Monday, February 3, 2020

Winter Gift

Sugar Snap Pea Flower  Pen and color pencil by Meera Rao

Flowers like winter camellias that stay blooming through December and January, Johnny jump-ups, pansies,  and a few confused stray azaleas (global climate warming?) brought color to our yard this winter.  In the vegetable patch,  this was one of the first times my husband tried growing winter sugar snap peas and a few flowers bloomed on the plant ! The sight of  blue tinged delicate flowers and the curly tendrils meant pulling out my sketch book :) 

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Sticker Folks

Sticker Folks. Stickers and ink by Meera Rao 

Those PLU stickers on our apples, bananas and avocados I recently learned are not environmentally friendly and gum up the works in composting and recycling facilities.  They are made of plastic or are vinyl coated, do not break down easily and are expensive to sort and remove.  So I started peeling them off produce in my kitchen,  stuffed them in an envelope and put it aside in my sketchbook and mulled over what I could do with them. This is my first round of experiments - turning them into some ‘Sticker Folks’.  Still thinking about my next group of stickers ......

Monday, January 13, 2020

Ancient Connections

Pelicans ink 5x8” by Meera Rao 

These birds fly, swoop, plunge dive, and skim the waters in groups, hunting for fish in the river.  They are never close enough or still enough for me to see all their beautiful details. Even their silhouettes have been a challenge to capture. I focused my binoculars and watched them for hours as I to tried to sketch their shapes. I finally had to shoot videos on my phone as they continued their activities. I resorted to  freeze frames as my reference to finally draw their outlines and silhouettes - that’s how I saw them anyway as dark shapes against the blue winter sky and water. 

The Brown Pelicans  (Pelicanus occidentalis Linnaeus) are considered the smallest of the 8 living species and have a wingspan of 6-7’. Pelicans are ancient birds with fossils going back to 30 million years! No wonder they have a long history and are hence steeped in mythology. 

Patient Pelican watercolor 6x7” by Meera Rao 

Patient Pelican is a painting from few years ago when I was able to see one up-close at the Virginia Living Museum.  Checking back on that blog post refreshed my memory of my experiments  painting grays. 

Then, I went surfing the web for this funny limerick on Pelican that I remembered from my school days ;) 

A wonderful bird is the pelican, 
His bill will hold more than his belican,
He can take in his beak
Enough food for a week 
But I’m damned if I see how the helican! 

~ Dixon Lanier Merritt~ 

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Nature of Mind

Nature of Mind  mixed media on wood 15x11" by Meera Rao

nature of mind

swirling dancing racing thoughts
standing still lingering 
doubts playing hide and seek
 sometimes blue darkest black 
sunshine yellow with crimson temptations
colliding gliding
 thousand fleeting feelings 
holding tight letting go
white bright sparks 
that elusive clarity

~Meera Rao~

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Tranquil Beauty

Water Lilies watercolor  22x30" By Meera Rao 

tranquil beauty
in the water, out of the mud
 untouched by neither
a creative light
~Meera Rao~

Wishing everyone a tranquil, beautiful, creative 2020 untouched by the muck around.  

Check here for importance and symbolism of lotus flower in Hinduism, here for its role in Buddhism,  here for its place in Chinese culture, here  for information about Lotus in religious art in Eastern religions, and here for its significance in ancient Egyptian culture. What a special flower !!! 

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Fury of Fire, Wind and Water

Fury of Fire, Wind and Water  20x16" Mixed media by Meera Rao 

This painting titled Fury of Fire Wind and Water  is a visceral response to the fires, tornadoes, and hurricanes in the recent past.  I am acutely aware of the awe inspiring, fear inducing chaos,  destruction and surprising beauty in the fury of the moment as the elements go about altering the landscapes and lives. Nature is demanding we pay attention to the delicate balance and vulnerability all around.  Are we? 

Fury of Fire, Wind and Water  20x16" Mixed media by Meera Rao Mixed Media Pebeo paints. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Fiddleheads and Frost : Nature photography

Fiddleheads photography by Meera Rao 

The above photograph was taken earlier in the year.  I saw the  beautiful Cinnamon Fern Fiddleheads at the Nature Conservancy site at Piney Groove Preserve in Waverly, VA during a field trip for the Virginia Master Naturalist class.  We had gone to see the successful restoration of the Long Leaf Pine forest and come back from near extinction of the Red Cockaded Woodpecker.

