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CATF Beginners Guide for Aspiring Artists Tips On The Value of Hard and Soft Edges Courtesy of Johannes Vloothuis

December 5th, 2017

Handling edges is a skill that all fine artists will need to learn sooner or later. Edges that are out of focus are vital in paintings in order to create the 3D illusion of making things look like they recede in a landscape painting, for example. Edges that are blurred make things appear they are moving.
The handling of edges is to be applied in all mediums, although some are more cooperative than others. For example, with pastels all you need to do is massage the dust with your finger and you can achieve any degree of softness, whereas in acrylics the paint dries too fast and it’s impossible to blur, like with oils. Watercolor requires experience to know exactly when to apply the pigment to the wet paper.

Painting Tips for Artists

There are three kinds of edges in all mediums:

Diffused Edges
The contour of forms can become completely lost, leaving little or no definition. Use diffused edges for the following to:
• Indicate foliage in the last plane in your background
• Create ethereal cumulous clouds
• Create realistic waterfalls that appear to be moving
• Indicate crashing waves in seascapes
Soft Edges
The edge is recognizable, but blurry.
• Distant trees and evergreens in backgrounds
• Distant hills
• Things in the peripheral areas of a painting
• Water reflections
Hard Edges
Clearly defined with no sense of being out of focus.
• Rocks
• Buildings
• Rocky mountains
Advice on how to achieve soft or diffused edges:
Oil and Pastel:
Massage the paint to the degree of blurriness desired. These two mediums are very easy.
1) Apply water to the paper.
2) Wait about 5 minutes for the water to be absorbed and/or until the paper is no longer glossy.
3) Add just enough water to create pasty (not runny) pigment. If necessary suck the excess water out of the brush by squeezing the bristles where they meet the ferrule while holding the brush vertically to the paper. Note: Rough paper is more cooperative than cold-pressed paper when it comes to controlling soft edges.
Scumble the adjacent color (such as the sky on the edges of trees) and lightly feather it in until the transition creates the blurred contour.

Visit our gallery today to find out how CATF artists have these techniques in their artworks.

Sufi Whirling- What is it? Can you do it?

November 7th, 2017

Sufi Whirling- What is it? Can you do it?

What is “sufi dance”?
This dance is a spiritual practice (known as Samâ) and is related to “spiritual hearing” in sufism. This whirling or spinning style dance is sometimes referred to as the dance of the “Whirling Dervishes” but there is an important difference.

What is the difference between the dances?
The whirling dervishes dance is part of the Mevlevi Sufi order and is highly codified and choreographed. The essence of the Sufi Dance however is a „communion with the divine“ and not just a blind imitation of the familiar whirling and spinning movements.

The Sufi Dance creates a personal space in which the dancer is free to explore a more intimate journey experienced using the whirling and spinning technique.

What does Sufi dance represent?
The dancer is destined to whirl as the earth around the sun and so achieve harmony with the Universe itself. As the planets themselves rotate so the dance is performed spinning from the left side, the heart side!

So why does the dancer whirl and spin ?
The answer to this question is to be found in the Sama (spiritual hearing) and truly it is only the one who spins who holds the key ! Like a journey that cannot be taken without departure, the one who desires the mystery and secret of the danse must feel the will to embark upon the journey !

Does the movement induce nausea or dizziness?
It is quite normal to feel disorientated or „dizzy“ and indeed it is said to be an essential part of learning the dance and preparing the dancer to enter the state of ecstasy known as „mystical intoxication“ which varies in intensity from person to person. Perseverance and self discipline are the pathway to enlightenment where spirit and body fall by the wayside in the liberation of the soul.

Over time the dancer will learn how to embrace feelings of nausea and dizziness and indeed learn to ignore these sensations and give way to a feeling of fullfilment.

Why do the dancers wear long skirts?
The long skirt, most often white as a symbol of purity, enhances the circular motion of the dance. Naturally the long flowing skirt begins to spread and fan out as the movement increases in momentum.

The sufi dance créâtes an invisible energy, colourless, pure and transparent as light reflected from a Mirror.

The swirling skirt begins to move in endless waves and an aura envelopes the body in the same way as the sun bathes the earth in its light.

What kind of music accompanies the dance?
Sufi music is repetitive and often built around the Zekr (or Zikr) which is concerned with the memory and the practice which rekindles the memory. It’s powerful rhythm reminds us of the heartbeat and leads us to the mystical intoxication of the Sama.

