Monday, July 28, 2008

Hindustani Classical Vocal Music Exam Result

A few days ago I got the result of my Hindustani Classical Vocal Music Exam - I got 42/50 - First Class with Special Commendation!!!!!

I've been studying Hindustani Classical Vocal for a year and a half now and the Violin for two years. Classes are in the morning, daily from 7.30 am to 9.30 am and I try to put in an hour of practise in the evening.

For fifteen days before the exam, however, it was a really grueling schedule -

  • Six hours daily practise at the class - three hours in the morning and three hours in the evening.
  • Two hours extra that I put in after the evening class, practicing in the city parks and in a city mall to get over stage fright issues.

On the day of the exam I ate a lot of potatoes and bananas - carbohydrates are good for you :-) - and at the venue, drew sketches of the other students - drawing is always a very calming exercise.

Anyway, it all went very well and now on to the next thing. Sometimes I think I'm in the mountain climbing business - one peak scaled and there's a new one looming ahead.

Night Music

Oil, 24 by 30

I've always been keenly interested in music. I listened - and still listen - to a very, very wide variety, and after a point I gravitated towards learning to play.

First it was the guitar and I also play the harmonium, both of which I like well enough, but the violin holds a special fascination - the moment I held the instrument I had the 'this is mine' feeling. I love it completely.

I heard a musician once say that it isn't an easy instrument and you should start on it when you're seven or there's no point. I think he meant for playing on the professional level, which is not a concern with me. Yes, it's not easy, but if you want to learn something really bad 'not easy' is not an excuse. And the point that it brings me tremendous joy is point enough for me.

Everyone ought to learn to play an instrument. Apart from the obvious satisfaction of making music, you learn patience and persistence. And the sense of achievement after you get a piece right - after having played and replayed it about 150 times! - is a real kick! :-)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Back Again

The Goldfish Pond

The past couple of months have been very hectic in a very good way, but I couldn't keep up with the blogging.

The home renovation project is still on-going - it's going to be a couple of months yet before it's all done - most of the major work is done, but plenty minor stuff still remains. Then we begin designing for the next one -I've already have a few ideas for that.

I've also begun storyboard work for 'My Ancestor was a Vampire' - I'll post the images here shortly.

Meanwhile, I have a new blog entry on Worthpoint -

Art and Antiques Auctions—A Brief History

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Photo of the Week - Visitors




We had some visitors the other day, a band of seven gray langurs. They turned up unexpectedly in the late afternoon, clambered up the guava tree and sat there for a while eating the fruit, having a sip of water, then leaped gracefully back and forth from the Mango, the Neem and the Gulmohor trees.

They stayed the night and we woke up to their whoops in the morning. The birds, annoyed by the newcomers, were making a huge big din. It was like waking up in the jungle.

They breakfasted on mangoes and then moved on. Good thing. I didn't want them destroying the mangoes and I didn't have the heart to call the Forest Department and perhaps have these lot sent to a zoo. They were having such fun.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Worthpoint Blog

Girl on a Limb

I have a new blog at Worthpoint -

I'll be writing about collecting Toys - and, hopefully, also on Fine Art.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

WIFI - St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland
Soon - and in all kinds of weather - he got around to saying a hundred prayers ' in a single day' and 'almost as many in the night'. His numbed mind awoke and it occurred to him now that since he wasn't kept in fetters he ought to make a bid for escape. There was always a ship or two at the coast, he had learned during his six years in Ireland, and if he could get onto one, he could get away from the accursed land. He explains this realization as a religious experience. That sounds better than, Jesus, it took me six long years to realize....

St. Patrick's Day Blessings
May the blessing of the rain be on you—
the soft sweet rain.
May it fall upon your spirit
so that all the little flowers may spring up,
and shed their sweetness on the air.

Interesting Facts about St. Patrick's Day
St. Patrick did not always have a saintly temper. Sometimes he lost it and let the curses fly. Some of his curses, with the help of geographical occurrences, worked - like the one that made a certain field sink under the sea and thereby useless for cultivation. St. Patrick's oxen had been refused permission to graze there and that had riled him a bit.

Irish Toasts for St. Patrick's Day
When we drink, we get drunk.
When we get drunk, we fall asleep.
When we fall asleep, we commit no sin.
When we commit no sin, we go to heaven.
So, let's all get drunk, and go to heaven!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Articles on Music

February was a very busy, very satisfying month, but I didn't get much time to blog. And today's blog is one of those 'list' blogs, where you scour through what you've done previously and provide links to that.

I've dug up some articles on music that I wrote for Buzzle. Music is a special passion of mine and I play the violin, the guitar and the harmonium - I'm also a pretty good singer, if I say so myself.

