Through her new venture, Karina Al Zu’bi shares her passion for fine art with the larger community. She tells Behnaz Sanjana about her arty endeavours and the road she plans to tread.
Located conveniently in the pleasing precincts of Palm Square on Budaiya Highway is Karina Zu’bi’s Paint & Palette Art Studio. The studio’s interior is usually scattered with canvases spanning various sizes, their splashes of colour standing out against the spotless white walls.
“Art is my passion,” says Karina. “I always had an inclination towards it since I was a young girl. It is also my way of giving back to the community in Bahrain, which I’ve been a part of for two decades. I understand that not everyone can buy a piece of art, but everyone can draw and paint as a way of expression and to let out their creative side.”
Karina is the owner and mastermind behind Paint & Palette, which opened in March this year and has quickly become one of Bahrain’s premier art studios, with a strong focus on art education for adults and children from all walks of life. “Our classes are taught by expert teachers and are tailor-made to suit different levels, ages and abilities,” she says. A common aspect of each class is the fun and relaxing environment that the studio provides its students.
Karina and her fellow artist, Carlo Rico (who is also the creative manager of her studio), have tasted success at many local and international art fairs and shows. Under their able tutelage, beginners and previously trained students are guided into the wonderful world of drawing and painting. “We help identify their skills, teach them new techniques, draw out their vivid imaginations and make them realise their inherent artistic talents,” explains Karina. “We enable them to evolve as artists by advancing their abilities and letting them develop their own unique artistic identity and trademark. Everybody can draw and paint well, as long as they have the right guidance and a good teacher.”
The children’s classes are suitable for youngsters from age seven and up. They learn the basic fundamentals of fine art, like composition, pattern, perspective, tone and mixing of colours. They are given the opportunity to experiment with and explore various mediums such as acrylic, charcoal, pencil, pastel and collage work. “Each class focuses on imparting knowledge and skill sets, with an emphasis on the principles of art,” adds Karina. “It is a great way to build a foundation to enable kids to confidently find their own style.” The classes are offered as a set of eight sessions, lasting two hours each.
Paint & Palette’s sessions for adults have proved to be a therapeutic experience for many, including those who are complete novices. “A lot of our students come to enhance or add onto their artistic competencies and techniques,” says Karina. “Established artists who are planning to hold exhibitions are also part of our classes.
Others look to art as therapy, as a mode of self-expression by way of creating something of their own. Sometimes they come with a picture and tell us it’s what they want to recreate, or maybe they want to specifically learn how to do landscapes, portraits or faces. Different themes are explored in our classes, while imparting know-how about line, tone, measurement, texture and composition.”
Another important service the studio provides is for students who wish to make their own art portfolio. “Those school students who want to get into universities abroad to learn fine arts or related courses come to us to assist and guide them in making an impressive collection of paintings to speak of,” she explains. “We begin with determining their artistic level and skill, and then, based on that, one-on-one sessions take place to recommend the direction the student must take, and the vision and style he or she must develop. We bring out the best in their artwork.”
Karina is a prolific artist herself and was chosen by Art Bahrain Across Borders (Art BAB) as one of the 18 artists to showcase their paintings in India this year. “Bahrain and India have strong ties; the two countries go back thousands of years in trading spices and pearls,” she says. “I went with the concept of doors for the exhibitions in Mumbai and Delhi because each door holds mysteries behind it and has a story to tell. It was a great feeling to have had such a warm reception there, and all of my near-life-size paintings were picked up during the exhibitions.”
A naturalised Bahraini through marriage, Karina says that her artistic abilities developed informally when she was very young. She was inspired by the beautiful surroundings of her home, the sounds of musical instruments, her affection for yoga and her loving family. Her studies and travels took her to Australia and eventually brought her to Bahrain. Although yoga, her marriage and children have been her focus for the past several years, her inner artist was waiting to manifest. She says: “I was instantly fascinated by Bahrain when I came here, and the mysteries of Dilmun captivated my heart and imagination. It set me on a journey to unravel the origins of ancient civilisations and dynasties, which are reflected in my art.
“My life has a new purpose with Paint & Palette, and I enjoy interacting with fellow artists and teaching the finer points of art to learners. For this, I am grateful to my husband, Qays Zu’bi, and our children, Sari and Layan, for their constant encouragement and support. I am also thankful to Tamkeen and Art BAB for providing me with the stepping stone to show my talent in Bahrain’s multicultural environment, as well as abroad.”
Going forward, Karina wishes to extend support to special needs children, with monthly and then weekly art classes for them. The studio has already supported the Art for Autism Awareness initiative that took place in Bahrain earlier this year and participated in a tourism event at Bahrain University to promote the country. Karina looks forward to being part of the Annual Bahrain Summer Festival 2018 organised by the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities.
Her work can be seen on Instagram @paintandpalettebh.