Big Eyes

Bahrain Confidential explores the mind of Bahraini artist, Leena Al Ayoobi

What motivates you to get up in the morning?

A new idea of a painting or a new project keeps me up all night thinking and makes me wake up early to start the day with it


Which artwork do you most identify yourself with?

My favourite artwork is the Mask. When I first started drawing professionally, I was very cautious of how will people perceive my art style, so I was masking it with what I thought was more “marketable”. However, that didn’t last long until I became more confident and then I’ve unmasked my true style. Now I’m proud to have created a new art style (Japanese Arabian Folkloric Style) that is recognised around the region. This painting is so dear to me and despite many offers I will never sell it. It is hanging now in Dar Alfann shop in A’ali mall, sometimes I would borrow it and hang it in my studio for inspiration.

 Big Eyes

What does art mean to you?

Art is a lifestyle and a way to express your feelings. I’ve been painting and drawing since I was 7 or 8 years old, but never had it as a career as I was in the banking and business consultancy for more than 10 years. Only last year I quit and became a full-time artist; it changed the way I see life, I approach life. I see colour and beauty everywhere even in grey skies, something that I really missed when I was in an office for more than 12 hours a day.


Can you describe your artistic process? How do you know when an artwork is finished?

I start my artwork with a sketch and background colour, and of course my favorite music playing in the background. To get the exact colors, I have extra lights in the studio: a mix of white and yellow to give me the natural color atmosphere. I am only satisfied with an art piece when I studied every inch and corner of it and made sure it is in harmony in terms of color and shape. I never force and completion date on my paintings, they might be a couple of days to finish or a couple of weeks. The painting is ready when it is ready.


Big eyes-1

Which part of your paintings is your favorite and why?

I enjoy eye part the most. I keep it for the last, it gives life and a Soul to the art piece and I’ve been always fascinated with drawing eyes since I was a child. It has so many meanings and through the eye drawing, you can give a story to the character you are presenting. When I started my art journey back in 2014, I got a lot of comments on my artwork and most people call it “big eyes art style”. When I started giving courses and workshops, I used the same name “Big Eyes”.


Art is a lifestyle and a way to express your feelings… it changed the way I see life, I approach life.


Leena Al Ayoobi is a self-taught artist born in Manama. Her artworks are influenced by her Arabian culture and traditions.

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