Saturday, June 27, 2009

Golden Spiral

Last week when I was on my way to a friend's house, I came across a small garden full of sunflowers and was surprised they were already in full bloom. I had been reading "Divine Proportion- PHI in Art, Nature and Science" by Priya Hemenway and drawing the 'golden spiral,' studying the use of golden-angle, -proportion, -section, -ratio, -rectangle, etc. in composition in art through the ages. I am fascinated by how pineapple, sunflowers, daisies and strawberries appear to form two systems of spirals radiating from the center - a pattern created by Fibonacci numbers. On further research, I discovered that "The fibonacci numbers are named after Leonardo of Pisa, known as Fibonacci, although they had been described earlier in India. The Fibonacci numbers first appeared under the name 'matrameru' (mountain of cadence), in the work of Sanskrit grammarian Pingala (Chandah-sastra, the Art of Prosody, 450 or 200 BC). Prosody was important in ancient Indian ritual because of an importance of the purity of utterance. The Indian mathematician Virahanka (6th century AD) showed how the 'Fibonacci' sequence arose in the analysis of meters with long and short syllables. Subsequently the Jain philosopher Hemachandra(c.1150) composed a well known text on these. A commentary on Virahanka by Gopala in the 12th c. also revisits the problem in some detail." WOW! In a strange coincidence, there is also a site called 'Sunflower Revolution', which does fundraising for Parkinson's and has links to latest research etc. Ever since my Dad was diagnosed with it I go there in search of information.

So, I decided it was time to post this painting 'Sunflowers' (12x10") in watercolors and water color pencils. It was painted from a still life set up. I like the way the colors in flowers turned out. I would like to paint another with only the bloom when the lone sunflower plant our back yard blooms.

Sunflower 12x10" watercolor and watercolor pencils.

Monday, June 22, 2009

One of Many Faces

Last week, when I was almost done with this self-portrait, my husband took his first glance at it and said "no, this is not you. That look is a very rare expression. You always have a big smile" Since then my smile has been even bigger -if thats possible.

I started sketching using a mirror and then used the camera eye on my computer to snap a photograph so I had a reference photo to use in completing it. I tried warm color for underpainting on the hair and eyes and cool on the background before finishing with black grape as final layers. Some day I will try again with my big smile :)

One of Many Faces color pencils 9x12"

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Colorful Life

I am always inspired by the patterns and colors in nature. These hydrangeas blue, pink and in-between are all from a single plant from our backyard. I have been photographing them and admiring the nature's color palette. I am aware that alkaline soil colors it pink but its still an amazing sight to see the range in those blooms. There is also a wild species of Morning Glory snaking down the edge of our yard whose blooms are light pink to white in the morning and they turn blue later in the day. One thing I have learnt from all this that there are no absolutes and not to be afraid of experimenting with color combinations in my art.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hanging Fire

This afternoon, against my better judgement, I spooned onto my plate a big dollop of special red hot chili mango pickle that I had brought with me from India during my last trip. I really love the taste even if my mouth invariably is on fire, my eyes water and my sinuses start clearing up in a hurry. Its an indulgence I occasionally give in to. I remembered reading that peppers crank up the capsaicin content for self defense and fully appreciated the creativity behind the evolutionary weapon! Two days ago I was excited when my husband brought in first four shiny green Jalapeno peppers of this season, from the garden. Over the years I have also enjoyed painting (in color pencils) the peppers. I love the bright red color of the ripe peppers. Hanging Fire (16x12") is painted in watercolors on hot press board. I carefully misted the paper with water after painting the peppers and the basket with geraniums.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Learning to be Spontaneous

I thought having a blog will make me paint and draw more on a regular basis. But procrastination is a habit hard to drop. So, today's post is  'Star Climber' (watercolor, 14x11") -painted a few years ago. I learn something new every time I pick up my brushes to paint. I still vividly remember that I was delighted to discover the power of  'artistic freedom' to change and imagine my own background for the clematis.  I really wish I can instinctively carry over the lessons I learn learn from one session to the next.  

Today I came across a series of short but informative  'artworks' videos on How Stuff Works. The topics range from The Last Supper, Van Gogh to Lava Artists in Hawaii. Watching, studying, and reading about art is both an excuse to postpone my own painting and acquire new ideas and insights. And when I do get to painting, its exciting to try out and uncover my version of those ideas and insights. Happy results though are not always guaranteed!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Gift of Vision

I encountered these goats on our last trip to India while visiting my Uncle in the countryside. We had to wait for the herd to cross a very country road. It was a hot summer day with the sun blazing in full glory. In this painting  I have tried to simplify the scene and show the heat, sun and the docile goats on their daily walk. Now it is framed and stays leaning against other paintings in my dining room waiting for a chance to hang somewhere. 

I need a still life set up, a photograph or two, a landscape or a model to look at so I can draw or paint. I do an abstract every now and then but mostly I use some kind of physical reference to paint from. None of my paintings are larger than 40" though most are much smaller.  I still have most of the paintings I have created.  When I was younger, many mornings we did a  fresh  but simple 'rangoli' on the front yard by the door with the rice flour or chalk. I didn't think twice about sweeping it off the next morning. Every 'navaratri' festival, my grandmother had us all help her make a big rangoli with colorful flower petals. We were a bit more attached to these elaborate creations wanting it to last longer. Now, every August, I admire the Buddhist monks diligently paint a sand mandala slowly, taking a full week to finish it- only to deconstruct it couple of hours later. Check this link to watch Peter Donnaly in Christ Church, New Zealand create beautiful masterpiece on sand every  day by the beach and and offer it to the ocean as tide comes in.  All this has me reflecting - what does it mean to create, share, hold on or let go? 

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Spring Romance

This pot sits right outside our kitchen window sill reflecting  the afternoon sun. I love the shapes and  how the leaves and the flowers glow.  I hope to paint this some day but right now I am happy with the photograph. 

The spring also brings a few mallard duck couples to our backyard.  Some have great luck and see the ducklings swim away but more often we find broken egg shells strewn around by raccoons who found the nest or the little ducklings get swooped up by the ospreys.  

Speaking of romances, there is a Harlequin Cover Art exhibit in New York city celebrating the 60th anniversary of Harlequin.  Check out my daughter's video review of the exhibit  here.
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