Monday, December 29, 2014

Endings and Beginnings

Photography by Meera Rao 

While considered by the ancient Aztecs to be symbols of purity,
 in today's language of flowers
 red, white or pink poinsettias, the December  flower, 
symbolize good cheer and success
and are said to bring wishes of mirth and celebration. 

So here's to endings and beginnings !

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Umbrella Fun

Umbrella Fun sketch by Meera Rao 

As I was getting ready to post this sketch of my granddaughter in her brand new rain gear, I began wondering if the umbrella was first invented by whoever  to protect against the sun or the rain as I used the umbrella often this summer when I was in India to shield me from sun as well as rain.  

Of course, I googled the history of umbrellas. According to that article: "The origins of the umbrella are most probably China in 11th century B.C. although ancient sculptures have been found in Nineveh, Persepolis and Thebes (Egypt) depicting the use of umbrellas. There is also evidence of Umbrellas or Parasols being used at the same period in India. I don't think anyone really knows whether it was first used to hide from the heat or the rain, but I found lots of interesting information about them.  Do click on the colored links and enjoy the history :) 

Monday, December 8, 2014

sharp focus

Sketch of my thumb reflected on a shiny knife blade as I cut a mango
 by Meera Rao

The mind of the painter must resemble a mirror, which always takes the colour of the object it reflects and is completely occupied by the images of as many objects as are in front of it.

Leonardo da Vinci

Earlier in the year looking for ideas for daily sketching I came across many suggestions : draw your thumb, a reflection, sharp edges, a fruit etc.. Of course I could not make up my mind. As always, stalling the decision making I stepped into the kitchen.  Cutting a mango  for lunch suddenly I knew what to do :)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A palace for Art

India Sketch Book 2014 panels 27,28 by Meera Rao 

The last four panels of the sketch book are filled with details from the Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery and Performance center at the Jaganmohan Palace.  The performance hall has many beautiful stained glass windows. The beautiful building is unfortunately crumbling and in dire need of renovation and restoration.  

India Sketch Book 2014 panels 28,29 by Meera Rao

The arches on the many doors on the hall were also decorated with colorful paintings and sculpted relief.

The circular motif sketch is from the front facade of the building - there were about 10 motifs on each of the pillars and each was different scene.  This was the lowest one that I could see clearly :) 

India Sketch Book 2014 panel 30 by Meera Rao 

I was able to sketch only a couple of the stained glass windows before a 'Yakshagana ' performance started.  I did not sketch on the back side of the pages as the sketches had bled through to the other side on a lot of the sketches. 

Sketchbook spread out on the floor 110" x3.3" 

I tried to take a picture of the sketchbook all spread out little over nine feet long ! This was the best I could do  :)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Time is Life

Sketchbook India 2014 panels 24, 25 26  By Meera Rao

It has been almost two months since I posted on my blog - longest absence as I mark the sixth anniversary of the blog! I had just sketched the Jaganmohan Palace Art Gallery and Performance center in Mysore when my parents came to spend a few days with me. My Mom was very pleased and proud to see my sketchbook. She would look through it again and again. It is hard to believe that she suddenly passed away on Oct 13. To quote William Hale White : 

"Whenever anybody whom we love dies, we discover that although death is commonplace it is terribly original. We may have thought about it all our lives, but when it comes close to us, it is quite a new, strange thing to us, for which we are entirely unprepared. It may, perhaps, not be the bare loss so much as the strength of the bond which is broken that is the surprise, and we are debtors in a way to death for revealing something in us which ordinary life disguises."

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

On the Road

Sketchbook India 2014 Panels 19-22 by Meera Rao

Sketchbook India 2014 Panels 23-25 by Meera Rao

Road scenes in India are always so very fascinating. Once I started sketching I began noticing all the little details and interesting things that take place. I am attracted to unique vignettes that tell a story. I have learned not to look for perfection in my sketches but hope to capture the emotions.

