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

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Taking Chances in the New Year

Collage of sketches Jan 1 -6 2018 

The first week of drawings followed the "not every drawing needs to be a finished work of art" tip. So I filled the pages with bits and pieces of things in my day forcing me to be mindful about my surroundings and experiences. 

Sketch book page by Meera Rao

The excitement of a new sketchbook and trying to figure out how I wanted to sketch each day had me experimenting this first week with a visual journal model. I tried mini sketches the first three days - but soon discovered that was not easily sustainable over long term !

Sketch book page by Meera Rao

I also discovered this book takes only very light watercolor washes -- so I soon resorted to graphites, Prismacolor and brush pens.

Sketch book page by Meera Rao

I tried to add a quote some days to jump start an idea for the page-- as William Faulkner said " Take chances. It may be the only way you can do anything really good."   Looking at these pages, I feel I should give more thought to how to compose each page, to the writings and penmanship as well. But right now I am just sketching and hoping to keep up with it every day!

Sketch book page by Meera Rao

The past three days, I experimented with just one sketch each day to capture the essence of the day.  The 'Bomb cyclone' has meant very frigid temperatures but fortunately there was only an inch of snow in DC where we spent the week with our grandchildren. I sketched them doing a fashion show,  their art work,  toy etc.. Cooped up indoors with them, my husband and I supervised their melted crayon art, sketched with them.  I also was a scribe for their illustrated books :) 

Finally, this post is a start on my ambition of more regular posting on the blog.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Season's Greetings

Poinsettia Turning Color  color pencils by Meera Rao

I am having mixed feelings as the year comes to an end. Happenings around the world deeply affected me.  My productivity and creativity have ebbed and flowed as my energy and focus scattered all over the place. 

Sketchbook Page from Nov 2017

I kept the sketchbook in spurts and bursts -- two trips to India resulted in two spreads on Japanese album sketchbooks (working on finishing touches on the second one). Many experiments I did with with acrylics and mixed media were fun.  I found painting abstracts on yupo, miniatures on NYC MTA cards challenging. There was also a week of hundred sketches of people! #Inktober and #CreativeSprint in October kept me busy but then I barely managed 19 posts on my blog in 2017.  Acceptance in a few shows,  an honorable mention in one and selling a few paintings - that felt really special :)  And most importantly I was able to spend quality time with my grandchildren!

So for 2018, my main goal will be to work on that one personal project dear to me that I did not get any traction at all this year.  I am hoping to sketch, paint, write and post more regularly on my blog not just when I feel like it ! 

And I wish all a wonderful creative year ahead :)

Friday, November 17, 2017

Another Anniversary

  Acrylics on NYC MTA card by Meera Rao

Nine years ago I started this blog.  I am really grateful for that step because more often than not I was pushed to create so I could post :)  My heartfelt 'Thank You' to all for the wonderful support you have shown by visiting blog and or leaving an encouraging comment. Happy Thanksgiving! 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Inktober Splash

Inktober day 1 #Swift by Meera Rao

I decided to participate in the Inktober challenge this month - to draw something in ink  from a list of prompts.  So far it has been fun. For Day 1 prompt 'swift' I drew a cricket - creatures I spend hours in fall chasing, cupping and ferrying out of the house! Done with micron fineliner 02 and sepia prismacolor brush tip pen. 

Inktober Day 2 #Divided  by Meera Rao

For day2, drawing magnolia pod and leaves seemed to fit the bill for #divided.  Done with micron fineliner 02 and sepia Prismacolor brush tip pen. 

Inktober Day 3 #poison  Creativesprint #Two things that don't go together   by Meera Rao

I am also participating in CreativeSprint this month - another 30 day challenge to jump start the creative juices.  Some days I feel very clever when I combine the two prompts as in this one - I am allergic to beebite so this one was easy :) Look for #creativesprint on Instagram to see the creations by participating artists.  Tools of choice : Gel writer and micron 02.

