Monday, November 30, 2009

Baby Hat

To fit : 3 - 9 months
Yarn: Bernat Satin, medium
Needles: US 8
Swatch: 4 x 4 = 18 S x 24 R


CO 70 st and transfer to the circulars.
Knit for 8 rows for the seam to roll.
Knit until the hat measures 6.5in.


*K2tog, knit 6*, repeat for the round.
Knit a row.
*K2tog, knit 5*, repeat for the round.
Knit a row.
*K2tog, knit 4*, repeat for the round.
Knit a row.
*K2tog, knit 3*, repeat for the round.
Knit a row.
*K2tog, knit 2*, repeat for the round.
Knit a row.
*K2tog, knit 1*, repeat for the round.
Knit a row.
*K2tog, repeat for the round.
Make an i-cord for the remaining st.
Cut the yarn and pass it through the st when the i-cord measures 1 inch.

Block it lightly.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Winter Knitter Returns

As the days shrink, leaves fall and winter comes my inner knitter starts warming up to some serious knitting. I know it's time to open the carefully packed knitting machine and buy some new yarn (you know what happened to all my stash) for the winter projects. I just got a couple of skeins of this aptly named pure wool - harvest. I hope to make a toddler cardi for my little angel.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Genius or Zaniness

I watched 'Factory Girl' few months ago and it brought back the debate that I had been having for a long time. What's genius? What is it anyway?

When it lurks at the borderline of madness, it just freaks the logic of true genius. Or may be that's the whole point! That of being on a completely different plane than the regular folks.

When we are provoked we are shocked, surprised, or confused. I think I am struggling with the last emotion at the time.

Is it both? What's absolutely amazing to some could be totally insane for others. They may have opposite views and still be correct. Well, that sort of makes sense. It really is about timing. If the timing is right, the new idea, the spark may turn into a trend, a tradition, a lifestyle, an icon, who knows what else.

That boils down to the knowledge of the right timing. Be it art, technology, retail, anything. (I think its making sense as I type this.) So many new ideas have died a premature death just because it was aired at the wrong time. There is no dearth of talent, smarts, and hard-work and still only a few make it to the top. Why? Because either they know how to recognize the right timing or they are lucky to be at the right place at the right time.

So there is hope. For everybody. Do your best and learn the art of projecting and presenting your ideas at the right time. Who knows you haven't recognized the genius within you until someone else points it for you.

If you haven't seen "Factory Girl", it's about Andy Warhol, the Campbell Soup guy. Question was if he was what he's been portrayed as or not?


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Life of Inanimate Object

A few weeks ago our microwave stopped doing what it's supposed to. That is, to heat. We thought that it was just a glitch and it will work fine after a while. All gadgets do that, malfunction sometimes but work okay otherwise. Just give them a break now and then. So I gave it a cooloff time for a few hours by not using it. Then later that day I put a cup of milk to warm, but nothing. Cold as it was before. Just like that. No warning, nothing. Simply not working. I checked for any loose connection, any other obvious signs but on the surface everything is just fine. Clock is working, light turns on when door is opened, turntable rotates when on, but just not warming.

I was not ready for this. My beloved microwave not working? It has never happened before. It will be fine, I assure myself. And then I tried to warn a glass of water. Okay, wait for 30 seconds and ding! I opened the door gently and took water out. Cold! Oh no.

I have this sinking feeling that something is wrong but I kept telling myself that it can be fixed. Sure, why not. A while ago, its wheel under turntable had broken and we fixed that and it worked just fine. Little bit shaky at times, but alright in all other respects. So, this time can't be any different.

Its behavior made me stop and think about its presence in our lives from the day we were a newlywed couple. Everything was new and everything was full of possibilities. When we received this as a wedding gift, it was more than a gadget, it was the beginning of experiments in culinary journey. We instantly fell in love with this and the bond grew stronger with each bowl of cereal that we warmed in it. Initially I followed every instruction of the manual and then trial phase began. I cooked, boiled, fried, and baked. I even placed steel dish in it just to see what happens. Okay, that was a bad idea, don't do it, ever!

