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Alex in a Bikini

Watercolour on paper
18 x 24"(46 x 61 cm)

I was lucky to have private art tutors in my teen years. One of these, Alex, who was from the US, insisted that no lens can compete with direct experience. Hence, she trained me to work from life and not from photographs. I managed, but one day she threw me off balance. She coolly informed me that it was time I learned more about anatomy, and that I have to paint nudes. In trying to be a good eighteen-year-old muslim woman, I explained to her that gazing at bare skin was not condoned by Islam.

Despite my pleas, during our next lesson she emerged from the guest washroom wearing a bikini. I didn’t know where or where not to look. She asked me to pull out my watercolors and paint her quickly in monochromes. I was trained to take orders from my superiors, so I complied, despite my confusion and panic. I  worked fast to reduce the length of sinning time, attempting to only half-look at the contours of her body.