Inktober day 4 #underwater by Meera Rao

For underwater I drew pebbles and roots of my Lucky bamboo in water in Vase. 

Inktober day 5 #Long  Creative #homage to a teacher by Meera Rao

Another two in one - #Long for inktober and paying homage to a teacher for Creative Sprint.  Same with the one below #sword for inktober and #palindrome for creative sprint :)  There is such a thing as Drow Sword !!! I used calligraphy pen and gel writer on handmade paper from India for  'gratitude' and the piece measures  2x10".  And I am very happy as how this turned out. 

Inktober day 6 #Sword  Creativesprint #palindrome by Meera Rao

Inktober Day 7 #shy by Meera Rao

Touch-me-not flower was the suggestion by my husband when I was trying to come up with the idea for shy.  It belongs to the Mimosa family and the leaves fold when touched!

Inktober day 8 and Day 9 #crooked #screech by Meera Rao

This is also one of my favorites. I drew a gnarly crooked cherry blossom tree I came across in DC during cherry blossom festival in April and decided to give it the zentangle touch with a silver  Gelwriter  pen after I had inked the drawing. 

Inktober day 10 #gigANTic by Meera Rao

For the prompt gigantic - I choose to draw the biggest/largest ant. Dinpponera quadriceps is found in South America and female of the species may surpass 3-4cm (1.2-1.6") in total body length.  I used Sepia Prismacolor brush tip pen, micron 02 pen,  Prismacolor Marker and Fabercastel Pitt Artist pen. 

First ten days have been challenging and fun. I will post my responses to the CreativeSprint challenge prompts soon :) 

Monday, September 25, 2017

New Avatara

After(top) and Before Photos of Repurposed NYC Metro Card Art 'NYC Rabbit Hole' by Meera Rao 

When we were in NYC earlier in the month, I grabbed the expired Metro card that my husband was about to throw in the trash can. I had been thinking about the upcoming miniature show and thought it might be fun to paint on the card.  Little did I know that there is a fundraiser Single Fare 4 for New York Academy of Art once a year where the Metro card art by artists from all over world is exhibited and sold!  I may be late to the party but at least my ideas are not really far out :)  I have one more card from that trip to paint on and hoping to get more on my future trips to NYC.  I hope I will be able to participate in next year's  show ! 

NYC Rabbit Hole acrylic on NYC MetroCard 5.5x8.5cm 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Sketching and Watching

Wright Brothers National Memorial,  Kitty Hawk, NC  watercolor 5.5x16.50" by Meera Rao 

Almost a month ago, we went to Kitty Hawk to Wright Brother's Memorial National Park to see the Eclipse.  It was a memorable experience. It was awe inspiring to check out the sun with the eclipse glasses. I also took along my colander and caught the eclipse through its holes.

Colander Eclipse Shadows  Photo By Meera Rao

I also made a pin hole camera with a box and poked a lot of different sized holes to look at the eclipse.  Where we were it was only 90% eclipse and we did not experience the darkness- only the temperatures dipped and it felt like cool evening !

Eclipse thru pinhole camera Photo by Meera Rao 

While I was waiting for the eclipse to start,  I sketched and painted the Wright Memorial. I also took some artistic license and moved their building and the markers closer to the Hill just so I could fit them in the paper :) If I had thought about it and really planned it right I could have sketched the memorial a bit more to the left. But adding the other buildings and  markers was an afterthought. It took me about an hour to sketch and paint. 