Years passed. We moved from place to place and this moved with us. It was always the last to be packed and first to be opened during every move. It had been there for every occasion and had been part of every meal of the day. It reheated stuff countless times. But no more. Now after a few days of denial, we are finally convinced that after a very short ten years the time has come to say goodbye.

We look at its clock. It's showing the time, time for a change, time to move on. We take a deep breath and decide to let it go. We have to. We have a history and that needs to be told. We unplug it and put it in its box. A new one will be plugged in shortly after but we know nothing can replace our first from our hearts.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

50 Things About Me

These are the 50 random things that somewhat define me including my quotations that are mostly experience based. You will see it's a random collection and to be taken lightly. Its an attempt to sort of introspect and let others know little bit more about me, just in case anyone is interested.

50. Enjoy interaction. Humans are the most beautiful and complicated creations.
49. Love soups.
48. One who loves dogs can't be unfaithful. Mostly.
47. Life is wonderful and death puts it into perspective.
46. I love love.
45. Good presentation is as important as the preparation.
44. I don't have a sweet tooth.
43. I am not superstitious.
42. I plan ahead and live in the moment.
41. Tell the truth. Always.
40. I have a inbuilt-radar for sincerity.
39. I have no favorites when it comes to colors. But red sure is a statement.
38. I don't know a lot of stuff but I do know where to look for information when I need it.
37. Money to me is a way to be able to help others.
36. Try to make the best out of any situation. But do apologize if you created the mess.
35. Treat others with the respect you give to yourself.
34. I don't tell my age unless you tell me how much you make.
33. I am frugal about shoes.
32. Stereotypes are not that bad.
31. I give what I think is the right advice. Even to people I don't like much.
30. I love to know more about healthy food but not when I am eating.
29. Kids are just the best thing. Enjoy them while you can.
28. Flowers are pretty but kindness is prettier. It's very underrated.
27. Hair is way overrated. If you are a good person who cares about what your hair look like.
26. Take control of your life or it controls you.
25. Read. It's old fashioned but still beats any other hobby.
24. Leave your footprint for future generations. Let this be your inspiration to be good.
23. Try something challenging yet sane. The line between bravery and stupidity is sometimes very blur. Especially at work.
22. I don't understand why even good people smoke or drink.
21. Some things are downright wrong and to make it right best way is to speak up. If it doesn't do any good shut up. And move on.
20. Celebrate just because.
19. Work hard. And work smart.
18. Watch movies with caution. It has stronger impact than you think.
17. Every day is different. A bad day just makes a good day worthwhile.
16. Don't eat meat. Neither good for you nor for environment.
15. You know what's right for you. If you don't, ask. But ask the right person.
14. Some people are mean. Accept it.
13. Some people are nice and to have them around is true blessing.
12. I don't believe in zodiac signs.
11. Cluttering is not good.
10. Aging is good. If you feel otherwise you're headed for disappointment, because time just moves forward.
9. I love the fact that everyone gets same hours a day, rich or poor.
8. When in doubt, think twice.
7. Surround yourself with things you love.
6. Going organic is hard but worth a shot.
5. Knitting is addictive.
4. So is painting but is not that time consuming.
3. If it doesn't sound right, it may not be right. Take precautions.
2. One size doesn't fit all, but there are exceptions.
1. Take the advice from someone who gives it sparingly.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Smiling Woman: Sketch


Smiling Woman
9 x 12
Graphite and charcoal on paper

This is a warm-up project for the color portrait I am planning to work on. It's done from a black and white picture that I saved from a magazine. When the reference is not too varied in colors it's rather easier to reproduce. But at the same time it's too easy to pinpoint the slips on likeness.

