Creating Islamic Pattern, Lieve Oudejans

Lieve Oudejans was born and raised in the Netherlands where she works as a PhD student in the field of cancer biology. During her studies, first Biology and then Biomedical Sciences, she always pursued something creative on the side. First this was photography, capturing anything from landscapes to portraits and from flowers to architecture. After that she started exploring etching and printmaking, creating works influenced by nature and geometry. Since 2019 she have been drawing and painting Islamic geometric art. This very new path came just in time, as it helped me her through the pandemic. She followed many online classes while completing works in between the lessons.


We talk to Lieve about finding a connection with Islamic art, creating Islamic patterns and finding inspiration through the art community.



Your works are inspired by Islamic geometry. What made you develop an interest in this artistic tradition?


My parents always took me to visit many museums and exhibitions, something I enjoyed a lot and still enjoy to this day. While visiting the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Germany in 2018, I found a book in the museum shop filled with Islamic geometric and biomorphic designs to be coloured with pencils and watercolours.


Being always attracted to patterns, I bought the colouring book and filled a few pages with some watercolours I had bought to use in some of my etchings. The combination of not having great brushes and the scale of some of the designs (very small details) made this somewhat frustrating and made me look for ways to construct the patterns myself. I stumbled upon pattern constructions on the internet years before when I was looking for patterns for printmaking, however, but there wasn’t a lot of material out there yet. When looking for inspiration and pattern constructions again after acquiring the watercolour book, much more information was available on social media and this was the beginning of a very exciting journey of creating precise and colourful geometric art.



How did you train to become an artist specializing in these traditional artforms?


In this day and age, the internet is your best friend. Even though there’s a lot to say about social media and the impact it has on our lives, it helped me discover geometric art. After finding some videos on YouTube, I ended up following Samira Mian’s course on Udemy and followed along with the videos on her channel. Via Instagram I then encountered Art of Islamic Pattern of the brilliant Adam Williamson and Richard Henry which made me dream about going on one of their study trips. Since I was still studying at that time, this was nothing more than a dream.


But then we were confronted with a pandemic, which made me lose the jobs I had and I found myself all of a sudden with a lot of time on my hands and nowhere to go. With all the study trips that had to be cancelled, many teachers of Islamic geometry ventured into online teaching and this proved to be my chance to get my drawing and painting skills to the next level. I would have never gotten this far without those classes and even though life is becoming its busy self again, I continue to learn from the amazing teachers and the community every day.



Sacred geometry and the universe are themes within your work, can you share more about your approach and influences?


I’ve always been drawn to geometry and especially to Islamic patterns since they give me peace of mind, and drawing these patterns is very meditative for me. I can draw patterns hours on end without knowing how much time has passed. This is also something that happens to me when I look at the night sky; hours can go by. From our perspective the night sky can be dark and maybe unsettling, but with the help of science and telescopes we can see that there are many colours out there. And all these colours, together with bright stars and planets will always be a huge inspiration for me and my work.



Your work has a contemporary aesthetic, how did you create this style?


Having a particular and recognizable style is something that I aspire to have, but I am not actively working towards it. I find inspiration mostly in colours: the colours showing the shades on paint tubes, colours in nature, colours in books. Since colours are timeless I believe that one could see them as from the past and also as contemporary.


What has been the highlight of your career so far?


A recent highlight of my art journey was a short weekend break during which I travelled to London to follow a marquetry workshop taught by Adam Williamson in the Art of Islamic Pattern studio. This weekend was not only an art journey highlight, but it was also one of the best weekends in my life. Next to being introduced to the art of marquetry, it also gave me the opportunity to meet some of the teachers I have followed online classes from. There I also met with some of the kindest and inspiring souls the Islamic art community has to offer in real life after connecting with them in online class discussions and on social media.


During this weekend I also received a plate featuring a design of my own hand that was sandblasted into glass. This plate was created by Tara Sartorius to mould a tile for the Troy Mural project and participating in this project is definitely another highlight for me.



Your works are incredibly detailed, how long does it take for you to create a piece?


There are several stages to completing a piece, starting by constructing the pattern, followed by the rendering with maybe a transferring stage in between, so the amount of time it takes to create a piece highly depends on the complexity. The more simple and smaller designs can be completed in maybe one evening, but one of my more recent works, a large dual level pattern that was painted as a 3D window looking out to starry skies, took around 10 hours to draw and another 25+ hours to paint.


Which artists inspire you?


The community surrounding Islamic Art on its own is a huge inspiration to me and it is filled with many great artists such as Margi Lake, Sandy Kurt and Sharmina Haq to name just a few. It is inspiring to see many people being able to become established artists but I am even more in awe of all the people who are not necessarily full time artists or who do not even think of themselves as artists who still create the most beautiful and heartfelt pieces.



How would you describe the visibility of female artists? Do you think more needs to be done to raise the profile of art by women?


As long as women don’t get equal recognition for their place in the art world, and generally in the world itself, more needs to be done to raise awareness. I think that education together with the wonderful Islamic art community can be a very powerful tool to achieve this. I will always be advocating for equality and I hope that many will join me along this path.


What do you think the future of Islamic art looks like and how do you think we can continue to keep the tradition alive?


Due to the pandemic, some teachers decided to teach classes online. That, together with social media, made Islamic patterns and Islamic art more popular and more accessible. To keep the tradition alive, I believe that sharing is important. I try to do this by attributing my sources and by responding to people who reach out for help and to point them in the right direction. I only follow the example of the many generous artists that I learned from and if we all keep doing this, we can keep the tradition and the surrounding community alive.


For more information follow @artbylieve on Instagram

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