Art on the go

I always take a few art supplies with me when I travel. Just a sketchbook, a few color pencils, a black pen, some sort of watercolor paints and a brush or two. I look for little pockets of time to draw or color something. Nothing elaborate, just a quick sketch of what’s in front of me or something I saw, snippets from magazines or a photo I took because it’s not always possible to sit down on the spot to draw. And some brush lettering. Here are a couple of quick watercolors from the cruise.

On the second night of our cruise, we sat down to figure out what shore excursions we could go on. That task usually is not easy because we have different interests. None of the kids are old enough to go on any excursion by themselves. Jia is too young for most things. If I could help it, I would just pitch an umbrella and sit with my sketchbook but that is not doable at the moment. So, we divide and rule. Ashis takes one, I take the other two. He keeps the younger two, while I take the oldest shopping and so on. Plus, Nini is getting into photography and we go on photo walks together.

Everything in Nassau was heavenly! This was my second time to the Bahamas. Nini went snorkeling with Ashis. We all went on the glass bottom boat to the reef and saw colorful fishes. We took in sights all around us on this sunny day on the island surrounded by turquoise waters. I loved this lighthouse. We shopped for jewelry. When we came back to the boat, we took quick showers, had some snacks and I settled down to paint the lighthouse before the daylight died down.

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Back from the Bahamas!


We are back from our spring break cruise to the Bahamas! Here’s the story of our trip in pictures.

Leaving the cold and rainy weather behind was not hard. As we drove to Cape Liberty to our cruise terminal, I took this photo of the Harbor Pointe light house. Blurry as it was on a cloudy, rainy day, it was still beautiful!

Car parked. Luggage out. Family shot.

First view from the cabin on board of the Anthem. Bon Voyage!

Since I take all the photos, I’m never in them. So, here’s one mirror selfie!

Day 1 was sea day. Nini and I took our cameras and explored the ship. Found several pieces of amazing art all around.

The Pulse Spiral by Rafael Lozano Hemmer, is a grand chandelier with 200 light bulbs that pulses rhythmically to heart beats. We added our own heart beats to this mix by placing our hands on the metal plate.

Also loved Andrew Myers’ Topographical Facial Series 1-4 and Kerry Miller’s Flowering Plants of Great Britain.

The first few times we passed by this chair, we found an older gentleman fast asleep on it. Much to my daughter’s frustration, we came back to it one more time and took this photo.

Because of inclement weather, our itinerary got an overhaul. Day 2 was no longer to be a day in Cape Canaveral but another sea day.

We made it to Coco Cay on day 3.


Ashis floated around in a surf mat for hours.

After that the boys went back to the ship with the baby and I stayed back on the island with Nini for shopping. Some cool local handicrafts and musical instruments were bought.

Day 4, we were at Nassau. We spent the whole day in the island. Ashis took Nini for snorkeling with the shore excursions.

Around noon, I took Ayush and Jia for our glass bottom boat excursion to the coral reef. Ashis and Nini made it back from their snorkeling trip just in time to hop on the boat. When we came back, Ashis took baby Jia back to the ship while Ayush and Nini came shopping with me.

This gentleman is a young police officer and was happy to pose for a picture with Ayush!

Oh the colors of this Bahamian island!

After a while, Ayush was done walking. So we took him back to the ship. Changed. And came back out again for more photos and shopping!!! Pretty jewelries were bought for this young lady!

The kids were the most excited to reach Port Canaveral on Day 5! It was strangely emotional to go back to Florida again, but this time as a tourist.

Jia embraced the ocean with open arms! Looks like she too is a sea girl at heart.

One word: BLISS.

I came to Tampa, Florida back in December 1999, a week after I got married. I had left my home and family back in India. A new phase of my life began unfolding in the gulf coast. We built our first home from ground up. We had our three children. We got our first puppy, Brave. Then sixteen and a half years later, we had to move. To New Jersey. Ayush and Nini were beyond upset. Jia was too young to know. I steeled myself and left my neighbors and friends behind who had become family to us. I promise you, I did not cry as we drove off 10748 Plantation Bay Drive at 3.20 pm on July 17th, 2015. But as the ship sailed away from Cape Canaveral, it hit me that I had left home once again. My Jia will not go to NASA for school field trips. Or pet manatees in ocean reserves. Or have an annual pass to Disney and Sea World. Or smell like chlorine swimming in the home pool. Yes, she will do other things in New Jersey. But that’s a part of our lives she will only know from our stories.

