New Online Courses in Islamic Manuscript Illumination

I am launching my own online classes in Islamic Manuscript Illumination from this autumn!

These new courses will go into much greater depth than any of my previous teaching. From preparing and staining paper, to creating your own unique illumination designs, to gilding and rendering using jewel-like colours, and learning painting techniques from the Islamic world, these comprehensive courses will enrich the practice of all artists, whatever level you’re at.

For an overview of my three new courses, starting from September 2021, please read below. For full course info and booking details please click here.

'Birds of Paradise' online Islamic manuscript course. Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Birds of Paradise

Dates and times: 5 Monday afternoons, 2 – 6pm, from the 6th Sept – 4th Oct 2021

Venue: Online over Zoom

Join us on a journey exploring birds and flowers of Paradise! This brand, new course will cover all practical aspects in designing and painting your own unique illuminated composition inspired by the fantastical borders of Islamic manuscripts. We will begin by looking at the historical and stylistic context of these works of art, tracing motifs though the Silk Road to their arrival in the Islamic lands. Students will have the opportunity to learn about traditional methods of staining and preparing paper using natural materials. In guiding the class though practical drawing and painting exercises, this comprehensive course will show students step-by-step, how to design and gild their illuminated painting. The course will be supported by illustrated talks, group and one-to-one feedback, and newly created teaching resources developed over 15 years of experience with the craft.

For full course info and booking details please click here.

'Gilded Garden' online manuscript illumination course. Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Gilded Garden

Dates and times: 5 Tuesday evenings, 4pm – 8pm, from the 7th Sept – 5th Oct 2021

Venue: Online over Zoom

Create your own, unique beautifully gilded garden! This course will explore the use of semi-stylised flowers in Islamic manuscripts. From the Ottomans, to the Persians and Mughals, these elegant and joyful motifs have long adorned illuminated manuscripts of the Islamic world. Starting with an introduction to the history and artistic context, this comprehensive course will cover all aspects of creating an exquisitely gilded floral border. Students will learn how to stain and prepare their papers for painting. They will also have the opportunity to make and use their own shell gold paint, applying traditional methods from Islamic art. This course will guide students though the process of designing and creating their own unique compositions. Classes will be supported by illustrated talks, group, and one to one feedback, as well as newly designed teaching resources developed over 15 years of experience with the craft.

For full course info and booking details please click here.

'Illuminated Manuscripts: Classic' online Islamic manuscript illumination course. Image (c) Ayesha Gamiet 2021

Illuminated Manuscripts: Classic

Dates and times: 5 Saturdays, 10am – 2pm, from 9th Sept – 11th Oct 2021

Venue: Online over Zoom


This exciting new course will explore all practical aspects of classical manuscript illumination. From preparing natural paper stains and sizes, to making shell gold, gilding, and learning traditional painting techniques, we will cover all aspects of creating an exquisitely illuminated painting. This course will focus on the “classical” style of illumination. The tutor will guide students through the process of creating their own unique compositions. Using ancient techniques, students will learn how to draw and paint the delicate and brightly coloured flowers associated with this style. The practical element will be supported by illustrated talks, group and one-to-one feedback, and newly created teaching resources developed over 15 years of experience with the craft. Taught over five, four-hour sessions, this course will give students the opportunity to learn how to design and paint their own unique illuminated patterns. By the end of the course each student will have created their own beautifully unique artwork.

For full course info and booking details please click here.

Tutor Bio:

Ayesha Gamiet studied under Master Illuminator, Ayten Tiryaki in Istanbul over a period of 12 years, and gained her icaza (traditional apprenticeship) in 2018. An experienced teacher, Ayesha holds a PGCE and MEd in Art Education from the University of Cambridge, where she has helped to train new art teachers. She was commissioned by the Royal Library to illuminate manuscript pages gifted to HRH Queen Elizabeth II, and Prince Charles. Ayesha’s artwork is in the Royal Collection. She teaches and exhibits nationally and internationally.

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New Painting: ‘Valley of Insight’

'Valley of Insight' (c) Ayesha Gamiet 2021

Delighted to share my new painting with you! The ‘Valley of Insight’ is inspired by the Valley of Insight into Hidden Mysteries, as mentioned in the Conference of The Birds – the beautiful, epic 12th Century poem by Farid ud-Din Attar. If you have not read this enlightening classic, drop everything, and go out and buy yourself a copy! I highly recommend this translation by Dick Davis, published by Penguin.

My painting uses 18 and 23 carat shell gold, indigo pigment, gouache, and watercolour on handmade Indian hemp paper. For sales enquiries please contact Jonathan Cooper Gallery.

