Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Video - Faces in Pastel

We have a new YouTube channel, and I'm experimenting with Photo Story 3. It's fun and very easy to use. I particularly liked the custom music option.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Photo of the Week - East Corner of the Garden

East Corner of the Garden

Photo - Kadambini Panse

The east corner of the garden seen through a hole in the garden wall.  The wall is being plastered and the hole was made to hold the bamboo platform for the plasterers to work on.

The window on the right belongs to my new studio. You turn around that corner and along a little curving path to the lotus pond. Another path goes straight ahead to what is going to be the new flower garden.

That's the Singapore coconut tree on the left, with the creeper growing up the trunk. We're hoping the creeper becomes strong enough to climb up on. Getting the coconuts down is a major hassle currently. We get a pretty good crop twice a year.

Behind the coconut, on the left, is the Bhendi Gulab tree. It was in a bad shape in May-June, but has recovered wonderfully. The first photo shows what it looks like in the morning, and the second was taken in the afternoon.

BhendiGulab1   BhendiGulab2

Friday, September 11, 2009

Photo of the Week - Bhendi Gulab


Photo - Kadambini Panse
This is the Bhendi Gulab flower.  It is white in the morning and changes its color as the day grows. In the evening, it is bright pink.

The botanical name for this plant is Hibiscus mutabilis. It is also commonly known as Cotton Rose, Changing Rose and Confederate Rose. The tree can grow up to 15-20 feet, and requires full sunlight.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Photo of the Week - New Garden Plants

August 2009 049

Photo - Kadambini Panse

I'm trying to add some color to the back garden. Maybe I'll go to the Nursery this weekend and see what they have.

After a rather prolonged dry spell, the rains are back.  Wonderful!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Pen and Ink - Stippling

Us Two

This is an old illustration of mine, done several months back. At the time, I was wondering if I should leave it as it is or stipple a bit more. Then I let it be.

I rather enjoy stippling. I don't do an initial drawing to start with. Everything begins with a dot.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

What do you dislike about bad writing?

Pink Hibiscus a

The word is 'dislike', not 'hate'. The difference is acute. 'Dislike' provides much fodder for amusement. 'Hate' produces much fodder for annoyance. I prefer being amused to being annoyed. Besides bad writing is rather enlightening. You wouldn't know what was good if you didn't know what was bad, would you?

So, anyway, here's a list about what I dislike about bad writing -

  • Building up a curve of suspense and then dropping it into sheer inanity. What a fall that is.
  • Making cultural bloopers. Like assigning Muslims to a Buddhist Nirvana, as in a James Clavell novel. Like being condescending about 'native' people, characterizing them as mass-produced twits rather than individuals with individual agendas. Like going overboard about 'Eastern Spirituality'.
  • English usage in the local newspaper English, which can be both hilarious and cringeworthy. Here you encounter treasures like "opines she/he", "says she/he", "grins she/he", "'expostulates she/he", "avers she/he" and so on. Sometimes the staff writer is either clueless about word meaning or, else, brutally honest. And so you get artists who 'creatively amputate' the figures in their artwork or who are 'sadistically creative'.
  • The unisexual use of the word "actor". Non! Men should be "actors" and women should be "actresses". If not, let's all be women and see how we like it.
  • SMS language. It g8s m gOt.
  • Pretentious writing. The sort of writing that twists its arm around its body to pull its nose, rather than grabbing that olfactory organ straight up. The writing that sends fifty sentences to do the work of five.
  • Sentimental writing. The mush that tries to get you to weep with it, feel patriotic with it, feel pious with it, feel romantic with it, oh hell, feel all sorts of things with it. And..... you can't fake up the enthusiasm. The only real emotion you feel is spoony rot.
  • Pompous writing. The rah-rah wah-wah, you-are-nitwits-we-are-not, we-are-first-world-persons-being-kind-to-you-third-world-lot, we-have-come-to-liberate-you-with-our-brand-of-democracy, we-regret-the-collateral-damage, no-problem-we-are-an-ancient-civilization-we-can-take-it, we-are-more-superior-because-we-are-more-ancient-than-you, we-were-great-once-we-invented-the-zero type of writing.
  • Self-conscious writing. The oh-look-I-am-writing-and-somebody-is-going-to-read-it-and-they-will-soon-know-how-smart-I-am-Wheee type of writing.
  • Stiff writing. The oh-look-I-am-writing-and-somebody-is-going-to-read-it-and-I-do-NOT-want-to-make-a-bad-impression-I-want-to-cover-all-bases-I-want-to-be-totally-and-utterly-PC-and-grammatically-correct
  • Unclear, muddled writing. The I-do-not-know-where-to-start-where-to-stop-where-to-end-what-to-write-what-to-think-how-to-think-who-to-believe-what-to-believe-why-I-believe-what-I-believe-what-I-am-even-doing-on-the-planet-which-by-the-way-Jesus-made-Darwin-did-not-and-you-will-go-to-hell-you-sinners. Shows unclear, muddled thinking.
  • Using cliches. Shows a lack of imagination. More herdy than wordy.
  • Bad characterization. Spineless heroines stretching out as eager foot mats for macho-macho heroes. Macho-macho heroes with the kind of manners that would get them arrested, incarcerated and socially ruined in real life. Characters that never leave the cardboard - that is, never seem three dimensional enough. Characters that are continually "biting their lips", "wetting their lips", "rolling their eyes" "snorting down their noses" and "raging at the world". Characters with no adequate explanation or clue about why they behave in a particular way. Characters that behave in a particular way to fulfill the novelist's saintly ideals.
  • Bad grammar and sentence construction. "I finds it funny. I does. But I loves it".
  • Quirky word usage. People, really, "loose" and "lose" are different, "your" and "you're" are different, and "deacon" and "beacon" are much, much different.