The scenes get etched in my mind once I start sketching like the time I saw the horse 'checking' out the autoriksha -his competition - while his owner was chatting with the riksha driver! Or the pleasure on the face of the tripple riding motorcyclists -living dangerously with no helmets! The Mother -son pair in the back of the little truck with all their possessions exuded the excitement of moving day.  This time I was pleased I was sketching on the accordion/ Japanese album sketch book :) It was a challenge to keep the sketches connected to one another. 

I needed a couple days to finish each of the sketches- drawing one day and then coloring them the next day. Drawing and sketching in a journal like this make me explore different styles as well as ways of seeing that I have not tried before :) 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sculpting Devotion

Sketchbook India 2014 by Meera Rao panels 5, 6, 7, June 9-10
Tulasi Katte and Ratha (Festival Car)

The trip to Mysore from Bangaluru takes around 3-4 hours. When the taxi driver discovered that I had not seen a couple of beautiful temples along the way and that I did not have to be in Mysore by a certain time, he took it upon himself to make a few stops! (We still made it to Mysore by 3pm!) I took  photographs and during the next few days filled over dozen panels of my sketch book.   

Most every Hindu home, and all temples have a special place for the tulasi (sacred basil) plant. The 'pot' that holds the plant is sometimes very simple and most often very ornate.  

Ratha is a huge chariot used during festivals to take the temple deity on procession pulled manually with ropes.  It is decorated colorfully and towers over all the devotees assembled.  Check out Google images  to get a taste of the festival excitement!  

Sketchbook India 2014 by Meera Rao panels 8, 9, 10, June 12-16
Temple premises

Sketchbook India 2014 by Meera Rao panels 11,12, 13 June 18-19
Outside the temple

Sketchbook India 2014 by Meera Rao panels 14,15,16, June 19-22
Temple gopura, Utsava Murthy
Gopura is a towering gateway, entrance to southern Indian Temple. An architectural wonder, it is ornately carved, sculpted  and decorated with stories from Mythology connected to the main deity. There is also a massive and again beautifully decorated door through which one enters the temple complex. Check here to see images from google search of the gopurams.

The main temple deity  is never moved - so, for festivals special  'Utsava Murthy' are created by sculptors. After divine spirits are invoked in them, they are carried in a procession, either on the Ratha Festival cart, a palanquin or sometimes on the head of one of the priests. 

Sketchbook India 2014 by Meera Rao panels 15-18, June 22-27
garuda utsava murthy and stone wall in the back

Most of the temples are all ancient - several centuries old, some better maintained than others. It is  very common to find beautiful carvings, statues and walls in heaps covered in dirt around the premises.  Its heartening see that the citizens are beginning to understand the value of the art that surrounds them and efforts are being done to restore them.  

I think the beauty of the temples is a testimony to the creativity of the many anonymous  artists that sculpted and built them to make the ephemeral quality of spirituality and devotion more concrete, grand and immediate.  To visit a temple, to be surrounded by the beautiful statues, to take in the burning lamps, sounds of conchs, bells and invocation, the scents of the flowers, incense is a memorable and stirring experience. It did not matter that there were worldly business happening too. I really am awed by the incredible power of art that has lasted centuries! 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Long Journey

View From Balcony Sketchbook India 2014 June 4-7 by Meera Rao

View From Balcony Sketchbook India 2014 June 6-8 by Meera Rao

"Then India, everyone has his own idea of India"
-Milton Hays.

