Friday, March 16, 2018

More #0neweek100people

Day 5 #oneweek100people by Meera Rao

Day 5 #oneweek100people by Meera Rao

So, I did it :) Sketched 100 people in one week - rather 7days!  On day 5 I had time to pull out my watercolors and paint the people freehand without pencil sketching them. I had done 50 by day 5 but had to put it aside and wait a couple of days before I could finish the rest. The ones below were done mostly in airports during a trip this past weekend.  I am especially tickled with them as they were all done in pen in my little (5x3") sketchbook - except the last batch of ten. No safety net of going for the eraser and I could not toss the ones that did not cut the mustard.  I learned to sketch fast, remember features or poses as my subjects were not always sitting or still :) Now I want to experiment with more color, brushes  and not just fine line pens. 

Day 6 #oneweek100people by Meera Rao

Day 6 #oneweek100people by Meera Rao

Day6 #oneweek100people by Meera Rao

Day6 #oneweek100people by Meera Rao

Day 7 #oneweek100people by Meera Rao

Day 6 #oneweek100people by Meera Rao

Day 7 #oneweek100people by Meera Rao
Day 7 #oneweek100people by Meera Rao 

Thursday, March 8, 2018


Lady Water Bugs  #oneweek100people Day 3  3-7-2018

I am trying to squeeze in time to sketch people this week.  Yesterday was day 3.  I returned from helping out with the water testing and did a quick sketch of my fellow volunteers :) 

International Women's Day #oneweek100people Day 4  3-8-2018

As today is International Women's day I decided to do a quick sketch of some notable women for day 4.  Hoping I will get some time later today to do more. 

At a Book Talk #oneweek100people Day 2  3-6-2018

At a Book Talk #oneweek100people Day 2  3-6-2018

On Day 2, I was at a Book Talk and sketched a few people from the audience.  The room was quite dark and it was challenge to see what I was sketching! 

At the Dentist Office  #oneweek100people Day 2  3-6-2018

At the Dentist's I tried to memorize the scene as I my teeth were being cleaned :) I surreptitiously took a photo in the waiting room and did the sketches at home from blurry pic -- and took my liberties with the colors ! 
At the Gym  #oneweek100people Day 1  3-6-2018
At the Gym  #oneweek100people Day 1  3-6-2018

As I worked out at the gym on day 1, I watched intensly and tried to commit to memory the scene before me. Again, I had a blurry photo to help out with some details as I sketched later at home. 

Watching Oscars -warm up for #oneweek100people   3-6-2018

So far I only have 29 sketches plus five I did as warm up watching the Oscars for an hour or so.  So this year it has been slow and I might have to take a few extra days to sketch 100 people! Anyway, I am sketching something every day :) 

Thursday, March 1, 2018

The Best View

The Daily Commute  watercolor ink India Art Journal 2017 by Meera Rao

I distinctly remember the fear and excitement when I was a little girl looking out the open train car door as the world zipped by.  I only traveled a couple of times on train when I was young which made the trips quite memorable.  This commuter train was moving slowly past the station.  The little kid in  white uniform shirt with school backpack and the lady sitting right next caught my attention along with the many passengers crammed in! The overcrowded dusty train cars on an overcast day made an impression on me. 

This is the last sketch in my little homemade accordion watercolor journal from my short trip to India in Nov 2017.  Below is the photo of the completed open journal. There is a sketch behind the bell that I could not include in this shot. I started the sketches during my trip and used reference photos once I returned to complete them with watercolors.  

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Clear View

Window Cleaners  India Sketchbook 2017 watercolor by Meera Rao 

These three young ladies were part of the train cleaning crew. It was a bright sunny afternoon and I loved the play of light, colors and shadows as they chatted and worked. They had a assembly line of sorts going - one squirted water, one had a bunch of newspaper she was using to wipe it off with and the third lady had a long handled glass cleaner to finish the job. Once inside though, I found those windows were not clear enough capture the scenery with my camera! The trains are workhorses and it is a tough job to keep the trains clean as they chug along with barely enough time between rides. 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Never A Dull Ride

 Autoricksha Ride India Sketchbook by Meera Rao 

Life is never dull on the streets in India.  The variety and number of modes of transportation and the  kind of loads they carry,  how many passengers they manage to cram into those vehicles is always a surprise ! Over the years I have photographed and sketched many interesting scenes - and I know I will find new ones on my next trip :) 

During my last trip, I saw this precarious looking two-wheeler -somewhat small and a cross between a bicycle and a motorcycle. The passenger was holding two sheep/lambs in his arms!  The the scene outside the autorickshaw and the view of the inside of the richly decorated brand new vehicle made for an interesting outing on that particular day. 

