Friday, April 29, 2011

Christmas in April!

Nothing as perfectly lovely as getting a gift when you LEAST expect it! And that's exactly what happened yesterday while I was watching The Royal Wedding, captivated by the magnificent simplicity of it all. The gate bell rang and I cursed whoever it was bothering my TV moment.....a few minutes this package was delivered to me. 

I was confounded. Could not for the life of me figure out who it could be from. Neither the "from" address nor the cell number on the box looked familiar. I looked at it...suspiciously at first (maybe I had offended someone with my blunt irreverent blogging style and they had decided to shut me up once and for all???) but then after more close scrutiny I figured it should be quite safe to open it. 

And as I did I got more and more excited. The way the items were packed, bubble wrapped and taped ferociously I knew it was some terracotta thing. And you know me and my love affair with terracotta....
And then glimpses of red earth and elephant ears of clay popped up.
And then these 4 Ganeshas in yoga poses. I mean, how cute is that? Terracotta, Ganeshas and Yoga...??? Three things that make me happy!

So here they rest, in happy repose with other terracotta items above my desk
I had to call the number on the package and find out who it was, and I was told by the man on the other end it had been sent to me by a fellow blogger in the US (for something I had sent her earlier). For privacy sake I won't reveal the name, but you know who you thank you, thank you, thank you. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Aarti-st profile - Aarti Verma

Aarti-st...Aarti...get it? Ok sorry...couldn't resist that :)

One thing that never ceases to amaze me these days is the incredible amount of young talent I see every day, in my very own desi neck of the woods. People, only a few years out of college who are successful textile designers, handicrafters, potters, artisans, artists and social reformers trying to revive dying skills. There is Neha of Matsya, Abhilasha of Mish Mash, Rachana and her gorgeous clutches and Ritika of Mora......not only do these gals have the talent and the creative gene oozing out of every youthful pore, they have the entrepreneurial chutzpah it takes to turn their dreams into reality. People are thirsting for such originality, the design climate in India is ripe for creativity and talent to flourish. 

The newest toddler to enter this arena is Aarti Verma of Art meets Fashion. True to its name, the company deals with hand painted and handcrafted fashion like handbags and kurtis, as well as home decor accessories - cushions, jewelry boxes -  which are an amalgamation of art and fashion. But her hand painted handbags, clutches, totes and sling bags are really what grab your attention. Fun, funky, quirky, über cool and edgy.....not only will they make a statement, they are so totally functional. If you're a fashionista it will only up your "fashion quotient". If you're a total fashion misfit - like me - it will upgrade you to a fashionista! 

Take a look....
The "Fashionista" collection

From the "On the Ramp" collection
The "Madhubani" collection - easily my favorite. Is that a surprise?

From the "African Inspiration" collection - paired with some big chunky jewelry, you'll be a smashing success!

 The "Tribal Inspiration" collection. Add a turban and some colorful!

From the "Gods and Goddesses" collection. When did Ganesha ever look so cool?

And here are pics of her other work...cushion covers, tunics and kurtis

To see more, or to snag some of these goodies for yourself, go to her Facebook page or the website. Happy shopping!
P.S. And just in case you're wondering, who does the paintings....? The girl is a fabulous artist herself. Here is a sampling.....

Check out her sketch blog. All this talent in one tiny (yes, she is petite) package...? Not fair!!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Model house

Next to surfing the web for some design inspiration, my next favorite thing to do is digging thru my archives...of pictures saved on my computer from way back when. In this high tech age of digital pictures, the joy of sitting in a comfy chair and flipping through photo albums is no more. One has to sit in front of a computer and flip through flickr or picasa albums......still fun to do, but nowhere close to the real thing. I was going thru my archives, I found these 3 photos, of a project I did in my final year at design school. It brought back memories of late nights and lattes, puffy eyed mornings and last minute deadline panic attacks!!

A bit of background here...the assignment was to design and create a to-scale model of a house for a fictitious couple. The only criteria was that one of them had an elderly mother who came to visit them once a year, and to keep that in mind while designing the house. My teammates on this project were Shirley and Joan. I still keep in touch with Shirley who has her own design studio in Portland, OR. Lost touch with Joan......

So our imaginary couple was a lady who was a writer of childrens' books and her husband, a man of Japanese heritage, who played the violin in the Seattle Symphony, and who had an aged mother who visited them from Japan every year. Nice huh? The scale we used was 1" = 1 foot. In architectural terms, that means that each inch of the model we build, has to represent 1 foot in real measurement. So our model ended up being 20" high to represent 20 feet. I don't remember the other details. All I remember is the three of us spent weeks working on it, measuring and cutting out foam core to scale, tiny tiny cardboard pieces for furniture, sewing minute bits of cloth with little balls of cotton inside for pillows, cutting out felt for upholstery, visiting miniature furniture shops for little things, lots of Elmers glue and Super glue.....and last but not least lots and lots of paper cuts! And oh that spiral staircase...!!! Nearly drove me mad....without my husband's engineering skills to figure out the angles and the circumference of the spiral with relation to the height of the steps, I would have gone over the edge!

