In an age where the internet and modern gadgets take up almost all of the young generations’ time, it is always refreshing to see teenagers who have taken up much healthier lifestyles and hobbies. Maliha Abbas is one perfect example. Hailing from the city of California in the United States of America, Maliha is a young girl with some remarkable talents. Her skill and her deftness with the paintbrush has earned her many plaudits and fans, and given her quite some fame on social networks. Youth Correspondent recently caught up with the young sensation to find out about her thoughts and recent activities. Here is the official record of the parley.
Hello, Maliha. How’re you doing?
Aslam o alekum, I am good, Alhamdulillah.
So, you’re quite the rage among the art-lovers online nowadays, eh? How do you like the fame?
Am I? I don’t know about that but I definitely appreciate the support and love of so many people including my friends and family. I know that I am not the best artist out there, but still all the love and the support feels amazing. Alhamdulillah.
You paint. You photograph. You blog. When you’re not doing any of these three, what do you do?
I do many other things, like I am an art teacher. I volunteer at different places for example, I recently volunteered at the Earth Day Fair in San Diego. I am a youth director of a drug abuse company so I work there too. And then, not trying to show off or anything, but I travel when I am not doing any of these things.
How early in your life did you start painting and photography?
I have been doing art since as long as I can remember, but I waded into photography two and a half or three years ago. I only took it seriously last year in August. Before that I took photos of the things I used to see along the way while traveling. I never used to plan photo shoots or photo walks like I do now.
Did something inspire you to take these two hobbies up?
No one inspired me. This is just something I felt like doing. I guess with art, the colors attracted me, and with photography, the beauty of this world and the creatures of Allah attracted me. I am not the best at it but I try.
How do you think painting compares with other forms of expression of opinions and feelings, for example, writing?
Writing is great, first of all, but I guess a writer can attract or express him or herself to a particular audience only. Because if a writer is writing in English, only people who speak, read and understand English can appreciate what he writes and even if they translate it into several languages, it still is not enough because there are so many languages in this world. Whereas art does not require any language. You just appreciate it with your heart, as I see it.
How has your family supported your extraordinary skills and hobbies?
My family has been very supportive of me. My father has his own way of motivating me. He knows how I am so he won’t actually say something nice about my artwork sometimes. Not always, but sometimes. That motivates me to do better because I feel when my father is saying something is nice, then it actually is nice. That’s how much I respect my father’s opinion. I keep working harder and try to improve and he finally says, “Now that’s better”. My mother on the other hand just tells me if she thinks something is missing or if she likes what I did. She just gives me her honest opinion. So yes, I have two amazing judges at home.
Do you plan on adopting art as a profession? Or will you just keep painting and photographing as a hobby while adopting a different career path?
That’s the plan. To keep art as a part of my life; a big and important part. But I want to be a well known self-taught artist, so no art school for me! I will be entering some other field soon in university.
Most artists choose to concentrate on a topic which they, then, direct their art towards? Is there something that you concentrate on in your paintings? For example, women rights?
I actually do plan on concentrating on one topic which is showing a certain country’s culture and beauty through my art work. For example, right now, I am working on Pakistan. People all over the world only think of war and poverty when they hear the name “Pakistan”. I want to change that, because obviously Pakistan is very beautiful, traditional and modern as well. Spreading world peace through my art work will be my life’s goal and may Allah bless me with success in achieving this.
I might be wrong but I think you asked me about women rights because I usually paint and draw women. There are several reasons behind that. First, I don’t interact with anyone unnecessarily. I am 17, so if I draw and paint or take photos of men, I am worried what the society will say about me? Some people may think that it is okay, and they might say that nowadays, no one minds it and that living in America, I should not care about all this. But I do. There are many people who may think that it is wrong to paint and photograph men and I care about my image and what people think of me a lot because as I said, I want to devote my life to spreading world peace through my art and bringing people closer. If I have even a slight taint on my reputation, no one will respect what I have to say.
Have you taken any kind of training for painting or for photography from a professional artist?
No I haven’t taken any kind of art or photography classes from any one.
Is there an artist in history you would like to emulate? Da Vinci? Michelangelo? Georgia O’Keeffe?
All of these artists are legends, but I would like to create my own identity with my own style of art, instead of being known as an emulator of some artist.
We’ve heard you’re quite into red. Any special reason for your obsession with the color or is it just a random likeness?
Obviously there are so many beautiful colors in this world but RED is just the most beautiful color I have ever seen. Yes I am obsessed with this color very much, but I have yet to discover why!
Ever been to Pakistan?
I am actually here in Pakistan for the summer, working on my project to show the beauty and culture of Pakistan, so that people will stop focusing on the negatives of this amazing country.
If you throw a red stone into the Blue Sea, what will it become? *winks*
If I didn’t know the answer to this riddle, then I would’ve said that it will be a beautiful thing to capture in the camera, or it would look nice when put on a canvas. But yeah, the rock will be wet.
And lastly, a message to your counterparts here in Pakistan?
I want to give a simple message to all, as I say it often. Stay positive, follow your dreams, believe in Allah (God) and seize the moment because this life is too short to stop and cry about something that’s not worth it.