I've been writing for Buzzle for the past four years and it's been a totally wonderful experience.

Here's the list -

The Prince of Venosa

Music in the Renaissance

Johann Sebastian Bach

Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)

Lili Marlene

Nazis and Music

Hollywood Musicals

Music Therapy

The Music Conductor

Musical Mondegreens

Etta James – Queen of the Blues

The Chieftains

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sketchbook Pages


I'm something of a cheapskate (or environmentally aware, ahem) when it comes to paper - if I take notes in pencil, you can be sure I'll write over that same piece of paper in pen the next time and then use that paper, when it's no longer needed, for making handmade paper or papier mache sculpture. Printouts are used for sketching, as you see. Reuse is my mantra.

The above sketch is NOT of the well-known Hollywood couple with the big multicultural brood.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Photo of the Week - Kesharganj

These were taken when I was staying in Kesharganj. This is a very small town about three hours from Lucknow. Part of the road from Lucknow is shaded on either side by some marvelous shady trees - in places the trees meet overhead forming a green canopy. In other places, tall reeds line the road and beyond there are millet and sugar-cane fields.
There is a long bridge across a wide expanse of water and once you cross that you stop for tea and mithai at Shukla's Dabha. They serve the best gulab jamun and baingan pakoda I've ever eaten.
OldMan Children
I met some very kind and decent people in Uttar Pradesh.
I'm sorry about and disgusted with the completely unconstitutional and fascist turn taken by the MNS against UP/Bihari migrant workers in Maharashtra .

Learning Curve - Writing for Radio


As part of the ongoing process of polishing my writing skills further, I took a look at the basics of writing for radio, and I found the following links very helpful -

Skills for Radio Journalists

Newswriting for Radio

Writing for Radio

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Photo of the Week - Sela Pass

Sela Pass

This was taken in Sela Pass, Arunachal Pradesh, on the way from Tawang to Bomdilla. We were stranded here for two hours.  The wheel of our Sumo wobbled and nearly came off, so we had to pull over in the middle of nowhere and wait while the driver and a couple of overanxious passengers discussed the problem. The driver didn't have a repair kit, it wasn't a highly trafficked route and nobody had a cellphone. It was going to get really cold with night-fall. Should the driver walk all the back to Tawang to get assistance? What were we going to do?

For me, it was no hardship. I hadn't wanted to leave Tawang anyway. Reaching it had been the most romantic, magical journey I ever undertook. The Lord of the Rings kind, you know, where you wander through a surreal landscape, overcome several obstacles, and finally reach the golden destination.  And now here we were - what a perfectly lovely spot to be stranded in. The sun was beautifully warm on the hillside where I sat and there was a carpet of tiny blue flowers that, a fellow passenger said, grew only in that particular area.  The clouds were misting over the mountain tops. Tashi, my Lhasa Apso puppy, was curled up in a ball on my lap. There was a profound feeling of peace and of how good my life was.

Friday, February 1, 2008

SketchBook Pages

1 Feb 08 - Bini-Cyclists

I've been having a perfectly creative day. The Two Talking painting is coming along very well.

I organized and filed away January's work. So now the only clutter on the work desk will be the one I'm looking forward to making this month. :-)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Photo of the Week - Frog and Lotus


He knows how to get in. It's the getting out that's bit of a problem. You have to scoop him out with a bucket. And do you even get a croak of thanks? Nooooooooo!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

WIFI - Drawings of the Great Masters

Under The Urban Sky

Here are some artists I particularly admire -

Peter Paul Rubens as a Draftsman

Drawings of Tiepolo

Drawings of Michelangelo

Drawings of Kathe Kollwitz

I discovered Kathe Kollwitz  in art college and it was just the most fantastic thrill.  I spent hours in the library looking at the volume of her works.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Quote of the Day - Cynthia Heimel

Q - Cynthia Heimel

WIFI - Wrong Way Corrigan


Drawing from encyclopedia photo

Wrong Way Corrigan

Douglas Corrigan was an American flyer with a penchant for ignoring authority and performing daredevil stunts in his plane.

In 1938, at the age of 31, when he was supposed to be flying from Brooklyn, New York to Long Beach in California, he kind of veered off-course from the State of Oranges and Sunshine  and ended up flying all the way across the Atlantic to the Land of Potatoes and Rain - that is, Dublin, Ireland - instead. He said it was all on account of a navigational error.

