Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Interlude Mixed media on photograph 5x7 by Meera Rao

Playing with mixed media presents plenty of dramatic entertainment! Here I used Pebeo black ceramic, alcohol inks, and white gel pen to transform the photograph. As always some paintings come with an obvious title.  Even though I did not work on the photograph in this orientation I liked it this way when I was through with it.  Who knows, another day I might find it speaking to me in a different way altogether :)  

WIP and the Photograph before altering. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Turmoil Inside And Out

Turmoil  mixed media on photograph 5x7" by Meera Rao

inside and out 
colorful demons
fueling dark rage
flecks of hope
pushing through
~Meera Rao~

W I P  and original photograph before altered

I am enjoying exploring further Pebeo mixed media paints Prisme, Moon, Vitrail, ceramic and Alcohol Inks on photographs.  It has been fun watching and learning how the paints interact with each other which is always an exciting surprise! And I am learning patience to give the paints time to to  interact as they dry.  

Turmoil mixed media 5x7  

Monday, January 23, 2017

Showing My Art

Morning Walk  Watercolor on masa paper by Meera Rao 

I never know which of my paintings will get a second glance from anyone at all. As David Bayles and Ted Orland write in Art and Fear,  'Simply put, making art is chancy- it does not mix with predictability. Uncertainty is the essential, inevitable and all pervasive companion to your desire to make art."   So it is always a pleasant surprise for me when I get to show my work.  This post is about some of my paintings that got a chance to hang out on different walls recently :)

'Morning walk'  was on display at the Capitol Hill Art League 'Winter' Show last month in Washington DC.  I painted this from one of my trips to Chicago. The red hood of the baby stroller against the white snow and an almost white sky, long shadows of the Grant sculpture was what drew me to the scene and I decided to leave the wrinkles of the paper as is to show the texture. 

Guest mixed media 32x40" by Meera Rao 

Dreamer  mixed media 40x32 by Meera Rao 

'Guest' and 'Dreamer'   are at the Hill Center Galleries, Washington DC as part of the Capitol Hill Art League's annual juried show Jan 5- Feb 25.  I am really pleased that both these paintings are in the same show :) 

Robin watercolor on Yupo By Meera Rao

Blue Blooms watercolor on Yupo by Meera Rao

Dreamscapes  watercolor on stone paper by Meera Rao 

Robin, Blue Blooms, and Dreamscapes  just returned home after a showing at the Hampton Arts League Small Works and Miniature Art Show at the Charles Taylor Art Center  at Hampton, Va.   Dreamscapes was also part of the Capitol Hill Art Leagues 'What I did on Summer Vacation'  show in September 2016. 

Serenity watercolor by Meera Rao 

Serenity will have wall space in the 6th Annual Metro DC Open Juried Exhibition: “VESSELS” -a creative interpretation of Vessels, from ships, to bowls, to blood vessels, bodies :)  I came across that garden scene at Colonial Williamsburg, VA on a sunny afternoon.  

I am grateful for all the jurors who selected my works and giving me an opportunity to show my work alongside my fellow artists.  

"The only pure communication is between you and your work"

Monday, January 9, 2017

Starting A Journey

Main Street Station watercolor and ink  5.5x8" by Meera Rao

At the start of a new year I always wonder if I should give myself any goals.  Over the years I have had a mixed record of keeping my resolutions.  This year giving myself wiggle room, I have decided to sketch 'something' everyday and post it on "sketch-today sketches 2017"   on Tumbler. 

The idea is to make it easy for me to post a photo of the day's sketch everyday and have all the sketches for the year in one place - to track and see the efforts of each day thru the year :)  This first week, couple of days I barely managed a simple sketch and then on other days I managed to pull out my watercolor set and spent a good deal of time on the day's creation. I really enjoyed keeping a art journal/sketchbook during my stays in India over the past five years, but somehow have not been disciplined about maintaining it rest of the year.  I hope this year is different :) 

While surfing the internet last week, I came across an article  on choosing  a word for the year. I liked the idea and decided my word is “present” — as in be present in the ‘studio’ (i.e anywhere to sketch or paint) – everyday as much as possible; 'be in the present’ while doing art – not worry about how something will turn out or not; to remember that whatever talent I have been fortunate to be blessed with is a ‘present’ to be fully enjoyed and be grateful for :) 

'present' my word for 2017

I really have to push myself to not procrastinate, not to be afraid of failure or rejection, and accept whatever shows up on the paper and celebrate everyday. Hoping the word will be a daily reminder to hold up my end of bargain and keep up with my goal of sketching everyday.

