"The good drawings I do are hardly mine. Only the bad ones are mine for they are the ones where I can't let go, am caught in the Me-cramp"
~Frederick Franck in 'The Zen of Seeing - seeing/drawing as meditation' ~
I came across the book "The Zen of Seeing" a few days ago in an used book shop in DC. I sat and read it for a while at the store totally fascinated by how he saw drawing as meditation and ended up buying it so I could read it slowly and digest the philosophy. The book published in 1973 is handwritten "....because in a way it is a love letter, and love letters should not be typt- set by compositors or computers. It may be a little slower to read, but there is no hurry, for what I want to share with you took a long time to experience." I needed to hear that "A drawing is not a thing but an act." - especially when a sketch or two or more in my journal seem to taunt me with its misread proportions and perspective!
India Art Journal Oct 6 2012 by Meera Rao
There are vendors walking the streets calling and selling any number of things in the course of a day -every day. This particular vendor definitely was special in the way he balanced a wedge of watermelon on top a whole round one ! There is a sense of zen in the scene.
India Art Journal Oct 7 2012 by Meera Rao
This huge water tank is right around the corner and I passed this everyday running my errands. When I finished the sketch I realized that lopsidedness in a way shows how I saw it -looking up, my head tilted as I sketched :) Somewhere in the book Frederick Franck says : In seeing/drawing that which matters can be perceived through the senses, not denied but maximally affirmed."
India Art Journal Oct 8 2012 by Meera Rao
Coral wood or Manjhati tree (Adenanthera pavonina)is spectacular whether it is laden with the yellow delicate blooms or the curved spiraly split open hanging pods with its bright beautiful shiny red bead like seeds. Being in the presence of these magnificent trees brings to mind a line from Tagore poem : "Be still my heart, these great trees are prayers."
India Art Journal Oct 9 2012 by Meera Rao
The last sketch in this page from my journal celebrates life! I was fortunate to participate in the joyous occasion of 'cradling ceremony' of my cousin's 10 day old grand daughter. The cradle was decorated with gorgeous bright beautiful silk and gold brocade sarees and colorful flowers. The ladies sang melodious songs, made sure to ward off all evil eyes and everyone gathered showered blessings on the baby who slept peacefully through the noisy bustling ceremony!
The following are sketches from the page that were done aug 7-10. As in the beginning I was posting only the full page and not individual sketches, I am here giving them the attention they deserve :) I wrote about them on sept 1 2012 in the post : Vibrant and Compelling.
December Artist of the Month at Poquson Public Library - Meera Rao
I am very grateful for a chance to display my paintings like this at our library - it always validates my journey as an artist.
India Art Journal Oct 2-5 by Meera Rao
On Oct 5, I did my 100th sketch in the India Art Journal :) The whole week before and after I felt a real sense of accomplishment for having sketched every day for one hundred days in a row!!! By then, it had definitely gotten easier to sketch each day once I figured out what to sketch! In a way I am also glad that dividing the paper into four and sticking to the pre-determined size also made it simple decision for me to just find time to squeeze in sketching in my tight schedule each day. At times I felt disappointed that I hadn't thought of a more creative way to sketch each day -- but it sure helped me stay with my goal of sketch a day for the four months in India! As the Indian philosopher poet Aurobindo remarked : "Consistent practice of an art in the end constitutes a kind of Yoga "
India Art Journal Oct 2 2012 by Meera Rao
"There is no higher god than Truth"
Mahatma Gandhiji died before I was born and the only photos I have seen are black and white. So I decided to honor him on his birthday which is a national holiday in India with a graphite sketch. His teachings on truth, non-violence and love are universal. I especially feel the need for this message to be heard loud and clear today as we mourn the terrible tragedy in Connecticut.
India Art Journal Oct 3 2012 by Meera Rao
I often walked past this tiny little store grandly named 'Classic Electricals' with the colorful 'mixies' hanging or on a table on the sidewalk advertising the owner's proficiency in 'fixing the mixies' :) I heard from my neighbors that he was indeed skilled in doing the repairs.
