SS22: Savory studio dispatch

Hellooo,

I wanted to share some studio and life happenings with an interesting watercolor exploration coming your way.

The past month has taken me into small projects in and around the studio. We recovered from a COVID exposure so the dwelling has literally been in and around the garden which was a blessing because we never eat outside otherwise.

Other than that, I’ve been up to a handful of other things this month! It’s been busy, as you can read below!

If you have come so far, you should know that I had embarked on a project to redesign my website so I can share some of my projects, allow myself some sketchbook time and stay productive in the studio. If you ask me what the goals are with this space, I probably have nothing specific now but I’m sure with a potential digital landing space, it allows for a connection and other possibilities to open up! That itself is exciting!

I have been reading(books) a lot more that I normally do. I am revisiting some reading sessions with my son with the Magic tree house series. I’m reading ‘Motherhood, facing and finding yourself’ by Lisa Marchiano. See below some discoveries one may face through the book. I’m just seventeen percent in and I’m gaining so much insight. The other books are mostly pen and ink and painting reference books lying around my studio desk, quite fun those ones are!

I took a good long walk to explore a newly opened public neighborhood park. I spotted lots of interesting things among the community garden LEAF Fremont which has now officially been given prime street space to grow edibles in large containers. I am on a waitlist to see if I can get a bed to grow some fun veggies in the future.

I have my social media doomscrooling under control, thanks to screentime lock features on my phone. I have also uninstalled my work app on my phone (yay) which results in sending me to my desk when I’m fully ready to work and not while cooking and spending time with family! It’s going well the past two weeks, I must admit!

I took a creme puff making workshop with Hetal Patel of Milk and Cardamom. It’s safe to say that I’m going to enjoy making these crème puffs for more get together again soon!

Crème puffs, from scratch!

I have been exploring the line in my Brooklyn Sketchbook project which I will send to the Brooklyn Art library for a digital and analog archive soon! Will share the work subsequently in my project page around mid-August, watch out for a social media page turn with a fellow creative Nikita who I did this sketchbook with! Somehow, surprisingly we let each other accountable during this process! Lots to explore, learn and grow!

This then leads me to a much anticipated trip to Brooklyn in the fall for an exciting workshop. I am eagerly planning my trip to Brooklyn to be with my inspired mentors Ohn Mar Win and Samantha Dion Baker for a day long sketchbook workshop! yay! I’m sure to make significant improvements with that trip!

I took some time off to rethink life and relationship progress just as we enter another school year. Somehow it seemed like a significant sit down and ponder moment. I topped that off with a haircut! 🤣 but it feels a little liberating to allow healthier futures!

Okay! I re-read my post and now I feel like I am prepared to take on a new school year this August! Much has happened in July, just like any other summer season I suppose!

I’m navigating this post and wonder that this may come across as a list of things that went by, but some part of my brain likes to chronicle this as these lists in short paragraphs, if only to jog one’s memory!

I hope you enjoyed this! please let me know if you would like to hear more about anything else. As always, thank you for stopping by!

Cheers

Radha

Finding my way home

In this series of paintings, I explore the following questions.

What is home? What happens at home? how do we create a home? What is the line between house and home? What makes a home? Where is home for me?

You get to preview stages of the painting process as a creative process and how my work evolves from the sketches to a full painting!

Part-2 of Finding my way home series – ‘city and home’

Summer transition 2021 with pastels, inktober and a deep dive!

This blog is taking on a monthly theme and I’m happy. When I began this space, I wanted it to be slow and steady paced.

I have planned art filled months ahead of time for September and October to help me navigate challenging tasks and timelines at work. With lots of ideas to let loose on paper, my explorations take me to a space of fun and joy! I’m thinking about my watercolor and Gouache month in August and feel like I’m gaining confidence with that medium.

September is oil pastels with #coloricombo on Instagram.

The fun of oil pastels is the bold colors and the range of colors available to explore on paper. It’s a bit messy and I love that! I tried regular pastels but it was too messy for my studio, so I switched to oil pastels.

I’m having so much fun, I love making up fun things in my head as this moves along! I love that I’m able to make time to chip away at the small things with new mediums and hopefully will have a significant body of work to carry forward.