Can I perform and experience the Sufi Dance?
Yes but you must be a believer!! A believer in ‘love’!!
To love yourself and to love others.
To believe in each one of us.

Do I have to be experienced in dance?
No, anyone of us can learn the Sufi Dance and master the whirling, spinning techniques whilst respecting one’s own limitations! With time and practice the dancer will improve in power and speed and embark on the journey to mystical intoxication and the liberation of one’s own soul.

Sufi Whirling and Art
While anyone can appreciate Sufi art, understanding it requires study. Each dance posture symbolises a different meaning, for example, the raised arm of the dervish means taking from God and the lowered arm connotes giving to the world. Similarly each colour has a different story to tell.

CATF’s has illustrated this mystical connection to infinity in its artworks which depict this very form of dance adopted by Rumi’s followers.

Check out our gallery today and relish the ambiance and aura of sufi art.

Sufi Whirling

October 16th, 2017

Sufi Whirling

Our collection of paintings on Sufis and mystics primarily feature Sufis and their dances.
In order to understand the depth of these paintings, it is vital that one primarily gets acquainted with the concept of Sufism and what it is all about.

Sufism- What is it?

Sufism can be termed as the mystical dimension of Islam. People who practice Sufism are termed as Sufis. These Sufis belong to various orders or congregations and have their spiritual sessions in accordance with these orders.

Usually, all Sufis trace back their original precepts from Muhammad SAW through his cousin and son-in-law Ali. The Naqshbandi order differs in this respect since they trace back from Muhammad through the first Rashid Caliph Abu Bakr.

This was a short introduction of Sufism and Sufis. However, our collection of paintings pertains to asceticism which classical Sufis are noted for .

They have a number of devotional practices, amongst which the notable ones are Dhikr, Muraqba, Visitation and Sufi Whirling.

Sufi Whirling- What is it?

Our paintings portray Sufis in this latter form of physically active meditation. Through this customary dance, dervishes aim to reach the source of ultimate perfection or Kemal.

In this dance, the dervish abandons his ego or nafs and while listening to the music, focuses his attention on God. While he centers his attention on God, the source of Kemal, he spins his body around in repetitive circles which is known as Tanoura dance or Sufi Whirling. This dance is a metaphorical representation of the planets in the solar system orbiting around the Sun.

Check out our gallery on Sufis and Mystics today to revel in this classic art form

CATF Beginners Guide For Aspiring Artists How To Varnish An Acrylic Painting

September 28th, 2017

CATF Beginners Guide For Aspiring Artists How To Varnish An Acrylic Painting

This week, Team CATF would be delineating its tried and tested tips and guidelines for all aspiring artists out there on how to varnish an acrylic painting.


You might be wondering at this juncture that why do we have to varnish in the first place. The answer is pretty simple.

It is essential that you varnish your completed acrylic paintings because
• The varnish will protect the painting from dust, UV rays and yellowing.
• It would add a layer of shine that somehow, almost as if by magic, pulls the whole painting together and makes it look even more amazing, bringing out the gorgeous vibrancy of the colors.


• Varnish comes in gloss, satin or matte finish.
• You can mix any of these types of varnish to get the exact finish that you are looking for, but it will take some experimentation! Learning how to varnish an acrylic painting involves this kind of experimentation so that you get it just right.


When you're ready to varnish, these are the instructions that you would have to follow.
1. Make sure that the painting is completely dry first.
2. Always keep a separate glass jar or plastic cup aside exclusively for varnishing
3. It is better to keep a separate brush too just for varnishing.
4. Rinse the jar in water before putting in varnish.
5. If you use a removable varnish and you think that someday the varnish might need to be removed for any reason, you'll need to apply an isolation coat before you varnish the painting. The isolation coat acts as a barrier between your painting and the varnish, protecting your painting from the chemicals that remove the varnish.
6. Lay the painting flat while varnishing, and make sure it's in a place where it can lie flat and undisturbed for a few hours while the varnish dries..
7. Dip the brush into the varnish about 1/3 to 1/4-way down the length of the brush and gently tap off the excess. Holding the brush at an angle, apply the varnish in even strokes across the painting, moving the brush in the same direction each time. Start at one corner and work your way across the whole painting in a parallel fashion.
8. When you are done, look at the surface of the painting from an angle. If there are any parts that are not shiny and wet, gently go over it with a bit of varnish. It helps if you shine a light on it, because the wet, varnished parts with sparkle in the light. If you see any dust or other debris that may have fallen into the varnish, gently and carefully pull it out using a toothpick or some other small, pointed object.
9. Allow a few hours for the varnish to dry, according to the time indicated on the package. Then you may or may not want to give it another coat of varnish. Sometimes the varnish doesn't cover completely evenly the first time around, so another coat will even everything out
10. When you're done, carefully and thoroughly clean the jar and the brush, and keep them someplace safe where they won't collect any dust.
Congratulations! Now you've completed your acrylic painting!