There is a secret link between the constellations I’ve used in the painting – can anyone guess?

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Artists in Conversation: Online Talk with the Yunus Emre Institute and Leighton House Museum

Online art talk hosted by Leighton House Museum and the Yunus Emre Institute

*** UPDATE 24/07/20***

You can now watch my talk online via the following link:

A HUGE thank you to everyone who attended the live event! Our Zoom webinar was oversubscribed and fully booked. The talk was also broadcast on two Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. It was a pleasure sharing my work and experiences with all of you, and I hope that it nourished and inspired you on your creative paths. I have been overwhelmed, and very humbled by your kind messages. Thank you!


If you have ever wondered about what the journey to becoming a manuscript illuminator entails, or about the process in learning a traditional Islamic art, this talk is for you! On Tuesday, 21st of July, 6pm (BST) I will be talking about my art practice and experiences in the world of Islamic manuscripts. The talk is online, and absolutely free to attend. However, booking is essential and can be done via the following link:

You can also watch the event live on the @yeelondra Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube accounts. Search for the Yunus Emre Institute. The talk will be posted on the Yunus Emre Institute YouTube channel after broadcast, so you can watch it there if you miss the live event next Tuesday. Do also check out the other talks in their Artists in Conversation series.

Get your questions ready! I look forward to seeing you there!

Posted in Icaza, Islamic Manuscript Illumination, News, events, fine art, ijaza, painting, talks | Leave a comment

Beautiful, archival quality giclée prints of my work available online!

The Firebird (c) Ayesha Gamiet 2020. Shell gold and indigo pigment on handmade hemp paper. One of the limited edition giclée prints available from my online shop!

I am delighted to announce the opening of my online shop! Please do take a look! Many of my most popular paintings are now available as limited edition giclée prints. It makes me very happy to know that a little piece of my of my art and creativity can be shared much wider, and welcomed into your homes!

The Firebird inspired by a Russian folk tale, and One Song inspired by a poem by Jalaluddin Rumi are two of the limited edition prints currently available to purchase online.

One Song (c) Ayesha Gamiet 2020. Probably one of my most popular paintings! I am always asked about this artwork. Though the original has been sold, you can now purchase a limited edition giclée print online.

The online store has a range of prints for adults and children in different sizes. This illustration of the Enchanted Horse from the Arabian Nights would make a perfect gift for the little Princes and Princesses in your life.

The Enchanted Horse (c) Ayesha Gamiet 2020.

I am also donating net profits from the sales of two of my prints for charity. Money raised from the sale of Oscar’s Big Adventure will be donated to the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust. Profits from the sale of Dancing Princess will go to the Refugee Council, UK. Buy a print and support charitable causes.

Oscar's Big Adventure (c) Ayesha Gamiet 2020. Profits from the sale of this print will be donated to the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust.

To view the entire collection and buy online please visit:

And do share! Thank you for visiting!

Posted in Arabian Nights, Children's book illustration, Illustration, Islamic Manuscript Illumination, Islamic geometry, Miniature painting, News, Poetry, Refugee Council, Rumi, fine art, gicée prints, painting | Leave a comment

Birds Miniature Painting Colouring Sheet

A downloadable colouring sheet for you to design your own birds. Enjoy!

Please see my two previous posts for more children’s activities, and also follow the link below:

Good luck with the home-schooling!

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Tessellating Tile Patterns for Children

I couldn't resist!

Some new geometry teaching resources for the home-schoolers today: free, downloadable tessellating “tiles” to help with your maths and art curriculum… or just to play with at break time! Here’s a short movie clip to give you some ideas for grids and how to use them:

I recommend printing the tile pdf onto thin white card, or cartridge paper if you have it. Plain photocopy paper will also work, if you don’t.  Cut out the shapes and start experimenting! You can paste your favourite patterns onto paper. Once you’ve got the hang of the tessellations, try creating your own designs on the back! Enjoy!

More resources to come next week…

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FREE Downloadable Islamic Art Teaching Resources for Children and Adults

Enrich your home schooling and fight the cabin fever by colouring and constructing these Platonic solids!

Today I would really love to share with you some free, downloadable Islamic art activities and teaching resources to help us through the lockdown. I’ve posted some of these resources before, but thought they were worth sharing again to help with the home-schooling and general cabin fever that many of us are experiencing in these difficult times!

Please feel free to download these Platonic solids templates. We have a cube, tetrahedron, octahedron, pentagonal dodecahedron, and an icosahedron to choose from. I’ve used them in workshops with children and adults many times before, and they never fail to delight! I’d recommend printing on thin A4 card or coloured construction paper if you have any. If not, don’t worry. They work well on ordinary photocopy paper, too. You can make them into decorations, as in the photo below. You can ignore the patterns and create your own designs on the faces. You can use coloured pencils, crayons, paint, glitter… the possibilities are endless! Just be sure to have fun.

