A quick Instagram search for resin art reveals well over a million posts, with myriad applications and interpretations of the genre. Yet, this fluid art form is relatively uncommon in the Middle East. One artist and designer who's set to make beautiful waves with her resin art workshops in the UAE, however, is Dina Khataan, who last year was recognised for her contribution to the local art scene with a Global Art Award in Innovation, a year after she moved to the country.
Khataan was born in Egypt, qualified as an interior decorator in South Africa and is clearly at the vanguard of this creative movement in the region. Khataan sells her resin art pieces via Instagram and Facebook. It's telling that the majority of her clients are interior designers, who want to commission bespoke work that is sophisticated and contemporary. From dramatic live-edge tables with pearlised or clear resin infills, to high-shine hanging canvas pieces or board wall art, the adaptable material can reflect your decor's colour palette. Even a nest of Ikea tables can be transformed into talking pieces with a little liquid resin know-how.
Sharing her skills in the UAE
A number of residents have been asking Khataan to share her techniques, and the UAE's first resin art workshop earlier this month was a response to this demand, with more to follow in coming months.
"For an artist to take the step of giving themselves permission to share their knowledge is not necessarily easy," says Khataan, who referenced a wide variety of online sources before she first created her own piece of resin art. "There's a lot of experimentation and failure on the road to mastering any skill."
Khataan's masterclass typically runs over two days, although participants can opt to do the first day as a stand-alone. All materials and aprons are provided, and attendees are given an opportunity to work with a wide variety of paints, tools and other materials to experiment and figure out what most interests them. The hands-on experience informs amateur artists about the items to invest in so they can produce their own pieces after the classes. It is also an opportunity to find out what not to do and potentially avoid expensive mistakes, or the heartbreaking scenario of your creative genius being rendered useless because the piece will not cure through the incorrect ratio of art resin mix.
"I was excited to see how people would create their own pieces," says Khataan. "Everyone is given the same instructions and then you see how each person's style and personality translates into their paintings. Some end up creating the most dramatic effects, which are full of emotions and textures, which is nice to see."
The first day of the workshop gives an overview of the materials and basic techniques, and participants can experiment with mixing the art resin and tools to produce their first pieces. Those who progress to day two investigate seascapes and waves, as well as stonework and marbling techniques using different pigments and sprays. The results are striking, and this participant learnt her first valuable lesson: know when to stop. Meddle too much with your work and an earlier result may be better than the final outcome.
Preserving memories through art
Khataan says that "you can preserve almost anything in resin". For instance, one newly skilled resin artist decided to mix the ashes of her pet dog in a memorial artwork.
Furthering the theme of creating and preserving memories through art, Khataan was recently invited for a live-art event at a local beach wedding, where she worked to create a circular work of aquatic blues and dazzling aquamarine to evoke the Dubai beach setting of the celebration around her. The bride wanted something that would encapsulate the event and create a lasting take-home artwork that captured the goings-on of her special day. Khataan worked with specific colour palettes within the high-gloss piece to ensure the resulting artwork was in harmony with its surroundings.
"The parents put the sand of the beach on the painting, which created an emotional connection as part of the memory of the work," says Khataan, who spent three hours working on the piece in situ. The sun's UV rays tend to speed up the process of curing the resin, so she had to work quickly. "I loved the day. I was so happy that it was a wedding," Khataan reflects. "There was music and the sound of the waves behind me, and I carried all these emotions and threw them into the painting. It was a very nice memory for me as well."
Dina Khataan’s dos and don’ts for resin art beginners
- Invest in quality art resin and art resin hardener – pick one made specifically for artists, which is also more health-friendly.
- Mix art resin at a ratio of oneto-one and develop a system so you don't mix two cups of hardener by mistake (it looks identical when poured).
- Use plastic measuring cups to mix art resin and hardener, scraping out every drop to ensure the mixture is even. Too little hardener and your potential masterpiece is never going to cure.
- Cover working areas with generous amounts of plastic sheeting to allow dripped resin to be captured and up-cycled for other projects, and prevent damage to working areas.
- Use gloves and double-glove your more active hand; resin has a habit of getting everywhere.
- Don't forget to cover finished pieces with plastic or cardboard box to help prevent dust or insects from creeping in and settling on the work before it's cured.
- Don't forget to check that your working surfaces are level – gravity will find a way to make your art slither in unwanted directions.
- Don't be afraid to experiment – you are limited only by your imagination.
For details of art resin workshops with Dina Khataan, visit www.dinakhataanart.com. Resin art supplies can be found at Middle East Stationary (Mesco) and Creative Minds, as well as online at www.eyecandycustomzus.com