An excess of food was consumed EVERY SINGLE DAY. Desserts were had even at breakfast. Can’t tell if we liked the taste or the look more!

A large debate was had over whether this towel beauty was a peacock or a turkey.

At 6.30 am on Sunday, 4/2/17 the Anthem of the Seas docked at Cape Liberty.

One last photo was taken on the cabin balcony.

Luggage was hauled. Customs cleared. Last photo of the Anthem was taken from the parking garage.

And then, we drove back to routine. From luxury to comfort. Exhausted. Somewhat sunburnt. Happy. Full of beautiful memories and stories to tell.




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Trying new things…

Tried something new-to-me here… I appliquéd and sewed this house shaped pillow from scratch!

I have had a sewing machine for some time but I have only always used it to stitch paper to paper. Sewing fabric intimidates me. I’m not exactly sure, why! My mom and her mom could both sew well and were both self-taught. I still remember that one time on our way to my swim club, my mom stopped at a fabric store and bought a piece of very pretty fabric remnant and a skein of crochet thread. She had a crochet hook in her purse. During the three hours that I trained, she sat there and crocheted a beautiful lace pattern. After we finished dinner that night, mom pulled out her sewing machine. In the next hour, she brought her crochet piece and the remnant fabric together to create a unique dress for me! Me, I was proud to wear that dress and so proud of my mom. But I never dared to venture into that territory myself. Isn’t it strange how we hem ourselves in into believing we can’t do some things?

The idea for this pillow began in my head at Creativation 2017 in Phoenix in January quite by chance. I was doing demos at the Faber-Castell booth and Tea Stain Dyes was one of the products I was working with. I was showing and telling visitors how to prepare the dye baths and dipping fabrics in them. A lady walked up to me and asked me if I would like to make a pillow. I hesitated. She gave me a small bag of fiber-fill. I wasn’t sure. At the end of the show, I collected a few of the dry dyed demo samples that are usually discarded, and brought them home with me. The post-show work kept me busy for a month. Then preparing for the next assignment took up my time. Finally, I did a little spring cleaning and reorganization in my studio last weekend and recovered the the six little dyed cotton squares I had brought home.

Even though I never sew, I have a small fabric collection of my own. I sometimes use bits and pieces in my art journals. I dug through my bin and found some natural unbleached cotton fabric. After some experiments with the sewing machine and needle and thread, I had sewn myself a tiny house and a house-shaped pillow case. I cut open the bag of fiber-fill from the show and began stuffing. Before long, I had made a little pillow.

Now, my pillow has a bazillion flaws. But here it is, in the spirit of keeping it real and trying new things!

I still have some fiber-fill left. I might have another go at making a small pillow! Who knows, I might even end up with a couch full of ’em… only time will tell.




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Flipping through old journals

I started out planning to do some spring cleaning in the studio, sort of in an attempt to clear my mind. Then I found a pile of journals I had meant to put away and forgotten. And then I started flipping through the pages and saw this one. It made me smile! If I didn’t have art and crafts in my life, I’d be a perpetually frazzled person. ART SAVES SANITY.

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Walking into a Dream…

Just coming up for air today after finishing, packing and shipping off the last of my Creativation assignments… pink trees like cotton candy seemed to be the best cure for exhaustion. This spread was inspired by Mary Blair, who was a prominent artist and illustrator creating art and animation for the Walt Disney Company. Here’s to Mary!

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A Day at The MET

This Black Friday (for the unfamiliar, it’s the Friday after Thanksgiving and the biggest shopping day in the States), we decided to skip the mall and head out to NYC to the Metropolitan Museum of Art or The MET! We reached there a little after 11 am, bought our passes and immersed ourselves in art across time.

Whenever I visit a museum, I can’t help taking photos of the art. The photos don’t necessarily turn out great, given the lights, glass cases, reflections, equipment, skill, etc. they sure bring me joy. I look for common threads in art created in different times in history by different artists in different cultures using different mediums. I look deeper and notice details and find inspiration in them.