Check out our collection of acrylic paintings today at

Belly Dancers

September 24th, 2017

Belly Dancers

Belly Dance- What is it?
Belly dance is an expressive dance which emphasizes complex movements of the torso. Originally a Middle Eastern folk dance, it has evolved to take many different forms depending on the country and region, both in costume and dance style. New styles have been spread from the Middle East to the whole world where its popularity is becoming more and more popular in the Occident.

Belly Dance- What are its roots?

The term “belly dance” is a translation of the French term “danse du ventre”, which was applied to the dance in the Victorian era, and probably originally referred to dancers from the Ouled Nail tribes of Algeria.

Belly Dance- Today

Its current use is something of a misnomer, as the Ouled Nail dance used more abdominal movements than the dances described today as “belly dance”.

CATF and Belly Dance

In its collection “Belly Dancers”, CATF has focused exclusively on belly dancers, their associated ambience, dress codes, movements and the mystery which they evoke.

Check out our collection today at

CATF Artist Guide for Beginners Acrylic Paint Supplies

September 17th, 2017

 CATF Artist Guide for Beginners  Acrylic Paint Supplies

CATF Artist Guide for Beginners: Acrylic Paint Supplies

Needless to say acrylic paint supplies and knowledge of where to get them is an essential must-have before you start painting with acrylics.
Here we have jotted down a list of all the supplies that you would need along with suggestions of where to get them from. From paints to brushes to canvases, this article is going to be your basic but ultimate guide.

The Basic supplies include:
1. Acrylic paints
2. Paint Brushes
3. Canvas (wood, paper, etc.)
4. Palette
5. Paper towels or rags
6. Varnish
7. A cup of water
8. Soap for brushes

1. Acrylic paints

When painting with acrylics, acrylic paints are indispensable. The top item in our list seems way too obvious, however it is important for beginners to know where they can get hold of acrylic paints and what kinds of acrylic paints are available in the market.
Acrylic paints can either be bought individually or in a set. While buying your paints, things which you need to consider include the colors’ quality, its permanence, its viscosity, drying time etc. Links to some of our favorite brands have been given below.

• High Quality Acrylic Paints for Artists

• Fluid Acrylic Paints

• Open and Interactive Acrylics

• Student Quality Acrylics

2. Paint Brushes

Paint brushes are going to be the next mandatory item on your list. Choosing the right paint brush can be an overwhelming experience for beginners and hence we have listed down some of our favorite links for you to consider.

Also, you need to remember that for Acrylic paints, there are 8 different shapes of paintbrushes. Each shape caters to a different technique and level of details.
- Round Brushes
- Pointed Round Brushes
- Flat
- Bright
- Filbert
- Angular Flat
- Fan
- Detail Round

Also, there are different sizes of brushes too.

• The small size brushes are for details.
• The mid-size brushes are for versatility
• The large size brushes are for painting large areas and washes.

Moreover, paint brushes usually come in two types of bristles. Natural and Synthetic. For acrylic paints, the latter option works well because they are easier to clean, work well with the acrylic resin and can sit in water for hours.

Listed below are some of our favorite brands for paintbrushes.

If you are looking for something budget-friendly, check out these

Or if you want something high-end, Da Vinci brushes may just be what you need

3. Canvas

Canvas is the most popular substrate to paint on. Canvases are available in multiple sizes. Another option could be wooden panels or very thick paper. Some factors to consider while choosing a canvas for yourself may include texture, weight, fiber, permanence etc.

Some of our favorite canvas brands include:

4. Soaps for Paint brushes

It is important to wash your paintbrushes thoroughly with soap and water. For this very purpose of cleaning and conditioning paintbrushes, specific soaps are manufactured.

Listed below are some brands of paintbrush soap.