"He claimed to have noticed his "error" after flying for about 26 hours. This is not entirely consistent with his claim that after 10 hours, he felt his feet go cold; the cockpit floor was awash with gasoline leaking from the unrepaired tank. He used a screwdriver to punch a hole through the cockpit floor so that the fuel would drain away on the opposite side to the hot exhaust pipe, reducing the risk of a midair explosion. Had he been truly unaware that he was over ocean, it seems likely that he would have descended at this point; instead, he claimed to have increased the engine speed by almost 20% in the hope of decreasing his flight time."

He made it to Ireland safely, received a 600-words reprimand from the aviation authorities by telegram, had his pilot's license revoked for a fortnight and then went home, along with his plane, onboard a ship.

He received a hero's welcome back home, wrote an autobiography, got a starring role in an autobigraphical film by RKO Radio Pictures, made plenty of money, got married, had kids, helped the war effort, tried politics, worked in commercial aviation until his retirement, bought a large orange grove,  prospered, suffered some personal setbacks and lived more or less out of the public eye.

"In 1988, he joined in the golden anniversary celebration of his famous flight, allowing enthusiasts to retrieve the famous Robin from his garage. It was reassembled and the engine was run successfully. Corrigan found this so exciting that the organizers placed guards at the plane's wings while Corrigan was at the show and considered tethering the tail to a police car."

Thursday, January 24, 2008

SketchBook Pages


Sketching daily is really important - it's a warm-up exercise, like starting my daily violin practise with the scales.

I take five blank sheets and fill those up. I draw things and people around me, or images from the day's newspaper or from a sports magazine. The daily drawings, aside from for loosening up , are for developing observation and understanding postures and perspectives. The starting premise isn't to create 'beautiful drawings', though I'm, naturally, very thrilled when they turn out well.

On some days the drawing is awful. On some days it just sings. On all days, though, I draw.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Children's Book Illustration - Elmer

Elmer 5a1
New Illustration in Water-proof Inks.
Here's the pencil rough sketch. I usually start with a rougher sketch than this, make it finer and then color. I resisted the temptation to ink the lines this time.
It was great fun doing this.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Quote of the Day - Albert Einstein


Albert-Einstein Quote 2ar

Photo of the Week - Yellow Lotus

This is one of the grand things about cultivating a garden.

I love sprawling gardens that are planned, but not too planned. I like them to have a bit of a ramble-scramble look, just a touch of the overgrown, an easy-going personality that is not defined by precisely marching hedges, a place to be quiet in and listen to the birdsong.

Like my garden. :-)

Friday, January 18, 2008

On Language

I've just been reading George Orwell's Rules for Writers.
The article makes special mention of Orwell's sixth rule -
Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Followed by French novelist Gustave Flaubert's take - "Language is a cracked kettle on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, while all the time we long to move the stars to pity."

This reminded me of the time I attended a literary event organized to mark the publication of a new Marathi novel by a Marathi writer I knew. It was a very high-falutin affair with a good sprinkling of 'Marathi Intellectuals'.

'Marathi Intellectuals' can often be rather tedious beings - blessed with traditional set ideas about the way things should be and nationalistic to the hilt.

The main speaker was a rather well-known writer, who is based in London and who had been roped in as he happened to be in town at the moment. His speech - a very jingoistic one - was about saving the 'sanctity and purity of the Marathi language' from the 'ever-spreading encroachment of the West'.

If you hadn't already been encroached by the West, you would hear this speech and go away thinking nothing but founts of evil existed in the West.

I'm really tired of this 'us' and 'them' mentality. The only way these people can prove 'our' culture is superior is by denigrating another of which they obviously know precious little - if you can take a couple of stories of violence, intolerance, and steamy sex, and conclude this is the essense of 'the West', you should be prepared for the competition over there that reads about poverty and illiteracy and disease and develops much the same ideas about 'the East'.

We don't have the monopoly on wisdom and culture - and these people prove it every time they insist we do.

So anyway -

'Our tradition and our culture', he proclaimed, must be 'preserved at all costs'.

At the cost of living in a stifled, stunted atmosphere?

Tradition, Culture and Language are not static things 'to be preserved'.

* If they were, our society would never evolve and we would never make any kind of progress.
* If they were, there would never be any scope for any creativity.
* If they were, we would still be speaking the 'pure Marathi' from the era of Dnyaneshwar. How many people can even read the Dnyaneshwari today and understand exactly what the man is saying without referring to the commentary in modern Marathi?

I find it very funny that people can lambast 'the West' and insist on 'preserving traditional ways' and find nothing odd about adapting 'Western ways' to suit their own ends.

Like -
* Using a car - an invention from 'the West' - to arrive at the venue
* Using a mike - an invention from 'the West' - to air their views.
* Being dressed in a business suit - a fashion from 'the West'.
* Living in 'the West' themselves.