October is Inktober will be purely pen and ink! I’m inclined towards lettering and possibly storytelling in black and white! I am still on the fence with this one. I have some ideas on what to do for Inktober so I can draw stories – see more here

But I am trying to get more detailed story telling with watercolor narratives as I embark on Yellow Brick Road with artist Lindsey Stripling soon! I cannot wait for that workshop, it has been on my mind for a year now!

I struggle to sit for more than 15 minutes on a sketch, partially owing to my life in general but I am really not compaining.

I have learnt to chip away at each of my painting pieces nicely, in a manner that would allow for time away from staring at the piece to the time it would come back to you to really view it well.

Banana leaf chronicles – SS20 and SS21

Here is the actual post about all things banana leaf in my artwork archive.

Banana leaf chronicles August 2020

Last year, I sat in California imagining the components of a full spread banana leaf meal, a classic South Indian spread, a culinary delightful adventure that calls to me every so often! it so happens that it called to me this week too!

See below for some chronicles from spring summer 21

Features Banana Leaf Chronicle SS’21

With this scene in the watercolor workbook, as many of you have been following along, I could not help go down to South Indian rice paddy fields, wrapped in a cotton podavai (saree) and hug a potted banana plant to bring with me everywhere I went. And this was just a nostalgic from the past week of watching so many Tamil movies, rearranging my sarees and thinking of elai saapad (banana leaf meals)

These layers of nostalgia are always with me, in my explorations and in my everyday thoughts. I am glad I found a venue to express them through art and am very grateful to have been given this gift of learning via the #watercolorworkbook by Sarah!

I’ve had such a blast creating this piece that I happily got lost in those folds and layers surrounding the potted plant! 😂 see below for some layer and process pictures!

Scene building – pen and ink render – banana leaf chronicles SS21
Layers and colors for banana leaf chronicles SS21
Layers and pen and ink

Hope you enjoy this piece as much as I did creating this piece! ❤️🙂

PS: if you have not gotten yourself one of these workbooks, I highly recommend it for any watercolor party you want to belong to! Head on over to @themintgardener ‘s handle to see the genius behind this beauty!

Cheers
Radha

with gratitude
#watercolorstories #radindiscity #watercolorpainting #artistsoninstagram #imaginearuralsouthindia #sareenorsorry #penandink #watercolorcomposition #artistsoninstagram #watercolorillustration #asketchadaykeepsthedoctoraway #watercolorworkbook

Chalky palette and chapati’s

It has been two whole days since I painted and the palette colors are chalky and falling off! And I sat down to think what could be done to possibly prevent that from happening.

Then, I spend about five minutes in the kitchen thinking about it some more, while making chapatis. Then I cleaned up for the day, loaded the dishwasher and fed my boy!

Then I brought my supplies to the dining table and tried to drop large drops of water into the palette cubbies to charge the chalk and coax it into watercolor. I was tempted to look for my mister and water dropper, etc. to create paint out of chalky bits.

Exactly five minutes later I realized that the only way one could actually stop color from chalking in the palette is ….

By painting every damned day.

Simple and effective, right?

But then, life gets in the way!

Cheers

Radha

2021 summer throwback! Pottery and ceramics newbee!

After binge watching The Great Pottery Throwdown on HBOMax, I did not even think twice when I saw a summer course for a beginner ceramic studio. I did warn you about the serial hobbyist here, did I not?

Some initial ceramic carving tools

I walked in super excited and a tad bit nervous. To watch potters on TV and being a potter are two different things all together. But, I was excited to get my hands in the clay and make objects to bring home!

I have some experience working with terracotta clay when I started a sculpture class about two summers ago. That story is for another day. I did not enjoy that class as much as I should have because I had to drive at least an hour to get there on a weekend morning and was sitting in a cramped apartment of the instructor amidst slightly unhygienic restroom and access to good quality air. Simply put, that class was great on content and technique but the environment was bad.

Anyhow, let’s come back to summer 2021. We received a newsletter from city of Fremont rec and park with several summer offerings snd this adult ceramic class caught my eye.