I'm not adding adverbs to the list for the simple reason that, in my case, with adverbs, it was love at the first "-LY". Where other writers tread warily, I tread wholeheartedly.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Photo of the Week - May Day - Mayflowers and Gulmohor

Precisely at the stroke of May, the blooms come out. They last for a week or two. Then, for the rest of the year, they fold back into leafy greens.
And here's the Gulmohor. It's a lovely blazing red on a fine summer's day. When the flowers drop off, they make an intriguing red carpet below.
April 2009 026
And the prettiest of all, here's Chubary this morning with Ma -
Chubary and Ma

Friday, April 3, 2009

Wordle - Dogs of Blog



These dogs were created using GIMP and Wordle. I got the link to Wordle via Anne Wayman's blog.  It's a fun graphic tool. You can try out many variations in fonts, colors and layouts.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Illustration - Birds Over BlueRain Islands


GIMP and garden leaves and flowers. This is the first illustration of an upcoming picture book.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Photo of the Week - Yellow Lotus




A new yellow lotus in the pond!

It bloomed yesterday morning and will stay for two more days. And there's a new bud coming up.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Sketch Book - Pashupatinath

20 Pashupatinath

Old sketch from Pashupatinath, Nepal.

Fiction - Eating Out

An old one from the closet.

I was having a hard time with the writing today, so I decided to take a break and see where I went with the writing prompt from freelancewrite.about.com

Here's the Writing Prompt: You sit in a restaurant booth eating a turkey sandwich when you hear the couple next to you start to argue under their breath. The woman begins to cry softly and says, "You didn't have to kill her."

Here's my take -

Eating Out

I hate turkey sandwiches. But I hate pizza even more and that was the only other thing Annabel's had tonight. And every night, really. The rest of the menu is only there to gull the customers. If you're new here, you spend 5 minutes looking through everything and then the bored waitress spends 5 minutes telling you they don't have this and this and that. Just pizza and turkey sandwiches, sir and ma'am. Today, tomorrow, and everyday. On days like today, when I'm just too darned tired to walk up to the apartment and cook and too weary to walk around the corner to another restaurant, I wrinkle my nose and eat the nasty fare.

It would've helped if there was some sort of entertainment here to distract you, but there isn't. Annabel's is the most soulless place I've ever eaten in - and I've eaten in quite a lot of soulless places, so that's really saying something. Hell, you know, every time I eat here, I feel like I've lost a few inches of mine. Nobody seems to ever talk in Annabel's. People slouch in and slouch down on the plastic chairs, gaze at the dirty green walls or just about anywhere. They avoid all eye contact as they eat their soggy turkey sandwich or their cold, dry pizza. Then they pay the bill and slouch back out. If this is a gathering place for losers, I guess it's for the kind that like to suffer in silence.

Except today. There's actually a couple murmuring at the table behind me. It's incredible. Human sounds. Who did have thought you would hear them in here?

It sounds like they're having a mighty argument. I perk up my ears and listen. Yeah, I know that's eavesdropping, but I've committed far worse crimes. Besides the girl's crying. I'm only human, you know - if you're only human, you like to know why people are crying - if only for the scandal value.

She sniffed and said, "You didn't have to kill her!"

I paused.

"Get a grip on yourself," said the man. "What else could I do? It was the only way out of the miserable situation."

"You could've have discussed it with me at least."

"Discuss? Damn it, Marla, I had to make a split second decision, didn't I? If I hadn't shot her, she would have shot me!"

"Well, you didn't have to kill her - you could've shot her in the arm or the leg, you know."

"Oh, for heaven's sake, what's done is done. She's dead. Let's forget it."

"Yeah, right. You're just like every single man, aren't you?"

"What the hell's that supposed to mean?"