Some Desi patriot.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Painting in Plein Air

The first time I went plein air painting was in school when I was taking art classes for the Intermediate Exam. Our art class went to a nearby mountain to paint for the entire day, and I remember the trip not so much for the fantastic art I created - I didn't create any fantastic art actually - but for the heavy bag of art materials and food that I lumbered under.

Back then, a heavy bag was always the main staple of all my outdoor expeditions - my Ma had the notion that I would starve without sufficient food and so, on every day trip, she supplied enough for a month. And that is why, on this particular occasion, the art teacher Mr. M and I overexerted ourselves taking turns in hauling along the sheer weight. Finally another teacher Mr. Y, who was tall and strong, took over and we could devote the remainder of our energies to painting.

Plein air painting became de rigueur in art school, but, even without my Ma's food bag weighing me down now, it took me quite a while to get the hang of it. I struggled and struggled and all the time I was struggling in an entirely wrong direction. There's nothing more disheartening than setting out full of hope and coming back with a muddily messed-up sketchbook/paper/canvas. The trouble was I didn't really know how to see things - if I viewed a tree and a house, for example, I saw A tree and A house, I didn't see them in relation with one another. Neither did I have the slightest notion about building up a painting. It was all dash, splash and, Oh Damn, I've made a hash!!

A good friend told me to see in terms of colors - it's not a tree, he said, it's a patch of green in varying shades. About the same time I also came across a 'how to paint landscapes' book and it had a technique that has worked well for me. Paint the white base with yellow or brown or olive green or red or orange (actually any color, depending on light and required effect) and then build up the painting on that, so it comes out looking like a whole rather then different parts stuck together. Concentration is important and so is confidence. You start waving your brush or your palette knife timidly, and it's over already, you end up with a painting that looks like it is apologizing for taking up the paint. So, anyway, as the wise woman said, be bold (not brash) and practice and practice and practice and practice and then some more - and if you aren't careful, you'll end up in Carnegie Hall instead of in the Guggenheim....

I won't say I have completely got the hang of it even now; every trip is a new adventure and a new experiment. But there's less self-consciousness - I cured the self-consciousness to an extent by drawing every weekend at the Prince of Wales Museum in Bombay; it's always full of tourists and visitors and many of them stop to see what you're doing and then... you get used to it - and less uncertainty, if you know what I mean.

It's not very often nowadays that I'm faced with situations like the one where the two fishermen left their boat and strolled over to see what I was doing and, comparing it with the view in front, told each other knowledgeably -

"It's what you call modern art."

"Yes, it's not supposed to look like what you see."

Friday, January 11, 2008

Photo of the Week - The Wall Painting

I took this photo in Kesharganj, a small village near Lucknow. We were driving to a construction site and saw this house on the way. It was in a lovely, peaceful spot, surrounded by sugar-cane fields and big, gnarled trees. The lady was very happy to have her artwork photographed and invited me in to see her home as well.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Quote of the Day - Eden Phillpotts

The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.

- Eden Phillpotts

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

What Women Were Good For....

According to Walt Disney.

Once Upon a Time, that is.

Disney Rejection Letter

See larger image on Flickr.

This reminded me of the time I started art college. There was always a long waiting line for the Applied Arts section - Applied Arts, most people assumed, was the only sure meal ticket for a career in art. You could count on a job in an advertising agency later on. With Fine Art, on the other hand, there seemed to be so much you could do, nobody knew exactly what they could do, and that led to a lot of uncertainty. 'What next' was a very big issue.

I remember a chap telling his girlfriend, "Go for Applied Arts. I don't fancy both of us starving together in the future."

He was a disgruntled, talentless member of the Fine Art section, of course. And with no ideas or imagination about forging his own career, he was grasping at the future economic straws offered by his future wife's future prospects. Still, whatever his motivation, it puts him, in the enlightenment stakes, a bit above our Walt.

And way above our College Principal, who was in the habit of 'encouraging' girls to take up Fine Art - and leave Applied Arts well alone - as "'you are only going to get married and have children after all".

I nearly went for Applied Arts, just to show the chauvinist, but better sense prevailed.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Quote of the Day - Emile Zola


If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.

- Emile Zola

Photo of the Week - The Elephant

The elephant showed up one morning with three or four orange-clad sadhus in tow. They wanted money for their piety. I said I wasn't that pious, but I did offer to give the elephant a pomegranate. Which pleased all of us. Here he is saying thank-you.

He seemed like a really nice elephant and he took the fruit very gently from my hand.

It's illegal to take your elephant out begging this way, especially in the city, but every now and again one shows up.

The owners here seemed quite fond of him, no prodding and screaming, which was a relief.

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