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22 Mar

Tones are essential in geometric art: Zarah Hussain

In geometric art colors are very easy to get wrong. The use of tone is very important in geometric art because of the diversity of shapes and vast amount of angles English artist Zarah Hussain explains. Using similar tones will make a geometric piece look bland. Avoiding a bland look takes a lot of exercise. The fruits of these tips you can see at the Birmingham Museum in Hussains exhibit 'Symmetry in Sculpture' starting end of May.


Cloud 10 - Hospital installation Cloud 10 Hospital installation Zarah Hussain

Cloud 10 detail - Zarah Hussain


Hussain had always used colors intuitively. She took a Masters training in using colors to learn more: for the first few weeks she was only allowed to use one color, an earth color. Hussain was granted the freedom to apply light, middle or dark tones. Later on, another earth color would be added, but again: light, medium or dark tones only. That cycle was repeated until by the end of the course bright vivid colors were allowed as well. The learning process was very methodical, and Zarah spent hours and hours sketching and drawing according to the exercises.


There was more to the course. She also learned to '..extract colors from the world.' A beautiful way of saying she learned to make her own colors. This made her understand how precious color was, has been, in the past. One big rock may lead to only one small teaspoon of pigment! The Handasah series (below and main image) was created using paints Hussain made herself.


Handasah - Spring Spring - Handasah - Zarah Hussain


Does Hussain have a connection with a type of color by now? Hussein wasn't sure, but subconciously she might. She mentioned Aaram, meaning 'rest' or 'breathing space', as an example of a piece whose colors were influenced very much by something: she made it during a beautiful summer. But Hussain likes all colors really.


Aaram - Blue composition Aaram Bluecomposition - Zarah Hussain

Aaram - Breathing Space

Aaram Breathing Space - Zarah Hussain


In her more recent work she applies gradations more. Also shadows and reflecting natural light of surfaces to color other surfaces (see below). Her studio now is filled with color swatches. She loves them. She loves testing combinations of colors.

Isometric wave

Isometric wave - Zarah Hussain

Isometric wave - Zarah Hussain

You can find Zarah Hussain's exhibition catalogues on her website.


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