Enjoy creating these Platonic solids models!

Islamic art is a wonderful topic to include in your home-schooling curriculum. There are so many opportunities for cross-curricular study… you could combine your teaching with art, mathematics, history, and religion for really a holistic and creative education.

Get creative with these colour and construction activities

I will be posting up more resources over the coming days… stay tuned! And please stay safe and well everyone. Wishing you and your loved ones happiness, health, peace and stability in these difficult times.

Posted in Islamic geometry, News, Pattern in Islamic art, Teaching, Teaching resources | 5 Comments


Garden of the Humble Ambassador, Suzhou, China

Last month I had the pleasure of teaching at the Jia Yuan Hall Prince’s Foundation School for Traditional Arts in Suzhou, China. This was an extraordinary trip. So much so that I hardly know where to begin in describing the beauty of my surroundings and the understanding, etiquette, appreciation, hospitality, and conscientiousness of my students and hosts.

Suzhou is based in the delta of the Yangtze River, about a two hour drive from Shanghai airport. For centuries it has been an important stop on the ancient Silk Road, specialising in the trade and production of silks, jade ornaments, and pearls. Historically home to the intelligentsia and government officials, this city of canals is filled with traditional Chinese mansions and their exquisite landscaped gardens. Many of these gardens are now UNESCO world heritage sites open to the public.

Garden of the Master of the Nets, Suzhou, China

Exploring these gardens was like stepping into a fairytale. I can’t even imagine how one might begin to design something so exquisitely beautiful. As I wandered through these gardens I was struck by how every viewpoint and angle was perfect. Yet at no point did the design look forced or contrived. I have nothing but the highest respect and admiration for the minds behind these stunning natural works of art.

I was away for two and a half weeks, during which I taught a 10-day workshop for diploma students at the Jia Yuan Hall School, led a one-day workshop on Islamic pattern for the public, and had a few days to rest and do some sightseeing. The workshops focused on nature-inspired pattern in Islamic art, and the cross cultural influence of Islamic and Chinese art through the Silk Road trade.

Pencil practice!

The practical part of the course started as all my courses begin: with lots and lots of pencil and brushwork practice! This is important because it trains students to familiarise with making the smooth curved lines needed for tezhip, or indeed, islimi (nature-inspired design in Islamic art). It also helps to sensitise the hand to various line weights and pressures with the pencil and brush.

Student illuminating a pattern with handmade shell gold

In the first week of the 10-day workshop, students learnt traditional painting techniques used to illuminate a pattern containing a hatayî and bird motif. They practiced shading the design with shell gold – a paint handmade from ground gold leaf. In fact, we made the shell gold ourselves earlier in the week, then used it to paint the compositions.

Grinding gold leaf to make shell gold paint.

Students also learnt a classical tezhip style using tiny coloured flowers on a blue background.

A student applying shell gold to her work

As our time was so short, I asked students to just complete one quarter of the composition so they could work through all the various processes involved in illuminating a manuscript on a small, manageable scale. With that knowledge, they could complete the rest of the design in their own time. However, they were so keen and conscientious that the entire class stayed late and several students finished the pattern within the first week!

Demonstrating how to construct a woven border

The first week ended with me teaching students how to construct woven borders, known as zençerek in Turkish. Here’s how they applied them to their work:

A student painting a woven border

Week two focused on design skills in Islamic art. Students learnt principles of nature-inspired design, then created their own unique compositions for a set of ceramic tiles. Here are some of the designs they produced:

Adding finishing touches to this tile design with a border


Lotus-inspired flowers rendered in a soft, earthy palette

Students on the one-day public course had the opportunity to design and paint their own fantastical flower inspired by islimi - nature-inspired patterns in Islamic art. After a short presentation on biomorphic forms in Islamic art, we went right back to the source of these patterns – the natural world. Students made sketches of plant and flower shapes to inspire their stylised designs.

Observational drawing inspired by nature

Observational drawing inspired by nature

We then abstracted the shapes to create a repeat motif, reflected using symmetry to create these stunning painted designs:


This progressed into...


My little artists did a great job, too!

