Saturday, January 31, 2009


I have to post this photograph of the beautiful snow scenery from Colorado. Snow covered mountains and valleys are just a memory now. I am back at sea-level Poquoson and finally not feeling so out of breath by merely walking a few steps!  All that snow and cold weather (or the air travel with a few sniffly fellow passengers) did take a toll on me and now I am nursing a cold and flu. As I spent the day cuddled on the sofa with hot tea, surfing and catching up with e-mails and news etc I came across this NPR story explaining the biology and physics of a runny nose.  But it doesn't matter and I will happily stay out and explore the quiet and beauty of snow and take photographs again.  

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Art and Nature

Yesterday we celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary :).  We spent the better part of the day going up and down in the gondola taking pictures of the snow covered mountains and valleys. To add to the excitement, because of the very cold weather and extremly low temperatures, the gondola got stuck and we got to enjoy (even though it got a bit too cold inside the gondola) the beautiful scenery for extra 15-20 minutes or so! 

"Speak to me about art and I will learn more about you. Nature is also like that. When you look deeply into the natural world, you look deeply into yourself- when you describe nature you describe yourself" Adam Wolport in a Ode magazine article. 

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Mile High Beauty

This is the Denver International Airport -I took the photo from the plane yesterday as we landed there. I am looking forward to a week's stay in the mountains and a family reunion.  Its been a fun two days already - and I am happy taking pictures of the snow and the mountains. Hope to get in some sketching in the next few days. 

Friday, January 23, 2009


This is the companion piece for Low Tide - also done in color pencils.  Most of my subjects are things I encounter in my daily life and rendered in 2-D.  Sculptures and other three dimensional art fascinate me. Recently Scientific American had an article and slide show on seemingly impossible sculptures.  According to the article these "impossible sculptures can only be interpreted (or misinterpreted as the case maybe) by the visual mind. All of the accompanying slides show real objects. No photographic manipulation has been used. "  These artists remind me of  M.C. Escher.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Blue Blood

I spent the day yesterday glued to the TV. I couldn't stop marveling the smooth transition of power as Barak Obama became our new President.  Every four years we get to vote for the leader of our choice - no privileged 'blue blood' nobility assuming power through hereditary claims in a democracy. 

All that TV watching also meant I didn't paint or sketch yesterday.  So today when I was looking  through my collection to pick a painting for my blog,  Low Tide, in color pencils jumped at me. The way the brain makes connections is another amazing thing : Horseshoe crabs have blue blood - something I learnt as a biology major in college and never forgot because its such an interesting factoid.  I see these crabs washed up on the beaches around here quite often. Their colors and the shadow they cast on the wet sand even as they lay in pieces compelled me to try and capture their beauty on paper.  I have done two color pencil pieces on colored paper in the past couple of years. And I am grateful that the only 'blue bloods' I get to see here are horseshoe crabs.   

Low Tide, 11" x14" color pencils. 

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Art, Beauty and Popularity

I had heard the comment that painting pretty things especially flowers in watercolor is not 'high' art. And yesterday as I was reading the obituary of Andrew Wyeth in New York Times I was blindsided with this statement : "Because of his popularity, a bad sign to many art world insiders, Wyeth came to represent middle-class values and ideals that modernism claimed to reject, so that arguments about his work extended beyond painting to societal spilts along class, geographical and educational lines. " Huh ? All I know is that art has remained significant throughout human history in various forms and will continue to do so.

Tulips watercolor 10" x 10"

Friday, January 16, 2009


"Nature-deficit disorder"  is a word I came across in the latest Audubon magazine. According to John Flicker, author Richard Louv, in his acclaimed book Last Child in the Woods, coined the phrase "to describe an array of health, education, and environmental-awareness problems afflicting children who lack outdoor experiences." I didn't know that phrase existed when I painted ' Irony' a few years ago.  I had encountered an adult who freaked out and screamed 'BUG'  upon seeing a beautiful, plant friendly lady bug crawling around.  That became the basis for this painting that explored opposing concepts. As soon as I heard her yell I knew I had a subject matter for my next painting.  I was glad to note in the article that Richard Louv "launched Children and Nature Network, a coalition of people working on environmental, health and education issues who recognize the importance of outdoor activities for children and promote efforts to reconnect kids with nature."   I hope we as humans will learn to live and let live with all of nature. 

Irony watercolor, 30" x 22"

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Creative Spirit

I just finished this watercolor painting of a group of children playing street Cricket. I used  photographs taken a few years ago by my daughter and myself near St. Thomas Mount in Chennai, India as reference.  I played with the composition and moved some children around, changed what was beyond the gate and finally sketched it a few weeks ago. Only this morning I decided to take the plunge and paint.  And I still  wonder to this day why the kid was watching instead of being a part of the game. 

Play is crucial for fostering the creative spirit.   Childlike curiosity and passion lead to 'eureka' moments throughout history  and of course in  our everyday life in things big and small.  Here is a TED video of Vik Muniz, a Brazilian born, Brooklyn based artist. He uses everyday materials like cotton, sugar, wire, chocolate and thread etc in unexpected and playful ways  to create portraits, landscapes, still life.  I am feeling rather inadequate for using only good old watercolors!  