Friday, February 9, 2018

Cry Me A River

Hanging Onions watercolor India sketchbook by Meera Rao 

Member of the Allium family (Lily Family),  onions claim nutritional as well as medicinal benefits and play a prominent role in Indian cooking.  There is always a bunch, two or more hanging off the window in my brother and sister-in-law's kitchen :)  This is probably the biggest bunch I saw during one of my trips and I had to sketch it.  

By the way, the compound allyl sulphate which is produced when an onion's ruptured cells are exposed to air is responsible for producing tears. To reduce the production of this compound, chill the onions for half an hour or so before cutting to reduce the activity of the enzyme. My Mom was the only person I know who never teared when she chopped onions!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Directing Attention

Bell by the Door  watercolor and ink by Meera Rao

Ringing of the bells during Puja (worship) is an important ritual for Hindus whether at home or at temple.  We ring the bell at the temple when we enter and then as we leave.  A small  hand held bell is rung when 'aarati' (or light) is shown to the murthy (idol of deity).  The light flames  and sound vibrations wake up the senses, clear the mind of distractions and help direct the attention to pray and meditate. 

I love this particular ornate bell that graces the entrance of my brother's home.  During my last visit in November, one afternoon I sat by the steps near the door and sketched it.   

Saturday, January 27, 2018

For Safe Travels

Ganesha on Dashboard watercolor 7"x5" by Meera Rao 

Almost every vehicle in India has an idol of the owner's favorite deity stuck on the dashboard for blessings and safe travels for the driver and passengers.  They come in all different sizes, styles and colors tailored to individual tastes.  I came across an article recently that there is an "Unique campaign"  going on now where  "deities in car dashboards being equipped with accelerometers, lending them pre-recorded voice."  urging the drivers 'to slow down or drive safely.'  According to the company Droom that sells these pre-fitted idols, " India is the 3rd country in terms of deaths due to road accidents and stands at the 67th spot in terms of number of Vehicles per person. There is one death every four minutes due to a road accident in India. Moreover, 20 children under the age of 14 die every day due to road crashes." and ".. our idea comes from that sweet spot between technology and a razor sharp insight on the Indian driver. We thought we could make the Indian driver listen to us. After all, god was on our side!"

This particular abstract green marble sculpture is of Ganesha, the remover of obstacles though not fitted with a accelerometer! It became the first sketch in my India sketchbook from my trip last November. I used Indian handmade watercolor paper that I cut to 7x30" and folded into an Japanese style album. It was the first time I was using that paper which is heavy and rough and took a while to get used to. 

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Cool Inspirations

Jan 7-12 2018 Sketchbook by Meera Rao

The cold, the snow, the ice and more bone chilling cold! There was a huge cascading ice that formed from a water leak in one of the faucets from the school across our house.  For a week I watched it form and grow so I had to put it on my sketchbook. I escaped one day to the National Gallery of Art and next day to the National Postal Museum - best way to get color on gray days ! The mango from the grocery store supplied the taste of summer and lifted the spirits.  The squirrels were busy in the backyard and I caught one enjoying the snow to quench the thirst, I suppose.  

I finally discovered what that Victorian looking 'post' by the Lincoln Park was - the Police and Fire call Boxes from long ago.  Apparently this particular call box had missed its chance to become a "Art on Call" box in 2000.   Do check out the article and the videos on these 'call boxes'.  There is history in every corner in DC! 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Leafing Through

Meera Rao
Leafing Through Photograph by Meera Rao

This month I have my art on exhibit at three different galleries: 'Sunrise In The City'  in watercolor in the Capitol Hill Art League Juried exhibition at the Hill Center Galleries in Washington DC; three of my mixed media experiments in 'Small Works and Miniatures By Tidewater Artists' at the Charles Taylor Art Center in Hampton, Va; and my photograph 'Leafing Through'  in the  Capitol Hill Art League's 'Artists' Choice'. 

Sunrise in The City  By Meera Rao  at  Hill Center Galleries, Washington DC

Sunrise in The City , watercolor By Meera Rao

I am often told "you work in different media!" which makes me wonder if I should concentrate my efforts on one medium. Over the years as I play and experiment, I feel, to quote Alfred Stieglitz " The goal of art was the vital expression of self."  For me, it is as if each piece has its own distinct personality that seeks to expresses itself through me.  And somehow each medium lends to the understanding and use of another.  Dabbling in different things keeps me unstuck and for that I am grateful.  Thats permission enough.  

Gratitude  ink on handmade paper by Meera Rao
on exhibit at Charles Taylor Art Center, Hampton Va

Last Stop (NYC Rabbit Hole) mixed media on NYC Metro card By Meera Rao
on exhibit at Charles Taylor Art Center, Hampton Va

Exuberance mixed media on photograph by Meera Rao 
on exhibit at Charles Taylor Art Center, Hampton Va

“Here’s to freedom, cheers to art. Here’s to having an excellent adventure and may the stopping never start.” 
― Jason Mraz

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