I came across a obituary in New York Times for artist  Tyrus Wong - aged 106.  He was an incredibly accomplished painter, illustrator, calligrapher and Hollywood studio artistan.  He was the artist  for Walt Disney’s 1942 animated classic, “Bambi.”  His  is a story of  talented  hard working immigrant artist who remained largely unknown to the public. He faced much discrimination and marginalization  but remained a true artist - creative till the end. 

I was really moved and inspired reading Wong's obituary and an article about his work -I hope sketching everyday will help me as he said : ‘If you can do a painting with five strokes instead of 10, you can make your painting sing.’

So Happy New Year to all!  What word will help you be inspired and create in 2017?  Please do share your goals and your 'word'  for the year :) 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Swirilng Ideas

Swirling Ideas mixed media 5x7 by Meera Rao

I have discovered it is truly exciting to explore patterns, textures, colors, and line by poring and manipulating the different paints and mediums.  It is almost like making music -conjuring rhythm and melody.  Google gives this definition of abstract art that I really liked :  'art that does not attempt to represent external reality, but seeks to achieve its effect using shapes, forms, colors, and textures.'  

Thank you all for the wonderful support you have showered on me this year and I wish everyone a very happy and peaceful 2017.  

Swirling Ideas mixed media Prisme (buttercup), ceramic(black) and Vitrail (crimson) paints on 5x7photograph. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Magical Metamorphosis

Magical Metamorphosis mixed media 5x7 by Meera Rao

magical metamorphosis
sparking unexpected notes
 to dance
a whirling imagination
 stirring textures
to fold 
jewel bright colors 
 into a song

~Meera Rao~

More experiments on photograph with Prisme, Moon, Vitrail, ceramic paints and alcohol inks.

Metamorphis mixed media 5x7 by Meera Rao 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Mixing Up Media

Exuberance mixed media 7x5" by Meera Rao

A couple of months ago, I was the lucky recipient of a book giveaway from a fellow artist, author and blogger Paula Guhin at Mixed Media Manic . The book "Painting with Mixed Media"  by Paula Guhin and Geri Greenman is filled with ideas, step by step techniques and full color Portfolios of art. It has chapters on working with different media -acrylics, watercolors, oil paints, pastels and Tempera. Each chapter highlights a different painting medium, exploring the 'funky ways' it can be combined with other materials, and ends with 'Float your boat further' suggestions that challenges the artist to continue experimenting. The pages are sprinkled with 'Painting Pointers' -artistic advice and helpful hints,  'Savvy Substitutions'  - exactly that  and 'Green scene' - Eco friendly recommendations. 

I decided I needed to try out Alcohol inks with my watercolors and made a trip to the art store to buy a couple of small bottles.  Needless to say, I got lost in the aisles, and ended up buying a Pebeo Mixed media Discovery kit with Fantasy Prisme, Moon and Vitrail paints (6 bottles)  along with Pinata alcohol inks in 3 colors. The Pebeo kit promised "opalescent reactive paints that create an array of infinite designs and textured finishes." and I was seduced :) 

Back home I did a marathon session of You tube videos on Pebeo paints as I had never heard of them before.  Between the videos and the book I had receved, I was full of ideas but no plan. That meant I went off in a completely different and a totally experimental path :) I decided to use old out of focus photographs (double prints!) from long ago (when cameras used film and did not have digital previews) that I had saved because I could not bear to throw away something I had paid good money for. 

I used white gel pen, Pebeo Moon and Prisme paints for wonderful textures to paint on a photo of poinsettias.  Not a drastic change but enough with  more texture  and personality. I have the before and after shots below. 

Fire and Ice  Mixed media  5x7" by Meera Rao

poinsettia photo before 

'Exuberance'  on the very top of the blog is transformation of the photo below.  Here I used  Pebeo Prisme, Moon, and Ceramic paints, Pinata Alcohol Inks, and casein paint.  Pebeo recommends one to pour large quantities of Moon and Prisme (I am yet to try Vitrail) but I used droppers and toothpicks for what I wanted to do. I will use Krylon sealer when the piece is completely dry.  I am very pleased with my experimenting and  really like the results !  