I have been here in India almost two months and yesterday I did the last sketch in the small Moleskine Japanese accordion style sketchbook.  I have finally figured out (for now!) the quirks of the computer and the programs here and been able to successfully post the first two photos from my sketchhbook :) 

First few sketches in a new book are always tentative in nature as I am learning what will work best. On the opening page (which I forgot to photograph) I tried out color pencils, watercolors and Faber-Castell Pitt basic color  brushpens. I mainly used Prismacolor Verithin color pencils, Prismacolor fine line marker pens and micron pen on these four pages. The hard lead color pencils are good to sketch with but difficult to color and shade on the slick beige Moleskine paper. I may build color with my regular Prismacolor soft pencils once I get back home! The background washes are watercolor (Koi watercolor field kit) and I am yet to master using them on this paper! The accordion style sketchbook gave me freedom to sketch wide and an opportunity to link these different sketches.  The idea was to have continuity though here I may be only partially successful as I don't plan ahead of time and am not sure what my next day's sketch will be! I sketched everyday but often took a couple of days to complete a panel - so it has taken me almost two months to finish 30 panels in the book that opens into one long 5.5" x 105" page  :) 

About the sketches: As the title indicates its the view from second floor balcony. I was excited to see the papaya tree top laden with fruits of various sizes right by the balcony, the collection of little lamps, the electric pole with its wires and a branch of "Kadam" /Adina Corifolia tree sporting a badminton ball like composite flower mass.

Today I will start using the large Moleskine Japanese album sketchbook  (5x8" when folded). It has 48 accordion pages. If anyone reading this has suggestions, constructive criticism and helpful hints on using these sketchbooks please feel free to pass it on in the comments section :)

Sunday, July 20, 2014


My Passions sketch by Meera Rao

I want to sketch something everyday but there are days when my muse doesn't show up or sometimes life gets in the way! Once in a while I will check daily painters lists for ideas.  'My Passions'  came about when I combined two different such lists. One listed sketch your hobby; sketch an heirloom said another . I decided to combine the two :I would sketch an heirloom and add my camera review pane around it ! I am feeling very clever and pleased  :)  

This sketch was done in couple of months ago and I did not post it then. I am in India now, my annual visit to take care my Mother-in-law.  I am unable to post the sketches done here as google platform and microsoft PC seem to be at odds when it comes to posting photograpahs :(  Blogger won't recognize crops and edits done in Windows and I can't seem to import into Picasa to do my edits there to upload to the blog!!! I hope I will find a solution soon or I will have to wait till I get back to my own computer to post my sketch book.

I am trying something new this time - using  Moleskine Japanese style accordion sketchbooks in two different sizes.  The smaller  one that folds into 5.5x3.5" is almost full.  I love how it unfolds and I can vary the width of my sketches depending on the subject and how the sketches are not in isolation but run into each other reflecting life itself. I am excited about how it feels and can't wait to post them. I hope I will know more about how to work this computer  soon!!!!   As the saying goes :Thunderstorms are as much our friends as the sunshine.” ― Criss Jami  Challenges make life interesting and I am banking on being a bit more computer savvy by the end of it!!!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Adjust the Tension

Adjust the Tension  Photography by Meera Rao

I am excited that my  photograph Adjust The Tension was selected to the  2014 Juried Photography Competition by Juror Jim Jones for the York County Public Library.  It is on display along with other selections at  the York County Public Library- Tabb Branch till July 11 2014. If you are in that neck of the woods please do stop by and check out the exhibit! 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Sketching Outdoors

"Matteson Trail" En pleine aire sketch by Meera Rao

One beautiful day early in spring, during my daily walk I was inspired to stop and sketch the scenery. I usually carry a small 4x6 book of Arches post cards with me and on that day I had a pack of brand new Faber-Castell 6 PITT artist landscape pens that I wanted to try.  The trail was quiet with not too many walkers.  I leaned against a tree and spent a few minutes taking in the scene and then set to work. I was somewhat satisfied with my results. I later gave it a watercolor wash for sky and water -mainly to test and see if the pen marks would bleed. 

