Art General, Culture and Religion, Flight of Horace, illustration, People and Blogs, Uncategorized
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Ani y Catrina – Acrylic ink on papyrus (all rights reserved Mohammed Shamma)

I painted this piece for #Inktober and Dia de Los Muertos. I had originally wanted to call this the Book of the Dead meets the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) but that seemed like a mouthful.  And as I worked on it, I began to feel like the piece was more than just a mashup of the two traditions.

In this scene, Ani (a nobleman from Egypt in the 19th Dynasty – 1250 BCE) is escorting Catrina (see La Calavera Catrina) to the weighing of her heart.  The god Anubis presides over the scale that measures the weight of her heart to that of a feather.

The hieroglyphic text comes from Spell 30b of the Book of the Dead.  The most famous version of the Book of the Dead is The Papyrus of Ani (British Museum, London).  Here is the English translation:

O my heart of my mother! O my heart of my mother! O my heart of my different forms! Do not stand up as a witness against me, do not be opposed to me in the tribunal, do not be hostile to me in the presence of the Keeper of the Balance, for you are my ka which was in my body, the protector who made my members hale. Go forth to the happy place whereto we speed, do not make my name stink to the Entourage who make men. Do not tell lies about me in the present of the god. It is indeed well that you should hear!
                  — Book of the Dead, spell 30B

Here is a partial Spanish translation (of the English translation) which I used in the painting:

Oh Osiris, el escriba Ani dice: “Mi corazón, corazón de mi madre. Mi corazón, el corazón de mi madre, corazón de mi existencia!. No puede incurrir en ninguna resistencia sobre mí en mi juicio.”

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Ani y Catrina workspace (for perspective)

 

Ani y Catrina

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Advertising, Art General, illustration, Travel Journal, Uncategorized, Watercolor
Watercolor and ink on paper, All rights reserved to Mohammed Shamma

Watercolor and ink on paper, All rights reserved to Mohammed Shamma

Concept illustration that I made for a short story about a girl that responds to an ad about a correspondence art course and ends up on a whirlwind tour around the world.

Become an Artist in 30 Days or Less

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Flight of Horace, illustration, Uncategorized

Song of the Harper (Remix)

Song of the Harper (Remix)

Song of the Harper (Remix) – by Mohammed Shamma – India and acrylic ink on paper – October 10, 2016

Have you ever loved a song or poem so much that you wanted to be buried with it.  The Song of the Harper was exactly that for ancient Egyptians.  I have to admit, I was moved by it when I read the version that was written on Inerkhau’s tomb at Deir el-Medineh.

The waters flow north, the wind blows south,
and each man goes to his hour.
So, seize the day! Hold holiday!
Be unwearied, unceasing, alive,
you and your own true love;
Let not your heart be troubled
during your sojourn on earth,
but seize the day as it passes!

When I read that passage (full text available here) I immediately wanted to incorporate it into an illustration with a contemporary twist.  I decided to change up the subject first.  I’m a fan of standing poses, so I chose one of the musicians from Amenemhat’s Tomb.

الخوخه el-Khôkha

(Flickr photo by risotto al caviale) الخوخه el-Khôkha

I also wanted to incorporate the original hieroglyphs from the wall of Inherkhau’s tomb as seen below.  Unfortunately the song lyrics in the photo (on the left) are incomplete.

Tomb of Inherkau TT359 Pano

(Flickr photo by kairoinfo4u) Tomb of Inherkau TT359

The site OsirisNet.net (thanks to everyone listed here) has a very detailed description of the tomb along with panorama photos of the inside of the tomb.  The site also provides a transcribed copy of the text from Bernard Bruyere the French Egyptologist who published the first excavation of the site in 1927.

Now that I had the original text and English translation, I could begin work on finding the text corresponding to the English version above.  Full disclosure here, my wife is a trained Egyptologist, so I was able to get her help in isolating the correct text.

Once I had the text, it was a simple matter of layout.  I chose to place the hieroglyphs on the outside columns of the illustration and then add my own “remix” of the text (just as I did the musician) around him.

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Uncategorized

Sketchbook Project 2015 Submitted

I’m so excited to have just sent off my first submission to the Brooklyn Art Library’s Sketchbook Project.  Here’s a sneak preview.

The Illustrated Letters2

This sketchbook is my attempt at illustrating the first letter my mother wrote to my father in 1953. I enjoyed it thoroughly and hope to illustrate another letter in the next edition of the project. I also hope that my illustrations help connect the reader to the author’s (Florence) stream of consciousness as she is composing each paragraph. Her words are full of youthful imagination and simply call out for a visual backdrop.

This project was technically challenging because I wanted to paint with watercolor but every attempt I made bled too much into the paper. I also tried India and calligraphy inks but they seemed to bleed also. I finally settled on acrylic ink for the text and illustrations. It dried very quickly and had very minimal bleeding.

I drew much of my inspiration from mid-century modern art, graphic design and textile patterns of the early 1950s. I focused mainly on the works of Charley Harper, Alexander Calder, Lucienne Day, Gerald Downes, Stig Lindberg, Marian Mahler and Sylvia Chalmers.

My submission to the Sketchbook project 2015.

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Uncategorized

Salaam Love in the Heart of California Wine Country

I couldn’t think of a better venue for reading my story “Echoes” than the sunny and warm Northern California wine country.  It was held at Santa Rosa Junior College as part of their Fall 2014 Arts & Lectures Series.  Thanks to all the students, faculty, staff and community for coming out, listening and asking very engaging questions.  For more information about the book and the other amazing stories, check out the Love Inshallah website.

The next reading will be at LitQuake in San Francisco on October 11th.  Come out if you can!

Salaam Love SRJC

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Uncategorized, Urban Sketching, Watercolor
June 27, 2014

June 27, 2014 – The Street Spirit of Bancroft Way

When I first arrived at UC Berkeley in 1997, I entered from one of the most unlikely entrances on campus, the steps on Bancroft Way that led me to the Hearst Gymnasium and Barrows Hall.  A few days ago, I decided to return to those steps and just look back at the street and observe the activity.  Not much has changed.  The facades of the retail shops remain unchanged.  The flower vendor left a few years ago and a “For Lease” sign sits in his place.  A “Street Spirit” vendor found some shade on the bench where the flowers were once sold and offered his newspapers to passers by.  I sat down on the steps next to one of the classical revival urns that surrounded the Hearst Gymnasium.  I sketched as the urn’s lion gargoyle gazed out onto the street almost in a protective manner over the “Street Spirit” vendor.

The Street Spirit of Bancroft Way

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Uncategorized

I was in the best of both worlds this evening, sketching while surrounded by books.  I got to hang out and sketch with SF Bay Area Urban Sketchers who met at Diesel, A Bookstore.  They’re a great group of artists that meet once a month and draw on location in honor of the Urban Sketchers manifesto.  Check out their Facebook group or, if you’re not in the SF Bay Area, find one near you and save the next urban sketching meet-up in your calendar.

 

Diesel, A Bookstore

April Sketch Evening at Diesel, A Bookstore

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