Monday, July 31, 2017

A Tree for Life

Week 2 India 2017  sketches by Meera Rao

It was an exercise in seeing things with fresh eyes as I tried to think of things that my grandchildren might find interesting and different.  I note this as week 2 - but halfway through week-, I was sketching on different pages  trying for some organization.  So this page has mostly things coconut :) - the tree in the front yard and various things I encountered in daily life. We mainly know coconut used in cooking as coconut milk, coconut water, and coconut oil but coconut tree is a goldmine -every part of the tree is versatile and useful -- roots used as dyes,  leaves woven and used as thatching and awnings,  for brooms, trunks for buildings, in parquet flooring, coir from husks for ropes, mats; shells for various implements, as kindling, in arts and crafts etc etc. I sketched only a small fraction of those things.  






Friday, June 30, 2017

To Travel Is To Discover

Travel Art journal Week 1 Feb 2017  12x16"  by Meera Rao

These are sketches from my trip to India in February -- I did these in brushpens, ink and watercolor for my grandkids and emailed the jpegs every few days. These sketches were just little vignettes of each day that I thought they might enjoy. I also kept another small Japanese accordian sketchbook. 

Listening to the news of travel ban decision from Supreme court, I suddenly remembered my sketches - that we were at Washington DC Dulles International Airport departing on our long planned trip to India on that day of the initial Travel Ban Executive Order. We were anxious, so we drove to the airport well in advance of the departure time and fortunately had a smooth flight out.  The departure terminals only had people traveling out but there were lots of loud demonstrators by the arrival gates protesting the ban and many brave volunteers who were there to offer help for the stranded passengers. After our return I got busy and the sketch books got put away.  Looking back, these sketches were my way of dealing with the anxiety, uncertainty and excitement of travel.

To travel is to discover everyone is wrong about other countries.
-Aldous Huxley 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

An Act of Faith

Library of Congress Washington DC  sketch by Meera Rao

“A library implies an act of faith which generations, still in darkness hid, sign in their night in witness of the dawn."
~Victor Hugo~

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Tracks and Lines

Tracks and Lines Near Union Station DC  pen & watercolor 8x5"  by Meera Rao

I don't know what this building is. I see it as the train pulls out of Union station DC on my trips to NYC. Everything about the building - the color, the structure, the look and all the wires crisscrossing was just the invitation for me to sketch and paint it.  

There are so many scenes I see in passing on my trips that I just to itch to sketch - but most of them pass by too fast for me to photograph, let alone sketch.  What do artists do in situations like that? Resort to imagination?  Make a special trip by foot or car back to those places leisurely and sketch? Add one more to my stories about one that got away?  I was finally able to take a few blurry photos of this building as the train sped past it and used those, my mental notes and impressions to sketch and paint.  Last week when I passed it again by train I was pleased - I had captured the scene to my satisfaction :) 

I came across an article in Artists Network  on Sketching On The Go by Bill Silvers with this tip that I really like :
"Try sketching while traveling in a car. My favorite time to sketch is while traveling in a car. As my wife drives, we pass a house. The outer shape is quickly noted. We drive on?there's a group of trees. I place those trees behind the house. Look at that?a differently shaped building. I place it so that the first one overlaps the second. There, a telephone pole; a car, etc. As object is added to object, I try to get them in an interesting overlap. Working directly in watercolor may be impossible during a car ride, but when I get home, I take out my sketchbook and lay in the colors and tones as I remember them. If it doesn?t work, I can change it or do the sketch over. After all, the beauty of the sketch is it's only a sketch!"

Do you have any tricks and tips for sketching on the go? Please do share them in comments below - I am eager for more ideas !

Monday, May 1, 2017

Distance From Origin

A Stone of Hope watercolor and Ink 5x8 by Meera Rao

It is funny how I have inventory anxiety and then feel pangs of separation as I let go a painting that finds a new home!  I am a jumble of emotions feeling grateful and excited that someone else liked the painting enough to want it and a twinge of apprehension that I might never see it again :) Last month, A Stone of Hope, a sketch of the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial at Washington DC  was auctioned off at a fundraiser for my granddaughter's school PTA.  I am grateful to be able to give back to the community in my own small way. 

Distance From Origin  colorpencils  by Meera Rao

I was honored to be invited by Katherine Thomas, an artist friend by way of the cyber world, to participate in doing a page in the Sketchbook Project "Distance From Origin"  via the Brooklyn Art Library. The sketchbook had already traveled to :Ohio, USA; Kent, England; Colorado, USA; and Nasum, Sweden.  I used color pencils to sketch a view of the NASA Langley (Lunar)Landing Impact Structure from my backyard.  It was my interpretation of the theme 'Distance From Origin' -man exploring the universe, the light and heat from Distant Sun burning up the early morning fog. And all this captured by me, who was of course quite a distance from my origins :) I wished the sketchbook happy travels and sent it back. Check out talented Katherine Thomas's FaceBook page and also the special page she created for the project 'Distance from Origin' to see where in the world that sketchbook traveling to!  