Here is a shaky photo I took with my phone before I continued with my walk -it was a challenge to hold the camera in one and the sketch in the other and manage to click :) 
I just finished reading an article 'From sketchbook to Studio"  by Iain Stewart in the June issue of Watercolor Artist. I like what he has to say about sketchbooks : "A sketchbook has no other responsibility than to serve you. It is completely private unless you decide to share. Safe from the critical eye of jurors, it is a place where you can explore with abandon all your ideas. It's also the best tool I can think of for preparing to work in the studio. "    His advice is to be 'an observer, an editor and a recorder'. He writes: " When I return to the studio, I find that those observations can serve as well or better than any of my photographs"   

Most importantly he states :"Don't let anything you do early in your process limit what decisions you make later in your painting. Be willing to change anything, but remember your game plan." 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

More or Less

Window Reflections 2  watercolor on Yupo by Meera Rao 

Last month I was deciding on which paintings to select for my library show.  When I saw Window Reflections I felt it needed some more reflections and enjoyed added more shapes and deepened some shadows!  Below is the 'before'.  I am hoping my new touches were worth it ! It is always fun to experiment and try out 'what if I...' and its so much easier on Yupo to keep fiddling :) 

Window Reflections  watercolor on Yupo by Meera Rao 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Halls of Art XIII

Irony  watercolors by Meera Rao 

I am very pleased that my painting 'Irony'  (on full sheet of Arches watercolor paper) is hanging in the Halls of Art XIII  show at the Hampton  Roads Convention Center. The description on their web site says: Halls of Art, a display throughout the Hampton Roads Convention Center, celebrates the talent of Coastal Virginia artists.  Each work was chosen by members of the Hampton Public Arts Steering Committee, a group of Hampton citizens from various professional backgrounds, including the business community, Hampton Arts Commission board members, and residents, among others..  The show will run till end of Oct. I missed the show opening  but I went in last week and enjoyed it very much. 

I wrote about Irony in an earlier post and if curious please feel free to check it there. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sharing the Joy

My India Art Sketch Journals at the Hampton Roads Artists Groups Juried Exhibition.

I am excited to be part of a wonderful and unique art show during the month of May at Hampton's Charles Taylor Arts Center!  As the Hampton Arts Magazine Diversions explains : "This invitational group exhibition features artworks selected and submitted by sixteen diverse artists' groups based in Hampton Roads.  These groups pre-selected entries from their member artists, which were then juried into the final exhibition. The exhibition presents both two and three dimensional artworks in a wide range of media, style, and content.  ......The resulting combination of talent, media and subject matter entered by our participating artist groups provides a spectacular exhibition experience."   And the exhibition is a beautifully curated feast for the senses and I feel humbled to be a part of it. 

FYI : The show runs May 3-June 1 2014 - a delightful way to spend an hour or two enjoying art :) 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Secrets of my Soul

My Paintings at Poquoson Public Library May 2014

"Art is a microscope which the artist fixes on the secrets of his soul, and shows to people these secrets which are common to all."
~Leo Tolstoy~

I am grateful once again for the chance to have my paintings displayed at the Poquoson Public Library for the month of May as the 'Artist of the Month.'  It is a very nourishing, humbling and exciting time for me. If you are in this neck of the woods, please do stop by the library! 

Monday, April 28, 2014

What color is a happy cat?

Purr Ball  watercolor on Yupo By Meera Rao 6x8.5"

I have many photographs of cats but actually have never painted one until now :) Past couple of months I have been reading "Cats -Drawing and Painting in Watercolor"  by Lesley Fotherby.  Since I don't have a real live cat in the house, I practiced by sketching the cats from her book, learning their curves and their anatomy as I recovered from my encounter with shingles.  Most interesting was studying and sketching their head from various angles, learning how their pupils behaved. I now know that in bright sunlight the pupil will be a narrow slit, in the dark or when a cat is concentrating on its prey or if it is excited or angry, it can open to a circle! I decided I wanted to concentrate on the eyes and the head, not worry much about the body or the legs.  I lightly sketched the eyes, and the rest of the head.  Yupo is wonderful to play around to bring out the softness and texture when painting wet on wet with loaded brushes and then when the surface is dry go with the script brush to define the eyes, nose and mouth. I used a very limited palette and loved patterns the colors brought about. 

