Monday, May 31, 2010

Watercolor magician Jiaur Rahman

While I sit here in the sweltering heat, fantasizng about the monsoons, hoping and wishing that now that they have hit the Kerala coast, Hyderabad will be next......I am salivating over these wonderful watercolors of rain, by another favorite painter of mine - Jiaur Rahman. How he is able to achieve this wonderful, "watery" effect is incredible. You can almost feel the slippery pavements below your feet, the wet rain hitting you, you can hear the squish squish of wet footsteps and the gleeful shouts of children playing. You can sense the urgency of people rushing home to get out of the rain......! I am hoping if I stare at these paintings long enough, I can hypnotize the rain gods to pelt us with some of that wet stuff.....! Enjoy!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Mosaic Monday

A simple mosaic - sun worshipping bougainvilleas in my garden! One plant that thrives with very little care....!
Thank you Mary for hosting Mosaic Monday!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Experimenting with charcoal......

As some of you know one of my hobbies is painting. Even though I feel I am better at drawing than painting, I enjoy painting more! I find oil painting the easiest and most enjoyable...probably because its an easy medium, and a breeze to cover up any mistakes I might make. Watercolors are my biggest nemesis....I struggle and struggle to get that watery translucent quality, but to no avail. But I am persevering.....! Another medium I enjoy is charcoal painting.....its fairly easy, its quick - there is no drying time - and the black and white effect is always striking! Today I messed around with some charcoals....since I was just experimenting, I tried to reproduce a sketch by one of my all time favorite artists - Vrindavan Solanki! Here is the final product.....

Friday, May 28, 2010

Mellow Yellow!

I'll be honest, I am not a big fan of yellow.....but the strange thing is even though I don't have a spot of yellow in the house, I always always love and admire the happy cheerful sunny yellow rooms I see! You have to admit...nothing screams HAPPY like a dash of yellow! A friend of mine in Seattle painted her kitchen walls a snazzy yellow and then laid down black and white tiles for the flooring - the effect was electric! Everytime I ate there I felt I was in a Parisian cafe! There are so many shades of yellow.....bright lemon, soft sage, deep marigold, rich gold or light butter yellow! So take your pick and get inspired!
My friend Param's sunflower yellow fireplace wall in Arlington
A happy cheerful sunny bedroom
Some colorful yellow outdoor seating to add a splash among the green
A dining room wall in a marigold yellow
Lemon yellow walls for a living room
More lemon yellow paired with white curtains for an easy breezy summer feel

Images courtesy my friend Param, and various media sources and May 2010 Good Homes!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Flamenco and Kathak

I love all music and all dance but one of the dances I absolutley love is the Spanish flamenco. The passionate dance accompanied by lusty primal singing is enthralling. There was a time not so long ago when I was determined to join a flamenco class in Seattle, but the thought of making a complete fool of myself stopped me....! Now I wish I had persevered!
A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to see a flamenco dance in Barcelona, and I was struck at the similarity in the footwork between flamenco, and Kathak, a centuries old classical dance from North India. Curious at this, I did some reading and was amazed to find the similarity was no coincidence. Read on.....
Around the ninth century, for some unknown reasons, thousands of inhabitants of the north-western part of India began to emigrate west, taking along with them their culture of music and dance including the age old temple dance Kathak. They set out from the territories presently occupied by the Punjab and Pakistan. In Persia they split, and one part went via Palestine, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco and through the Gibraltar Strait, finally arriving, already known as Gypsies, in the south of Moorish Spain. In this region, known as Al-Andalus, various cultures co-existed for hundreds of years. It was the only place where Gypsies, Jews, Catholic's and Muslims lived together for a long time. Each group had its own customs, music and instruments. After many years, in the beginning of the 19th Century, due to mutual influences and the mingling of all these elements, a mysterious and expressive type of music emerged. Today we know it as Flamenco.

There are many striking similarities between Kathak - a dance popular in North India -  and the Flamenco dance of the Spanish gitanos, most notably in the percussive footwork, and dependence on (sometimes complex) rhythmic cycles. The elements that resemble the dance of Andalusian Gypsies are the movements of arms, palms and fingers as well as tapping, typical for this kind of dance. In both styles the dance is usually performed by one person and it is closely connected to the music and rhythm. In flamenco a dancer is accompanied by a guitar, singing, clapping and a cajón, whereas in kathak apart from singing it can be tabla, pakhawaj, sitar or sarangi. In this case kathak is barefoot, and the tapping rhythm is dictated by bells hung at the dancer's ankles and by a loud "clapping" with his foot against the floor. Flamenco, however, is much more dynamic, sometimes even aggressive, or with an erotic character. In flamenco a dancer does not tell any story and his gestures do not bear any meaning: his movements and gestures express emotions or they emphasise the meaning of lyrics and character of the melody accompanying them.

We cannot say for sure that flamenco has its roots in India. However we know, that the Gypsies left India ages ago. One could wonder: had they arrived from China, would flamenco develop in the form we know today? Even if both those extremely interesting genres of music are not directly related, one can state that what is common to Indian and flamenco music is their emotionality, expression, rhythm, depth and sensitivity.

You can see for yourself the similarity between both these dance styles in this video.

And here is a video showing a wonderful fusion of the sounds of the  flamenco guitar, and the sitar:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Artist profile - all the kids out there!

For all the little artists.....

