LebArtFt: Tania Rayes, the Acrylic Stunner and an Awesome Friend

It was at the 2010 ACS International Baccalaureate Art exhibition that I met Tania Rayes. 

Well, not quite Tania - but Tania's paintings at least. Little did I know that some four months later we'd be enrolled in the same major at the same university.  I'd get to see a lot more of her works - firsthand - but that's another story.

She is a graphic design major at the American University of Beirut. She is currently finishing her second year.

Her IB art exhibition was rich with large acrylic paintings that drove the majority of the viewers to her display corner. Her bountiful technical skills capture the least observant eye, her compositions fixates that eye for a little bit longer while her concepts provoke an interpretation.

I enjoy details, but I also relish in larger works that aren't too cramped - that's probably why I squeezed myself, in awe, into her display between the horde of viewers.

I chatted with Rayes on the topic of her works. 

Bananapook: What was the most beneficial aspect of the IB art program?
Tania Rayes: Definitely the habit of keeping a sketchbook. The program requires that you record your thoughts, inspiration, research, and developments in a sketchbook. At first, I just wrote in my sketchbook for the grade, but it developed to become a necessity for me to clear my thoughts and record my ideas, even until today.

B: Is your major efficient in translating your interest in the arts into a full-time job?
TR: Yes, in some ways... After taking IB art, I knew I wanted something to do with visual communication, but not exactly Fine Arts; Graphic Design seemed like the right choice. In many ways Graphic Design is a form of art. There is the same creative and aesthetic necessity that interested me in the arts, but what I find much easier in my major as a career is that you produce work for a client, rather than for yourself.

B: Do you use references in setting up your compositions?

TR: Yes, in every painting. I always sketched from real life or photographs before creating the composition. I used to practice drawing my left hand a lot and I think that’s why I got good at depicting hands.

B: Favorite acrylics brand?
TR: Nothing in particular. Winsor and Newton, Reeves and Plaza are all good.

B: I see frequent governmental motifs in your paintings. Are you influenced more by Lebanese or international politics?
TR: No, I’m not necessarily influenced by politics. My general theme for my paintings in IB was corruption, in all forms; and that’s why there were several governmental motifs. “Played Like Puppets” was the only paintings that I really focused on portraying corruption in relation to the Lebanese government and political system. 

B: Have you been working on non-university work lately?
TR: I try to, but usually get too caught up with university projects. I usually work on Graphic Design projects for friends, competitions and sometimes volunteer work. As for art, I sketch all the time, but I actually haven’t painted since my IB exhibition two years ago! I want to start painting again; it’s more about timing than anything.


I found the color contrast in her work to be the most striking aspect - especially the stark contrast between skin highlights and shadows.  All that hand-sketching she pursued took her in the right direction - those hands look ever-so-real backgrounded by a less three-dimensional setting. 

Rayes is quite obscure on the World Wide Web. You'd have to contact her personally for any communication. 

Watch out for her graphic design skills, soon enough they'll be out there for everyone to see.  Needless to say, they'll maintain the same creative integrity as her acrylic paintings. 

Create, appreciate,


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