Of all the cities I have ever walked the streets of, New York is special. This Memorial Day weekend, Nini and I took the train from Dover to go to the Big Apple. With cameras in our hands we stepped out of the Penn Station and walked all the way to The Ink Pad, a stamp store on 7th Avenue.
After a brief stop for lunch, we walked to China Town. It was not a short walk. But after being cooped up indoors from the cold and rain for months, the cool breeze and the warm sun was such a welcome respite! We walked, we watched people, we had bubble tea, coffee and ice cream. We walked across Canal Street into the busy alleys of China Town where Sunday is market day. There were fresh fishes and seafood, fruits of all kinds, steaming rotisserie chicken, handicrafts and souvenirs and incredible colors and textures all around. The Starbucks was housed in a pagoda like old building.
Just around the corner, we walked into Little Italy. Sidewalk cafes were brimming with people. Tourist groups walked past us in tight lines. We watched the graffiti while enjoying scoops of Lemon and Tangerine gelatos.We shopped till we had no cash left to spare.
We walked more – past landmarks, with our eyes set on catching the details beyond the landmarks – the occasional lion head knockers, the seasonal flowers cascading from a small window sill with white lace curtain blowing in the wind, the peeling green paint on wooden doors, the lights strung outside a Lebanese restaurant where the smell of the smoke was divine. We watched the pigeons whose feather gleamed like rainbow in the afternoon sun, all the dogs that crossed the streets with their people, the photographers who looked disappointed to see our big cameras while I stood in front of the Flat Iron building, the odd painted tiles here and there.
I took photos of buildings because they fascinate me the most as do their water tanks. I knew these photos would be the references for my future sketches. Speaking of which, here are the first two sketches from that day.
With 22,000 steps and about 10 miles on my i-watch, we ended the day with a train ride back home and took Tylenol before going to bed to soothe the aching feet.
I spent a lot of time each day staring through the window at this lovely building across from the Creativebug studio.
Such amazing views all around the city!
Washington D.C. is always a treat! At every turn is a monument or museum. Statues and gorgeous buildings at every angle of the camera. I can never get tired of this city.
This Sunday, Nini had a recital at Lincoln Memorial. So the rest of us tagged along.
After getting ready, Nini went on to join her company. I snuck away for a few minutes to take a long look at one of my most favorite Presidents. There’s always huge crowds around him and not easy to get a clean shot, especially because I’m so short!
But I found a spot to sit on a ledge that most people avoid for the fear of falling. In my peaceful spot, I sat and sketched the incredible view that stretched before my eyes. Only a few minutes, but blissful none the less.
I walked around some, taking photos around the bridge to Arlington Cemetery.
Once I caught up with the rest of the family, we couldn’t find parking ANYWHERE. So, we drove around and I took as many photos as I could. Blurry or not, I didn’t want to miss a single shot.
We picked Nini up and drove close to the Smithsonian. One of my main goals for this trip was to take Jia to the Natural History Museum, my favorite and her first!
Here are my girls in front of my favorite mammoth. I have photos of me before I was a mother and of all my kids at various ages and stages in front of this mammoth – yeah, it’s one of those family history photo spots for me!
Of course, we love all our primates!
And Jia connected with our long lost relative.
But Nini was tired. We had a LONG drive home. Jia was so excited that she ran from one to the other and we could barely keep up. So, we decided to call it a day. We got home around 11 pm. It was a fun impromptu kind of day!
Catch episode # 106 from season 100 of Make It Artsy. It’s available from 5/5- 5/12 over at makeitartsy.com.
You wouldn’t want to miss crafty chica Kathy Cano-Murillo mixed media artist Dina Wakley and hostess Julie Fei-Fan Balzer showing you some fun ways to add colors to your projects.
Here’s a sneak peek into the episode – my segment showing how to create a watercolor painting out of a simple coloring book page by using the principles of light and shadow. You can watch it below. Be sure to catch the whole episode!
Some six and half hours later, we landed in San Francisco around 1.30 pm PST. I picked up a hot sandwich at Peet’s Coffee, called my airport shuttle and settled at the lounge to eat my lunch. The lounge was very cool with vintage or at least vintage-looking swivel chairs geometric side tables. I enjoyed my first view of the sun in days! It was windy but I took a deep breath to smell the sunshine and warm breeze.
The ride to the hotel was not too long but I loved the view all around – stacked houses, bay windows as we drove uphill, downhill and uphill again. We passed by beautiful churches, gatherings of singing people and old, historical buildings. Then we drove into the courtyard of Stanford Court. I checked in and settled in.
A little later, I went out for a walk – sunny, chilly and the air smelled of freedom.
I had asked and charted my route to Market Street where Creativebug studio is located. I really wanted to take a cable car. I waited at the stop in front of Fairmont on California Street and when the cable car drove up Nob Hill with its bell dinging all the way, I grinned like a little girl! The ride wasn’t longer than 10 minutes but it was 10 minutes of pure fun and wonder.
However, I got a little lost. I realized that when my phone GPS kept showing that the distance between me and my destination was increasing! I walked into a Dick Blick store and they gave me directions. I was actually walking in the opposite direction! The cable car conductor wasn’t too familiar with my destination I guess. Pretty soon, I was in the right building, in the elevator and up on the 7th floor at the Ellation reception. Signed in, got a badge, and waited at the lounge – another very cool lounge in a very beautiful building, my heart full of anticipation and excitement! I still couldn’t believe that I was at Creativebug. This journey that had started for me back in September 2016 with participating in the draw-a-day challenge for a month and then becoming one of five finalists and eventually the winner of the Next Creativebug Instructor contest feels like a dream. A dream come true. But when I thought about that, I felt a little nervous. What if I mess up? I have not done this before. What if the people at Creativebug think that I was the wrong choice? OMG, what did I get myself into!!! Suddenly the room felt very warm, my legs a little wobbly, what was my name again….