Is there a mother out there who does not have something drawn by her kids framed and hung on the wall , or stuck on the frig, or tucked away preciously somewhere safe, piling up in a shoebox on the closet shelf???? No, I didn't think so, and yes, I am no exception. There are several reasons we hold on to these even after the kids have long left home.....they are - I believe "cute" is the term used most often, they remind of of the times when they were kids and c'mon admit it - every time we think we should clean out the boxes and cupboards, we feel guilty at the mere thought of tearing them up and throwing them away. So we put them back.....!

I like them for all the above reasons, but most of all for the unabashed honesty and simplicity with which they are drawn, by imaginations wide open and uncluttered with too much information. What their eye sees is what they draw, something we all forget and have to re-learn as adults in Drawing 101 class! A rose is a red flower with petals, the sun is a yellow orb in the sky with rays, a house has a door and 2 windows, clouds are puffy and white. I remember one picture my son painted of me.....the woman had a big mouth. "But I don't have such a big mouth" I protested.....well, his reason for showing it that big was obviously the fact that I kept nagging him or yelling at him, so all he probably saw of me was my mouth! Trust kids to tell the truth and put you in your place!

I for one have not thrown away even a single scrap, I have them all. Color pencilled and crayoned drawings small, big, tattered and torn, Mothers Day cards, little craft projects made at school and stories with atrocious spellings and simple themes. So here I am - almost 25 years later, with my son now a 29 yr old grown man, living and working in DC, and getting married in September - still every now and then taking out the box that holds all his random drawings and stories, and feeling oh so nostalgic for those days when he was little! So this is my blog post today, at the risk of imposing my kids' pics and drawings on all of you.....I picked my favorite ones and even though most of what he did was for me, his dad sneaked into the picture every once in a while!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Vasthukam Organic Architecture-Art or Architecture?

Given the serious threat that global warming poses to the world, green architecture is becoming more and more critical and important to us. In the US and European countries, almost all construction has to follow rules and codes that will make the buildings energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Even thought the concept is fast catching on in India, it is a long way behind the rest of the world. That is why I was so thrilled and impressed to come across an architectural company in Kerala, that is designing and building the most amazing structures out of an uncommon material that is inexpensive, plentiful, adaptable and most of all eco friendly AND beautiful - MUD!
Run by Mr. P.K.Sreenivasan, Vasthukam Organic Architecture is under the pursuit of bringing back the green earth! This is what he says -  "A building should be a biotic form. It should breathe life and exhale energy to the inmates who move around under the roof. It can be achieved only through sustainable construction solutions where a house becomes an inevitable part of nature and the people feel the splurge of nature both inside and outside. This intellectual pursuit takes us to the fusion of aesthetic sense, economic sense and common sense. There is a clear and vehement answer to those people who are still worried about the way they build houses. The answer is “Go back to the Nature and recapture the green we are losing day by day."

Mud is strong, smooth, tactile and sensuous. It is beautiful in its form: it adjusts to the weather and is extremely affordable. The surface treatments and finishes it allows for the interiors, gives architecture the opportunity to enter into the domain of art! Mud homes do exist in many parts of the country, but eschewing conventional methods, Mr. Sreenivasan developed a novel and refreshing mode of architecture. Using this he built "Anpu", his home. The 1900 sq ft house is built in the traditional Kerala "nalukettu" layout, with a central courtyard dominating the space.  While some flooring is composed of wooden planks retrieved from an abandoned house, the rest of the flooring is a made of a material made of hibiscus flowers, coconut shells, charcoal, kaajal and cement giving a smooth mirrored finish.
Take a look at these pictures and tell me if you don't find them simply amazing! You can almost feel the smoothness and the cooling comfort of the home. After seeing this home, why anyone would choose a material other than mud to build their homes, is a mystery!
Check out their website for some more mind blowing interiors and spaces!

Images courtesy September 2008 edition of Inside Outside!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Stunning vintage jewelry by Michelle McCormick

I am thrilled to bring you my second artist profile! An artist not in the traditional sense, as in someone who draws or paints, but an artisan who produces the most beautiful jewelry. Like me, Michelle is an interior designer, and we worked together for a few years at Callison, an architectural company in downtown Seattle, designing Nordstrom stores in the US. Then Michelle found her true calling, and has never looked back since!
Michelle designs one-of-a-kind jewelry from found objects, sparkly things, estate sale vintage finds and anything else that has character and tells a story. Her aesthetic is vintage ranging from Steampunk to Organic and Floral in style. All of the pieces have a refined design sensibility, combined with the wonderful patina of time. Nature and everyday objects are a constant source of inspiration, especially when viewed with fresh eyes. She find inspiration everywhere and is always on the hunt for new materials and treasures. She loves the qualities of old worn wood, flowers, rhinestones past their prime, peeling painted metal, rosaries, keys, watch gears and tin type photographs. In her words "The patina of time creates a mystery and the beauty often times lies in the imperfection". Michelle's passion is to look for the unexpected beauty and charm in everyday objects and to re-purpose that into wearable jewelry for people like you and me to love.
Michelle lives on a farm in the great Pacific Northwest. For those of you not familiar with it, the northwest it is one of the most spectacular places in the US. Gorgeous snow covered mountains, rugged cliffs, sandy beaches, pristine coastlines, fabulous weather and the friendliest people make it a great place to live and work. Here is some of the beautiful jewelry that comes out of Michelle's imagination and workshop! If you are interested in buying any of her jewelry, shop here!

Thank you Michelle, for allowing me the privilege of showing your work!