x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Anniversary Issue: Budour Al Ali

The background is slowly filled in to reflect the earth-coloured sky. Christopher Pike / The National
The background is slowly filled in to reflect the earth-coloured sky. Christopher Pike / The National
Budour Al Ali is an Emirati portrait painter whose paintings of Arabian horses and sheikhs hang in hotel lobbies and in the majlises of Abu Dhabi's VIPs and has won several awards for her work including those of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

For the sixth anniversary edition of The National, we asked her to complete a painting from her current series of one of the UAE's favourite animals, the gazelle. She chose this subject because she wanted to select one of the nation's most beautiful aspects and show it to the rest of the world.

Here we catch up with her for a Q&A about her inspiration and her skills.

What inspired you to start painting?

The journey of my artistic path with canvas, colours and brushes started with my grandmother's deep love and warm encouragement from childhood. Then, my family and friends told me, I observed the world around me with an eye of an artist. So, painting came naturally to me.

My grandmother noticed that the observations of the world around me seeped into my bedroom, schoolbooks and even onto my friend's faces, hands and feet so she gave me the tools and her blessings. That's how it all started.

Where did you learn your skills?

I learnt the basics on my own and tried many different mediums. I then enrolled in art classes locally and internationally that lasted anywhere from one night to many months.

I took summer and winter art programs with the Royal College of Art in London and London University of Arts that bolstered my strengths and improved my weaknesses and took both my artwork and skills to the next level.

Why do you choose to depict members of the royal family?

With portrait painting, and as an artist specialised in the impressionism and realism styles, I am somehow limited with the faces I draw; hence, my paintings were mostly faces of famous people in my area. The paintings of famous royals were all requests from clients. But I don't necessarily only draw royals, I draw normal people too but because they do not like to show their faces in public (most of my clients are Arab females), I do not exhibit the paintings or show them to anyone.

You have a full time day job as an accountant by day, so how do you find time to paint?

Since my art studio is at home, I spend at least five hours every day reading, planning and painting. I do not always paint for that long though, only when I have an upcoming exhibition or a project that I am working on. One day a week I do nothing after work so I can re-energise myself to paint the next day. Practicing and keeping up the momentum is very important to excel as an artist.

The two disciplines are very different (accounting and painting) - how do you find a balance between the two?

My attitude heart, mind and intellect, have a very strong connections with both my background in accounting and finance as well as my passion of arts.

To me, the disciplines are similar. Both require technical information. With regards to my profession, I often need to determine the best way to solve a problem, I encounter challenges so with practice, I became capable of finding ways to overcome obstacles, that is very applicable to the creative process of painting too. Both fields, requires patience, intelligence and high accuracy and I am very skilled with these qualities.

Where can we see your work?

I exhibit my work at galleries all over the country and take part in national art awards. I have had multiple solo exhibitions of between ten to 12 art pieces and I hope I will have a chance to be a part of many more. I own a home-based art workshop and gallery and samples of my art pieces can be seen on my website www.budourartgallery.ae and on my Twitter accounts @BudourAlAli and @BArtGallery.