Sunday, November 30, 2008

Truth Alone Triumphs

In between reading The Art Thief  and some sketching for a new painting,  I decided to try another little freehand calligraphy with the saying - satyameva jayate  - Truth alone triumphs. The samskrita saying is taken from Mundaka Upanishad and is on the Indian National Seal.  The piece was supposed to be an  exercise in  spontaneity - to help me loosen up a bit .  I have ways to go :)
Truth Alone Triumphs watercolor and pen & ink 8x12"

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Art Thief

I haven't drawn, sketched or painted today.  I spent some time  earlier this morning framing one of my finished pieces. I am spending the rest of the day reading the book "The Art Thief"  by Noah Charney  :).    The blurb on the back of the book  by Steve Berry, author of  the Venetian Betrayal  reads " A vivid marvelously readable look at the world of stolen art. The fascinating tale keeps you constantly wondering -does this stuff really happen? " I still have quite a few pages to go ...... but I am enjoying the suspense.  Lots of art-history and by the way, which would you rather own-  an Old Master or an abstract Modern Art? 

And once again, since I probably will not pick-up the paint brush today,  I am posting a painting from my collection -- Iris in watercolors. 8x11"  - I painted it freehand from life.  

Friday, November 28, 2008

Mid-day Shadows

These past couple of days, the horrific incidents unfolding in Mumbai have cast long dark shadows on the day of Thanksgiving here in the US -far away yet very close with our blaring radios and TV. In art, play of light and dark makes for some beautiful art.  But these terrorist shadows bring us only tears, despair, anger and frustration. I pray for peace. 
I am not sure its in good taste to post any painting but here it is anyway -one of my attempts at capturing the beauty the Universe so generously offers us always.  Mid-day Shadows  in watercolors and color pencils 7 1/2 x 91/2 " 

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Noble Thoughts

Today I tried to paint and calligraphy  again.  I changed the strategy - decided to do  free flowing lettering, changed the illustration , composition and style.  The saying is from Rigveda.  I remember seeing it growing up in India in Bhavan's Journal that my Grandfather used to subscribe to. I have always been impressed how a few thousand years later it still rings true.   

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mindfulness and Compassion

I need to incorporate more of both mindfulness and compassion into my life.  I spent the day writing a verse from Rig Veda in calligraphy and then illustrating it.  When the project was almost finished I see a glaring mistake-  after all the planning, measuring, copying and recopying, checking and rechecking I had managed to completely omit a word in the very first line. The whole thing had to be trashed --no way to salvage any of it!  So, now I am trying to convince myself that it was a good practice session and  I can move on to painting the real thing.  

I get to dip into my collection  and post a painting I did a year ago - Coconuts in watercolor; 7 1/2 x9 1/2"

Monday, November 24, 2008

New Ritual

So, now I have a new ritual -- checking on my blog :).  I am grateful for all the support I have received from my family and friends. Its been great to find brand new 'art friends.'   What a powerful incentive this is to get on with creating new paintings. There is an urgency now to get paint on the paper.  I am still pondering, planning, figuring and checking my ideas and compositions for my next project. I also know that once I start the process, things have a way of taking new twists and turns !  Peppers from our garden, a glass bowl and lots of photographs ended up as  Red Pepper and Glass Bowl  done in color pencils. 

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Painting Everyday Things

Today I went to see "American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell" at the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, Va.   Its a rich, wonderfully curated exhibit on Rockwell's artistic legacy. Its amazing to see how much research, detail and preparation went into each of his paintings. His large oil paintings are a treat to see. Rockwell makes the everyday scenes seem exotic.  My favorite is the very powerful "Southern Justice."  

Her Passion  is my humble attempt to paint my dear Mother-in-law on one of her rounds in her small garden.  Its done in watercolors and color pencils. 

Friday, November 21, 2008

Teaching and Learning

As I prepare a lesson plan for my one and only student who comes every Friday afternoon, I find that I am the one who is really learning. I am mostly a  self taught artist and as I try out the lessons before I teach, I find there are a lot of ah-ha moments for me.  Today's lesson is on contour drawing which I always enjoy practicing.  An old mini singer sewing machine turned out to be a good subject. 

What is Art For?   an article by Daniel B. Smith on last Sunday's New York times Magazine section has to wait until  later today. 

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I was painting furiously for my show these past couple of months and left a mess in its wake. So yesterday I spent the day clearing all the clutter as much as possible from my 'studio'. Now the mat cutter and its parts are stored away for next time. All the mats and frames I didn't use gathered and put away so I don't trip over them. Color Pencils and paint tubes are back in the appropriate boxes and sorted out just so. I have to organize my things often since I am never successful in maintaining order. Everything somehow gets out of its place and spread out in no time at all.

I am back to searching for new subject matter for painting. Its always exciting and frustrating and a bit scary - expectations for the next painting are always high. I love to read and research besides going through my photographs and sketches when I am deciding and preparing. Here is an article I came across yesterday about Art and Visual Research : "Scientists did not invent the vast majority of visual illusions. Rather, they are the work of visual artists, who have used their insights into the workings of the visual system to create visual illusions in their pieces of art. We have previously pointed out in our essays that, long before visual science existed as a formal discipline, artists had devised techniques to “trick” the brain into thinking that a flat canvas was three-dimensional, or that a series of brushstrokes in a still life was in fact a bowl of luscious fruit. " And then there is M.C. Escher's art.

While I contemplate my next piece, I have selected a painting from one of my previous shows to share (thats the point of this blog anyway!) Bullock was painted a couple of years ago in color pencils. His serene expression and resignation to his lot in life was a challenge to capture on paper. I found him in IIT Chennai doing the rounds delivering water in the campus still decked up in paint after the 'pongal' festivities.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

show off time

I saw the Bangle Peddler in Bangalore this summer.  He was walking around the neighborhood selling glass bangles. Something about him made me get out of the house, have a conversation and then take a few pictures-- which I later used in painting this The Bangle Peddler in Color Pencils.  The door to door selling is fast vanishing from the landscape in India.  The dignity he possessed and the pride he took in his job were refreshing. I hope I have done justice to his portrait.  

A New Adventure

Finally I have decided to post. I have been very hesitant and feeling very unqualified to do a blog. I saw an exhibit by Botero at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art last week and realised I only have to answer to myself.

Right now I am especially pleased with my little show at the local public library which generously offers a wall to an artist a month. That has been my primary showcase motivating me to draw and paint so I will have all new pieces for each show every year. For this year's show the focus turned out to be on India - scenes from our various trips and on mandala creation. The Buddhist monks visit our area once a year and I am reminded once again of beauty and impermanence of the world around us. I paint mostly in watercolors and color pencils, often mix the two and my subjects are varied - anything that catches my fancy. This time I experimented with using Masa paper for my paintings on scenes from India giving them a batik look.
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