Exuberance mixed media 7x5" by Meera Rao

the photo for "Exuberance"

Exuberance  Mixed media 7x5" by Meera Rao
Fire and Ice  Mixed media 5x7" by Meera Rao 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Moved by Compassion

Bodhisatva  sketched at the Chicago Institute of Art by Meera Rao 

on the path 
to Awakening
a merciful guide
moved by compassion
~Meera Rao~

Information about the statue of Bodhisatva 

I have badly sprained my ankles and on my trip to Chicago in a way it was a blessing in disguise. Normally I spend hours in various galleries trying to catch a glimpse of all the wonderful art. But this time I did not walk around the museum ( I know I missed some fabulous exhibits).  I decided instead to sit and sketch something at the museum. 

I had always been attracted to this statue which is close to the entrance of the museum leading to the exhibits on art from India, Tibet, Korea, Japan and China etc.  I slowly hobbled over and sat on a bench across the statue and took my time sketching with pencil and eraser.  The guard came around a few times to ask if I was ok and if he could help me find anything - I am sure he was checking my progress and making sure I was doing what I said I was doing! None of the visitors stopped and chatted though I noticed some paused close and long enough to satisfy their curiosity :)   

While I sketched it sitting down, the photo of the statue was taken standing up just before I left.  I gave the red wash to the background later - did not dare take my water brush or the small watercolor box in the museum. 

Bodhisatva sketch in pencil and watercolor 5x5" by  Meera Rao

Sunday, November 20, 2016

A Most Powerful Declaration!

Filigree Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture  
Photography by Meera Rao

Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Photography by Meera Rao  

Collage of Photos by Meera Rao 

The new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture is a must see for all ! Last week after a day spent at the museum,  my worries for the future feels differently in light of the faith, hope and resilience that is packed in the deeply moving exhibits. As the New York times article filled with photos of the museum eloquently puts it  : "In the spirit of Langston Hughes’s poem “I, Too,” their message is a powerful declaration: The African-American story is an American story, as central to the country’s narrative as any other, and understanding black history and culture is essential to understanding American history and culture."  

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"

They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--

I, too, am America. 

Langston Hughes

Monday, October 24, 2016

Lines Shapes Color Light

East wing Calder  ink and watercolor 5.5x8" by Meera Rao

"Colour are light’s suffering and joy."

~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe~

The East Wing of the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC reopened recently after extensive renovations and I had a great visit. This sketch was my second attempt to capture on paper the huge open room. The trademark glass ceiling by I M  Pei was the challenge I had to face! I had to slow down, first figure out the overall shape and then draw it section by section.  Photographing the ceiling and studying it every time I got confused helped me finish the sketch.  I think I spent so much time figuring out the ceiling that I lost steam for the rest of the sketch ! But I am pleased that I stuck to it :) 

The Color in a New Light exhibit at Natural History Museum in Washington DC

Name a topic that links science, history, art, and culture. How about color? - a small exhibit on Color in A New Light at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum covers this : Two Glass cases in the lobby were crammed with goodies: an anthracite coal, samples of  dyed silk, dyed ostrich feathers from long ago, Sir Isaac Newton's book Opticks, or, A treatise of the reflections, refractions, inflections and colours of light...London, 1704, Albert Henry Munsell's Atlas of the Munsell Color System [Malden, Mass.: Wadsworth, Howland & Co., Inc., Printers, ca. 1915] Gift of Binney & Smith, Inc., makers of Crayola Crayons and a lot more from the Smithsonian Library.

 "Journeying through the collections of the Smithsonian Libraries — from chemistry to catalogs, from colorblind tests to couture — we might see color in a new light." reads the explanation.  I spent an hour looking and reading the explanations. There is a great digital tour of the exhibit on their website to see up close things in those cases and read about them.  It is truly fascinating! 

From the book: Spectrum Analysis :Six lectures  By Henry E. Roscoe

Explanation of the spectrum from the book  Spectrum Analysis by Roscoe

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