So what color is a happy cat? Purrple of  course :) 
Have a purrfect day! 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Emotional Connections

Curious watercolor by Meera Rao 10x14"

I painted this earlier in the year, about a year after her first birthday. It took me that long to get the courage to draw and then paint. I used several photographs as reference but one photograph that my daughter took of her niece became the basis of this painting. Her days are packed with play and curiosity and I am pretty pleased that I captured that sparkle in her eyes   I painted her eyes first and once I was satisfied with it, painting the rest of her became easier and pleasurable. 

Now I have to get busy and paint her 2nd year portrait as well as her newborn sister :) I hope to have at least one painting for each every year. It definitely  has been most satisfying to paint my grand daughter.  Arne Westerman in his book 'Paint Watercolors filled with Life and Energy' says "the artist must know that his emotional connection is only the starting point for a meaningful piece of work. There must be passion that drives the painting, followed by the creation of a solid composition. Thus the final rectangle will not simply be a statement of feeling or mood or a picture of something. It will be a complete painting with shapes, values, rhythm, color and balance, as well as subject matter. "  And I hope in the end my grand daughter will like it too ! 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Unrealistic Desire

Wilting Daffodil  Photography by Meera Rao 

Wilting flowers do not cause suffering;
It is the unrealistic desire 
that flowers not wilt
that causes suffering
~Thich Nhat Hahn~

Friday, April 4, 2014

Extensions of the Heart

Journal Page March 23-30 2014 by Meera Rao

Last week was filled with days that I wanted to remember and mull over. It started when we returned from the Flamenco Vivo, Carlota Santana - The Soul of Flamenco show at the American Theater in Hampton. I just wanted to capture the feelings, attitudes and expressions of the dancers and the singers before it faded away. Then there was the blue bird visiting the new feeder for the first time this spring, colorful Clivia blooming indoors and the yellow orange daffodils bursting outside.  Four days of rainy weather ended with a brilliant rainbow. I could not forget how reluctantly my grand daughter wore her raincoat and went out but then fully enjoyed playing in the rain and the puddles :)  And there is a special story about that can of Vodka from Russia! 

I am playing with  size, format for my sketches and have not found the right one yet. But I know I want to try bigger full page sketches soon.  I am reading Qu Lei Lei's "The Tao of Sketching" and like what he has to stay about drawing and sketching: 

"The brush or pen is the extension of the heart: We see everything in the world through the eye, feel it through the heart, and think about it through the brain. All of these are combined and transferred to the paper through our hand and brush. Therefore, every stroke of the brush is actually an extension of the soul." 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Eyes Wide Open

Street Cricket watercolor by Meera Rao

I am excited that my painting Street Cricket was chosen for the Tidewater Artists Alliance Juried Exhibition "Eyes Wide Open" Portsmouth Art and Cultural center, Portsmouth VA.  The show was juried by Professor Brian Kreydatus of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA and will be up till April 20th. The center also has an outdoor sculpture exhibition that is pretty neat too. 

On the topic of play, Here is a link for a really fun and fantastic TED talk on the importance/interactivity of play and creativity by Tim Brown. 

It is a happy talent to know how to play.
~Raplph Waldo Emerson~

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Tangled Shadows

Tangled shadows Photography by Meera Rao 

“Art does not in fact prove anything. What it does do is record one of those brief times, such as we each have and then each forget, when we are allowed to understand that the Creation is whole.”
Robert Adams

Friday, March 14, 2014

Making Art and Viewing Art

Art Institute of Chicago -watercolor sketch on Arches postcard by Meera Rao

"Making art and viewing art are different at their core. The sane human being is satisfied that the best he/she can do at any given moment is the best he/she can do at any given moment........Making art provides uncomfortably accurate feedback about the gap that inevitably exists between what you intended to do, and what you did. In fact, if artmaking did not tell you(the maker) so enormously much about yourself, then making art that matters to you would be impossible. To all viewers but yourself, what matters is the product: the finished art work. to you, and you alone, what matters is the process: the experience of shaping that artwork. The viewer's concerns are not your concerns (although it's dangerously easy to adopt their attitudes.) Their job is whatever it is: to be moved by art, to be entertained by it, to make a killing off it, whatever. Your job is to learn to work on your work "
~Davie Bayles & Ted Orland in "Art and Fear" 