There are a couple of important lessons that I learnt during and after I finished. One, choose the right paper. I meant to use Bristol but used classic cream instead because I forgot! I need to remember this for all the future projects. Two, Charcoal and graphite don't mix too well. I used 2B of both but I had to cottonball most of the charcoal for smooth burnishing.

This project was the shortest of all so far in the similar category. It took me just a weekend. That's progress. I think it's quite bold of me when I say I feel ready for a commission if anyone brings.

For future, I plan on drawing from live models and getting some published stuff about what I know. Well, we will see how distant future am I talking about but I am sure...soon.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Birthday Gift

I had been looking forward to my birthday to claim this from my sweetheart. And now that he gave it to me I am just too happy! I received multiple things and this is the best - a colored pencil set all to myself!

I have done all the homework and ready to start my new project but I just want to make sure its perfect as I always imagined it to be. I can't really wait!


Friday, September 25, 2009

Yellow Umbrella: Oil Painting


I am delighted to have this painting realized(instead of saying finished)to the most of my efforts. As always I feel a mixed bag of emotions when a project is completed. Sense of accomplishment, conveyance of mood, and then emptiness for some unknown reasons. It happens pretty much every time. A void, a vacuum, something like that.

The journey of this project was full of surprises, encounters with nice people and an array of unexpected twists. The very idea of starting this project stemmed from my desire for originality, challenge and realism. So, I started looking for the appropriate subject and one day leafing through the pages of Portland I saw this picture that I would use as a reference.

Reference Photo

I guess it arrested me for it's uniqueness. It was all I was looking for. To paint a human in it's likeness sounded like a challenge for a novice like me. Plus it has color, mood, and sensitivity of a moment captured. So, I sought blessings of Tim Jewett to use his picture for my work and he gladly did.

18 x 20
Oil on canvas

I was so excited to put my skills to work that first thing I did was to paint the woman. The rest of the work has been developed after and around her. It was not the most common thing to do, but I am glad I did that because once she came alive on the canvas, rest got painted all by itself.

Despite my efforts, I haven't found a suitable title for this work that took me nearly 2.5 months to finally get it off my canvas. Hope that changes soon. I borrowed the book from library and after multiple renewals, I had to return it back. I hoped to get it back in a few days but that never happened as the book got lost. It still is missing! Buying the book was prohibitively pricey. So, the project was forcibly suspended.

In August, I received an easel from hubby dear(xoxo - I heart you!) and I couldn't resist to work on it. It's around this time I had a light-bulb moment! I had taken a picture of the picture in the book and thought why not take a printout of that to see if that might work as a reference picture! I did and it did. I put up the canvas on easel and it was absolute fun to paint using this.

Once I developed this background after a couple of different combinations, inspiring from another picture of a rainy day I stopped on further build-up. I realized that has to be it.

I used only one brush for everything and seldom used any medium, just the paint. I think for the future projects I would need some more brushes but for now, this is just right. Before I end this post, I must mention that my work has been incomplete without art encounters with Steve Allrich and Lee Hammond via their books. They are very talented people.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Graphite Portrait in progress

9" x 12"
Graphite on Bristol

I used a reference photo that was taken the day I had had my hair curled. It was a sunny afternoon and I wasn't too sure about this change.

In the portrait, I hoped to show the time of the day by light and dark areas. Also, there is an attempt to capture the conspicuous conscious smile. I have yet to sign and title this. Do you have any suggestion before I take this off of my workboard in a couple of days?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Break in Blogging

As most of you have noticed I am missing from the blogging scene for almost a month. There is a lot going on in real life that I am not able to justify the time set aside for this. All good though!

I hope to return in a short while and will post the finished and ongoing work. You all have fun and enjoy everything you love to do.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Oranges - Graphite Pencil Sketch


These are three stages of this sketch, made with graphite pencil #2B on newsprint. For a beginner, it's a great medium to practice with.

I loved using graphite because of two reasons: it's easily erasable and it's cheap.