Monday, January 12, 2009

Music in Unlikely Places

Sketching this musician from an old black and white 33 1/2 rpm record cover was  my yesterday's art exercise.  I am trying to get a likeness of objects in my sketching with minimal erasing and measuring. The goal is to get comfortable sketching in public - right now I prefer to draw in the privacy of my home.  I read about an exercise to just sketch only the shadows and decided to simplify the process and and start by using a black and white photograph - besides it was around 10PM  by the time I even got around to my sketch book last night.  

Speaking of musicians,  I heard on NPR about a research that shows the female mosquito's tone is a surprisingly perfect 400-Hz note -'G'.  The male's buzz is 'D' and together they bring about near perfect duet to create an overtone -a third fainter overtone of 1200-Hz - only then will they mate. Check out the link to read and hear the mosquito love song.  Poquoson, where we live, whose name means 'the great marsh' is also home for lots of mosquitos in summer. From now on, I will remember to listen mindfully to the perfect 'G' before brushing those pesky insects away. 

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Hot Shadows

Yesterday I read a review in New York Times about a photography exhibit: Eudora Welty in New York: Photographs of the early 1930s, Portraits Taken by a Writer as a Young Woman (in Hard Times.) There is a slide show that goes along with the article that highlights the exquisite black and white photos taken in early 193os. They tell wonderful stories and focus on beautiful shadows, expressive faces of the people enduring difficult times, and taken from some unique angles. The show will be up until feb 6 at the Museum of The City of New York. I am so grateful for the internet that I am able to read about it and get a taste of the the photographs in the slide show right here from the comfort of my living room.

Hot Shadows is a miniature painting (3"x3") done in color pencils on watercolor paper. I wanted to show the texture of the gravel on the road and the watercolor paper did the trick. I also discovered that coloring and then erasing with an electric eraser left enough color on the paper because of its texture. This technique gave me the desired look of the gravel along with some depth. I was happy to leave a few jewels of color embedded in the shadows. I took the photographs of my bicycle and its shadows one saturday morning in September a few years ago waiting along the road side to cheer my daughter as she ran her first 5k. I played around a lot with the composition and finally settled on just the shadows.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Temple Elephants

Many temples in South India have elephants that are part of religious festivities and ceremonies held at the temple. They carry the images of the deities in procession and at other times will receive offerings and give blessings. Its pretty thrilling to be blessed by the elephants. The elephants are loved and especially revered and inturn form deep bonds with the Mahuts who care for them. The Mahuts practice most days taking the elephants around the procession path.

Temple Elephants are painted in watercolor. (8 1/2 x 11") I have several photographs taken over the years and many happy memories of seeing the elephants in the temples. I had been thinking of painting them for several years now and finally got to it in the past couple of days. I used parts of at least three pictures and sketches from my collection to get this image and hope to paint a bigger one with a temple background soon.

I cannot end this blog without posting a link to a heart warming story of elephant friendship that was the topic of a story on CBS evening news just a few days ago. Enjoy

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Fishing Eyes

I subscribe to e-mails from TED  - an organization that spreads most innovative ideas by the world's leading thinkers, artists, scientists and others. The videos are anywhere from 5 minutes to hour long and are amazingly inspiring. Just yesterday I watched one by David Gallo with footage of wonderful sea creatures.  

Fishing Eyes is a mixed media piece using watercolors and color pencils on masa paper(size 14 x 18".) I painted it a few years ago, framed it and put it aside.  A year ago I took it out of its frame and changed the parts that were bothering me a bit. I think I am happy with it now. 

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Lace and shadow

One of my goals this year is to sketch something everyday.  Two days ago, as I was removing my shoes after my daily walk, decided it was as good subject as any and set to work.  But what I liked was how the sunlight created the shadows of the metal rings in the spiral bound sketch book this morning when I came to pick up the book for today's sketch.  

Friday, January 2, 2009

Frayed Nerves

I just finished jumping rope --I am trying to keep warm while waiting for the repairman to show up and fix our heating system.  Yesterday afternoon it started making awful noises and to be safe we decided to switch it off. Its almost noon today and the repairmen haven't showed up yet. We have a few spot heaters out and running but its 34 F/ 2 C, cloudy and drizzling outside and about 50 F/ 10 C indoors (I keep checking the thermometer we have) and my nose and fingertips are just COLD :(  I have been alternating drinking a lot of hot coffee and tea (and even just hot water to keep my caffeine level under check!) I have rubbed my hands together vigorously and stood in front of the heaters but was still cold and so decided to jump rope to keep me warm.  My mind wandered all over the place as I was skipping rope and I suddenly remembered The Post done in color pencils a few years ago.  We live not too far from Colonial Williamsburg which showcases and interprets life as it was in the 18th century.  There are lots of horses in the colonial replica of the city and many posts to hitch them when they are resting. I loved the look of the weathered wood, frayed rope and the rusting metal chain and had to try and capture them on paper. 
The Post color pencils on colored paper. 9 x6"
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