Thankfully, unlike the terra-cotta sculpture class, this was ceramics, on the wheel and with different clay, a clean organized studio and a fun instructor.

okay: July 18, 2021 marks my first day at a pottery class! Well, better late then never!

An hour into the class and I find out that I’m not the only one that got enrolled into the class after watching the show, I was one of three! Loll! I was relieved that I was not the only one who made their partner roll their eyes in despair over my newest hobby! 😁

By this time we had chosen the type of clay and already made a pinch pot for our studio needs. Mine started as a circle and turned into a two sided lamp that could double as a paint brush holder. Now that was just the beginning.

Soon we went about rolling sheets of wonderful clay, laying it flat down and beating it and rolling it thin enough to sit into a mound so we could decorate it! You would think I stopped for some photographs, but my hands were absorbed in clay and I was enjoying the world of pottery so much that I’m glad I did not stop at all!

Two hours flew by in the studio, and now I’m determined to get my plans going for my own art studio, perhaps I will have an open studio lessons as I grow deeper into this wonderful world, but that’s for later.

I had so many ideas for the ceramic class and our instructor Susan was demonstrating using a sample piece and working along with us!

I made an oval boat dish for fruits and a double sided 🪔 for my Puja.

Week 2 of the pottery workshop.

Learnt all about glazing the hand made pots we made on week 1

Week 3 of ceramic studio.

It was more of a hit and miss with coil pots.

I’m learning to be open and embrace my mistakes and grow from that! So far, it has been a fun learning experience!

Week 3: big fails and tiny wins at the ceramic studio.
The tomato boat! 😂 was the tiny win!

When we were asked to make a coiled pot last week, I was unable to complete my original intended design, which I basically made as I built it! I needed a structure and some more detailing for it to work well! So I thrashed the idea and decided to revisit it later.

I brought some clay home to knead it into a tiny box. I did make some delicate roses. see below some snapshots of that learning

Coiled pot making
July 18 week: coiled pots
July 18 week: coiled pot
July 18th : coiled pot broke, needed fixing

Week 4&5 here I think! Wow, it’s August 2021! I’ve Lost track of what week it is at the ceramic studio because……my dearest readers, I’m busy getting me hands all mushy and on the wheel the past two sessions!

Let me tell you, I’ve been experimenting so much with this studio, it’s very liberating to say the least!

We are in the pottery for 2.5hrs and it feels like 10minutes has gone by!

People are busy and talking and laughing and working on their projects! I mean, if that is not fun then what else is?!

Next week is Uber exciting! I have to make a project for the next couple weeks….and my mind is bustling with ideas. Wonder what I should focus on! First things first, I’m not a good thrower, obviously. And my hand building skills just began, but I love textures and the roses I made so far. See pictures below.

I think I’m on a theme here…..with them roses!

August 9: thrown pots and a diya at the pottery.
August 9: glazed pottery for firing from the fixed coiled pot from last week!

Next week two things happen at the ceramic studio. A, we begin our personal project (mine will have roses) and B. These coiled pots will roll out after firing, will reveal some photos.

The grey glaze you see in the picture is a black and the rose is a pink color, I could not spot a red glaze, so we have to wait and see what can be done!

August 15th 2021 update:

I spent my 2.5hrs at the ceramic studio throwing forms, not pots. I made a plate and was told I could not do it directly on the wheel because when you try to lift it, it breaks. I tried to make a medium size bowl with a flower and it looks nice, except I need to make the rest of it next week when it is leather hard.

I did not glaze any of my previous work, my back and arm hurt but, my brain and mind are completely reset. I made a bell like form and I need to inspect it next week.

I made another bowl on which my clay fell and now I shaped it into a lamp / Diya for Diwali.

This was from last week’s glazing! I like the contrast!

I write this as a very exhausted person, awaiting a new week before we go back to ceramic studio again. My only hope is that the next two sundays will be hand building and fun with coiled pots and other things! Yay!

Come back here for more updates!

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Last night was a beautiful and absolutely well deserved quiet time at the ceramic studio. It was my very last batch of clay that I hand built into several trinket dishes for gifting during Navarathri season next month!