"That means this is a wake up call for me. Boy, am I glad I found out before it got too late. I thought you were different, you know, Sean. But you're not. You're no different from every single jerk I've ever known in my whole fucking life!"

"Oh, excuse me, I'm a jerk because I didn't let myself get killed?"

"No, you're a jerk 'cause you took the whole sole decision - we were supposed to be a team, goddamn it! - but you've been making all the important decisions, you didn't once consult me about anything. It's everything your way."

"Look, I told you it was a split-second thing."

"Yeah, it's always a split-second thing. It'll always be a split-second thing." She sniffed again. "My mother's right. You're a selfish, inconsiderate bastard."

"No, your goddamn mother's not right. She's never bloody well right. Okay? And especially not when she's interfering in our personal affairs...."

"Don't talk about my mother that way, I'm warning you!"

"Or what? You're going to get violent? You couldn't even throw the bloody grenade back there."

I stirred. Grenade? The cell-phone is in the bag, I thought, and the bag is under the table. Reach down slowly. Get it. Call the police, the FBI, the CIA, Interpol, the CID, the Surete, Scotland Yard, anyone, this has to be the Orange Alert of Terrorism, or is it Violet?

"Like hell I couldn't," said Marla angrily."I would have thrown it if your bloody, fucking Playstation joystick didn't keep getting stuck all the bloody, fucking time. It's so ancient it's from the Stone Age. And of course you'll have me use it. You will keep the new one for yourself. And that alone says everything about the way you treat me. Our relationship's over, Sean. I'm not going to play another bloody game with you ever!"

That's when the turkey went down the wrong way.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

WIFI - Women's Empowerment

Interesting article here - 

What Money Doesn't Buy: Microfinance and Women's Empowerment in South Asia

And an inspiring video by Apna TV CVU about Mangal Thorat, a former rag-picker from Bombay, who got an education and became a teacher. Now, since the lady has obviously understood the importance of having an education, she will make sure her children are educated. With an education, they will be more likely to get good jobs and so correspondingly their economic situation and their personal lives ought to improve.

We have such a success story in our own area. Our former domestic help, after her drunkard and wife-beater of a husband died, raised her three children by herself and insisted they all get an education. Now the eldest son works in a good position in a factory, the middle son runs a computer booth and the youngest daughter is about to graduate with a degree in Computer Science.

Education + Hard Work + Opportunity (and the sense to grab an opportunity when it comes) + Encouragement = Success

That's just the simple formula, of course.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Drawing - Fashion Models

Pen and Ink

The Indian government has a competition out for designing an identification symbol for the rupee.

Here are the guidelines in PDF - Design Competition for the Indian Rupee Symbol

Sunday, March 22, 2009

How to Create a Picture Book

27 Page 20-21 (2)
I've posted a new article on Maysun In C. Here's the link -

How to Create a Picture Book

The above illustration was done for Scholastic India.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

On St. Patrick's Day

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.
May the blessing of the great rains be on you,
may they beat upon your spirit
and wash it fair and clean,
and leave there many a shining pool
where the blue of heaven shines,
and sometimes a star.

Beannachtam na Femle Padraig!


And here's my article on St Patrick - I had such fun writing it way back, I have to air it ever since.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Photo of the Week - Rain Clouds over Tawang

Rain 8

This was taken on the way to Tawang, in Arunachal Pradesh.  Tawang is one of my favorite places on the planet.

Monday, March 16, 2009

How do you measure success?

Leyenda 2Cre

Can success be measured? What is the general criteria?

I drew up the following list -

  • Being consistently creative
  • Doing the work you like
  • Being able to work where you want and when you want
  • Being able to work across diverse fields
  • Learning new skills in the course of the work
  • Getting satisfaction in work well done
  • Getting paid well for work done
  • Helping people find the right solutions for their problems
  • Getting respect and acknowledgment from peers
  • Being healthy on the way to wealthy
  • Having enough savings for the rainy, snowy, sunny, earth-quaky, volcano-bursting days
  • Being well-liked generally, without anyone tripping up to capture your private moments for the public media

For the record, I never thought it was all about keeping up with the Joneses.

But it's nice to remind yourself from time to time about wh0 you are and what you are all about.

Especially when the Joneses look down their noses and make pointed remarks about lilies of the field that neither toil nor spin.

And what do you do in that situation?

A. Do you throw a fine fit and a thundering tantrum about being a grossly misunderstood creative person?

B. Do you calmly and patiently explain in detail the time, effort, thought, research and learning that goes into crafting an article, designing a web site, producing a graphic, creating an illustration or painting a picture?

