After painting for over a decade, Nada Khatib decided she wanted to turn her hobby into a full-time gig.
Originally from Toronto, Nada had spent years working in the corporate sector, most recently in Bahrain, an island in the Persian Gulf.
As Nada and her husband contemplated a move to Calgary, it felt like the right time to “take the plunge,” she says, and start anew.
“I decided to just pursue what I felt was my dream job. Why not just go for it?” Nada says.
Shortly after moving to Calgary in April 2018, Nada began researching the city’s art scene. “I wanted to get my art out there and be able to share it with people and have the community see it,” she says.
Through her research online, she learned Calgary Public Library provides free space for art exhibits at eight libraries, and excitedly applied for the program. Selected artists receive one-month showings.
A self-taught acrylic painter, Nada first exhibited her art at Bowness Library in October 2018. “It has been one of the most significant opportunities I’ve gotten to showcase my work, for free,” Nada says. “It’s something I’m so grateful for.”
Nada paints with a palette knife to create lively textures in her pieces. Her vivid work is often inspired by nature, and since moving to Calgary, Nada has found fresh inspiration in the nearby Rocky Mountains.
Following that first showing at Bowness Library, Nada’s colourful paintings have also brightened Crowfoot, Louise Riley, Central, and Country Hills libraries.
“I love libraries, so it’s really nice to be able to fill such a great space with some artwork and colour,” Nada says. “It’s been a great experience to be at different libraries and in different neighbourhoods, and it’s led to lots of opportunities for me, such as commissions or sales or just general exposure.”
Since becoming a full-time artist, Nada hasn’t looked back. She has sold over 150 original paintings, teaches painting and drawing, and is building her own company, Expression By Nada.
Nada’s new career path breaks from her family’s traditions and expectations. “I always really enjoyed painting, but it didn’t seem possible in my upbringing and culture to do, because it’s not really considered a career,” says Nada, who is a first-generation Canadian.
She loves to share her passion for the arts with younger people, showing them what’s possible.
This summer, Nada will lead two free art classes at Central Library as part of Ultimate Summer Challenge. At the Acrylic Painting Techniques program, kids can learn about painting with a sponge, palette knife, fingers, and more.
“I think libraries are such great places because there’s lots of kids and families here, and for them to be able to see my art and maybe get inspired, it’s exciting,” Nada says. “It’s nice to reach new people with my work.”