Art, can be a reflection of the soul, and the medium used to convey it often holds as much significance as the message itself. Today, we’re delighted to introduce you to a talented artist who skillfully wields the power of paper to craft extraordinary and detailed works of art.

Mishkaah Amien, a graduate of Fine Art from the renowned Ruth Prowse School of Art, hails from Cape Town, South Africa. Her work, characterised by intricate patterning and a deep commitment to craft, brings out the beauty of the everyday in a unique way.

Q1. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind your art and the significance of paper in conveying your message to viewers?

A1. The inspiration behind my art comes from the beauty of simplicity, and how one simple design repeated, can create a complex piece of art. This also goes with my concept behind using paper as the material, a simple everyday material, altered, to create complex designs and meanings.

Q2. Your work prominently displays themes of patterning and repetition. How does this reflect the discipline and teachings within your art, and how do you use pattern and repetition as metaphors in your work?

A2. The themes and subject matter in my art is influenced by my Islamic faith and displays this through patterning, accentuating the disciplines that it teaches through its structure. I make use of pattern and repetition as a metaphor for displaying compulsory daily prayers, rituals and duties.

Q3. Your art involves techniques like paper cutting and quilling. Could you explain how you use these techniques to create your unique pieces?

A3. My techniques include paper cutting and quilling. Cutting usually involves, cutting into the surface of the artwork itself, or cutting the required shapes and gluing them onto the surface. Quilling involves cutting thin strips of paper and applying different treatments to them such as bending, twisting and curling.

Q4. Your artworks are three-dimensional, offering viewers different angles and perspectives. How does the interplay of lighting and placement affect the emotion, message, and overall experience of your pieces?

A4. With the process being extremely time consuming, I hope to have the viewer recognise the patience and dedication it takes in creating these pieces, similarly to the way I wish to display Islam, as calming and meditative.

Q5. You graduated in Fine Art in 2012. Could you share with us how your education has influenced your artistic journey and the evolution of your style?

A5. I completed my Diploma in Fine art at the Ruth Prowse school of art, and this is where I first started experimenting with paper in my works. I then completed my PGD at UCT Michaelis School of Art in 2016 and this is where I learnt more about conceptualising, and experimented with different materials such as wood, thread and fabrics.

Q6. We understand that you’re passionate about evoking peacefulness within viewers through your art. Can you elaborate on how your work achieves this goal and what emotions or experiences you hope to evoke in your audience?

A6. I hope to achieve peacefulness in my viewers through my artistic and professional skill with attention to the tiniest details within my artworks, by taking extra care in how my work is presented, creating clean and neat pieces of art.

Q7. Can you give us insight into the themes and concepts that inspire your art, including the portrayal of memory, typography, and other elements? How do these elements play a role in your creative process?

A7. Themes and concepts are mostly inspired by my personal narrative. This is a way of getting the viewers to get to know me, through my artwork. In my paper art, I focus on themes of peace, drawing inspiration from the tranquility of nature and the serenity of mindful moments. Memories serve as a foundation, allowing me to weave past experiences into intricate paper creations. Typography, with its diverse fonts and styles, adds depth to my artwork, conveying messages of harmony and unity. These elements intertwine seamlessly in my creative process, allowing me to craft visually engaging pieces that evoke a sense of calm and introspection, inviting viewers to contemplate the beauty of peace.

Q8. As you’re hosting a beginner Paper Quilling Workshop on Saturday, November 4th, what can participants expect to learn and create during this workshop?

A8. At the workshop on Saturday, we will be learning some basic paper quilling techniques, from traditional methods, to non traditional methods. We will then be creating an abstract piece, making use of the techniques we learnt. The goal is to leave with a completed artwork and to have lots of fun. I am hoping that all attendees would leave, having learnt the endless possibilities of using this everyday material and learning how to essentially draw and paint with paper.

Q9. What practical tips can you share with other artists creating paper quilling artworks?

A9. One practical tip for a successful paper quilling artwork is to practice precision and patience. Pay close attention to the details, ensuring that your paper strips are cut accurately and glued together neatly. Precision in measurements and angles can greatly enhance the overall appearance of your quilled design.

Another tip is to experiment with different color combinations and paper textures. Play with contrasting or complementary colors to create visually striking effects. Additionally, using varied paper textures can add depth and interest to your artwork. Don’t hesitate to explore different shades and types of paper to find what works best for your design.

Remember, practice and experimentation are key to improving your paper quilling skills and creating impressive artworks!

Q10. How do you juggle your desire to become a successful South African artist with raising and taking care of your family?

Q10. As an artist, my identity is shaped by my passion for creativity and my dedication to the art form. The desire to express myself and convey emotions through intricate paper designs drives and motivates me to create. Like many artists, I have faced discouragement, but I choose to overcome it by staying true to my vision and believing in the value of my work.

Being a female artist in South Africa, balancing the pursuit of my art with raising a child and taking care of my family, presents its challenges. However, the support of my loved ones, helping me where they can, and my determination to succeed empower me. I navigate the complexities of life by managing my time efficiently, seeking inspiration from my experiences, and embracing the resilience that comes with being an artist.

Through dedication and perseverance, I strive to achieve success while fulfilling my responsibilities as a parent and a caretaker.

Q11. Are there any particular artists that inspired and influence you in some way?

A11. My mom definitely played a big role and had a significant influence on my creative journey. When we were young, our school holidays would be filled with arts and crafts. This instilled a love for creativity, and encouraged me to explore my own artistic path.

One of my absolute favorite paper artists, is Yulia Brodskaya, who is renowned for her intricate and vibrant paper illustrations. Her meticulous approach to quilling and her ability to create depth and emotion using paper strips inspire my own creative techniques.

Additionally, artists like Elsa Mora, known for her delicate paper sculptures, have influenced my perception of paper as a versatile medium. Mora’s ability to transform simple paper into intricate and lifelike forms motivates me to experiment with different styles and push the boundaries of paper art.

Q12. You’ve previously expressed your fondness for “The Deckle Edge” art store. Could you share what makes this store special to you, and in what ways has it enriched your artistic journey and creative process?

A12. For many years, before studying fine art, I would often go to The Deckle Edge with my mom to get some art materials as we generally loved all things arts and crafts. Since then , The Deckle Edge has always been my favourite shop! Ever since then, the first and last place I go when creating an artwork, is The Deckle Edge as they have everything you need from getting you started on rough work to creating the final piece. My favourite section has to be their paper section as they stock a wide variety of hot press, cold press, various brands and various sizes to fit all my art needs.

Learn more about paper quilling and the supplies you will need to get started in this Paper Quilling blog post.

Join Mishkaah as she takes us on a journey through her creative process, her love for paper art, and her upcoming Paper Quilling Workshop on November 4th. If you would like to see more of Mishkaah’s works then you can follow her on Instagram using this handle @m.amien_artist

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