C. Do you hike up your nose in your turn and offer them that lovely tale about pearls before swine?

D. Do you hone your acting skills by pretending you are too thick-skinned and superior to be felled by such minor barbs?

Well, it really depends on when they drop the clangers and what sort of mood I am in - saintly, educative, bloody-minded or beastly.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sketch Book - Coon Hound

27 Coonhounds2a
It's Holi today. I'm not into the whole rigmarole of throwing powder colors and colored water at people or having it thrown at me. So I washed and scrubbed down the dogs instead. They are not into that, by the way, so much howling and whining and protesting. :D

Sunday, March 8, 2009

WIFI - Willie Smits: How we re-grew a rainforest

Inspiring talk by Willie Smits about how he and the local people of Samboja Lestari in East Borneo regrew a rainforest.

Here's the satellite view of Samboja Lestari - http://createrainforest.org/infosystem/en/satellitenkarte.htm

The new rainforest has worked wonders for the climate, the ecosystem and also created many jobs for the local people. A win-win situation all around.

We have managed a mini miracle in our own backyard - the pond and the fruit trees draw birds (20 species so far), butterflies (9 species), reptiles (not counted - snakes,  lizards, frogs and toads)  and some mammals (squirrels, mongoose, cats, dogs, cows, donkeys, neighborhood kids).

Friday, March 6, 2009




I got some new stretchers from A.K. John in Bombay, I have the colors and the new canvas will come today or tomorrow. I'm all set to begin a new series of oil paintings.

I don't usually plan the paintings ahead - it's more fun when you have to wait until towards the end to know how it's going to turn out - but I'm very partial to laying on the color in thick, impasto style with a palette knife.

Monday, March 2, 2009


Does being on Twitter make you a Twit or just very Tweet?

Now we will find out.....

The bookworm bird is by courtesy of The Smashing Magazine.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Learning Curve - Academic Earth

I've added a link to Academic Earth in the sidebar. I found this very interesting site from the Slate article "How To Go To Harvard For Free."

Academic Earth has a great and growing collection of videos of lectures and courses from Berkeley, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Stanford and Yale.

It's an absolutely delightful treasure trove of information. You can view lectures on a diverse topics by subject, universities, instructors and playlists selected by the editors. You can also make up your own playlists by adding lectures you like to your favorites.

Here's a list of what I'm currently exploring -












Two other good places for learning or picking up ideas are Open Yale Courses and Stanford ECorner .

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Photo of the Week - Month of Lotuses

February 2009 002
Plenty of lotuses blooming in our pond currently. Yellow ones and white ones both. We hope to get some pink ones from Pardi in Gujarat soon.
That's Koi in the bottom picture. He died a couple of weeks ago. We had him for nearly five years. He was a real lovely fish, would surface in an instant when you called him and give your finger a friendly nip. He'll be sorely missed.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Kuttan The Cat Reviews

Time Out Delhi
"Kuttan, the little kitten, is – and will grow up to be – a dreamer. In Kuttan Follows a Butterfly – the first in a series of four Kuttan books that Katha is launching this fortnight – Kuttan is thinking of his long-lost brother Appu. He also observes and marvels at the fluffy clouds, butterflies, trees and the glint of the sun. In Kuttan Meets a Furry Friend, he dreams up an entire adventure with Appu and Gopu, the mongoose, and a nameless snake. A slightly grown up Kuttan finds happiness among sunflowers, and is intrigued by fireflies in the other two books in the series.
Children are likely to identify with the simple adventures and the mysteries of nature that unfold in these books. The writer Serene Kasim uses fun phrases – “the funnest” and “tell us puhleeez” – that will appeal to kids. But as a read-alone book for 10-year-olds (as the publishers recommend), the text and the story are too elementary, even somewhat staid. But it works very well as a read-along book for kids younger than five. The illustrations are a delight, though. Sonal Panse’s colourful panoramic spreads of blue or black skies or green grass linger in your mind long after you’ve put the book down. Richa Jha
Kuttan Follows a Butterfly, Kuttan Meets a Furry Friend, Kuttan Finds Happiness, Kuttan and the Shooting Stars; Katha. Each book Rs 55; set of four books Rs 175. Age 5 to 10."
The Telegraph - Calcutta
"The latest offering from the Katha stable, a non-profit organisation working in the area of storytelling, is the Kuttan Series for children. The series includes four books on the adventures of Kuttan, the cat. Colourfully illustrated and simply written, the books are light and easy to read. They trace the growing up years of Kuttan, introducing him to an unexplored world. Serene Kasim’s prose is direct and lucid and Sonal Panse’s artwork is arresting. Priced at just Rs 55 each, the books are a lot of fun."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Kuttan The Cat Series - Katha Publishers

The four books I illustrated for Katha Publishers arrived on Monday. Written by Serene Kasim, they are a series about the adventures of Kuttan the Cat.

Kuttan and the Shooting Stars Kuttan Finds Happiness

Kuttan finds a Furry Friend Kuttan Follows a Butterfly

They've been a long time coming. I posted some of the illustrations previously at OrangeMellon.

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