5. Varnish

Varnish may be your last step while painting with acrylics, however its importance can in no way be mitigated. A coat of varnish at the end is crucial because it helps the paint to chemically bind up with the canvas. Also, it serves as an additional layer of protection.

Acrylic varnishes come in different finishes. They may be satin, gloss or matte.

CATF and Acrylic Art

CATF team loves Acrylic paints and we have an extensive array of acrylic artworks, each distinct in its technique, meaning and ambiance.
Check out our acrylic artworks today at

CATF Artist Guide for Beginners Why Use Acrylics

September 5th, 2017

CATF Artist Guide for Beginners      Why Use Acrylics

Acrylics are a huge favorite with CATF team. Our talented artists love exploiting this amazing art medium to its full potential. Today, we would be elucidating those characteristics of acrylic paints which make them an appealing and interesting medium to work with.

Working with acrylics can be both rewarding and fun. They are extremely versatile and easy to work with. Given below are some of those traits which would make all our beginner artists want to experiment with these colors.

Acrylics are best friends with water

Acrylic paints are water based. This implies that they can be both thinned and cleaned with water. When thinned with a lot of water, acrylic paints might resemble water colors.

Acrylics are Eco-friendly

For those artists who have an eco-friendly side to them, acrylics might be the most attractive option out there since these paints are non-toxic as well as non-smelly. As far as quality is concerned, they can be compared with oil paints. However, they are free of the toxicity and smell which usually comes with oil paints.

Acrylics are swift workers

If you are an impatient artist and like to get done with your work quickly, then acrylics may just be what you need. These paints dry quickly. However, this trait has both its perks and cons. The disadvantage of quick drying is that you might feel that the colors haven’t blended nicely enough.

This situation can be remedied though. All you need to have is a retarder ( which acts as an acrylic medium that extends drying time). You could also opt for a flow release ( which would potentially enhance the bendability of colors).

Acrylics love versatility

When you speak of acrylic colors, you aren’t just referring to a single type and brand of colors. Instead, acrylic colors embody an expansive, versatile range of colors, ranging from acrylic gels to acrylic pastes. Just as the colors are extremely versatile, similarly their application can be ingenuous. You could modify their texture as per your demand.

Acrylics as Enhancers

Acrylic paints are also used as enhancers at times to alter your paint’s sheen. You can either use them to bestow your artwork with a matte sheen or endow it with a high gloss. There is an entire range of acrylic colors available now which can be used for this purpose

Acrylics in Mixed Media Applications

One of the best uses that acrylics can be put to are in mixed media applications. Paper, wood and canvas are the most popular choices to use with acrylic colors. However, owing to their versatile nature, they can be used on almost any surface such as fabric, clay etc. All you have to do is make sure that these surfaces are primarily primed with gesso. Moreover, different tools could be used to vary and modify their texture and effect.

Tip: When you get bored of your paint brush, improvise using other tools such as sponges, Q-tips, toothpicks, scrapers etc.

The Best Part

Once they have been properly varnished, acrylic paintings do not need to be framed behind a glass. When and if they do collect dust, all you will have to do is wipe them with a damp cloth and they will be as good as new.

Stay tuned to get hold of our next article which would delineate the painting supplies needed to work with acrylics.

Check out our collection of acrylic art today at

Creative Reckonings - Art of the Middle East

August 13th, 2017

Creative Reckonings - Art of the Middle East

Middle Eastern Art
• Is it even a genre?

The category of Middle Eastern art is necessarily general since it incorporates the region’s incredible diversity and breadth, spanning from eastern Mediterranean to Pakistan.

• If it is, what themes does it deal with?

Likewise, the themes which this category of art deals with are interspersed with an incredible degree of richness and diversity. At times, these works appear to be set in contexts which are fraught with conflict and at other times, these works portray the junction between tradition and rapid development. Moreover, lately, artworks originating from this region or depicting some aspects of the regional culture tend to question West’s prevailing representations of the Middle East.

• Middle Eastern Art or Islamic Art?

Islamic Art is a significant dimension of Middle Eastern Art. However, the genre of Islamic art has been modified and customized to include contemporary works in the Middle Eastern context. Generally, inspiration is drawn from cultural traditions which are juxtaposed with contemporary themes. More than often imagery and techniques are deployed from earlier periods which are then embellished with an au courant ambience.
However, this doesn’t imply that modern Middle Eastern art is re-inventing Islamic art. Instead, it appears that it is being re purposed so as to make it a much more cognizant tool of personal expression, free from the shackles of functionality and patronage.

