Oman Observer

Monet in Muscat

For Amira Khouildi art is where the heart is. Her work largely showcases the beauty of Tunisia, her home country, with blue azure colours. This is one of the reasons why most of her paintings splash blue colours in oil or acrylic medium. She teaches painting and crafts to kids and adults. Swayed by the Jasmine Revolution, her works have a poetic dash. “I do not portray violence or destruction but include jasmine flowers as the main theme in my works.”
Her paintings on a Tunisian man carrying the flowers or the basketful of white flowers brings out its aesthetic beauty. “This reminds me of the summers in Tunis and the evenings where most of the cafes display jasmine flowers which jells with the Arabic coffee or green tea with pin seeds or mint leaves. The cafes make jasmine sweets, a kind of pastry using the shape of the flower,” she recollects.
She loves to caricature footballer Cristiano Ronaldo’s hairstyle with her students as she likes his expressions and style. She guides them to draw in proportions using classic methods and human body measurements which open up their creative minds.
Influenced by the style of French Oscar-Claude Monet, Amira studied his impressionist paintings, reading books and watching documentaries about his art and life.
Usually she begins with one of his paintings to study and paint with the adult students. She likes Monet’s style as one can mix colours with ease using a brush with 2 to 3 colours to paint a scene. She also teaches them to make art works using recycled materials.
She tries to find beauty in the flowers, nature, the sky and the buildings in the city which is reflected in her numerous paintings.
An art teacher at Lycee Français de Mascate, Amira presently is busy engaged in painting the life in Sidi Bou Said, the famous idyllic seaside town of artists, and Elissar, the Queen of Carthage, who built the empire of Carthage. Evening hours are spent at the Omani Society of Fine Art (OSFA) studio at Sarooj which she shares with Omani artists like Anwar Sonya, Youssef al Nahwi, Raya al Manji and Salah al Alawi. Here, they get to exchange ideas, art materials, and music.
Having taken part in a number of exhibitions in Muscat under OSFA, Amira mainly delves with realistic figurative style and impressionism.
The first portrait she drew was her own self as a student using ‘Henri Matisse’ style which her teachers and students liked. At times she profiles pictures which she tried out for a family friend on wood burning technique coming out with amazing results.
She usually uses oil painting as a medium but feels comfortable using soft pastel on Ingres paper and loves touching the pigments. “It is a good feeling, a real contact with the colours. I do not use tools like brush or palette knife.”
Amira plans to hold workshops for Omani children to promote conservation and restoration of biodiversity, with aspects on recycling paper and use of non-plastics.
Her future plans include setting up a studio for parents and kids wherein they can visit and do crafts and arts together in two or three dimensions.
Apart from art and craft, she spends her time in reading, yoga and meditation.

Liju Cherian