In fact, this one was so curious that he followed my every move. Even while I was busy making paint for the other students

If I had to pick my highlights of the trip, two moments in particular stand out. On the first day of teaching, I delivered a presentation attended by Jia Qin, a Master of ancient Chinese characters. At the end of my talk, we had a conversation (though a translator) about Arabic and Chinese calligraphy, and how these two arts may have influenced one another in the past. Jia Qin showed me an angular Chinese script, similar in aesthetic to kufic calligraphy. He explained that these characters are no longer used in contemporary Chinese writing. We also discussed the etiquette and pedagogy in studying traditional crafts in the Islamic and Chinese traditions, and I showed Master Jia Qin some images of my hilye. At the end of our conversation, the scholar told me that he would like to make me the gift of a seal, bearing my name in Chinese characters. I was very, very moved by this generous and thoughtful gift.

True to his word, about a week later, a small parcel arrived for me at the art school. It contained the following items:

The seal - my name engraved in granite in Chinese characters, plus a supply of red paste to sign my name. The seal can also be used with wax to close a document

The characters are ancient Chinese letters. According to my Chinese colleagues, Master Jia Qin probably picked the angular style of writing because it resembles Arabic kufic calligraphy. I’m so very touched by this precious gift. I would love to present him with something of equal meaning and beauty in return, but will have to think very hard about what might be suitable.

To end this post, I will share with you a second memorable moment, a very sweet scene that unfolded on my final day in China. By this point, all of my students and most of my colleagues had returned home for the Chinese New Year holiday. Left to my own devices with no translator to accompany me, I decided to visit one of the nearby gardens, a short walk away from the apartment I was staying in. It was my favourite type of weather – mild, but brisk, fresh air with blue skies and sunshine. I took my sketchbook and some drawing materials in the hope of finding a quiet spot to sketch.

Panoramic view, Garden of the Master of the Nets, Suzhou, China

Courtyard, Garden of the Master of the Nets, Suzhou

Exquisite woodwork, Garden of the Master of the Nets, Suzhou

This type of entrance is called a "moon arch", Garden of the Master of the Nets, Suzhou

I wandered around looking for an interesting perspective, somewhere comfortable to sit that was not overrun with children on a school trip. Having found my spot, I settled to work. About 45 minutes into my sketch, just as I was adding texture to some of the trees and refining the rock shapes, a couple of newlyweds walked straight into my frame to take their wedding pictures! Take a look at the short movie I made here. It was so sweet, and so unexpected. It felt like it was another little gift for me, and it really put a smile on my face. When I complete that sketch, I’ll add the newlywed couple with their red parasol to my drawing.

Thank you Suzhou, and thank you to the staff and students at the Jia Yuan Hall arts school for welcoming me. I hope to see you again soon!

Posted in Islamic Art Courses, Islamic Manuscript Illumination, News, Pattern in Islamic art, Student's Work, Teaching, Tezhib, Travels, painting, tezhip | Leave a comment


First day of workshops at the House of Traditional Arts, Jeddah. Photo credit: Art Jameel

A very happy New Year to all my followers! May 2019 bring you abundant happiness, peace, prosperity, and many, many blessings. Mine looks to be a fun, busy, creative, and adventurous year. I already have several stints working abroad booked into my schedule… including to a country I’ve never visited before, but ALWAYS wanted to explore (more on that at a later date!) Plus plenty of teaching in the UK, and some very exciting commissions!

If you are based in the UK and interested in learning more about Islamic art, there are still spaces on my Tezhip / Illumination Foundations Courses, due to start in February. Click here for more info on the 1-week intensive course, and here for the Saturday course. Classes are typically very small with a maximum of 8 students per course, so you will get lots of one-to-one attention and create some exquisite art. My studio is located in beautiful and historic Windsor, Berkshire. I am just a few minutes walk from Windsor Castle, the River Thames, and the picturesque High Street.

My courses at the Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Art are also now online. Click here to discover more about my workshops on illuminated geometry, shamsas, and some fantastic beasts.

2018 ended beautifully. I spent two weeks in Saudi Arabia teaching at the House of Traditional Arts in Jeddah, and even managed to fit in a visit to Medina, and a pilgrimage to Mecca before returning home last month. The workshops were run and organised by the wonderful Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts, and Art Jameel. The Islamic arts diploma course, which I taught on in Jeddah is based in the historic old town, known as Al-Balad. Here are some photos from my stay – enjoy!

All photos in this post were taken by Art Jameel unless otherwise stated.