I would like to use charcoal and graphite for future sketches but I'd prefer charcoal. We'll see. If you draw, what's your favorite?


Monday, June 8, 2009

Indian Woman at Her Loom - Charcoal Sketch

Look closely. This picture had a unique quality - no real focal point for eye's movement. Viewer looks at the woman, the eye travels to the backdrop, rests on the fabric on the loom and gets back to the woman. Isn't that interesting. It was a small colored picture and I thought it would make a great subject for the following reasons:

One, the sunlit woman gives immense opportunity for my favorite light and shadow play. The background is so pitch dark that the picture exudes Sun's warmth.
Two, after the initial sketch, I realized there is no real backdrop in this frame and hence imagination got wings.
Three, I never drew a human in any of my recent works, so I guess that must have guided me to this.
Four, the folds of the fabric are very engaging. So, although there is no real silhouette of the woman and yet the folds convey the shape and the time of the day.

Indian Woman at Her Loom
9" x 12"
Charcoal pencil on paper

General brand HB pencils #2, #4, #6, and white
Canson brand Premium Cream Medium Tooth paper
Prismacolor brand fixative


I think it will take me a little while to really appreciate this one for couple or three reasons, as I move forward with charcoal sketches, my own bar is rising. Every piece has to be better than the previous one or atleast the same quality. In this case, I am not so sure what shall I compare this with. I cannot judge it against a landscape (duh!) or with anything I have done before.

I think this one has better sense of reproduction than many others I did. It is, however, the one in which I had hard time figuring out when to stop. I think that eventually happens when artist try to make arrangements.

What do you think?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

World Drawing Day

This is what I am working on to celebrate World Drawing Day. I started this piece couple or three days back in a hope to finish it today.

It is of a Tangkhul (Indian) woman at her loom, beginning what will eventually become an exquisite garment.

It's taken from this book.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dancing Dolls Red Sweater

I am so glad to finally have this post put together to publish!

This sweater was made only for its sentimental value. My mother made red crewneck pullover when I was younger. The sweater still fits me so I wear it occasionally. She gave me the leftover yarns last year. And I made this for my little angel. Her is more crayon-inspired, just so you know!

Now both of us can wear same colored sweaters made by our mothers. How cool is that!

Technical Details

This is a machine knit piece and the dolls pattern is taken from this with slight modifications. Sweater is my original design and the pattern is available for free to anyone who asks.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Golden Gate Bridge

I am thrilled to type this as my 99th post. For the special 100th I shall have something equally special. In the meantime, I finished another sketch. Here it is -

This is Point Isabel regional Shoreline, Richmond. A former railway trestle bridges the slough feeding Hoffman marsh (foreground), one of the best saltmarsh remnants on the Central Bay, that I reproduced from the book San Francisco Bay Portrait of an Estuary.

Golden Gate Bridge
9" x 12"
Charcoal pencil on paper

General brand HB pencils #2, #4, and #6
Canson brand Premium Cream Medium Tooth paper
Prismacolor brand fixative

Side by side comparison

It caught my eye for its subtlety. I had been meaning to draw golden gate bridge for some time. When I saw this picture I thought its perfect giving quite unique perspective of the bridge. I was intrigued enough to draw it.

I cropped the reference picture to fit it to a satisfactory level of composition. Making sure the foreground leads to the railway trestle bridge, the focal point, I tried to induce the depth. To accentuate the warmth of the morning sun, made the shadows pitch dark. The golden gate appears in the far off background. So it was necessary to have the feel of distance & three dimensionality. Barring some (in)conspicuous omissions overall essence of the picture is recreated.

It was a fun exercise. I, however, spent little more time than I should. But I think, with practice, I will improve on that. Considering it was my first in terms of reproduction of a charcoal sketch from a colored picture it definitely gave me a few ponderworthy moments. We live for that, don't we?