Below are a few pieces that caught my eyes during this visit that share a common thread: the color blue.

Meet William! This little hippopotamus was molded in faience, a ceramic material made of ground quartz by the Egyptian artist from the Middle Kingdom, Dynasty 12, ca. 1961–1878 B.C. The leaf designs represent the river marsh habitats of the hippos. William is very popular at The MET! You’ll find postcards, eraser, small reproduction statuettes, even soft toys!

This beautiful lady is Pauline de Broglie as captured by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, the neo-classical French portraitist, his final commission and masterpiece! As the plaque at The MET reads, “Ingres captures the shy reserve of his subject while illuminating through seamless brushwork the material quality of her many fine attributes: her rich blue satin and lace ball gown, the gold embroidered shawl, and silk damask chair, together with finely tooled jewels of pearl, enamel, and gold.”

Wood, ivory, brass, paint, gilding came together in this North Spanish sculpture of Seated Virgin and Child from the late 15th century. Only a little over a foot tall, she still caught my eyes across a dimly lit room!

And this is Quappi in Blue in a Boat! She is part of the exhibition, Max Beckmann in New York running till February 20th, 2017. Beckmann captured his wife in Gouache and oil on paper mounted on cardboard. Isn’t she gorgeous?

I took this shot in the rain, while running to the car just to catch the time when we left. We didn’t even realize when the day ended and it was dark outside!

It was a day WELL-SPENT.

Oh, btw, did our shopping online between November 22nd and 29th 🙂


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CREATE II Event in Atlanta

On the 9th of November, I flew to Atlanta to teach at the CREATE II event organized by the queen of elegant paper crafting, Anna Griffin! I have designed for Anna since early 2009 and have always found her collections of products to be beautifully different. Being asked to teach at her event was an honor. The teachers and event concierges met with Anna for dinner at Bricktop’s. Lots of laughs, gifts and good food later, we retired to our rooms so we could be fresh and ready to set up the craft room at the Ritz Carlton for some 200 guests the next day.

The day flew by. The event kicked off with fun make n takes in the afternoon. Then there was a formal dinner for all the guests, all of Anna’s team, and HSN hosts. Beautiful flowers adorned every table, every place setting had gorgeous stationary gifts and the dessert was delicious.

After dinner, the teachers and their assistants went on to check the class kits and set up for the next day.

Outside each classroom, gorgeous displays were put up. I couldn’t help but get a photo taken with the display created just for my class!

For the next two days, I got to meet and know and teach several groups of wonderful women. So many stories, so many laughs. There is such amazing power and peace in crafting together, to spend time with like-minded people.

Outside the craft room, Anna had galleries set up for inspiration. I was so excited to spot  several of my scrapbook layouts in the galleries!

And the food each day was just awesome! I loved these veggie chips… they reminded me of orchids.

And there were friends, new and old. I was meeting most of them for the first time in real life. Here’s Kate, Patti and Tracy, from left to right. I think I could write several posts about these wonderful women – kind, supportive and CREATIVE!



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Behind the Scenes: Collage Painting

There’s something absolutely magical about squeezing paints out, mixing them and slathering them on a surface. It helps clear your mind. Sets you free to be a kid again. It is soul balm. If only for a second you could drop your inhibitions, perfectionism and complexes, you could feel the joy that is painting!

I have been painting for as long as I can remember. With chalks, with pencils, with crayons. Then with poster paints, finger paints, acrylics, watercolors. Sometimes I sketch first and sometimes I paint first.

As a natural progression to that, I have started pairing my painting with my magpie tendencies. I collect lots of stuff that are radically insignificant to most people. And the only thing that keeps me from becoming a legendary hoarder are my collage paintings. Scraps of papers, fabric, laces and found objects happily find their ways into my paintings and art journals.

This summer, I worked on a whole collection of collage paintings that were inspired by my two daughters. Some of the simple things that they love to do became translated to the joyful movements the girls in my paintings made.

I set these paintings in simple scenes, painted each one of them in bright and cheerful colors. Like my two girls, these paintings make me and those who visit our home, smile!

The originals currently grace my daughters’ rooms. Maybe I’ll have some prints of these collage paintings in the Color Happy Shop too.

See you next week. Until then, make time to paint!

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