"Art & Fear - Observations On The Perils (and Rewards) of ARTMAKING"  is a book I read often. Today as I am trying to get comfortable and not let the shingles that showed up on my abdomen consume me, I am reading it again. The book always inspires me and motivates me to keep on working. I am convinced in the end to give my best shot -as the very last sentences in the book declares: "It becomes a choice between certainty and uncertainty. And curiously, uncertainty is the comforting choice. "

Co-incidentally, I sketched the Art Institute of Chicago building while waiting for the exhibits to open one cold morning in Dec, looking out the glass window of a coffee-shop right across the road.  I was hesitant to take out my sketch kit in the crowded shop but the desire to sketch to kill time till the doors opened won over my fear.  And I am glad I gave in to the urge to draw. 

"Life is short, art long, opportunity fleeting, experience treacherous, judgement difficult" - Hippocrates (460-400B.C) 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Pecking Away A Painting

Woodpecker, watercolor on Yupo By Meera Rao

Woodpecker 2, watercolor on Yupo By Meera Rao

I heard and then saw the woodpecker rat-tat-tating away a few days ago while on my walk at the trail. I needed to sketch a woodpecker for a personal project and was pleased with my luck!  I watched him for a while trying to notice all the details and then took a picture with my phone as I had forgotten to carry my camera. Two days later we saw him again on our walk and managed a couple more photographs. 

For the top painting I lightly sketched the outline and did controlled painting. I layered wet paint, let it dry and the added more layers! I liberally used the spray bottle with just water and a tooth brush to splatter paint to  get the texture of the tree. 

No sketching for Woodpecker 2 - just free flowing watercolors on Yupo :) For texture I sprinkled some salt, sprayed a hint of rubbing alcohol and splattered with toothbrush.

As the quote by Coleman Cox states,  "Even the woodpecker owes his success to the fact that he uses his head and keeps pecking away until he finishes the job he starts,”  I played with the paints trying not to overwork yet pecking away till I was satisfied! Now to decide which one I prefer! Or I may yet paint one more ;)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Everyday is a Celebration

2013 India Sketch Journal page 39 by Meera Rao 

"There are exactly as many special occasions in life as we choose to celebrate"
~ Robert Brault~ 

A small celebration as I post the last page of my 2013 India sketch journal. It was my second year of  doing the sketch book. I am amazed and tickled to see over 200 sketches of everyday scenes and incidences in the two years.  I hope some of them will end up as full paintings soon. The biggest lesson I learned is to just plunge in and draw rather than try for that perfect sketch. As I have mentioned before, the best thing I discovered is looking at everyday things with new sketching eyes as I look for ideas. I became adept at squeezing sketching time when I was in India.  Now to make that happen everyday the rest of the year ! 

2013 India Sketch Journal Aug 23 by Meera Rao

The wedding venues are usually a riot of colors elaborately decorated with fresh flowers and foliage. The creative and labor intensive designs are often awe inspiring - sometimes bordering on gaudy. I definitely did not do justice in design or perspective when I sketched this one and as I was finishing it by memory, my skills lagged behind :) 

2013 India Sketch Journal Aug 24 by Meera Rao

Basava - decorated bullocks and his master go house to house asking for alms in -between farming seasons. The bullock's bells and the woodwind instrument the master uses signals their arrival at the doorsteps.  Rice, money or old silk sarees are donated by most the householders.  Sometimes I think this has become a way of taking advantage of the sentiments towards holy cattle and make quick bucks - especially when I see the master curse when he is asked to just move on! The animals though, are decorated beautifully and it is a pleasure to look at the peaceful majestic beasts. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Reading and Riding