I did not realize that glazing would take so very long. I spent at least 2.5hrs glazing a dozen tiny trinket dishes and I loved it. As always, I came back home tired and hungry. I simply loved my time in the studio, I crave to mould and deepen my strength with ceramics over the next few years! Oh! It’s been such joy to get this beautiful life and access to ceramic studio in Fremont.

I’ll share finished trinkets next week hopefully. De below some pics I managed to click at the studio yesterday.

September 26th. And I picked up my glazed pieces from the studio.

I have larger pieces held back and those with go into second firing in the next few days and I pick them up next Sunday! Yay!

I will share those pictures here soon. I plan to pick them up next week. I can’t believe it’s been an entire summer of pottery that I could be part of so close to home. I’m planning to return next year.

Where do I go to take classes? check this link – www.regerec.com

Check out my instructor’s work – Susan Bettencourt

This garden anniversary, I take a trip down memory lane to last summer

I want to share a special connection I found between gardening, urban walks which led me down the path of watercolor painting.

Around the same time last year, I was in the thick of building our victory edible garden. This plan came to us at a time when I was seeking a productive activity that would give me peace and hope, particularly at the most unprecedented time in the middle of a pandemic.

I fondly remembered the summers of my childhood, spending time outdoors, playing on the streets, making vadaam in our terrace and gardening in my neighbors home. I missed digging my fingers into the red soil (ಕಿಮ್ಮಣ್ನು) of Karnataka.

Well, I decided to just get on with my life in California and just go back to gardening in a bigger way than the dozen plants in my apartment patio.

I built an edible garden in the summer of 2020, after about four weeks and a thousand dollars short, we had two large edible planters to fill and begin our gardening journey in our new home.

This week we celebrate our Gardeniversary with many successes and failures in the garden but tons of memories with our family!

I remember reading a lot about edible gardens and victory gardens of the world war era and that it was making a comeback during the pandemic. It is human, for us to go back to self sustaining instincts when we are faced in dire straits. Anyways, back to last summer.

Each morning in the summer of 2020, my son and I would get out in the hot sun, go out for a walk to a nearby rose garden and bring back a new story. I would paint a found object and he would have something new to tell his dad, friends and grandparents everyday.

It became our ritual to go on these walks and watch the world go by. The uncertainty of the times we were living in and the marked differences in how we felt then and now is quite alarming. But we took it one day at a time, so to speak, trying to stay safe and healthy.

When we came back home from our walks or when I sat down to research about the next plant for our edible garden, I could not help make tiny sketches by the side of my notes, while drawing up plans and 3D views. Almost all classical gardening books were filled with botanical art and watercolors and it inspired me to dust off my Rotring pens & inks and watercolors from our garage and document sketches. Insofar, these sketches have been random, of found objects or of things I wanted to grow.

I soon got addicted to watercolor medium, and this website is a testament to my watercolor fun and all the other avenues of life it has opened up for me. While I wrote stories about my garden in social media, I usually had some photographs or a video of the process of what that looked like, narrating a visual blog of sorts, but it was too dynamic and fast.

I was seeking a recuse from the fast pace of life, I was seeking a slow time, one that allowed me to reflect and ponder into the depths of our world. I wanted to sync with the circadian rhythm of nature and how she has been able to go one every year tirelessly and grow and evolve beautifully from it.

I just wanted to move slowly and think deeply.

Has watercolor opened a new door into my world and my work? Yes!!!

Has watercolor opened a new door to my gardening life? Yes, indeed!

Has watercolor brought me joy? Yes, and I hope it brings you joy too!

Has watercolor brought me closer to the circadian rhythm of nature? I think we are slowly working towards that one, but I’m learning everyday.

Has watercolor and gardening been a boon to my sanity during a pandemic? Most definitely, a huge resounding Yes! Yes! Yes!

So here it is, a tiny reflection from last summer here for your preview. I am gratefol to all of you readers, who have sustained through my cultural explorations, my gardening love and art therapy posts on social media.

I’m contemplating, I repeat, contemplating to journal my edible garden on paper to follow the journey of not just harvests but of the flowers and sights in the garden that I preview everyday. And like many other projects, this one will take time to settle in and then comes scheduling and planning how it works with the rest of my life things!