Last words

I have changed the clouds since the posting of this entry to just a slight hint and that gives a better outlook. I will post pics when I can and you can judge it yourself.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Kentucky Mine - Charcoal Sketch

I recently had a chance to revisit my oldest hobby. To draw with pencil on paper. As a child, I would sketch on my notebooks using HB pencils. Over the years, like for most people, this hobby diminished or lets say gave way to other creative outlets. Coming back to pencil drawing seemed very natural to me especially because this time I was well equipped with the inspiration, information, and the tools. Steve Allrich mentioned in his book to practice the drawing on an everyday basis and I finally took the advice last week on.

I used the picture below as the reference photo for the desired sketch

It's been taken from this book. Here is my rough draft where you can see the basic composition is drawn, negative spaces are marked, object of focus is shaded and the background is laid. The tree in the foreground is sketched to a basic silhouette.

This is the final drawing that I think is complete.

The Kentucky Mine north of Sierra City
9" x 12"
Charcoal pencils on paper

General brand HB pencils #2, #4, and #6
Canson brand Premium Cream Medium Tooth paper
Prismacolor brand Fixative

Side by side comparison

Overall I am happy with the output. The composition is right, however, the sketch has varied from the original picture. The mine structure has shrunk considerably. The tree has further moved to the foreground with obvious shade. The dry grass under the tree pushes the mine back into the center. But the idea is, if you hide the photo, and look at the work alone, you can see the mood of very sunny and warm afternoon is well conveyed. And that's all matters.

This was an experiment to judge the contrasts of light and dark and I think, I got that right!

Friday, May 15, 2009

All for the love for drawing

I just finished a charcoal on paper sketch. And gosh am I happy with it! My very first charcoal FO that I copied from a black and white picture. I will post the pics soon. I am on a lookout for a good quality fixative that won't darken my stuff. If any of the readers of this post have any info, please pass it on.

Info for self

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Love to knit in Public?

Well, what do you know -

And I thought I was addicted until I met crazier than thou crowds who would spend ridiculous amount of time and money on knitting. It was about time when I took a step back and reassessed the priorities. Wham! And I know there are other things too.

But I am sure for many this is a great opportunity to show (off) and tell.

Stash, Spring II, New Stuff

I am glad to report that all my knitted projects are complete with entire bulky yarn stash used up right before Spring. I have some left overs (that green yarn)and some chenille that I am saving for something in future. All things are well packed and put away in a box. I have moved on with painting and may return back to some fiber arts in Fall.

The current project is Spring II which is nearly complete. So another FO for a busy mommy! Yay...

Now I am waiting for the right concept for the next painting - all fueled up with the recently gained knowledge. I know I want some landscape or something like that to paint where I can describe the clear contrasts of light and dark. But first, have to make sure I am super clear about the concept so that it may be conveyed lucidly.

“Enthusiasm is excitement with inspiration, motivation, and a pinch of creativity.” - Bo Bennett

Monday, May 11, 2009

Oil Painting for the Serious Beginner - Take II

I finished the book. It's more than what I expected. Well written, to-the-point, compact, and definitely not just for a beginner! It has everything a serious beginner would like to know. Aptly titled, it's a great resource for the novice and experienced alike.

I almost fell in love with this one and wasn't surprised when I received my own copy as a mother's day gift.

I will recommend this book to anyone who has interest and asks for a reference. I also have thanked the author for this one and yet to hear back from him. In the meantime, I am working on the advice I received in the book about practice, experimentation and the sincerity of effort.

"The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have." --Ari Berstein

Friday, April 10, 2009

Stranger than Fiction

What was I thinking when I got this DVD to watch! That pretty much sums up the entire movie.

Movie begins with the narration of life of Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) an IRS employee in minute details, such as when he gets up, how he brushes his teeth etc etc. And you wait this to stop as the movie progresses, right? But no, it gets a weird turn. Harold starts to listen to everything. Wait, what?! Exactly! I wasn't sure what's happening, either.