The historic district of Al-Balad, the Old Town in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Photo credit: Ayesha Gamiet

Al Balad is one of the few places where traditional gypsum carving is still found in Jeddah. Photo credit: Ayesha Gamiet

Presentation on nabati / islimi (biomorphic design in Islamic art). Photo credit: Art Jameel

Students learning how to design their own floral motifs using images from nature, and principles of rotational and mirror symmetry inspired by Islamic art. Photo credit: Art Jameel

Sensitive brushwork. A student creates her own design for a stylised floral motif, then paints it using a technique called halkar. Photo credit: Art Jameel

After several days of learning traditional Islamic art design principles and painting techniques, students start creating their own designs for a set of tessellating tiles. Photo credit: Art Jameel

Everyone is hard at work designing their tiles! Photo credit: Art Jameel

Octagonal tessellations. Photo credit: Art Jameel

These next photos are from a 3-day short course I delivered for the public. Whereas the the first course focused on design skills, this second course was a brief introduction to the art of tezhip, or Islamic illuminated manuscripts. Students followed a pre-designed template to learn illumination techniques.

Talk and presentation on day 1. We took a brief look at the history of illuminated manuscripts, style and technique, regional differences, motifs, symbolism, and traditional methods and materials. Photo credit: Art Jameel

Helping a student correct her pencil work. Photo credit: Art Jameel

This is what brush practice looks like. We only did it for an afternoon, but traditionally, an apprentice illuminator might spend several weeks or months refining their brush practice before moving onto the next stage of their education. Photo credit: Art Jameel

These new illuminators are applying synthetic gold to their paintings. Usually, we use genuine handmade shell gold. However, due to this being a 3-day workshop, we didn't have time to make the gold by hand. Photo credit: Art Jameel

All gilded and outlined, time for the blue background. Photo credit: Art Jameel

Correcting a student's work. Photo credit: Art Jameel

All done! Photo credit: Art Jameel

And finally, here are a few photos from Mecca and Medina. I was too busy being a pilgrim to take lots of photos, but I do have a few. I didn’t manage to take any at all in Mecca, so the one below is from a previous trip, just to give you some idea of what the journey was like.

The Holy Kaa'ba at Mecca. Photo credit: Ayesha Gamiet

A very kind and thoughtful gift from one of my students. It's a silver ring with seven beads attached on a string. Each time you circle the Kaa'ba, you move one of the beads up the string, so you don't loose track of how many circuits you've made. I was very moved to received this, and of course, I remembered her in my prayers as I made my pilgrimage. Photo credit: Ayesha Gamiet

Masjid Al-Nabawi, The Prophet's Mosque at Medina. Photo credit: Ayesha Gamiet

Posted in Islamic Art Courses, Islamic Manuscript Illumination, Jeddah, News, Pattern in Islamic art, Student's Work, Teaching, Tezhib, Travels, painting, tezhip | Leave a comment

NEW Illumination Courses 2019

A Mughal illuminated shamsa

1-week intensive Islamic manuscript illumination course, 4 – 8 Feb 2019

5 Saturday Islamic manuscript illumination course, 23 Feb – 3 March 2019

These new Islamic art courses are designed for students who would like to delve deep into the art of tezhip (Islamic manuscript illumination). Part 1 will focus on design skills, forming the first of three courses exploring the rich and exquisitely beautiful world of Islamic manuscripts.

For centuries, Muslim artists have used gold, pigments, and inks to adorn and illuminate both sacred and non-religious texts. Come join us in learning how these designs were composed and painted using ancient methods and techniques. Classes are practical, and will be taught in the same manner, using the same exercises as traditional illumination lessons in Istanbul. If you have ever thought about studying Islamic art in the traditional way, this course is for you!

We will take a detailed look at the pattern elements of illumination, familiarising with the rich and varied world of plant and floral motifs. Exploring the rules and principles for creating traditional Islamic designs, students will then have the opportunity to create their own compositions. They will receive personalised, one-to-one feedback on their work, challenging them to develop and refine their skills even further. In addition, we will take a closer look at the traditional methods and materials used in the art of illumination. Students will have the opportunity to make their own paints from raw pigment, and learn how to make the most important colour for illuminators – shell gold, ground and filtered from gold leaf. Students will paint their designs using beautiful and elegant centuries-old techniques from the world of Islamic art.

At the end of the course, each student will have their own uniqely designed and painted frontispiece or shamsa to take home.

*Students are asked to bring a book of genuine 22 carat gold leaf (loose leaf, NOT transfer) to session 1, otherwise all materials are covered in the course fee*

Tutor Ayesha Gamiet has over 12 years experience of Islamic art, having studied the craft under a Master Illuminator in Istanbul. Ayesha is an MA graduate from the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, London, and was most recently commissioned by the Royal Library to produce illuminated frontispieces gifted to HM Queen Elizabeth II, and HRH Prince Charles. To find out more about Ayesha and her work, please click here.

For information about all Ayesha’s current courses, please click here.

Posted in Islamic Art Courses, Islamic Manuscript Illumination, News, Teaching, Tezhib, tezhip | 1 Comment