Frost photography by Meera Rao 

The frosty leaves were in my backyard glistening in the morning light when they caught my eye early in spring.  

The Fiddleheads was the winner of the Plants and Fungi category and Frost in the Macro and Night Category in The Peninsula Master Naturalist Photography Contest in July -August 2019.  It was an honor to have these photographs voted as the winners!  

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The Fire Burns Blue

The Fire Burns Blue watercolor with pen and ink by Meera Rao 

Last week my brother informed me that the book 'The Fire Burns Blue - A History of Women's Cricket in India' co-written by my niece Karunya Keshav and Sidhanta Patnaik is among the five books short listed for Best Non-fiction work 2019 in India!  Proud Aunt suddenly remembered that  she  had sketched the book soon after Karunya gave it her in January during visit to India :)  I had shared a photo of the sketch with her,  but had somehow missed posting any of the sketches from that sketchbook on my blog. 


We are all incredibly proud of Karunya and that her book is vying for honors with the likes of Ramachandra Guha, Rajmohan Gandhi, Raghuram Rajan and Shantha Gokhale! Go get your copy from Amazon and read all about the stories of extraordinary women who while competing in 'the gentleman's game' made history. And all the while as one of the players said : "We play because we love this game"

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Sketchbook Time

Chrysler Building  pen and ink by Meera Rao

I have too many sketchbooks going on at the same time, and I have sketches tucked away in them that I have missed posting. These three are from my Pentalic traveler 5x8".  

We were in NYC first Sunday in  November cheering our daughter's NYC marathon run! A clear view from hotel room window of the iconic Chrysler Building was hard to resist sketching.  I pulled out the sketchbook onto the windowsill and took my time drawing.  From the 34th floor window of the hotel I could clearly see the sculptures on the 61st floor of the Chrysler building which I had not noticed as eagles till I started sketching ! I was reminded of this quote by Frederick Frank : 

Drawing is the discipline by which I constantly discover the world. 
I have learned that what I have not drawn, I have never really seen, 
and that when  start drawing an ordinary thing, 
I realize how extraordinary it is, 
sheer miracle!
~ Frederick Frank~

Pirate Days watercolor and pen Meera Rao

These two sketches are from Arrrtober Fest at the Mariner's Museum in October. While volunteering for the Peninsula Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalist booth, I sketched this little totally adorable kid in his pirate costume. He was determined to put the rings on the boat 'masts', and made his own luck by slinging it from all around the game mat :) 

Aaartober Fest Lady Pirates watercolor and Pen Meera Rao

The ladies in the next booth were also dressed up for the occasion and I quickly sketched them  before the gates opened for the festival goers. I think I am getting a little more comfortable sketching in the public these days :) 

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Small Works at Charles Taylor Visual Arts Center

Central Park  acrylic on NYC-MTA card by Meera Rao 

Grand Central Station acrylic on NYC-MTA card by Meera Rao 

Central Park, Grand Central Station - both acrylics on New York Metro cards and Figure 2, watercolor on Yupo will be on exhibit at the Charles Taylor Visual Arts Center Small works Exhibition in Hampton,  December 10 2019 to January18, 2020.  Holland Wentz Etheridge is judging the show and a big thank you to her for selecting three of my art works. 

I continue to  use the expired MTA cards as canvases for tiny paintings.  This is my way of  bringing awareness and curtail environmental damage by upcycling the plastic cards that would otherwise end up in trash and landfill. Painting on tiny cards in acrylics is a daunting task and has pushed me out of my comfort zone but has been a very satisfying experience. These days I always leave some visual markers to draw attention to the card's previous life. 

I am aware that the MTA by the end of 2019 is planning to test the next generation fare-payment cards, phasing out these cards that have  expiration dates. That makes these NYC MTA paintings my special small contribution to environmental conservation. 

Figure 2 Watercolor on Yupo

I am happy to have this painting also included in the show ! Painting watercolor on the slick non-porous, acid-free, pH neutral  synthetic polypropylene  'paper' Yupo is always challenging and fun. It stretches my skills and challenges my creativity as I manipulate the paint that is not absorbed by the paper and sits on top of the surface. The surface calls for experimentation and fresh directions, building up nuances that are unique to Yupo. The translucency of the Yupo gave the Figure that particular aesthetic I was looking for. I think it helped tell the story yet keep her secret. 

If you are in Hampton do stop by and visit the Small Works Exhibit - you will find 450 wonderful art works by 140 artists :)  
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