Anyways, there is an author (Emma Thompson) who is writing a story that resembles in every detail to Harold's real life and she also happens to be the mystery narrator. How does she narrate it because she doesn't know him, not clear! But one thing is clear that she kills the main character in all her best-sellers.

With the help of a college professor, Jules Hilbert (Dustin Hoffman) Harold finds her and decides to meet her to request a change in the end. That seems hard for her to do as this is her masterpiece. Professor seconds her and suggests Harold to die rather than her changing the end of the story. Is this some kind of joke or what?

I shall rather stop here. You decide if you'd like to watch it! I wish I hadn't.

Oil Painting for the Serious Beginner

I had been thinking about taking some formal painting lessons lately. To warm up, I checked out a few painting books from the local library. They seemed well-written but could not hold my interest for long as they seem to cover a vast topic in just one book, an attempt that leaves many key issued unattended. Such as covering all media reflects author's wide knowledge-base but was of little practical use for me as I am seeking help in getting the fundamentals of oil painting in terms of the role of value and composition. I am a beginner who seem to have a grasp on drawing the correct proportions effortlessly. So, I read and returned a few without having much impact until I found this one by Steve Allrich.

It has pretty much everything I was looking for. And I am not even finished with the first chapter! I am sure this book would be an excellent resource for all my art-questions.

Here is his blog.

And here is the Artist's Statement from his blog.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Frida Kahlo Mexican Painter

I am stunned by the work of Frida everytime I look at it. She is one of the artists who is a genuine representative of painting. She is so honest with her work that it hurts. Had she been a writer her writing would make you rethink about the autobiographies that you've ever read. The heart-wrenching bare realities told with tearing truth would have made you shocked and sad at the same time. Such is her style. I have never seen an artist's work so flawless, intriguing and compelling as of her.

She was born and raised in Mexico and was way ahead of her times in everything she pursued. No wonder her work seem so contemporary that you'd wonder why she is placed in history! She mostly painted her own portraits and every single one has a story to tell.

Frida's Biography

Here is the biography of her which is not from this book but good to know just in case you'd like to know.
Frida's life began and ended in Mexico City, in her home known as the Blue House. She gave her birthdate as July 7, 1910, but her birth certificate shows July 6, 1907. Frida claimed this so because she wanted the year of her birth to cooincide with the year of the outbreak of the Mexican revolution, because her life would begin with the birth of modern Mexico.

At age 6, Frida was stricken with polio, which caused her right leg to appear much thinner than the other. It was to remain that way permanently.

When Frida entered high school she was a tomboy full of mischief who became the ringleader of a rebellious group of mainly boys that continually caused trouble in the National Preparatory School. This group pulled many pranks, mainly on professors. It was also in the National Preparitory School that Frida first came in contact with her future husband, the famous Mexican muralist, Diego Rivera. He was commissioned to paint a mural in the school's auditorium.

On September 17, 1925, when she was 18, she was riding a bus in Mexico City when it was struck by a trolley car. A metal handrail pierced her abdomen, exiting through her vagina. Her spinal column was broken in three places. Her collarbone, some ribs, and her pelvis were broken, and her right leg was fractured in 11 places. Her foot was dislocated and crushed. No one thought she would live, much less walk again, but, after a month in the hospital, she went home. Encased for months in plaster body casts, Kahlo began to paint lying in bed with a special easel rigged up by her mother. With the help of a mirror, Kahlo began painting her trademark subject: herself. Of the 150 or so of her works that have survived, most are self-portraits. As she later said, "I paint myself because I am so often alone, because I am the subject I know best."

Although Frida's recovery was miraculous (she regained her ability to walk), she did have relapses of tremendous pain and fatigue all throughout her life, which caused her to be hospitalized for long periods of time, bedridden at times, and also caused her to undergo numerous operations. She once joked that she held the record for the most operations. Frida underwent about 30 in her lifetime. She also turned to alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes to ease the pain of her physical suffering.