• Finally ! CATF’s contribution to Middle Eastern Art :D

CATF aims to shed light upon these very trends which are surfacing in this genre. Our collection of Middle Eastern artworks juxtapose tradition with contempo. They question stereotypes and break them. They experiment with colors and techniques and foreground a new and resplendent purpose of Islamic art.

Check out our collection of Middle Eastern Art today at

Artist Spotlight Maryam's story of Art

June 23rd, 2017

Artist Spotlight  Maryam

Art makes people and people make art. It is a tricky yet an incredulous and intriguing combination. Our incredibly talented artist Maryam Mughal embodies this combination to its perfection. Hereby, she would be sharing the story of  her venture into the world of art and colors with us in her own words.

What inspired you to become an artist in the first place?

Since a child, the air in front of me was the canvas and I was brushing it with colors of my thoughts. One day I did it on paper
and the world around me said, wow, since than I was titled as a natural artist and my hands itch to create more art to beautify
life around me. I paint my desires, my expressions and expectations towards life according to my violent mood swings. For me,
each of my painting is more like my own baby as I feel my soul in it.

What are your favorite media and themes which you prefer to work upon?

Contemporary modern and figurative is my favorite domain to work. Yet I have trained myself to work on art assignments too, as a decade of work has enabled me to grasp the idea and tailor it to clients’ demands. I’m inspired by nature, pain and
transitions. I love painting beyond constraints of time and space. My hobby is my profession so I don’t see myself retiring any time in life. I want to leave some work which makes me eternal. The journey of the artist in me has faced every possible
adversity; from rejection to alienation, from ridicule to exploitation but it only grew stronger and today when I look with in, I don’t see much of myself except than an artist.

What are your career aspirations?

I Am a BFA graduate with 10 years of experience in Graphics, advertising, print media, Radio and TV. My favorite job is to create unique style paintings and artworks in different mediums. I have been associated with an international art gallery from a long
time. Also, I love creating functional artistic concepts and communicational illustrations, books and magazine design. I started my career as a Client Executive/Assistant Creative Manager in an Ad Agency in Islamabad and that’s how I got in to Advertising
Industry in 2007. Being a Fine Arts student  I had an added advantage of understanding  creativity in communicational design. My career aspirations thus run along similar lines.

From the vantage point of an artist, if you had to say something to the world, what would that be?

I believe that drawing and painting serves as a timeless means of communication since art is that expressive therapy that makes me and everyone feel connected to an image of the world that extends beyond the senses; a world in which time is still and one achieves inner peace.

Kufic Calligraphy at its best

May 31st, 2017

Kufic Calligraphy at its best

Kūfic script, in calligraphy is the earliest extant Islamic style of handwritten alphabet that was used by early Muslims to record the Qurʾān.

* Characteristics of Kufic Calligraphy

This angular, slow-moving, dignified script was also used on tombstones and coins as well as for inscriptions on buildings. Some experts distinguish Kūfi proper from Meccan and Medinese scripts, which were also used to copy the Qurʾān.

* Kufic- Why and How?

The script was called Kūfi because it was thought to have been developed at Kūfah in Iraq—an early Islamic centre of culture. Simple Kūfi was developed early in the Islamic era; the earliest surviving copies of the Qurʾān—from the 8th to the 10th century—were copied in it.

Later a floral Kūfi flourished, and several other varieties of the script developed, including foliated Kūfi, plaited or interlaced Kūfi, bordered Kūfi, and squared Kūfi. It went out of general use about the 12th century, although it continued to be used as a decorative element to contrast with the scripts that superseded it.

* Kufic calligraphy at its best

CATF has an expansive collection of calligraphy which encompasses a diverse variety of techniques and styles. Despite this rich diversity in our themes and styles, our collection of Kufic Calligraphy still tends to stand out. The beauty of this style lies in its difficulty of legibility.

Literacy may be limited but its aesthetic beauty has always been accessible to all, and it is this very beauty of these patterns that matters.

Our kufic calligraphy tends to be austere, and derives its beauty from the purity of its austerity; however simultaneously it lends itself to clever, even playful variations only limited by one's creativity.

CHECK OUT our incredibly varied and creative compendium of kufic calligraphy today at


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