LBS: Congratulations on the completion and launching of your book, OMG!
1. Do tell us everything about the book and how it came about!
2. What were your biggest challenges working on the book with your daughter?
3. Describe the artistic process. How did you plan them? Or were they mostly spontaneous?
4. How did your unschooling experience impact your work with your daughter? Tell us about your unschooling experience!
5. This must be so exciting for the both of you! What’s next?
(If you cld include some photos that wld be great!)
Thank you & all the best on the launching of your book!
First of all thank you and thank you to God for willing it to happen.
1. I was trying to embed and teach Bali of the attributes of Allah, and basically wanted her to love and enjoy the process, and painting came closest to it. I figured, no one has ever written the other 99 names of God in English, there are many in Khat, or Arabic but no paintings that anyone can relate to in English, so we started painting…
There was a budget, so the stretched canvas and paints were limited to 30 pieces thinking we could spread the names of Allah somewhat evenly in all 30 paintings…. And to make it jive we made them 3 feet x 3 feet a nice boxed cube, and easy to transport plus…. The size made sense to fit in our now smaller tight homes in the city.
Deftly, and secretly I always wanted to make a book.. Not knowing what but having my paintings in it would be cool to start with….
Then Fathul, my artist friend who does run classes at Balai Seni, with other homeschoolers gave a suggestion, he helped in many ways especially putting it together in a book form and got a photographer to take the pictures for us in jpeg form, for printing purposes….
I made my decision, after years of trying to find an English sort of a good night book teaching kids about Allah’s attribute so that I could read to Bali, (none so far, that is hip enough or engaging enough for kids to understand it ) I just decided to fuse the two, paintings and light explanations of Allah names , together. That is how it started.
And because explanations could be some what bland, I approached Maria Zain, to do a description or foreword for the book, and each paintings… And told her it could be like Maya Angelou’s work on basquait .. With a professional fee, she did it wonderfully.
And because I am not famous as an artist , I am self taught, I needed an affirmation from a well known international artist, preferably Malaysian to write about the paintings, and through Facebook prompt only, amazingly, Rafiee Ghani, obliges gracefully, and he said ok while he was in Kazakhstan, he is a world wandering painter! Thank God he said Ok and these are all in the book introduction and acknowledgement.
All this was done not knowing who would publish it , would they publish it, or if not , where would we get the money to print it…. Everything requires some capital as we know…. So…..
To cut the story short, we sold our home in Setia Alam, because it is just too far away from my PJ home town, and siblings and mom…. Paid off all debts, to live our dream debt-free, kept most of it in the bank to earn dividends and interest to have extra income yearly, and to travel while unschooling, and the extra, we set for publishing the book.
1. Bali, like other kids, just has attention span deficit, mainly because we actually started painting our first work in 2012. thus I was determined to teach patience and persistence and perseverance so that Bali would know, dreams need planning, work, work prayers and more prayers… And working with others… As I said… The challenges or I would call it the fun parts are when she would say that I have been giving her only a 1/4 of the canvas to work on her ideas, and was adamant that I give her the start and conquer most of the paintings heels and I would act as her add ons…. This is challenging because as an artist, I have my preset mental image of how each work would turn out….
However , the most beautiful to my eyes, were those that my daughter Bali had initiated first, and I learned to let go.. Of my OCD attitude.
Before we work on a canvas, I cut out many pieces of paper, the rolled up ones from Ikea, and Bali and I would sketch or draw or paint on it first before deciding which would go on the canvas… However this is not the case for some as I would find Bali downstairs sometimes already painting her own thing….. The names of Allah are read the night before we start painting, so we appreciate His awesomeness, the particular attributes at hand and hope that it would translate in the paintings…
We chose to paint my kampung in Lenggeng, Negeri Sembilan. Btw Broga and Semenyih that belong to my late grandma, 14 pieces and 14 more of Bali island…. Our favorite places on earth and also belongs to God…. I spend most of my childhood in this kampung as a child, and now we mostly spend yearly even before Bali is born … In Bali island. So it became easier to paint our favorite places on earth….. The other 2 pieces are our hang-out places in PJ and KL, and Bali island. All paintings have up to seven names of Allah written by me or Bali etched or swirled, boldly or hidden…. And the last two have all 99 names of Allah.
3. Unschooling sometimes do bring out the fear that I am not doing enough to prepare Bali for the future… I do this, I realize, when I start comparing myself to others… Which is certainly not something I want to pass on to Bali. So I try to stop my self-doubt and go with the flow. But mostly the unschooling journey is liberating… I find Bali, is different from her school-going cousins… In a good way, she is not too caught up with school and test and that made her more excited.. To do and try different things… I think in this aspect, I am pleased how this turned out for us.
4. What is next? It took almost 3 years for this project to materialize … But I hope to have another work of art.. And book out too but don’t really know about what yet. Every other year her style would be different, so this particular work that has been done.. isBali’s style for when she is just about to turn 5 years old. Now she is 7. It’s particularly unique, good for collectors to start collecting…. And then compare her work when she is older…. If she decides to carry this legacy.
LBS note: Look out for it at major bookstores in the country!