But all in all it turned out well. When we presented as  a team in front of the class, we had classical music playing softly in the background. I remember it all so well. And if I am not mistaken, I believe ours was the best presentation.....maybe Shirley can confirm this?

Here are the pics to share with you on them for a larger view

A front view....the first floor had the couple's bedroom and the lady's writing desk/study. The man practiced his violin while pacing along the balcony embellished with musical notes. That's a kimono on the back wall with tansu chests on either side. 
The ground floor has the living area and a TV room separated by a sliding shoji screen, which can be closed off for privacy for when the mom visits, or opened up for large gatherings. The TV room also doubles up as a bedroom with a futon.

Close up view of the living and entrance, with a moon window, typically a Japanese feature. I wish you could see it, but the flooring between the front door and the living room had teeny tiny pebbles, like a Zen garden. 
I wish I had better pics, but for now this will have to do. I held on to this model for the longest time, from 1997 to 2006 till we moved to India, by which time it was starting to fall apart. I wish I hadn't thrown it away....! I miss being a student!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Dream House 3

Got $390,000/275,000 Euros or Rs 1.75 crores to spare? Yes? Then I suggest that right now you plonk down the cash and buy THIS house. Forget that long overdue vacation, forget the new car you were eyeing at the dealer, even forget the kids' college education. Trust me, they'll love you if you give them this instead of a college degree! 

What am I babbling about? This house......1200 m from the beach, in Galle Fort, in Hikkaduwa in Sri Lanka! Tropical paradise in my opinion. All those previous posts about my dream house here and here? Cancel that. They don't compare to this. Look at these pics, and then look me in the eye and tell me it isn't THE MOST FABULOUS HOUSE YOU HAVE EVER SEEN OR WILL EVER SEE! And really, if you think of the ridiculously priced homes I have seen elsewhere, the price for this ain't too bad.

OK, so here some details for those of you who are interested... :-) The property was originally run as a hotel with 12 guest bungalows and then torn down in 1999 with plans for a modern boutique hotel! The financial crisis forced the owner to abandon their plans just after the main building was constructed. So the owner transformed the main building into a one bedroom villa for his private use. 

That's fine with me. Less rooms, less to clean. Some more pics to salivate over....

Isn't this just the perfect setting for a tall glass of lemonade, or some hot chai and samosas?

The stone flooring, soft white billowy curtains....aaaahhh!

Now, if that wasn't enough, there is a guest house for friends and family on the plot, surrounded by pineapple trees! And it's beautiful. If one of you buys the property I'll be quite happy staying here.

And if none of this convinces you, then how about the garden?

I bookmarked this page ever since I found it on the web, and I look at it at least once every day. It's stunning!
{Update: I have had so much feedback and so many questions from is the link for more info......}

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Artrageous art!

This was my last painting which I did sometime in March....
.....which has since been gifted by a wonderful chai guzzling fellow blogger to her mum for her birthday. And since then the flow of my creative juices has sort of come to a screeching halt. Maybe it was the Oz vacation, maybe its the heat here in the low 100's, or maybe it's the 50 year crisis (is there such a thing?). 

Well, anyways, I was browsing thru one of my favorite art sites....not just to get said juices gushing again, but also to see what's new, to rant about the outrageous prices of some, to rave about the gorgeous quality and talent of others and generally to, as we say in India, "time pass" while watching IPL cricket.

That is when I came across this painting by one Shefali Nayan being sold by a collector. A 12' X 15" watercolor for $175/Rs 7,500.
My first reaction was "No way"....this is like something my 10 year old niece in Sydney can do. THIS is a collector's item? My husband was convinced the artist was a child, and I insisted it could not be since they have never featured art by children on this website. So I googled and found out Shefali is 35 years old and this is what she says about her work "My paintings depict a sense of wonder, have a tinge of humor and joy through humans and animals. These impersonalized humans speak my emotions and feel my feelings. Animals add the joy and create a story that floats on my canvases.The pleasant amalgamation of the aesthetics of these moments and the various forms, textures and colors create a fairy tale and a kaleidoscopic world in my works."

Hmmmm I thought. Can you really say that and get away with this kind of art? I was all set to resurrect this post and go off the deep end once more and raise a hue and cry about art in general. But, I thought, let me look at more by the same artist. Maybe there's more mature stuff out there...and so back to Google I went and unearthed these by the same artist....pretty much more of the same.

And the funny thing is the more I saw the more I not only liked it, but realized that the paintings were strangely very captivating and appealing. Something about them, the juxtaposition of the colors and textures were definitely more than what one could expect from a 10 yr old. And then I researched some more and found these in a gallery of paintings by disabled children.

by a 9 year old
 Alexis, 12 years, North Carolina
 Done by a group of 9 year olds
 By Kiana, 8 years old, Honolulu
 by Shawna, 14 years, South Dakota
by 12 year old Yuri from Reno
by 12 year old Cody from West Virginia
So now, I'm really confused, and want to ask my original question. Can a 35 year old artist really get away doing stuff like this all in the name of "art"? As long as there are people to buy them, is it justified? I know I keep beating this topic to death, but as an artist it bothers me a lot!!!!