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Art is truly therapeutic to many. Bangladesh-born Tashfia Shamim can testify to this fact since she has been creating circular doodles to relieve stress.
The 25-year-old former BA (Hons) Accounting and Finance student at Taylor’s University has been arting since she was eight years old.
However, she only discovered her talent in circular doodles in 2016.
“I had trouble sleeping during a stressful period of my life when I was 19 and I would always be worrying about things,” Tashfia begins in our email conversation.
After moving back to Bangladesh to pursue her A levels, Tashfia found it extremely difficult to settle down and get used to the big change, let alone find an art school.
“I had a hard time keeping sight of my own dreams during those days and gave up on studying art in school but maintained it as my hobby.”
Picking up a Sharpie, she began doodling an owl sitting on a branch during a windy night with its eyes wide open.
“When I drew the owl, I felt like I could relate to her since she was wide awake during those hours just like my racing mind.”
Loving the mystical effect she created, Tashfia began using the contrast between black and white to her advantage. Her art kept her sane in that stressful period of her life.
Tashfia confides that she had never been a confident artist prior to her discovery.
Despite wanting to be an artist, I never really was confident in myself and my work enough and didn’t believe that I could make a living out of it because I would hear about how difficult it was for artists to earn enough afford their own living costs fully by themselves unless they were extremely good,” she explains.
However, thanks to the internet, Tashfia has met many inspiring artists who use the net to their advantage; to learn of other artists’ work and promote their own.
“The idea of drawing in circles appealed to me ever since I learned about Mandala art and I find it therapeutic whenever I am under stress and want to clear my mind.
“Sometimes life drives me into a corner in my mind where I just feel really low so these doodles are a way to escape and do something that is better than myself,” she says.
Now, Tashfia carries her traditional sketchbook and a pencil along wherever she goes.
“Before I apply ink on the paper, I roughly draw out the concept in my head in pencil. I use ink pens such as Sharpies and Artline pens for the detailed work.”
She also uses a compass to draw out the circle. For the rare touches of colour in her circular doodles, she uses watercolour paints or Derwent Ink Tense pencils.
“When I draw in circles, I like to think of it as looking through the round magnifying glass or a telescope that focuses on the different ideas that I explore.”
On average, it takes a day to even two weeks to complete one piece.
“I allocate about 30 minutes to 1 hour per day to my sketchbook,” Tashfia says, adding that children’s novel illustrator John Tenniel and Kerby Rosanes’ artworks have served as her inspirations.
“When it comes to each specific doodle, the ideas often come when I am listening to a song and empathise with it or when I have read an excellent book or watched a good movie or music video.
In other words, she adds, other forms of art inspire her to create her own art.
“I started off with fanart and then I eventually started developing my own personalised ideas.”
The reason Tashfia refers to her artworks as doodles is because she typically uses minimal equipment to draw them while she’s in the middle of other commitments.
“That, and because they are a mode of relaxation and joy for me. I think my drawings are black and white mainly because I am looking for the feeling I used to get when I was absorbed into illustrated Enid Blyton books or fairytale books.”
All images supplied by Tashfia Shamim.