Wright Brothers National memorial, pen and watercolor  5.5x16.50"

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Eteched in Color

2017 India Japanese Album Sketchbook By Meera Rao

Temple Domes 2017 India Japanese Album Sketchbook By Meera Rao 

Flower Vendor and keeper of chappals 2017 India Japanese Album Sketchbook By Meera Rao 

Mysuru Nandi 2017 India Japanese Album Sketchbook By Meera Rao 

Baggage 2017 India Japanese Album Sketchbook By Meera Rao

Passing Time 2017 India Japanese Album Sketchbook By Meera Rao

The Japanese Style USKbook Sennelier Multimedia 340 (6x4" opening to 6x39") is where I sketched and painted vignettes of my trip to India earlier in February.  I was trying to have a theme but it slipped my mind while sketching the last four panels. It just happened that I used two panels per subject in this book. I sketched them during my trip but applied the watercolors later. 

I started with the view from balcony of my brother's house.  The temple is right across the road. The colorful Temple Domes though complicated were fun to sketch but hard to paint.  I had used two panels to sketch. Unfortunately while painting, the wash settled on the crease between the panel. The paper tore along the fold so I had to resort to clear tape to hold it together.  I also reinforced the back og the crease. It was my first time using this particular brand of sketchbook and the detailed sketch was not the right one to get used to the paper.  But I think I captured the colorful busy-ness of the domes! 

Devotees often buy coconut, flowers and fruits as offering to the Deity when they visit the temples. The vendors line up the entrance to the temple and sell small baskets filled with bananas, fruits and flowers. Many vendors also have a side-business of keeping an eye on devotees' footwares for a fee as visitors are not allowed to wear their shoes and 'chappals'  inside the temple. Just leaving them outside without supervision is not a good idea!

This massive Nandi (bull) carved out of a single stone, is 15' in height and 24' wide. It sits on the way to the Chamundi Temple which is on top of the Chamundi Hill in Mysuru, Karnataka. We were visiting the day before a major festival and there was scaffolding around to assist in decorating the statue with flowers, sandlewood paste and red Kumkum.  

The last four panels depict railway platform scenes. I came across the lady sitting crosslegged surrounded by boxes and bags. Perhaps she was moving to another city!  Passing time while waiting for the train, the man was sitting in the shadow of a huge tree that was left undisturbed in the middle of the platform! The three kids were climbing a pole for a better look at whatever grabbed their interest.  I decided to leave the people unpainted to show that the scene remained the same while the players the changed  :)  

The Japanese Style USKbook Sennelier Multimedia 340 (6x4" opening to 6x39"  India 2017.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Paintings and Sketches Show and Tell

Week3 sketches India 2017

Above is the third of my sketch pages from my trip to India earlier in Feb.  These were the sketches I was doing for my grandchildren :) I have couple of more pages of sketches and a Japanese style sketchbook that I am yet to scan - I just forgot once returned and plunged into my daily life here ! 

Poquoson Library artist of the Month Aug 2017

Poquoson Library artist of the Month Aug 2017

Poquoson Library artist of the Month Aug 2017

This year's collection were a surprise to me too as I put together the show for our local library.  I discovered the past year  I experimented with mixed media, collage and photography :) 

Resting Photography by Meera Rao

Resting, my photograph taken in India ,  just  returned home  after being a part of the show "Artist as Photographer" at Charles Taylor Art  Center in Hampton, Va. 

Finally, today is the opening of a group show at Velocity in Washington D.C. where "Dreamer" (shown on the flyer) and "Guest" will share the wall space :) 

Monday, July 31, 2017

A Tree for Life

Week 2 India 2017  sketches by Meera Rao

It was an exercise in seeing things with fresh eyes as I tried to think of things that my grandchildren might find interesting and different.  I note this as week 2 - but halfway through week-, I was sketching on different pages  trying for some organization.  So this page has mostly things coconut :) - the tree in the front yard and various things I encountered in daily life. We mainly know coconut used in cooking as coconut milk, coconut water, and coconut oil but coconut tree is a goldmine -every part of the tree is versatile and useful -- roots used as dyes,  leaves woven and used as thatching and awnings,  for brooms, trunks for buildings, in parquet flooring, coir from husks for ropes, mats; shells for various implements, as kindling, in arts and crafts etc etc. I sketched only a small fraction of those things.  

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