World in tea bags, seashells

Maryam al Toukli, the 25-year-old Omani artist, paints her mind on anything. Be it seashells, teabags or leaves. “My drawings have no specific place or size; you can see them on the large or small canvas. I paint on sea shells, branches or leaves, rocks, cups and tea bags…You can see sky, sea, trees, flowers, birds, women and moon in my paintings. My drawings are full of life, love and colours and I am in love with them.” Maryam started drawing when she was five years old. But she stopped drawing for many years and resumed it in seashells in 2015. ”One day I went to the sea with my sister and I saw different seashells. I collected them and from that day I started drawing on the seashells. My father encourages me a lot and also my followers in Instagram and Twitter.” Drawing means everything for her.” It’s like a lifeline that saves me from everything. Drawing is my way of relaxing where I feel relax while drawing and never think about anything else.”
Maryam takes inspiration from the nature, colours, songs and birds and unlike many other artist she doesn’t have a specific role model. “But there are many artists l like to follow and learn from them.” Two of her favourite artworks are “Mountain Rose” and “Wadi Darbat”. She spent three months between thinking, planning and drawing each one.
“I have spent a long time to complete them.” Mountain Rose is about rose harvesting season at Al Jabal Al Akhdhar while Wadi Darbat is about autumn season in Dhofar.
“In 2015, I drew on the sea shells and it was a nice experience. I drew sea, waves, fish, birds, women, deer, cats and flowers. Shells take a long time in
cleaning and polishing before drawing,” she said.
“The hardest thing I’ve done is drawing inside snail shell,” she said. The best among the lot was the woman wearing clothes of Wilayat of Sur The relationship between birds and tree push her to drawing them on leaves. “Leaves are soft…so I should be careful when I draw on them,” she said. “Fairy wren is the most common on her leaf paintings because it is very small and has a beautiful colour.” Maryam like recycling as well. “I am an artist, so I like processing materials that would be thrown away and turn them into new products. Therefore, I started drawing on tea bags in 2017,” she said.
Tea bag art is a unique experience for her and she likes it because it is very good to draw on it. The best painting she drew on the tea bag was the sleeping woman.
Like other artists, she began her passion as a hobby and ended up making money out of it. “Drawing is not a source of income for me because it is unappreciated. If the basic goal of the drawing is just money, it won’t have creativity and value.”
When asked her about the difficulties, she says some drawing tools aren’t available and sometimes they are expensive.
Negative comments also put her down. “People who don’t care about art say my miniature paintings are silly and useless.” But, she continues drawing because she likes it. On her wish list is exhibition of her works and learning sculpture. Maryam thinks that artist should learn realism first to be creative. She is stuck between ‏realism and impressionism, but she loves impressionism more.

Ruqaya Al Kindi