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 :) 

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