May 19, 2008

There is a song in every painting

I love Chinese instrumental music. Those slow melodious sleepy numbers drift me into a completely beautiful world. Painting and music are the two big life supports I have. Everytime I paint, I have some good music playing in the background. It helps me get dreamy, paint better and feel at peace :)

Here is an oil painting which is an outcome of exactly that.

Songs can be such a huge part of a certain memory or in some cases, the memory itself.
There are some songs that bring back old memories. The tunes take you way back to that scene and place you back right there and for those short moments you get to live back those times... again ! Music has that magic in it.

I can associate so many songs with my childhood memories. When I listen to those songs and close my eyes, I even get to remember the time of the day when I first heard that song. It gives me a certain kind of happiness I cannot explain in words.

Here are a few such memories (that are song related )-

"Old mcdonald had a farm" reminds me of my kindergarten days. I used to pretend to be the class teacher and discipline the other kids. I used to do a lot of actions and sing this song. I particularly enjoyed the music class in my school. I have sang rhymes on TV and All India Radio when I was in the 1st or 2nd grade. Those were some thrilling moments of my life.

The song"Yesterday" by Beatles - I heard it first at my friend S's house on a quiet afternoon. She used to take me to her home after school and we used to sometimes have lunch together and go upstairs to her room where she would play these beautiful songs while we play games or chat about school and crushes. That was probably the first time I got exposed to western music seriously and started liking it. Even though as a toddler I have wagged my back to ABBA , Osibisa and few other popular bands back then.

Songs from Roja ( a Tamil movie), especially "Chinna chinna aasai" reminds me of my first year of college life, it was a beginning to one of the most exciting and fun times of my life. I sang this song on stage with a complete orchestra and messed up the whole song as I was so nervous. The crowd went wild and people started jumping off the chairs with their belt around their necks as if suiciding !! I laughed a lot and made a lot of friends too !!

Songs from the tamil movie Gentleman, reminds me of our college tours to Kodaikanal.

"Truely, madly, deeply" by Savage Garden reminds me of the time I met my husband.

"Chanda hai tu, mere suraj hai tu" reminds me of my new born son. I used to sing this song to him from when I was pregnant with him and then after he was born, he used easily go to sleep when I sang this one. I think he could recognize. Atleast, I would like to believe so :) Gosh, I love him! Even now I make up nonsensical songs for him and he is the only one in this whole world who enjoys those songs and even asks for seconds !! At 2.5 yrs of age, my son loves music and plays music on his own and dances to it all without prompting and then pulls his dad and me to the floor to dance with him. I think the music gene is somewhere there in him.

"Barayya Venkata ramana, bhagya da nidiye" is a Kannada devotional song my grandpa used to sing everyday with hands crossed behind the back. He used to love eating fish and smoking 'beedi'. I still remember his fingers and that greenish yellow stone on his finger ring that he used to wear. His fingers always smelled of 'beedi'. I have some very good memories of my grandpa.

Ayyapa songs in malayalam always always remind me of my dad. He used to go to Sabarimala every year and there was a 40 days period before the journey when an ayyapan devotee stays aloof and does the prayers and poojas before going to Sabarimala. "Palazhi kadayathe", "Ekkatil Pulindu", "Guruswami" are some reminders of this memory.

My elder brother used to put me to bed during the afternoons so he can go play with his street friends happily without having to take care of me.I did not have any street friends of my age and I used to simply tag along with him to play with his friends. He used to sing "Phoolon ka thaaron ka" from Hare Krishna Hare Ram. He used to sing it in such a hurry sometimes to dash out to play with his friends who would be waiting for him outside :)

"Mein aayi aayi aayi aaja" used to work magic on my little brother ( who is not so little anymore !) when he was a toddler. I used to sing this to him during lunch times or when he used to cry and he used to enjoy this song, I don't know why ! But I love this song for that memory.

