14 November 2018Last updated


DIY tips from Dubai’s coolest artists

Faris Al Jawad asks the city’s trendiest street artists and painters how to create mini masterpieces for your home

By Faris Al Jawad
12 Aug 2015 | 12:00 am
  • Tarsila Shubert.


Tarsila Shubert

Hailing from São Paulo in Brazil, 27-year-old Tarsila is an exciting talent on the Dubai art scene. Influenced by the bright and bold colours of her home country’s cities and rainforest, she was encouraged by her father to start painting with oils at 13 and later became interested surrealism.

Arriving in Dubai three years ago, Tarsila began to develop her style in the form of street art, painting powerful murals across the city that depict everything from her views on society to her bizarre dreams. “Often the art world can be quite closed. I like the idea of bringing art to the street, so everyone can share it,” she explains.

“The last painting I did in Deira is like a distorted pyramid that represents society’s hierarchy. It’s about power and money, and how people sometimes don’t respect each other… My paintings are very colourful. Sometimes I paint something that’s not happy, but with the colours I hope that my art can bring hope, and maybe some beauty, to the lives of the people who interact with it.”

Bottle art

Create your own bottle art

You’ll need

• 1 glass bottle

• 1 can of spray paint (we used meta llic gold)

• Paint marker pens

• Old newspaper

• Protective mask


Step 1: Spread out the old newspaper to protect your work surface.

Step 2: Clean the glass bottle, place it on the newspaper and, wearing the protective mask, spray it fully, keeping a distance of 20cm. Leave it to dry for one hour, and repeat if necessary. If you find it easier, you could lay it down, spray one side, then, when that’s dry, spray the other.

Step 3: When it’s dry decorate the bottle with the markers, incorporating any patterns you like.

 Susan Brooker

Susan Brooker

The vibrant and colourful pieces created by British artist Susan are inspired by her admiration for strong, independent women. “I feel a strong connection to women; maybe it’s a loyalty, or a sisterhood thing,” she explains. “Sometimes the subject is an iconic image, such as Marilyn Monroe or Sophia Loren, but sometimes the subject will be anonymous.”

The 43-year-old, who has lived in Dubai for nine years, started painting seriously just two years ago after her husband Dan discovered an old sketchbook of hers and encouraged her to develop her skill.

Working as a trading assistant for an oil and gas company, Susan only paints over the weekends and evenings, when she is relaxed and happy. Having just finished her first solo exhibition Ladies in Paint, she says, “I’m inspired by all the entrepreneurial women in Dubai who start off doing things because they love it, and then their ‘hobby’ becomes a business. Those kinds of successes spur me on.”

Flag oil painting

Create your own national flag oil painting

You’ll need

• A canvas

• Charcoal

• Oil paints


Step 1: Sketch out your chosen flag on to a canvas using charcoal.

Step 2: Add the colours with a thin layer of oil paint. This layer will take about a day to dry.

Step 3: Now apply a second layer of the same colours but this time apply the paint thickly to give the work texture.

Step 4: Once you have applied the thicker layer, drag a darker shade of the same colour across areas of the painting to make it look old and more rustic. These thick layers of oil will probably take about seven to 10 days to dry, so be patient!

 Fathima Mohiuddin

Fathima Mohiuddin

Born and raised in Dubai, Indian-Canadian Fathima has been a pioneering figure in the street-art scene in the UAE, with her sharp, personal and sometimes dark pieces cropping up across the city in restaurants and street-art nights.

While working at Ductac as the gallery and project manager, Fathima felt frustrated with the UAE art scene’s focus on international artists so, after winning the Shaikha Manal Young Artist Award in 2010, she quit her job and set up her own artistic platform, Domino, at just 27. “I felt like we should be supporting local talent, building something we can export, not just always import. So Domino is a channel to create opportunities for emerging artists in the UAE.”

However, Fathima is first and foremost an artist who is most comfortable with her sketchbook. She often depicts society through abstract images, often using birds to represent emotions. “I use a lot of black, I like to find beauty in the darkness. I love Inuit native Canadian art, and I the way I use lines is influenced by calligraphy.

“I don’t think my work is obvious straight away, people can look at it in different ways. And that’s what I like, as we’re subjective beings and art is subjective.”

Spray paint art

Create your own quirky spray paint art

You’ll need

• An old key or random object

• An A3 piece of cardboard

• Cans of spray paint in different colours, spanning dark to light


Step 1: Start by finding an interesting object in your house. Choose something small, preferably with a pleasing silhouette, and something you don’t mind caking in paint.

Step 2: Place the object on a piece of A3 cardboard and spray over it with a dark coloured spray paint.

Step 3: Move the object over and spray again. Repeat several times in any pattern of your choice.

Step 4: Change spray-can colour and repeat steps two and three and continue with as many colours as you want, working from dark to light.

Step 5: Once you’re comfortable with this you may want to use different objects in the same piece or different surfaces, such as wood or canvas.

 Maddy Butcher

Maddy Butcher

This bubbly and energetic 32-year-old hails from Birmingham in the UK, and originally studied fine art, before getting into advertising, and finally finding her niche in Dubai in the form of street art.

“My time with fine art involved a lot of technical painting, but it was very separate from normal people, and that’s why I got into street art, as it’s about making an idea as communicative as possible.”

The now full-time freelance artist describes her style as “colourful, linear and very to the point. I want instant impact, which I think is the same as my personality; people either love me or hate me, and it’s the same with my art.”

Dubai certainly seems to be on the ‘love’ side, with Maddy’s expressive art having been exhibited at the World Art Dubai show and Middle East Film & Comic Con, as well as being commissioned for various trendy hangouts.

Maddy’s love for music has a huge influence on her work and nowhere is this more powerfully felt than at Media One’s Deck on 8 Rooftop bar, where her ‘Wall of Fame’ – with massive portraits of dance music legends such as Daft Punk – snakes around behind the bar.

“A lot of my portraits are people who I genuinely love, and it’s the same with my patterns; it’s got to be instantly fun. I don’t want to do bland.”

Maddy has big hopes for the future of Dubai’s art scene, “There’s a real energy right now. Dubai is a melting pot and with such a varied audience it’s less about finding your hipster niche, and more about communicating across boundaries, which is really cool.”

Abstract spray portrait

Abstract spray portrait

Create your own abstract spray portrait

You’ll need

• 1 canvas

• 5 cans of spray paint (four that complement each other and one that clashes)

• An A3 portrait printout

• An A3 piece of card

• Masking tape

• Scalpel


Step 1: Take a portrait picture you like, blow it up to A3, print it and stick it on to the card. Make sure the image has lots of white space around it.

Step 2: Make a stencil by cutting out all the dark spaces with a scalpel, but leaving bridges to keep all the white parts together so the stencil is intact.

Step 3: Spray part of your canvas in any colour you like, leave to dry and then place strips of masking tape across the canvas to create any pattern you like. Paint again and again, alternating all but the clashing colour and allowing the canvas to dry in between.

Step 4: When the whole canvas is covered, place your stencil in the middle and spray with the clashing colour.

By Faris Al Jawad

By Faris Al Jawad