Arab Artist of the Month: Etel Adnan

Abstract Landscape painting in Acrylics

‘Landscape’ by Etel Adan, Oil paint on canvas, 32 x 41 cm, 2014
Photo from Barjeel Art Foundation
Etel Adnan’s painting ‘The Articulate Cockerel’ is featured at the Barjeel Art Foundation

Artist Etel Adnan
Photo from

Etel Adnan (1925) was born to a Greek mother and a Syrian father. She grew up in Lebanon and studied in French schools.

She speaks five languages: Greek, Turkish, Arabic, French and English.

Adnan went to the United States to continue her higher studies, where she became a poet and a contemporary painter. Her visual works include the use of various mediums, such as oil paint, ink, films and her own hand-woven tapestries.

Her works were known for the vibrant colors she used in her abstract paintings of mountains, ocean, and sky. Many of her paintings depict the landscape around the San Francisco Bay in which she spent most of her life.

In this project, you will learn about analogous colors.

Analogous colors are groups of at least two colors (and up to five colors) that are next to each other on the color wheel. For example: Red, Red-Orange and Orange are analogous colors.

See the examples below:

You are required to use a combination of analogous colors to create your abstract landscape painting that is inspired by artist Etel Adnan’s “Landscape” painting.

Notice that Adnan used opposite colors in the foreground to what she used in the background, meaning that the opposite color to Orange is Blue, and the opposite color to Red is Green.

Opposite colors are also called Complementary colors.

In this way, when you look at Adnan’s painting, the colors are visually balanced between cool and warm colors.

What are the cool colors? Green, blue and purple.

What are the warm colors? Red, orange and yellow.

My own recreation of Etel Adnan’s painting, “Landscape”

Feel free to use your own scheme of analogous colors to complete this project.

Materials you will use from your Art Kit:

  • Canvas 25x35cm
  • Acrylic paint: White, blue, yellow, red, green.
  • Palette
  • Paint brush (flat brush)
  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Sharpener
  • A4 Printed guide for color wheel
  • A4 Color print of Etel Adnan’s original artwork of her painting “Landscape”

You will need to bring your own:

  • Table cover (for protection)
  • Paper towel
  • Cup of water


Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah features an extensive collection of modern Arab art. We encourage you to visit the foundation to see the featured artist’s work up close and personal!

Click here to find out more about Barjeel Art Foundation.

Published by Farah Nasrawi

A multi-hyphenate designer, an artist, a teacher