Summer holidays were fun. Most of the times we were away to my maternal grandparents house in Mangalore. Those few times we were home, we used to do silly stuff and "Chandan sa badan" song always reminds me of one of those times. We kids made mom sing this song and recorded her voice on the tape recorder. Then we played it over and over again and found
faults in her singing and made fun of her every time. She laughed to her heart content too. Such a sport she is with a very good sense of humor!! She is a fun mom, I have always shared a lot of personal girly stuff during my school and college days with her. My friends often got surprized at the things I used to discuss with her. We had our mother-daughter differences during my teen years but we turned out to be such good friends during my college days and especially after my college days before my marriage. I miss those days, especially the jokes we shared.

My good friend V and I used to do a lot of combined studies during our college days. One time during our study holidays, we simply decided to ditch studying and do something fun. She was at my home and I had "Country roads" by John Denver in my music system. She loved the song and we wanted to sing along. So we played and stopped and played and stopped to write down the lyrics. Those were the days when we could not simply use Google to get the lyrics. Once done, we happily sang the song together with John Denver. We used to giggle a lot after having wasted enough time doing such silly things instead of studying for our exams. During our group studies at my home, I remember after having a good lunch, while the girls studied, I happily dozed off with the book still in my hand. I still can't understand the value of group studies when atleast 75% of the time was wasted in gossiping and giggling and nick naming our classmates. Whenever I listen to that John Denver song, I always get reminded of our group studies. It was fun!

Another college friend S, who I was very close to, was another reason why I enjoyed my after-college-before-marriage days thoroughly. "It must've been love" by Roxette reminds me of her. It was probably the first time I went to her house to spend some time as a friend and not as a study partner or to share a ride to college. She made a mixed tape for me even without asking and played this song to ask me if I wanted this included. How sweet! We used to spend a lot of time at each other's place and spill our guts out confessing all our secrets to each other. I really miss those kind of girl pals and those days that will never come back. We both have had so much fun running around town, watching movies, listening to music, making crank calls and calling boys who would never think we'd call them, getting the same kind of dresses stitched, going to different restaurants and acting like out of town tourists struggling with the local language, going to beaches, temples etc. She used to apply make up on my face and I loved to just sit there and be her guinea pig! I used to make scrambled eggs for her. She was and is one of my very good friends. Though we are thousands of miles apart now, married and have kids and are extremely busy with our life styles, we occasionally meet and chat and catch up on old times. Thank God for those old times and good friends, we have such good memories now!!

I will stop here. I have digressed enough :)

April 30, 2008

Hand Made Jewelry

Jewelry making has existed since way back when man leanred to make clothes from hide. It has evolved along with him and is only limited by the human brain’s creativity. Besides using jewelry to adorn the body, in early times, jewelry was created for trade and assets. But in this modern age, it has been used almost exclusively for decoration. In early days, naturally found materials were used in jewelry making. The materials included animal products such as bones, teeth, shell, horn, tail etc. jewelry made from wood and carved stone came a little later. Jewelry was often made for people of high importance to show their status and, in many cases, they were buried with it.

Jewelry can be used to adorn every body part from the hair to the toe. It started during the days of the kings and queens that jewelry was made of precious metal and gemstones.

I am particularly interested in art jewelry made with simple everyday materials like magazine paper, clay, wooden beads etc.

About my jewelry :

The first picture shows a pendant I made from scratch with wire and stones and Epoxy.

The second one will surprize you .. the beads are made with glossy magazine paper !! And nothing else.

In the third picture, the jewelry is made with a beautiful combination of glass beads.

The fourth one is made with simple wooden beads. Same for the earrings.

I am making some with clay these days. Will put up pictures once they are ready.

April 29, 2008

Crochet – A very engaging art

Crochet (means "hook" in French) is a method of working interlocking loops of thread into a chain by means of a slender rod hooked at one end. The work is begun by crocheting a single chain of loops, each new loop being formed by catching the yarn and drawing it through the previous loop. All with a ball of yarn and a single hook !!