Deep breaths, really deep breaths, think about all that could go right… that was when they came out, Courtney with a big smile and Devlin with a camera. He filmed me while Courtney introduced me to everyone. Suddenly and thankfully, I realized that even though I am a newbie, they are pros and while I have never done this , they do it everyday. I trusted that I was in good hands and I was calm. I enjoyed my excitement to be there and their excitement to meet me.
As I walked into their studio, I immediately fell in love! The colors, the textures, the natural light flooding in through the big glass windows took away the last bit of fear and uneasiness I had. I was here. I was grateful.
Courtney and Devlin made me feel at home. I was being filmed the whole time – sketching, chatting, making things. It was really cool! They paid attention to every detail. We ate lunch together. There’s something about breaking bread together. It has a way of pulling people closer.
Later in the afternoon, Devlin took me on a walk to the Ferry House by the Port of San Francisco. So many wonderful things to see along the way. I would have missed these parts of the city had I not had a tour guide. I enjoyed the fresh air and took photos of my own.
I even got a rare chance to draw on location. This seagull was very gracious to me. He waited there while made a quick sketch of him. Then we walked back to the studio and filmed some more.
On my way back, I bought a cable car pass for my time in the city. I wanted to take as many rides in the cable car as I could.
When I got back to the hotel, I ordered dinner from an Indian restaurant called Little Delhi. They delivered and I LOVED their savory Papdi Chat, Samosas and Chicken Biryani. At last, I was home!
We filmed my first class on Tuesday. I was done a little early so I took my favorite mode of transportation, the cable car down to the Fisherman’s Wharf. Lots of photos along the way, photos while walking, more photos till the phone battery died down.
Then I met this Sardarji. He was so jolly and posed for me happily when I wanted to take his photo. It’s always great to see another Indian in a foreign city.
And then there was Charlie. Here he is fast asleep in Courtney’s arms. Charlie is ADORABLE and was friendly to me – he sat next to me, didn’t make a peep during all of shoot and kept me very happy while I was away from my Brave.
We wrapped up shooting with a Creativebug Live session on Thursday. Then the whole team took me to the Samovar Lounge for delicious treats. I had a great time hanging out with these talented people who work so hard to make these great classes we get to watch on Creativebug. It was hard to say goodbye!
But it wasn’t over yet. Courtney was so generous to me! She took me to SFMoMA and I had an amazing time walking through this incredible building filled with art. I had to be quick but it was the cherry on top of this trip.
Friday after a few hours of flight delay, I made it back home around 10 pm EDT. The only feeling I had was of gratitude. For this opportunity, for the people I met, to be able to see them at work. This happiness and inspiration was an incredible reward and I am thankful to be on its receiving end.
It was raining when I arrived in Boston Thursday evening. The plane ride was smooth and I arrived on time. But when I went to pick up my luggage, I couldn’t find it in the carousel. After waiting and seeing everyone leave, I went to check in baggage claim office. Thankfully, they had my bag! After that it was time to find the shuttle to the hotel. That was yet another half hour and boy oh boy, the van driver was hilarious and ridiculous at the same time. Several switcharoos later, I made it to the hotel after two more hours. Yeah! The rest of the night went eventlessly except for the room temperature that kept dropping no matter how much I tried to keep it at 72. Then at 3 am when I couldn’t feel my cold toes and fingers or my face, I wrapped myself in the blanket and decided that I will figure out the AC if it took me all night. Huh… I had to turn heat up to 82 to maintain a 70 and I was happy once again and my AC stayed at 70 for the rest of my stay and I did not touch a single button on that AC panel after that. I have to say I have a funny relationship with hotel ACs!
Woke up Friday morning to another cloudy and rainy day but I had mixed media on my mind, so there was no shortage of colors for me. Every time I go into teaching a workshop, I pray that I do a good job and that my students walk away happy and excited to try the techniques they just learned. My goal is to be contagiously enthusiastic for the love of art and colors. I was very happy with my group of students this morning. They came fresh and ready to play with things that are new to them. They were brave and I loved seeing all the different takes of my one project – that ALWAYS inspires me!
Here are some of my lovely ladies busy at work! It’s great that we could all leave our worries behind for a few hours and just focus on colors.
This is Cheiron. She’s been following my Instagram for a little while now. It’s fun to meet people in real life that we have met on some online forum.
And I met someone who lives near me!!! Not only that she also owns Paper Anthology, a scrapbooking, crafting & mixed media store not too far from me. Since the move from Florida, I have missed Whim So Doodle so much.
And this was my second class of the day.
All the colors that happened during this class was truly out of this world!
Here’s one of the finished projects.
While we couldn’t get everyone from the class in this photo, we did get a look at some of the vibrant takes in this shot. I wish I thought of that for the morning class too.
And here we are set up for the make and take Saturday evening. We met some newbies who were excited to try Gelatos colors for the first time.
The night went peacefully oh except for the fire alarm that went off and we had to evacuate. There was a bride in the crowd too. But all was okay and we were allowed back in. Then around midnight when I was peacefully asleep ready to take the shuttle at 5 am to the airport, the fire alarm went off again. I didn’t wake up but when there were blasting announcements waking you up and telling you not to panic and that things are alright again… SERIOUSLY!!! Twice in one night.
It was still dark out when I started out for the airport, not for home but for a week in San Francisco at Creativebug. The flight is delayed two hours as I’m sitting at the Virgin America terminal, blogging and hoping for a sunny week in the west coast.
Straw Market at Coco Cay
Delicious dessert buffet on board… sigh, I miss it!
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.
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.
EVERYONE LOVED THE SAND, SURF AND SUN!!!
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.