Art General, Culture and Religion, Flight of Horace, illustration, People and Blogs, Uncategorized

Ani y Catrina – Acrylic ink on papyrus (all rights reserved Mohammed Shamma)

I painted this piece for #Inktober and Dia de Los Muertos. I had originally wanted to call this the Book of the Dead meets the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) but that seemed like a mouthful.  And as I worked on it, I began to feel like the piece was more than just a mashup of the two traditions.

In this scene, Ani (a nobleman from Egypt in the 19th Dynasty – 1250 BCE) is escorting Catrina (see La Calavera Catrina) to the weighing of her heart.  The god Anubis presides over the scale that measures the weight of her heart to that of a feather.

The hieroglyphic text comes from Spell 30b of the Book of the Dead.  The most famous version of the Book of the Dead is The Papyrus of Ani (British Museum, London).  Here is the English translation:

O my heart of my mother! O my heart of my mother! O my heart of my different forms! Do not stand up as a witness against me, do not be opposed to me in the tribunal, do not be hostile to me in the presence of the Keeper of the Balance, for you are my ka which was in my body, the protector who made my members hale. Go forth to the happy place whereto we speed, do not make my name stink to the Entourage who make men. Do not tell lies about me in the present of the god. It is indeed well that you should hear!
                  — Book of the Dead, spell 30B

Here is a partial Spanish translation (of the English translation) which I used in the painting:

Oh Osiris, el escriba Ani dice: “Mi corazón, corazón de mi madre. Mi corazón, el corazón de mi madre, corazón de mi existencia!. No puede incurrir en ninguna resistencia sobre mí en mi juicio.”


Ani y Catrina workspace (for perspective)


Ani y Catrina

Art General, Culture and Religion, Flight of Horace, illustration, Watercolor


I found my lover in the dawn
Birds chirped as his words flew to me
“Good morning my lovely”
My spirits lifted with the light of the sun
I touched his face and he came alive
“Where are you going today?”
I held him entirely in my hand
“Let’s wander the world together.”
The dove inside me spoke softly
“I’m going to a wonderful place,
Where my heart will be more than happy”
I’m going to be with you.


I was inspired by the poem of the Birdcatcher’s Daughter from the New Kingdom poem (or song) found in the Papyrus Harris 500.  A great source for the Egyptian text of this poem and many others is Love Songs of the New Kingdom and  The Literature of Ancient Egypt.

The Birdcatcher’s Daughter

Advertising, Art General, illustration, Travel Journal, Uncategorized, Watercolor
Watercolor and ink on paper, All rights reserved to Mohammed Shamma

Watercolor and ink on paper, All rights reserved to Mohammed Shamma

Concept illustration that I made for a short story about a girl that responds to an ad about a correspondence art course and ends up on a whirlwind tour around the world.

Become an Artist in 30 Days or Less

Art General, Urban Sketching, Watercolor

I finally got the chance to sketch the giant Medusa head that’s been lurking behind wind-screens and barbed wire fences in the heart of Petaluma, California.  Before I set to work, I had a chance to meet the wizard behind this creation, Kevin Clark, a local artist known for his restaurant designs and the Rhino Redemption art car.

He graciously gave me a tour of his workshop and a detailed explanation of what this giant Medusa head really was.  It’s actually called Medusa Madness and it uses over 100 gallons of propane in full fire-breathing mode.  The snake bodies were made from over 800 steel barrels in construction and the face was based on a mold he took from his wife face.

Medusa Madness

“Medusa Madness” Petaluma, California May 17, 2016 (Watercolor and ink on paper)

Medusa Madness

Art General, Culture and Religion, Museum Collections

My free copy of this totally awesome children’s book has arrived.  Historium, by Richard Wilkinson and Jo Nelson (Big Picture Press link), brings the museum right to your lap at any hour of the day.  It’s filled with illustrations that truly make the reader feel as if they are standing right in front of the glass case housing the objects.

I was already a fan of their previous books Animalium and Maps before they approached me.  Big thanks guys.  I’m very honored to be part of this cool project!


My photo on Flickr
Frieze of Archers

Historium arrived! Thanks Templar Publishing

Art General

In the land of Andylucia wa Rahoul, there is a popular brand of soup, Camel Soup. It’s always hot, never dry and full of colorful flavors.  See this and more designs at:

Camel Soup

Camel Soup

Camel Soup

Art General, Urban Sketching

South Hall Road, Univ. of California, Berkeley – March 18, 2014. I tried to find a place that allowed me to sketch the campus tower and the students at the same time.  The long cement bench facing South Hall Road was a good compromise.  I was able to get the lower half of the tower and Le Conte Hall as well as a sprinkling of students reading, studying and conversing in the mid-day sun.


South Hall Road and Campanile

South Hall Road

Art General, Urban Sketching

It was another warm sunny day on the UC Berkeley campus.  I stumbled upon the UC Jazz Ensemble on Sproul Plaza yesterday as I was trying to find a decent sandwich for lunch.  My hunger disappeared and my desire to capture the moment went to work.  I immediately sketched them as they were finishing up their set.

UC Jazz Ensemble

UC Jazz Ensemble

View of the Red Sea, Watercolor on Paper, Mohammed Shamma, 2013
Art General, Earth and the Environment

The Color of Water

Angles, Light and Water - Intercontinental Hotel - Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, 2003

Angles, Light and Water – Intercontinental Hotel – Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, 2003

Water has always been a difficult mystery for me.  As a young child I feared the deep end of the pool more than I feared the night.  When the time came for my swim lessons, I would simply tell my mother, “I lost my bathing suit.”  Naturally she knew my little trick and always found it.  She then proceeded to drag me to the pool while I whimpered about how cold it was or of the sharks living in the deep end.  Bedtime was a different story.  I would boldly tell my mother that I wasn’t afraid of monsters and if they try to attack me in my dreams, I would hit them and kick them until they ran away.  I always awoke the next morning to a wet bed.  Somehow, in my effort to fight my own dream demons, to slay the sea creatures of my night, I felt the urge to empty my bladder.

I grew up in Houston, Texas and witnessed many many rainy days and flash floods.  When I was ten years old, we prepared for hurricane Alicia.  We taped up our windows and slept between two walls of mattresses as the storm pounded away at our fragile wooden house.  And when the storm passed, we went outside and observed the destruction in the form of fallen pine and oak trees throughout the neighborhood.  Some had fallen into streets while others fell on houses.  The memory of Alicia returned to me as I witnessed the destruction of Katrina.  My heart wept for the destitute and the dead.

I once spent a summer in Egypt with my uncle and his family.  My cousins and I decided to take a Nile cruise to Aswan and hire a taxi from there to Abu Simbel.  The drive was about two hours and the heat was intense.  Along the way we passed a caravan of camels, abandoned homes and the occasional military outpost backdropped by desert and multiple mirages.  After an hour we stopped at a mud brick building and I watched a boy no older than fourteen come out of nowhere, lift the hood, open the radiator cap and fill it with water.  The driver must have driven this road several times over because he knew how far his car could go between each rest stop.  I remember pouring water in my hand and watching it evaporate instantly before my eyes.  Under such extreme conditions, water is like the precious moment in our lives that we want never to end.

I recently painted this photo because I wanted to explore the color of water once again in my life.  I took the photo ten years ago from the view of the hotel in Sharm El-Sheikh.  The color was absolutely intense it was like a dream.  I remember feeling blinded by the whiteness of the balcony as I gazed down at the hues of cyan, ultramarine and cobalt below.  The color and texture of the water  was the most challenging part of the painting for me.  I wanted to desperately recreate that short-lived moment during which I snapped the photo and simply walked away.