Altered States TAA Portfolio show Mixed Media By Meera Rao

My mixed media paintings on photographs have been juried into the TAA Portfolio show at the Suffolk Art Gallery in Virginia.  The theme of my portfolio is "Altered States."  The  show will be up from April 29-June 4.  At the opening, I was pleasantly surprised to see that two paintings already had red dots :) My wish for all my paintings is for them to give happiness and pleasure from whatever walls they grace ! 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Fingers At Play


Sitar Artist sketch by Meera Rao 3.5x5.5


Tabla Artist sketch by Meera Rao 3.5x5.5

A milestone for me yesterday. I loved watching, listening and sketching the two artists live at a concert.  I am really pleased with the results. I used just pencil and no eraser- I knew I had two hours to practice my sketching! The lighting was a bit of a challenge- but I did not mind. These two are the last and the best of 2-3 sketches I tried of each musician. The hands were the hardest as they were flying ! I tried multiple sketches of hands only before I could get them somewhat ok. I wanted to capture the joy and intensity I saw in the artists -I think I managed that along with the likeness :) The wonderful concert by Kushal Das and Ramdas Pulsule so nourished my soul! They really played their heart out. 

Sitar Artist sketch by Meera Rao 3.5x5.5 graphite
Tabla Artist sketch by Meera Rao 3.5x5.5 graphite

Thursday, March 16, 2017

#OneWeek100sketches2017

Day 1-sketches 1-7/100 by Meera Rao

I took up the challenge #Oneweek100sketches2017 organized by Marc Taro Holmes  who blogs as 'citizensketcher' and Liz Steel.  Sketches 1-32 were from my own photographs - photos that I wanted to paint and saw this as an opportunity to practice sketching before I attempted to paint them.  I could not go out and sketch people live because of lots of other things I was busy with.  These sketches were breaks I was taking from doing those other things - mostly unpacking and getting things in order after a long trip to India.  The sketching also was an opportunity for me to put my feet up and rest the slowly healing ankles from a bad fall back in October of last year!!! I also felt safe working in the privacy of my home while working on improving people sketching skills. 

Day 1-sketches 8-14/100 by Meera Rao

Day 2-sketches 15-23/100 by Meera Rao
These 9 sketches were of scenes that I had seen during my trips to India begging to be sketched! I encountered them during my daily errands and had not yet sketched them out.  

Day 2-sketches 24-32/100 by Meera Rao
Lots of people in India take public transportation --buses mainly and can be seen waiting at the bus-stand. Bus stops are like airports these days where passengers are mostly waiting, some people watching or chatting or on their digital devices :)  

Day 3-sketches 33-63/100 by Meera Rao

On this day, I received a poster in the mail from the UN Refugee agency. I was reminded of the devastation facing so many families around the world and the chances they take for a chance at safer, better life. This particular boat load had only men filled to capacity. I know for sure there are other boats filled with women and children making similar perilous journeys. Sketching them was emotionally draining making me wonder what it was like to be fleeing like that! And I stopped at 100 unable to sketch the rest of the people in the boat.

Day 4&5-sketches 64-100/100 by Meera Rao


Boat People 2-Page spread by Meera Rao

I only sketched using a #4B pencil.  I had planned on using watercolor but liked the sketches as they were. I did not time myself but did not spend more than 45 minutes at a time each day. My sketch book was 12x16" and the two page spread was 12x33" .  I am pleased with the sketches and felt sure of my lines and marks the more I drew.  I quickly learned less is more! My goal was to draw 100 people, draw without overthinking every line like I seem to do while I sketch people. I wanted to work on getting the proportions and perspectives correct, and draw people in all different angles, sitting, standing, walking, crawling, front, back and sides :) 

This was a challenge I really relished by the time I was done with 100 people! 


Sunday, March 5, 2017

Altered Facts

Altered Facts  mixed media on photograph 5x7" by Meera Rao

I had been fascinated with how artist James Gurney ( I love his art, and his wonderful treasure of blog posts!) uses casein paints in his art. I decided to try casein paints on one of the photographs I have been using in my mixed media experiments.  Along with casein I applied Pebeo Prisme, ceramic paints and white gel pen to manipulate the photograph. It is no exaggeration to say I had loads of fun painting and then coming up with title :) 

All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. 
~Ralph Waldo Emerson~

Altered Facts  mixed media on photograph 5x7" by Meera Rao

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Interlude

Interlude Mixed media on photograph 5x7 by Meera Rao

Playing with mixed media presents plenty of dramatic entertainment! Here I used Pebeo black ceramic, alcohol inks, and white gel pen to transform the photograph. As always some paintings come with an obvious title.  Even though I did not work on the photograph in this orientation I liked it this way when I was through with it.  Who knows, another day I might find it speaking to me in a different way altogether :)  

WIP and the Photograph before altering. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Turmoil Inside And Out

Turmoil  mixed media on photograph 5x7" by Meera Rao

turmoil 
inside and out 
colorful demons
churning 
twisting
draining 
fueling dark rage
choking
flecks of hope
pushing through
~Meera Rao~

W I P  and original photograph before altered

I am enjoying exploring further Pebeo mixed media paints Prisme, Moon, Vitrail, ceramic and Alcohol Inks on photographs.  It has been fun watching and learning how the paints interact with each other which is always an exciting surprise! And I am learning patience to give the paints time to to  interact as they dry.  

