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." 
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