Saudi artist leaves portraits as gifts for strangers at this Riyadh cafe

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Imagine walking into a cafe and finding on your table a painting and with a note reading: “This is a gift for the next person who's sitting here.”

One would undoubtedly feel happy. This is the case of a young woman in Riyadh named Fatima al-Daoud, 27, who draws on cups of coffee and leaves it for random guests who take her table after she’s finished.

“When I go to the cafe to read or work, I noticed that I had missed my art projects, so I decided to buy a sketchbook and paint. I practiced painting while I was going to the cafes, al-Daoud told Al Arabiya English.

“The idea came to me to leave the drawings on the table and leave a message to the next person that it was gifted to. The idea came to fruition in early July,” she added.

“I get a great feeling every time I do something like this and leave a part of myself behind. I also want to convey a message not to stick to the things that we love. When you get used to not owning it, leaving the worked on with hours of energy to make others happy makes you feel good,” she said.

She pointed out that in recent years, coffee shops in Saudi Arabia have been encouraging customers to sit for hours to express themselves through either art of personal work.

"I do not know what the fate of my drawings is, but some of those who picked up my drawings contacted me through social media while some put them on the board in the café with a thank you note,” she said.

Some of Fatima’s portrait drawings are characterized by sloping rectangle faces, wistful eyes, long necks and colored hair. “This is a style of drawing I first adopted five years ago. The human face is the part of one’s body that expresses personality and feelings the most. Complementing it tends to be coupled with unrealistic facial expressions. This way, we see them in a different light and are able to express feelings,” she said.