Turmoil mixed media 5x7  

Monday, January 23, 2017

Showing My Art

Morning Walk  Watercolor on masa paper by Meera Rao 

I never know which of my paintings will get a second glance from anyone at all. As David Bayles and Ted Orland write in Art and Fear,  'Simply put, making art is chancy- it does not mix with predictability. Uncertainty is the essential, inevitable and all pervasive companion to your desire to make art."   So it is always a pleasant surprise for me when I get to show my work.  This post is about some of my paintings that got a chance to hang out on different walls recently :)

'Morning walk'  was on display at the Capitol Hill Art League 'Winter' Show last month in Washington DC.  I painted this from one of my trips to Chicago. The red hood of the baby stroller against the white snow and an almost white sky, long shadows of the Grant sculpture was what drew me to the scene and I decided to leave the wrinkles of the paper as is to show the texture. 

Guest mixed media 32x40" by Meera Rao 

Dreamer  mixed media 40x32 by Meera Rao 

'Guest' and 'Dreamer'   are at the Hill Center Galleries, Washington DC as part of the Capitol Hill Art League's annual juried show Jan 5- Feb 25.  I am really pleased that both these paintings are in the same show :) 

Robin watercolor on Yupo By Meera Rao

Blue Blooms watercolor on Yupo by Meera Rao

Dreamscapes  watercolor on stone paper by Meera Rao 

Robin, Blue Blooms, and Dreamscapes  just returned home after a showing at the Hampton Arts League Small Works and Miniature Art Show at the Charles Taylor Art Center  at Hampton, Va.   Dreamscapes was also part of the Capitol Hill Art Leagues 'What I did on Summer Vacation'  show in September 2016. 

Serenity watercolor by Meera Rao 

Serenity will have wall space in the 6th Annual Metro DC Open Juried Exhibition: “VESSELS” -a creative interpretation of Vessels, from ships, to bowls, to blood vessels, bodies :)  I came across that garden scene at Colonial Williamsburg, VA on a sunny afternoon.  

I am grateful for all the jurors who selected my works and giving me an opportunity to show my work alongside my fellow artists.  

"The only pure communication is between you and your work"

Monday, January 9, 2017

Starting A Journey

Main Street Station watercolor and ink  5.5x8" by Meera Rao

At the start of a new year I always wonder if I should give myself any goals.  Over the years I have had a mixed record of keeping my resolutions.  This year giving myself wiggle room, I have decided to sketch 'something' everyday and post it on "sketch-today sketches 2017"   on Tumbler. 

The idea is to make it easy for me to post a photo of the day's sketch everyday and have all the sketches for the year in one place - to track and see the efforts of each day thru the year :)  This first week, couple of days I barely managed a simple sketch and then on other days I managed to pull out my watercolor set and spent a good deal of time on the day's creation. I really enjoyed keeping a art journal/sketchbook during my stays in India over the past five years, but somehow have not been disciplined about maintaining it rest of the year.  I hope this year is different :) 

While surfing the internet last week, I came across an article  on choosing  a word for the year. I liked the idea and decided my word is “present” — as in be present in the ‘studio’ (i.e anywhere to sketch or paint) – everyday as much as possible; 'be in the present’ while doing art – not worry about how something will turn out or not; to remember that whatever talent I have been fortunate to be blessed with is a ‘present’ to be fully enjoyed and be grateful for :) 

'present' my word for 2017

I really have to push myself to not procrastinate, not to be afraid of failure or rejection, and accept whatever shows up on the paper and celebrate everyday. Hoping the word will be a daily reminder to hold up my end of bargain and keep up with my goal of sketching everyday.

I came across a obituary in New York Times for artist  Tyrus Wong - aged 106.  He was an incredibly accomplished painter, illustrator, calligrapher and Hollywood studio artistan.  He was the artist  for Walt Disney’s 1942 animated classic, “Bambi.”  His  is a story of  talented  hard working immigrant artist who remained largely unknown to the public. He faced much discrimination and marginalization  but remained a true artist - creative till the end. 

I was really moved and inspired reading Wong's obituary and an article about his work -I hope sketching everyday will help me as he said : ‘If you can do a painting with five strokes instead of 10, you can make your painting sing.’

So Happy New Year to all!  What word will help you be inspired and create in 2017?  Please do share your goals and your 'word'  for the year :) 

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