By Sarah Zahaf
With a paintbrush in hand, music playing in the background, inspiration flowing through her head, Amal is ready to paint her murals using the walls all around her as her blank canvases.
Amal Al Balooshi is a 26-year-old Bahraini designer who has become well-known because of her stunning colorful murals, which she showcases on her Instagram page. When you scroll through her Instagram feed, you often find snippets of her painting process and her artwork displayed all throughout.
Art has always been present in Amal’s life, ever since she was young, starting with the drawings she did in school. But she started painting murals using large tubes of acrylic paint because she wanted to paint on a bigger scale. “It gives me the freedom to express myself,” she tells me; something she felt she could not do on small pieces of paper. Her process of painting murals started in her own bedroom when she covered her walls with her art, expressing herself and her thoughts with each paint stroke. She also enjoys the ability to depict people’s emotions and their unspoken thoughts through her murals. Indeed, in her murals, she often depicts faces with varying messages, expressions and colors, one of the many ways she portrays the wide range of human emotions.
For Amal, the presence and the ability to create art has changed her life completely. She explains “I struggled in college with their rules; it was a really negative environment for me.” Amal studied Interior Design in university and although she loved what she studied, she felt “too restricted by the rules.” She found art to be an escape from all the constraints, and it gave her the freedom to paint and draw whatever she wanted, whenever she felt like it. “It was a way to create my own rules and build something for and by myself,” she tells me.
Aside from the personal murals she paints in her own home, Amal also receives requests to paint murals in both public and private spaces. The mural painting scene in Bahrain is blossoming, with more and more artists painting murals and creating street art all over the country, including local artists such as Mustafa Halwachi, Sarah Ridha, Arnaud, Kojak and Mary Lou, who came together to form the Dirty Hands Crew in 2018. She expresses her love for the numerous mural paintings and the mural painting scene in Bahrain as she is also able to paint and showcase her very own designs around her country, her home. With the growing mural painting community, there are more and more female artists making their mark on the Kingdom, and Amal is glad to be amongst them in an environment that has so far been challenge-free for her.
When it comes to what she aims to express through her mural art, Amal’s main goal is to portray the freedom that comes with art; “There are no limits and rules in art, you don’t have to follow a type or a subject, it doesn’t have to be neat or comprehensible, you just have to put pieces from you in it and make people feel something by looking at it.” Amal often finds her inspiration through her “thoughts, emotions, and all the questions I have in my head.” Each art piece displays a certain message or a certain feeling, and each piece is different from the other. Her paintings are able to express emotions, ranging from joy to thoughtfulness. Her inspiration often stems from her love of drawing people; “how I see them and how I translate their emotions in the painting.”
When I ask her about what advice she would like to give to other artists in the scene, Amal expresses that the most important part of mural painting is that you “don’t do art to impress, do it to express.” She adds that it does not matter what other people think as long as you are able to do what you love. “It is always better to share, inspire and get inspired,” she believes.
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Amal’s appreciation not only encompasses painters, but other types of artists including dancers, singers and musicians. Music plays a big role in her mural painting process and her inspiration. In her mural painting video reels, the first thing you will notice is the music playing in the background. Amal explains that her painting process consists of two essential elements: music and freedom. Listening to music, as she explains, “moves me in a way to paint freely without thinking.” The presence of music puts her in the mood and creates the perfect environment she needs to paint murals. Last year, the young artist moved into her new house that she shares with her husband, Bahraini YouTuber Omar Farooq, where she is in the process of working on creating the same environment she had before to paint, the special atmosphere that allows ideas and inspiration to run freely.
So, what is there to expect for the rising artists and her future in mural art? Amal admits that she currently does not “read or keep up with artists and events,” which is why her goal for this year is to “know more artists, talk and discuss with them,” as well as potentially having her first art gallery, and participate in some art exhibitions. Not only does she want to learn more about the art world around her, but she also wants to “be more present offline in terms of art.”
To view more of Amal Al Balooshi’s work, visit her Instagram page.
Sarah Zahaf is a Chinese-Algerian writer and a student studying International Relations and English at the American University of Sharjah. She is passionate about diversity in culture, arts and literature. She is currently interning at Sekka.
The views of the authors and writers who contribute to Sekka, and the views of the interviewees who are featured in Sekka, do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sekka, its parent company, its owners, employees and affiliates.