As part of the Canada 150 celebrations I am submitting my new work which depicts the many contributions Muslim Canadians have made to communities across Canada and specifically in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

The GTA hosts the largest number of mosques in Canada. The five buildings painted represent the oldest and most vibrant mosques in central, eastern and western GTA. Canadian mosques are not only centers of worship but also contribute to the community (Muslims and non-Muslims alike) through various educational programs, food banks, athletics, marriage, family counselling, funeral and burial services. In some cases, Mosques in Canada have preserved the majesty of traditional architecture, while in others they re-purpose commercial designs.

Jami Mosque is the oldest Islamic centre in Toronto and is dubbed “the mother of all mosques in Toronto”. Built in 1910 as a Presbyterian church, the building was purchased in 1969 and converted.

Masjid Toronto was formerly a Royal Bank of Canada building which was bought in 2002. This modern mosque (which does not have a minaret or dome) is located near Yonge-Dundas Square.

Madinah Masjid is located near the Danforth area in Toronto. Bought in 1983 (which previously housed a Church of Scientology) the building was redesigned in 2006 with an ornate minaret and green dome imitating the Prophet’s mosque in Madinah.

Islamic Centre of Canada (founded 1996 and repurposed from a warehouse) in Mississauga houses a mosque, headquarters of Islamic Society of North America -Canada, and ISNA high school. Its Food Bank served 40,000 individuals and families in 2016.

The Islamic Foundation of Toronto mosque in Scarborough was built in 1984. Set over 2.3 acres of land, the mosque also hosts a full-time school and evening/weekend classes.

The five structures chosen for ‘A Collage of Canadian Mosques’ includes mosques the artist feels a close affiliation with. Jami Mosque is housed in a beautiful historical church building, Masjid Toronto is frequently visited during work hours in downtown, Madinah Masjid reflects love for the last prophet’s (P.B.U.H) Mosque in Madinah, the Islamic Centre of Canada is where evenings, weekends, and food bank family hours are spent, and the Islamic Foundation of Toronto is where she spent her early years in the GTA.

A Collage of Canadian Mosques 30″ x 48″ Acrylic on Canvas

Similar paintings can be seen here:

This year was my first time participating in the 27th Annual Mistletoe Magic Silent Art Auction. It was such an honour for two of my Canadian landscape oil paintings to be displayed at the Aird Gallery in the MacDonald Block located in Toronto.

Both paintings sold – and one of them went through a bit of a bidding war!

A portion of the proceeds goes to the Aird Gallery to further its goal to providing accessible art in the heart of Toronto.

Here are a few pics of the event which ran November 24th – December 1st 2016.


One Thousand Islands, 20 x 24 “, Oil on Canvas

Forest Magic, 20 x 24 “, Oil on Canvas



This year two of my paintings were again part of the Govfest silent art exhibition. It was a black tie event with wine, music and art. All for a great cause; The United Way Charity. It was a fantastic event with both paintings sold.

Poster for event

‘Forest Shadows’ acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20 ”

‘View from kitchen window’ acrylic on canvas, 18 x 24 inches
And here are some pictures from the event itself:

This summer I was commissioned to paint a gigantic painting in maroons and golds depicting the Turkish inspired whirling dirveshes (mystic dancers). 

For this project I re-used an old canvas of mine on which I had painted Mughal inspired architecture in purples.

As it was done in 2006 I felt it could be improved upon and that’s exactly what I did. Covering the canvas in white and ochre I began and finished in two weeks time.

60″ x 40″ oil in canvas

After 10 years this canvas got an amazing uplift. Notice the new work pays homage to the previous painting by depicting the same Mughal architecture (badshahi mosque) as well as the crescent moon on the top right.

Here is is framed and hung in the matching living room.

To celebrate my daughter’s first birthday I decided to make a paper flower backdrop. It took me a few tries but I got the technique right by following a few examples available online.

Here’s is what the technique led me to create: 

The easy step by step guide is as follows:

Cut out a large petal shape and insert a small cut at the end of the petal.

Cut out six petals for the outer circle and fold the paper petal back so as to create an outward roll.

Fold the insert over itself slightly and staple it together. This will create the petal shape. 

Cut out a small circle and begin gluing the bottom of each petal around it. I used uhu   Glue.

In the same way cut out five/six medium sized petals and force/six small sized petals and roll them, staple them and glue them on the inside.

Now for the flower stamens. 

Fold a long strip of paper.