India Art Journal Oct 4 2012 by Meera Rao
Everyday from my balcony I saw the ladies combing hair - each others or their own on their porch right across the street. The privacy of my higher up third floor apartment balcony emboldened me to sketch their various activities and I still feel somewhat guilty for recording their everyday acts.
India Art Journal Oct 5 2012 by Meera Rao
Drum roll please... here is my 100th sketch! The night before there was a terrible storm and as I went on my morning marketing I came across these two men using a simple saw to cut the downed tree limbs right by the road. I captured the scene on my camera and sketched them later in the day.
The following are four sketches from my earlier post Bases for a sketch getting their individual time in the limelight :)
The riot of colors at every turn is something that can only be experienced and I felt compelled to record them in my sketch book!
India art Journal Sept 28 2012 by Meera Rao
People can say what they like about the eternal verities, love and truth and so on, but nothing is as eternal as the dishes!
The beauty of stainless steel pots, pans, plates and utensils gleaming in the sunlight as they are drying on an old orange rack by the sink in the kitchen balcony more than makes up for the chore of washing the dishes. Most days I quite agreed with Margaret Mahy's great quote wholeheartedly!
India Art Journal Sept 29 2012 by Meera Rao
When the flaming orange African Tulip tree right by my bedroom windows was in full bloom, I spent hours watching the little Mynah birds hopping from flower to flower to sip the nectar. They danced about the flowers so delicately that the flowers barely moved or registered the bird's weight or intrusion. It was funny to see the bird's beak, head and neck disappear into the flower with only the tail end poking up and out! I noticed that after a couple of days they moved away to other African tulip trees in search of fresh nectar :). The Mynahs usually were active in the early morning hours as the flowers opened, and I loved to wake up listening to them, the parrots (Check below for sketch from Aug 1), the Koyal(nightingale) and few other kinds chirp and tweet and sing merrily.
India Art Journal Sept 30 2012 by Meera Rao
This blue building with its sagging but still classic red tile roof, interesting door, an old orange and white poster remnants peeling off its wall, always had a bicycle leaning against it. Who can resist such a scene? The four months I was in India was supposed to be peak of monsoon season - but unfortunately, the rains were very late even though the sky was mostly overcast. I was able to walk about, do my marketing and errands without getting drenched but missed seeing the play of light and shadows all around.
India Art journal oct 1 2012 by Meera Rao
The gorgeous blossoms are 'mussaenda' - only the actual flower is tiny and yellow and the 'sepals' are bright pink or sometimes white.
Below are once again four sketches from my earlier post A Slice of life enjoying individual attention!
"The marvels of daily life are exciting; no movie director can arrangethe unexpected that you see on the street"
India Art Journal Sept 24 2012 By Meera Rao
This is the beautiful old house in the neighbourhood that I had sketched before but on this particular day the shadows cast by decorative decaying windows just added to the mystery of the place!
India Art Journal Sept 25 2012 by Meera Rao
How nostalgic I was to see a couple of those ancient antique sewing machines in this tinly little shop stuffed and stacked floor to ceiling with machines and parts! I remembered my Mom sewing me beautiful dresses pedaling, running the machine by hand and foot when I was a young school girl! The interesting thing I noticed in India on this trip is that some things are still repaired & repaired again and never discarded while some others that used to be fixed readily ( notably flip flops) are now impossible to get repaired!
India Art Journal Sept 26 2012 by Meera Rao
I knew when I saw this man at the tribal arts show weaving a basket that I wanted to sketch him! He was completely engrossed in creating and I really loved capturing his concentration.
India Art Journal Sept 27 2012 by Meera Rao.
As I had mentioned before, catching people reading became one of my interests while I was out running errands. I aways was richly awarded! This old man was reading the paper while his wife was selling a small basket of flowers by the sidewalk. He opted to squat and lean against a shuttered store and enjoy the paper!
