Friday, 18 October 2013

Israel and Tuscany

As part of the virtual sketching tour at Somewhere To Sketch, I got to sketch some wonderful locations in Israel and Tuscany. Thanks to Ann Hyde and Lynn Cohen for this wonderful idea!

My sketch of a seafront road in Pisa, Tuscany

 The Google street view shot

My sketch of The Wailing Wall in Israel

The Google street view shot

These go to Paint Party Friday.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Beach water colors

This was an attempt to paint one of my favorite vacation beaches - Neil Island among the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. I just made a post about my trip there with lots of beautiful pics. I intend to try and paint some of them soon. The original photo is here.

This one goes to PPF.

An Island called Neil

In my post about a vacation in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, I had mentioned that my favorite place was the quaint little island Neil and that it deserves a long post of its own. So here it is.

We spent about 2 days and 2 nights on this island. And I could have spent a week there! We took an early morning ferry at 6:30 AM from Port Blair and reached at around 9:00 AM. The short cruise was a wonderful experience. The blue sea, fresh breeze, the early morning sun and glimpses of islands along the I need to say more? We had packed some breakfast that we had on the ferry. We didn't want to waste time finding a place to eat after reaching. 

Our ferry leaving behind a trail of white surf

When there was the "Land ahead" murmur among our co-passengers, I turned around - only to be struck by the beauty of what I saw. A piece of the island jutting into the sea with a cluster of tall trees. It looked out of this world. I don't yet own a high end camera so what I captured was nothing compared to what I saw.

First glimpse of Neil. That's the sunset point.

Can't wait to land here

People waiting at the jetty to board the ferry

We stayed on Neil for 2 and half days and were longing for more. The place we stayed at was the most advertised resort - Tango resort. It's not one of those luxurious resorts run by some big hotels group. But it was clean and comfortable with the staff trying their best to help us. Its run by a group of enterprising locals. It has standard rooms and log huts. We stayed in a log hut facing the beach.

The sea front near the Tango resort was beautiful too though not much of a beach.

Beach in front of our cottage

Sunset near the resort 

Nature patterns on corals

 There are about 5 to 6 sight seeing places listed on this island. The Bharatpur beach which is right next to the jetty, the Laxmanpur beach which is where Tango resort is located. The sunset point, the west most tip of the island, just a little walk from Tango. The natural bridge and Sitapur beach which is also the sunrise point.

The 2 and half days were more than enough to see all the places but to really experience this quaint little island I feel one should stay there for at least a week. Being a small island, with a population of only around 5000, it has such a different feel to it. And the fact that tourism is relatively new here and still very little, only makes it better. The people are wonderful. They are still nice, friendly and helpful unlike the highly commercial lot of Havelock.

You can rent a bicycle or a motorbike and go around the island on your own. Its about 5 kms at its widest point! Or you can hire a auto-rickshaw or a cab to take you around. A bicycle or motorbike would be best in my opinion. The main market is just one small stretch of road with shops and one or two small eateries. I have no idea how the food at these places would be, but the sweets were great! Having a population of 95% Bengalis, the sweets like Rasagulla, Chamcham and Mishti Doi were wonderful. My personal favorite was the Chamcham. We were told they have lots of good breed cows on the island and Neil supplies most of Port Blair's milk.

We visited the sunset point and the walk to and fro from the resort is great too.
 Waiting for the sunset

Where the sea and the sky meet

The setting sun and rising moon

We went to the Bharatpur beach multiple times. We took the glass bottom boat ride from here to look a the under sea life and the corals. We did some snorkeling off this beach too. 
The Bharatpur beach

The owner of the boat gave us the idea of  a picnic the next day to what they call 'Lonely beach' which actually is the back side of the Havelock island. We left the next morning to this mysterious Lonely beach and were blown away by the pristine sands of this lovely location. There's some great snorkeling you can do off this place as the waters are extraordinarily calm here. You can even spot a few live corals and lots of clams embedded in the rocks. There's a small strip of beach, behind which is the dense vegetation of this uninhabited part of Havelock. To one side is a small patch of mangroves and a rocky beach. You need to be very wary of mangroves and rocks as crocodiles frequent mangroves and there are some deadly Stone Fish among rocks that look exactly like rocks but sting anything that comes near them.
The place was so picturesque that each shot looked picture postcard perfect!

Each time I look at these pictures above, I wish I was a talented artist who could paint these. I even tried a hand at it. Will put it up in a separate post.

 The rocky beach and the mangroves

Transparent fish!