Make insertions on the folded side and stop just before the end.

Add some glue to the ends and begin rolling the strip around itself.

I used two colours around each other. 

Glue it to the centre of the flower.

Cutting different petal shapes will give you different kinds of flowers. 

And lastly here’s how this beautiful backdrop enhanced my daughter’s birthday pictures. 

Safiya at age 1. 

The little poser.

Safiya’s older cousins.

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,500 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 42 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

My love for cubism led me to experiment with collage. A collage is a composition made from mixed media conveying an idea. Collage as an art form begin in the early 20th century with the popular cubists. 

My assignment was to pick a concept and make a collage out of it. As a concept I focused on media choice and the media I chose was art work – paintings, drawings, cut and paste collages – created by my four-year-old son.

With all the vibrant materials before me I automatically thought of a most colourful animal – the peacock. I used an unfinished acrylic floral painting of mine for the background and set out cutting and pasting my son’s art work in the shape of a peacock.


18 x 24″Acrylic and mixed media collage

The collage incorporated stickers, paint, tape and my sons’s first attempts at writing his name: I is for Ismail. See how many ‘I’s you can find in the picture.

My assignment then required to paint a picture using the collage. It was fun and tedious to translate the 3D effects from the collage into the painting. 

18 x 24″ acrylic on mixed media paper

My art colleagues interpreted  the painting in many different ways :

– a Phoenix rising from the ashes

– a peacock as the national bird of India

– Islamic patterns such as Turkish tiles

– a proud bird looking upon itself 

Please leave a comment to share how you interpreted this painting! 

An artist never stops learning and there is much to be learnt from the 20th century masters. Here is a painting I did replicating one of Cezanne’s popular still lifes – ‘still life with apples and a pot of primroses’.

First of all I did a charcoal and water wash study to appreciate the light and dark values, object placement, and composition in his painting. His still life seems so simple yet when you set out to understand it, one can appreciate the sheer genius in his simplicity- how he challenges perspective and warm and cool colours. 


Next I began to complete a 18 x 24″ acrylic painting on mixed media paper reinforced with a layer of gesso by following a printout of the original.


The result was an increased appreciation of florals, drapery and fruit placed in beautiful balance and harmony.

  18 x 24″ Copy of Cezanne’s ‘still life with apples and a pot of Primroses, Acrylic on Paper

Here is one more addition to my ‘lady in waiting’ – ‘romantic south asian figures’ series. The technique used is acrylic on acrylic wash and the concept is inspired from South Asia and Turkey. The orange and red stand stone comes from Mughal archicture in South Asia, the prussian and sky blue from Turkish culture and the lady’s dark raw umber skin tone, flowing dress with chiffon scarf and white mirrorred jewellery are inspired from Sindhi Culture ( Southern province of Pakistan). Here are the steps from which this painting came to life. 


Heavy water colour paper is stencilled with a number 4 HB pencil. The sketch must be detailed and dark to show through the next steps.


An acrylic wash in three contrasting colours is applied leaving spaces of white where the artist wants the central focal points to be.


The three colours used are mixed to create the tone for the outline in acrylic. This is a detailed process.


After hours and days of building on the shades and colours of the acrylic wash underneath, the artist can bring about a play of lights and details with the same three colours. Blue and orange are high contrast colours that are hard to work with, but using raw umber in between balances the painting. Lastly highlights in white create a romantic effect. 

Non- evocative objects – or in simple words – the use of shapes such as triangles and squares can be turned into a painting. Following the masters of 20th century Cubism, here I copied the style of Gino Severini using his meticulous method of creating entire compositions with cubes, triangles and curves. The colours are in harmony – light pastels, almost rainbow like.

Copy of Gino Serverini, 11 x 17″, Dry Pastels on paper

I love using dry pastels to create a template for an acrylic or oil painting. Smudges allow the colour to flow across the page, blending different shades together seamlessley. Don’t forget to use a fixative once you complete a dry pastel painting – otherwise the colours will blow away!

From non-evocative objects, to evocative objects – that is forms and objects we recognize, I completed this sketch of tree branch shadows falling on a shed in my backyard. Happy Spring/Summer!

Rainbow Shadows, 11×17″ Dry Pastel on Paper

Many years ago, under my mentor, Mansur Rahi – a most talented cubist from the Sub Continent – I learnt how to create different compositions using colours and non-evocative shapes. Here are some of my examples:

Non-evocative compositions, 11 x 17″, Dry Pastel on Paper