Sandy Kurt's passion for Islamic geometry began in 2016 with an online course, an old compass and some cheap watercolours. Her miniature complex geometry and sense of colour captured the attention of social media and soon she was inspiring thousands of artists to get started with this traditional art form. We talked about her connection to the artform and her advice on drawing patterns.
Why Islamic geometry, what is the connection?
Most people, as soon as they find out that I’m Muslim, think that I create Islamic art because Islam is my religion. This connection is interesting to me as in fact, it’s the other way round.
I was born and raised Muslim but I am much closer to my faith now that I practice Islamic geometry.
I discovered Islamic geometry in 2016 while I was surfing the internet searching for mandalas inspiration. And when I saw that 12 fold rosette I felt so attracted to it that I spent the rest of the day trying to find out what kind of art was that. I had no clue how to draw it so I measured all the distances with my ruler. Then I found an online course and learned how to draw basic geometric shapes with a compass and ruler. The rest is history.
For those interested in learning more about the artform and practising the tradition, can you share some advice and tips?
When I started studying Islamic Geometric Pattern five years ago only a few artists were doing this and showing their work on the internet. There were only 1 or 2 online courses and so little free stuff to learn from. But luckily more and more people became interested in this art form and we are a pretty big community now.
Sharing free resources has never been easier. Thanks to Instagram and Pinterest artists can help people learn and feel part of a community. I have a whole website where I cover any topic that you can think of: supplies list, books recommendation, tutorials, online courses, free resources, you name it
I have 3 main pieces of advice that I always share:
1) Start with the basics.
I can see people rushing to the most complicated pattern because they want to do something cool way before they are ready for it. I think it's great to be curious and to challenge oneself. I started like that too. But we also have to be humble and understand when something is bigger than us. It takes time and it takes practice and patience. This doesn't mean that you have to give up and never try this art form. We have to change our consumerism mindset of "HERE AND NOW" and learn that we have to slow down and enjoy the process instead.
2) Believe your work is worth bringing to the table
Islamic art is not only in palaces, madrasas or mosques. It's in our homes too.
Passing down this kind of art through everyone's work is a great way to keep Islamic art alive.
No one can create artwork the way YOU create artwork. I think that we should all stop being scared of not being good enough. I’ve seen so many people giving up because of that, but that's not the purpose of art. You have nothing to lose. You won't lose money. No one is chasing you. No one will give you grades or judge you. And if it happens, who cares? Frame one of your pieces and hang it on the wall. That's Art.
3) Invest in your craft
Being that a course or a shiny compass, if that’s what you want to do you have to play it big.
Commit to what you are creating and be open-minded about the kinds of classes and talks you want to attend. And I’m not only talking about art. Even a self-development course can open up your creativity.
Can anyone learn the art of Islamic geometry?
As long as you have the right mindset you can learn ANYTHING you want. It may seem that Islamic geometry is too “technical” or “precise” to be created by anyone.In fact, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain with this artform. You will learn how to be patient, how to commit to your practice, and how to appreciate the journey more than the destination. As soon as you give up on your expectations and high standards you will notice the beauty of life itself.
What has been the most complex geometry you have drawn?
That surely is my “The Macrocosm in a Microcosm” painting. It’s 50 x 50 cm handmade watercolour paper covered in a miniature zellige pattern. After one whole month of analysis, I almost gave up because I couldn’t figure out the construction. Sometimes you are just not ready for it. And that’s ok. Now I know that I needed to do other things, study and grow as an artist to be able to finish it. I went back to it one year later, completed the analysis, and then it took me 2 months to draw it, transfer it, paint it. But it’s also one of the paintings I love the most. It’s inspired by the infinite connection between the universe and us.
For more information check out https://sandykurt.com or follow her on Instagram @sandy.kurt to see her latest artwork
All images are courtesy of the artist to whom copyright belongs, unless stated otherwise.
The views of the artists, authors and writers who contribute to Bayt Al Fann do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Bayt Al Fann, its owners, employees and affiliates.