We even went on a Dolphin sighting trip in the same boat the next morning. We left early with a packed breakfast and were out in the open sea for around 3 hours. We did see dolphins eventually although only in brief glimpses as they swam just ahead of our boat for about 15 mins. But if you are really lucky they will swim alongside the boat and keep jumping out of the water. Though we weren't that fortunate but the trip was worth every penny. It feels so great to be out in the open sea in the early morning sun with only blue waters all around. And the boatmen took us all around a smaller uninhabited island called Small Neil. And we had the privilege of seeing the natural bridge from the sea!

The natural bridge on Neil

And soon it was time to go. I hope I'm able to go back there again....soon.

Waiting on the jetty

I'd wanted to write a series of posts covering each of the places we visited in detail. That would also give me a chance to show off more pictures :) But it's an year since our visit and I've just managed to do 2 posts!

Monday, 25 February 2013

A walk in the clouds - Nandi hills

One Saturday night sometime in October, we planned a sudden day trip with our neighbors. Next morning at 7:30 AM, we bundled all the kids (3 in total) into the car and left for Nandi Hills. Just about 60 kms from Bangalore, we had a leisurely drive and reached in a little more than an hour.  I had my doubts about the trip as it had been raining the previous night. But that turned out to be a blessing in disguise! It was cold but the hill top was covered with clouds. It was so much fun to walk in and out of clouds. We couldn't see anything below a few meters from the top. The kids enjoyed the walk and the I enjoyed clicking lots of pictures. So, this is one of those posts with less words and more pictures.

A walk in the clouds!

  A lone puppy shivering in the cold

Tends towards infinity?

Gates to heaven

A bell shaped flower. I think its called Chinese Lantern.

Chinese  Lantern - a different perspective
(My best shot of the day)

  Braving the weather

Jack and the beanstalk?

The tank at the top

The 11th century temple 

Huddled together

Stark contrast

The skywalk covered with clouds

The moment of clarity!

Friday, 22 February 2013

Project Watercolors Resumed

Months ago I set myself the target of learning to paint decently with watercolors. After the initial few futile attempts, I almost gave up. In fact I haven't created any art for the last couple of months. Last week I happened to visit a neighbor of mine who is an artist in her own right. Saw her work and got inspired. But instead of trying with oil paints like her, I tried my hand at some watercolor pieces. I personally feel these are much better than my last attempts. What do you think of these and what are the obvious improvement areas?

I'm still not sure about what kind of paper to use for watercolors and where to find it in Bangalore. I used handmade paper for the first 2 paintings and was not happy with the way the color wouldn't spread around easily. you can see that in the backgrounds....they look so messy.The 3rd is on a normal sketching paper and that turned out better. 

These go to PPF hosted by Eva and Kristin. There are so many wonderful artists participating these days that it takes almost the whole weekend to go through all the beautiful art.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Ganesha in oil pastels

Here's a quick Ganesha done in oil pastels.  This is for PPF hosted by Eva and Kristin.

Friday, 30 November 2012

The making of My Kerala Mural

I'd mentioned my plans to attend a Kerala Mural workshop in an earlier here are the pics from it. I thoroughly enjoyed the 3 day intense program. Before I went for it, I was wondering how many murals we would complete sitting 7 hours a day for 3 days. How many?! We were hardly able to complete one! Its such a tedious process and there are so many intricate details in the drawings that its a lot of effort but the end result makes it all worth it!

A close up of Ganesha - My First Kerala Mural 

Traditionally these murals are paintings of Hindu Deities done on walls of temples and palaces in Kerala. The colors used were all natural dyes. The most interesting aspect of these murals is Panchvarna or the use of only 5 colors - Yellow, red, green, blue and black. These are painted on a white background, so the white spaces in the pictures are left blank to show through. 

Acrylics are being used on canvas and other media more recently. Except for those changes, we used the original traditional method to do the mural. The basic steps after preparing the background (which are not required on a white canvas) are -

Trace out the drawing. We used graphite transfer method for it. 
Do the outline again with red paint.
Fill in yellow for the ornaments, head-dress, the stems, the dress and the background.
A double coat of yellow where required.
A bold red outline and some shading and some red effects on the background.
Yellow for the body (multiple coats).
Then green for leaves, stems and dress.
Then blue for some parts of the dress and garlands.
Finally a black outline all over again and for the hair.

The starting point - the drawing given to us

The sketch on the canvas

The first step - outline with red paint

Filling in the yellow parts

Red outlines and shading 

With the reference painting

Background completed

Again yellow for the body

    Now for some green

  And some blue

After the final step - black outlines

And I completed my first Kerala Mural. Hope to make more sometime soon.

This one goes to PPF and Show and tell Saturday #30. Drop in there to see some amazing art.