmon sashimi salad √
5. Red and yellow salad √
1. Dahl soup √
1. Simit √
1. Apricot crumble √
2. Lemon curd √
3. Shrikhand √
4. Banana bake √
1-2. Cold drinks
4-5. Hot drinks
3-4. Kitchen utensils
5. Cooking methods
Pagecount so far: 47 (62)
Thu Feb 21, 2013, 6:48 AM
The past few weeks I've been getting down to business here... While I find ways to get into the local art scene, I'm looking for freelance work, preferably to do with calligraphy (the whole gamut of what can be done with it, not only originals but logos, covers, business cards, chapter headings, tattoo designs, and so on), but I'm also taking illustration, game and icon design jobs. If you're in London and can help with tips or recommendations, it would be much appreciated!
I'm loving my geometry course at the Prince's School and it's kicked me into getting back to work on a geometry tutorial. I have been taking my compass and straight edge to coffeeshops lately to practice some basics!! This in parallel with a whole bunch of things I seem to be working on at the moment... More books covers, calligraphy commissions, a new Lebanese Heritage book, a booklet about spices (derived from my recent poster), more recipes, and more icon set/MiniFu ideas than I can handle! By the way, I didn't expect the book covers to get so much attention, and I had some requests to make them available as prints, so here they are. I'm hoping to finish 6 or 9 or these to make one nice, big poster.
I have some new accounts around the web:
Behance (spiffy and pro)
dribbble (quite fun)
Instagram (having WAY too much fun with this one – warning, lots of WIP and food pics)
Mon Jan 28, 2013, 8:48 AM
Hello again from my residence for the next few months, a small room in a family house where I'm sufficiently well installed to focus on my work (as you might have noticed!) I'm out East in Leytonstone, Hitchcock's home town, as I remind myself every time I see a huge flock of pigeons circling outside the station... hmm!
Tomorrow I'm flying out for a few days to Angoulême to present Malaak at the prestigious comic festival! I'm looking forward to reuniting with comic authors I met in various parts of the world. Speaking of the comic, the ebook for Malaak 4 is finally out www.lulu.com/shop/joumana-medl… and will shortly be also available in French, and I'll post them both on dA.
The silkscreens I made of 8 of my calligraphy designs, thanks to my recent crowdfunding campaign, are now available to the public and you'll find them on my shop: majnouna.storenvy.com . They're a great compromise between the beauty of the originals and affordability of prints But I have other things up my sleeves! Check this out: www.morusworld.org/scribecolle… . I'll have purchase details for these soon. If anyone's interested it would be helpful to let me know (non-committally) so the distributor and I can decide how I can carry a stock of these myself.
I should be packing but I want to work too badly!
Mon Dec 24, 2012, 11:55 PM
Merry Christmas everyone, as I haven't posted a journal in ages, today felt like a good day. I hope you're having meaningful holidays, whatever you're celebrating.
For myself, I'm very very tired and being here is a bit of a struggle. I'm moving to the UK in mid-january – yes, moving, having no future here as an artist, and the sudden uprooting is exhausting me even more. Happily I have a good network of supportive friends over there, but I'm looking for a room around London where I can have some peace and focus on my art.
But first, finish one last calligraphy commission, sort out my flat for the people who'll be housesitting it until I can let it go, put up the last 3 pages of Malaak, ... the more you do the longer the list gets, somehow!
Well, enjoy the holidays, I have made new recipes I'll start posting tomorrow, at least.
Wed Nov 21, 2012, 1:31 AM
I'm not sure why it took me so long, but I finally converted my charts on Housecat Breeds into printable posters. These are the works I'm talking about:
They are now available as two 30x40 inch posters which you'll find on Redbubble: Part 1 and Part 2.
Sharing of these (and any of my work) is much appreciated, especially if you're on Pinterest, as it then remains there for others to find :grateful: It seems it's bad form to pin one's own work so I'm counting on my followers!
Oh and just for fun, I actually made some cat breeds mugs based on the chart www.cafepress.com/majnouna/952…
Maybe I should do the same with my Little Cats chart... It's the last of the cat charts that still isn't a poster.
Now back to cutting the paper to size for my silkscreens – 280 sheets in all!!
Fri Nov 16, 2012, 11:54 PM
Back in Beirut after a month or so away, and finding it hard to deal with. I actually have to make a difficult move. Posting of new work, recipes will resume when I find my grounding again.