Reshma Sainulabdeen works on a piece of art dedicated to the 'Year of Zayed' at her studio. Image Credit:

Dubai: Self-taught Indian artist in Dubai Reshma Sainulabdeen loves to surprise her spectators.

She has been doing that by presenting live shows of sand portrait paintings of famous personalities at various venues in the UAE for a few years now.

However, she has done live sand portrait painting of Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, whose centennial fell in 2018, the most number of times. Raised in Al Ain, the hometown of the founding father of the UAE, Sainulabdeen, 43, has been an ardent fan of Shaikh Zayed. As a child, she had a chance to get a glimpse of the visionary leader during the opening of Jebel Hafeet as a tourist spot.

Reshma Sainulabdeen with one of her artworks dedicated to the 'Year of Zayed'. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Undoubtedly, the microbiologist-turned-artist found the perfect way to bid farewell to the Year of Zayed by presenting her ‘surprising’ art skills on portraits of Shaikh Zayed.

“Why I say it is ‘surprising art’ is because common people usually can’t guess what sort of an image I am drawing till the final stage of the sand portrait,” Sainulabdeen told Gulf News after presenting live painting of two portraits of Shaikh Zayed on Sunday.

While one was a sand art portrait, the second was a spray art portrait mainly using oil paint and ink.

In the case of the spray art, which Sainulabdeen said she had improvised on, the image appears perfectly after the ink, sprayed on to the outlines made using oil colours, drips down and dries up whereas the sand portraits become visible only after sand is applied on the glue that outlines the image.

Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

While doing sand portraits, Sainulabdeen said she usually draws the image with glue by keeping it upside down till sand is poured on to the canvas.

“It’s only when I turn the canvas around, and keep it upright that people can see whose picture has been drawn.”

There lies the “wow” factor of Sainulabdeen’s live sand art sessions. “The surprise and happiness that people react with when they see the final image is very precious to me. I love to cheer people up this way.”

She is particularly happy if someone feeling low is joyed with the ‘surprising’ picture.

Reshma works on a piece of art dedicated to the 'Year of Zayed' at her studio. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Apart from Shaikh Zayed’s solo portraits and ones combined with His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and other rulers of the UAE, Sainulabdeen has wowed her audiences with sand portraits of famous personalities like Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Michael Jackson, former Indian president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and various Indian celebrities.

She takes extra efforts to use different types of sand from various parts of the UAE and also from her hometown in the south Indian state of Kerala for such portraits.

Though she has not formally trained in art, the artist in Sainulabdeen had been chasing the passion since her childhood.

However, it was only after she resigned from her job as a microbiologist with the Department of Agriculture and Livestock in Al Ain and became a homemaker following the births of her two sons that she turned to art seriously.

Reshma works on a piece of art at her studio. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

“I got immense support from my husband and father. When I started doing live paintings, I became known in the community and people started calling me for presenting such art sessions and also for judging competitions. That is when I realised people also expect you to have educational qualifications in art though I had done a course in fashion designing.”

That has prompted Sainulabdeen to recently complete a diploma course in Fine Arts. She is now preparing to get a Bachelor’s degree and wishes to take a PhD in art. An exhibition of her art works is also on the cards.