The art of Crochet could have existed as early as 1500 BC, as part of nuns work, which included needlepoint lace and bobbin lace.

There is another theory that Crochet may have developed from Chinese needlework. This needlework is an ancient form of embroidery done in Turkey, India, Persia and North Africa, which reached Europe in the eighteenth century. This style of needlework was referred to as Tambouring. The main theory behind the origin of crochet seems to be that it began when it was discovered that chains worked in a pattern would hang together beautifully without any background fabric. It had a look of it’s own. A look that we can show off with pride when a piece is finished.

About my work :

I have crocheted several pieces which includes a woolen coat and blanket for my neice. Some place mats, a purse and a hat. The one you see in the picture here is a very special light jacket I started when I was pregnant with my baby, for my baby. But before I could finish it fully, I had delivered the baby. And the first year just flew past. I got to finish it after my baby’s first year and here it is all done! Finally !!

March 4, 2008

Madhubani – The tribal art of Bihar

Madhubani or Mithila art as it is called is from the state of Bihar in India. Madhubani literally means a forest of honey. The Mithila region and the villages around Madhubani are situated near the northern edge of the state of Bihar. People of Mithila have their own language called ‘Mithilakshar’ and a history that goes back more than 2500 years. Mahavira, Buddha and Seeta ( wife of Sri Ram in Ramayana) are believed to have born in this state of India.

The paintings are basically of a religious nature. They are done in special rooms in their homes (in the pooja room, ritual area, bridal room.), on the main village walls for ceremonial or ritualistic purposes. The women offer sincere prayers to the deity before starting the work. Every painting has some significance and philosophy behind it. In the pooja room, one may paint Gods and Goddesses and images from their epics. In the ritual area, one may paint a wedding ceremony or a festive celebration. In the bridal room, one may paint images that signify happiness, prosperity and fertility.

There are three popular styles of Madhubani. They are

1.Brahmin StyleThis style of painting largely deals with using rich variety of bright colors.

2.Tattoo or Goidana Style This style is originally in the form of line-drawings and is divided into several horizontal margins. This style is closer to the Brahmin school of painting as the usage of colors here is just like that style.

3.Kshatriya or Kayastha Style - The unique feature of the Kayastha tradition is the use of monochrome color. Especially black, red and green. It was basically a practice of elaborate wall paintings of the nuptial chamber, Kohbar Ghar with representations of the lotus, bamboo grove, fish, birds and snakes in union, which largely symbolizes fertility and life.

About my art :

I learnt this art from a Bihari woman who was hired by the Indian government to promote this dying folk art. There is a particular technique, which is quite easy, which is followed by Madhubani artists. The lady explained the significance and meaning behind the strokes and fillings called ‘Kachni’ and ‘Bharni’. It seems the Biharis believe that when one creates a Madhubani painting, you have to make sure the lines and fillings are painted end to end without incomplete work.

This is my first Madhubani painting and I have painted two tribal village girls. I have also signed my name in ‘Mithilakshar’. If someone who knows the literature thinks it is wrong, please let me know.

February 19, 2008

Mosiac Art

This art goes back some 4,000 years or more. By the eighth century BC, there were pebble pavements, using different colored stones to create patterns. It was the Greeks, in the four centuries BC, who raised the pebble technique to an art form, with precise geometric patterns and detailed scenes of people and animals. Small pieces of glass were used to adorn walls, tables, pavements or any surface in either a geometric pattern or a random design. The beautiful glass shines in the sunlight and looks very pretty and pleasing to the eyes.

About my work of art :

I used a plain glass bowl/vase for this art. I bought some round glass pieces. You can use broken glass or flat glass pieces. I know someone who broke wine/liquor bottles to pieces and used the flat pieces. Wine/liquor bottles come in beautiful yellow, brown, green, black and red colors.

I stuck the glass pieces on the bowl and used grout to fill in the voids. You could use colored grout too. It gives a very beautiful look. I am going to use flat glass pieces next time for a mosaic table.