India Sketch Journal 2013 Aug 20 by Meera Rao 

Drivers, maids, and gardeners are still somewhat affordable as household help by most middle class families in India.  Other than drivers, 'the help' usually work for multiple families. Drivers though chauffeur only one employer and end up spending a lot of time in the car waiting for instructions on the next pick up or drop off. They can be seen either chatting with other drivers, napping or most often reading in the cars while also making sure the car is safe and well guarded. I saw this driver whiling away his time reading in a car parked in the shade on a balmy afternoon making the most of the circumstance.  Reading the paper is still the most favorite activity even though smart phones are slowly displacing it! 

India Sketch Journal 2013 Aug 21 by Meera Rao 

When that ladder just has to be transported -- this pair found a creative way to handle the job :) During my outings, I delighted in noting all the things people would ferry around in a motorcycle, auto rickshaw, a bicycle or any other vehicle and was always surprised by the variety !

India Sketch Journal 2013 Page 38 by Meera Rao 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Women's Work

India sketch journal 2013 page 37 by Meera Rao 

I read just yesterday in the Indian newspaper  The Hindu: "On her arrival in India recently, the words of Gloria Steinem, American feminist and leader of the women’s liberation movement, sounded like bells tolling for all women in today’s modern Indian society. “I came [to India] and what was here a half-a-century ago is still here… and yet there is everything else.”   So true! India has come a long way yet there still a long way to go. 

I am always amazed how the old and new live side by side and these sketches give a glimpse of the hard work the women continue to do. But I also see a new confidence in the women too. I sense it the the neat, beautiful ways most dress in the colorful sarees, salwars, or pants and t-shirts, with fresh fragrant flowers in the hair and the purposeful strides. They do what they have to do and more often than not with a big smile too! I see that their lives are never easy but they go on day after and day.

India sketch Journal 2013 Aug 19 by Meera Rao

As this sketch shows, a woman's work is never done! - I saw this lady often on her way home at dusk - I am sure after a full day's work - carrying a load on her head and a bag on her shoulders. 

India Sketch Journal 2013 Aug 18 by Meera Rao

She was at the corner of the street almost every day doing the ironing for whoever dropped off a load of bundled clothes. She used hot coals in a heavy iron to press the clothes. She was very pleased when I stopped to chat with her and take her photograph. At the end of my stay I usually make it a point to make  copies of the photographs for most of them or show my sketches. Their reaction is always so rewarding! 

It is charming to see the old ways but I do hope we will soon see the status and lives of the women improve not just in India but all around globe. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


India sketch Journal 2013 Page 36 by Meera Rao 

India sketch Journal 2013 Aug 16 by Meera Rao 

India sketch Journal 2013 Aug 17 by Meera Rao 

"The journey between what you once were and who you are now becoming is where the dance of life really takes place.
Barbara Deangelis"

I wondered long and hard as to if there was even a link between these two sketches on the same page and then suddenly I knew -- transformation :) 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Comfort In Rituals

India Sketch Journal 2013 Aug 14 by Meera Rao

Any event usually starts with a prayer to Lord Ganesha -the god who is the remover of all obstacles. This plate with clarified butter - ghee, and the special spoon was used in a ceremony, Homa, asking for blessings- at the start of the festivities, about a week before my niece's wedding. All the rituals are filled of symbolism and are beautiful --even though in this day and age they seem long! But it forces one to stop and give thanks as well as contemplate our role in the Universe. 

I loved the patterns, reflections in the plate, shapes and the colors and had to sketch it. I wish I could have captured the sound of the melodious chanting of the prayers too.

India Sketch Journal 2013 Aug 15 by Meera Rao

August 15 is India's Independence day and Jan 26 is Republic day when you see Indian flags flying everywhere.  Here, an autoriksha driver is attaching the  flag to his vehicle to show his patriotism.  The already colorful vehicles decorated with the tricolor flags are sight to behold. 

India Sketch Journal 2013 Page 35 by Meera Rao

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