I seek this space to sit at a big desk, and type and edit in my own time, without going into a 15 second attention span, but a long, slow, wholesome and complete process. Thanks for reading and riding along!

Lots of love this summer y’all!

Cheers,

Radha

Watercolor workbook and palette for #Worldwatercolormonth 2021

I’ve been happy to recuse myself to this palette this weekend! In celebration of world watercolor month, I have chosen to work on a watercolor workbook by Sarah Simon

If you scroll below, you can see for yourself the absolute joy it has been to share this beautiful weekend with this workbook.

In the beginning, I flipped through the sheets and was a bit hesitant to use this beautiful book as a workbook, but Sarah’s writing and step by step guidance nudges you into a world of fun and exploration in a way that is pure joy! It’s probably the most clean and organized color swatch cards I have of my paints! Kudos to this workbook.

Day 1: Paints on the palette, look at that glory!
Day 2: The adventure of paints and color mixing begins
Day 3 – Do not disturb this palette, artwork in progress

I bought the workbook in celebration of #worldwatercolormonth and I am chuffed that I did. I mean, it’s been just a few pages in and I’m having such a good time!

As a self taught artist, all my learning and growing comes only with experimentation and making mistakes. I grab every opportunity that leads me towards a space of learning and growing, and this workbook is one such example.

I also am part of local group of artists who gather every week online to be guided by a teacher / mentor about watercolor paintings, and it’s been endearing. We are all experimenting with our colors, learning and making beautiful pieces along the way! More of that later I guess.

The beauty of this workbook is that it already puts together a process in place for a nice clean flow of work that will become a beautiful collection of watercolor paintings by the end of this month and end of the book!

Day 2: Flexing the colors
Day 2: learning about wet on wet and and wet on dry technique
Day 3 of watercolor workbook art
Day 3: eucalyptus composition and those beautiful leaves
Day 4: Dahlias with a loose and fun floral technique
Day 4: Dahlia, the spills and some pen and ink texture
Day 4: Dahlia page side sketch

I hope to share more as I work my way through this book, I hope that you can ride along with me on this adventure.

Happy July the fourth weekend and have a good world watercolor month celebration.

Day 5: Another eucalyptus on Day 8 instead of Day 5 Because, you know, life happens!
Day 6: staying indoors in the crazy heat wave, staying hydrated and painting with watercolors
Day 6: cleaning up and loading a new palette, my hope is that it does not dry out too much! Let’s see!
Day 6: completed two pages and feeling awesome! Had a very productive watercolor day today!
Watercolor workbook sneak peak of just the first few pages
Day 7: it was a quiet Sunday morning of coffee and breakfast and watercolor! Perfect!

Cheers, Radha

Day 7: watercolor workbook sketch spread!
Day 8 came late: watercolor workbook
What day is it? It’s paint day!

A critical moment in my work was this morning. It was when the author of the workbook Sarah’s Simon shared my work on her page! Also, so much inspiration can be found on social media, particularly from artists, which is why I love Instagram and am truly grateful for the connections I have made there.

The Mint Gardener is Sarah Simon!
Painting on July 22nd was fruit blossoms
June 23rd Lupines
June 23rd lupines and it’s sketchbook page in pen and ink
June 23rd – Lupines, gladiolus and irises
Video of the gladiolus, Lupines and Irises
Month of Leo and Goddess Lakshmi
Story about the fisherwoman and Patru vada.
South India nostalgia
Still going strong and keeping no track of which day it is.

The picture above is the last but one composition and page for the watercolor workbook, it’s taken me so long to even get to this page, but it’s the work of everyday.

Season’s Greetings

The season of the willful came to the forest

They ran barefoot and into those trees.

Come to me, squirrel, called a little boy

His hand outstretched to receive the guy  

The season of the willful came to the beach

where there were no barriers,

yet, the girls ran forth onto the water

while screaming in glee. oh, just sea!  

The season of the willful came to the shore

the gush and slush of the water,

broken by the oar out by the bank lay the salient;

one by one, they became radiant