On this Thanksgiving Day, I am excited that I have been able to blog for four years now! My blog anniversary was on Nov 17th and I almost forgot about it :) I also noticed this is my 302nd post! I am grateful for all my readers for your support and encouragement! A huge heartfelt 'Thank you' to all :)
India Art Journal Sept 20 2012 By Meera Rao
This sketch was one I wanted to do for a while but I avoided going down this particular street that sold live poultry and fresh meat etc. It was difficult for me to see them in the cages and I always wonder if they are aware what fate awaits them! Finally I managed to walk by hurriedly to take a couple of photos as references! What will I do without my little camera?
India Art Journal Sept. 21 2012 by Meera Rao
New vehicles soon after they are purchased are usually taken directly to a Ganesha Temple and 'blessed' before they are driven anywhere else. On this particular day there was a line of Auto-rickshas, a few cars and motorcycles fully decorated with colorful flower garlands waiting for the priest to bless them. The priest says a prayer of safety for all, chants blessings in sanskrit, a coconut is broken open, vehicle is sprinkled with holy water, and then anointed with red kumkuma and yellow turmeric. A lemon is placed under each tire and the vehicle is driven over and off by the proud new owners!
Indian Art Journal Sept 22 2012 by Meera Rao
I regularly bought bananas from this lady. She would decide for her customers what kind and how much they should buy!!!! She was very particular about what she sold and made sure I tried a variety :) And she carried a variety of delicious bananas! I had to stand my ground sometimes and insist on what I would rather buy! As I became a regular customer she started putting a few extra bananas into my bag after she had weighed and I had paid her. In the beginning she was quite gruff and I was quite weary of her but as the days rolled by her attitude softened a bit. Her whole family pitched in at the banana stall on evenings and sundays and I would see her very smart and sharp grand-daughters and their Dad working by her side. I hope I have captured her proud strong personality in my sketch.
India Art Journal Sept 23 2012 by Meera Rao
From my balcony, I had a great view of this family's front porch and they did spend a lot of time there. Every morning I saw the grandmother sweep the front yard, decorate it with a beautiful white rice powder rangoli design, gather the jasmine flowers from a big bush in the yard for the morning puja, and a little later comb her grand-daughter's hair as she got ready for school. The young girl stood very patiently with her eyes closed and seemed to enjoy the attention :) There was such tenderness in the way her grandmother combed her hair and I feel happy to record it.
One exciting news that I missed mentioning here on my blog is that my India Art journal and I were featured on Strathmore Art Papers Facebook page about three weeks ago :) It happened during my last week in India and I guess it is understandable that I shared it only on my Facebook page in all the rush and excitement! Thank you Strathmore !
I noticed around our neighborhood in the narrow alleyways tucked here and there, how people find creative ways to hang the laundry! The colorful clothes draped around brighten the drab dusty streets.
India Art Journal Sept. 17 2012 by Meera Rao
Everyday I passed by this tailor shop and I felt seeing him sitting in front of his sewing machine day in and day out that he embodied the phrase -nose to the grinding stone! His cluttered shop was tiny with fabric strewn, stuffed and hung everywhere. I wondered if and how he was able to keep up with all the different clients' items!
India Art Journal Sept 18 2012 by Meera Rao
One of the side streets has shop after shop, and also little 'kiosks' (really a small table or a bench) on the sidewalks exclusively specializing in making keys! A few of them have computers to assist them but most use old fashioned metal files and muscle power to make copies of keys! It was interesting to see all kinds of key skeletons hanging in bunches and glistening in the sun.
India Art Journal Sept 19 2012 by Meera Rao
September 19th was Ganesha Chathurthy, festival of the god with an elephant head, remover of all obstacles in life. Streets were filled with all different size statues of the Lord for puja/worship which are then taken in a procession and immersed in a body of water. This year there was much awareness of environmental impact of the ritual and there were many more statues in just clay with minimal colored paint on them.
Below is the full page view of the four sketches all together. Each sketch is 2.5x4" on Strathmore Mixed media visual Journal 5.5x8" and 90lbs wt.
I paint whatever captures my imagination in Watercolors and Color Pencils. I also enjoy photography. I try to bring to my art the philosophy, heritage and the tropical colors of India and the spirit of adventure and experimentation I find in my now home here in the USA. My goal is to paint often and have my blog as a place to share my adventures.