Once she was out and about after her accident, a close friend introduced Frida to the artistic crowd of Mexico, which included Tina Modotti (well known photographer, actress, and communist) and Diego Rivera.

Diego and Frida were married on August 21,1929. Their marriage consisted of love, affairs with other people, creative bonding, hate, and a divorce in 1940 that lasted only for one year. Their marriage has been called the union between an elephant and a dove, because Diego was huge and very fat, and Frida was small (a little over 5 feet) and slender.

Despite Diego's affairs with other women (one was with Frida's sister), he helped in many ways. Kahlo shared Rivera's faith in communism and passionate interest in the indigenous cultures of Mexico. Rivera encouraged Kahlo in her work, extolling her as authentic, unspoiled and primitive, and stressing the Indian aspects of her heritage. During this period "Mexicanidad," the fervent embrace of pre-Hispanic Mexican history and culture, gave great currency to the notion of native roots. At the same time, being seen as a primitive provided an avenue for recognition for a few women artists. Kahlo, who had Indian blood on her mother’s side, was of Hungarian-Jewish descent on her father’s side. Although initially a self-taught painter, she was, through her relationship with Rivera, soon travelling in the most sophisticated artistic circles. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine that anyone who shared Rivera’s life could have remained artistically naive.

Presumably because it generated respect and imparted credibility in the art world, Kahlo encouraged the myth of her own primitiveness—in part by adopting traditional Mexican dress—and it stayed with her throughout her career.

During her lifetime, Kahlo did not enjoy the same level of recognition as the great artists of Mexican muralism, Rivera, Orozco, and Siqueiros. However, over the last two decades that has changed and today Kahlo’ s idiosyncratic, intensely autobiographical work is critically and monetarily as prized as that of her male peers, sometimes more so.

Her paintings, rooted in 19th-century Mexican portraiture, ingeniously incorporated elements of Mexican pop culture and pre-Columbian primitivism that, in the 1930s, had never been done before. Usually small, intimate paintings that contrasted with the grand mural tradition of her time, her work was often done on sheet metal rather than canvas, in the style of Mexican street artists who painted retablos, or small votive paintings that offer thanks to the Virgin Mary or a saint for a miraculous deliverance from misfortune.

Frida let out all of her emotions on a canvas. She painted her anger and hurt over her stormy marriage, the painful miscarriages, and the physical suffering she underwent because of the accident.

Kahlo who was so proud of her luxurious facial hair that she painted it right on to her self-portraits.

Frida, despite all of the hurt in her life, was an outgoing person whose vocabulary was filled with 4 letter words. She loved to drink tequila and sing off color songs to guests at the crazy parties she hosted. She loved telling dirty jokes and shocking everyone around her. Frida amazed people with her beauty and everywhere she went, people stopped in their tracks to stare in wonder.

Rivera, a dedicated Trotskyite, used his clout to petition the Mexican government to give Trotsky and his wife asylum after they were forced out of Norway. Rivera and Kahlo put up the Trotskys in Kahlo's family home. (She painted a self-portrait dedicated to him that now hangs in Washington's NMWA.)

After Trotsky was assassinated, however, Kahlo turned on her old lover with a vengeance, claiming in an interview that Trotsky was a coward and had stolen from her while he stayed in her house (which wasn't true). "He irritated me from the time that he arrived with his pretentiousness, his pedantry because he thought he was a big deal," she said. . Frida was later arrested for his murder, but was let go. Diego was also under suspicion for the murder, but he was let go as well. Several years after Trotsky's death, Diego and Frida enjoyed telling people that they invited him to Mexico just to get him killed, but no one knows if they were telling the truth or not. They were fantastic story tellers.

The fact is that Kahlo turned on Trotsky because she had become a devout Stalinist. Kahlo continued to worship Stalin even after it had become common knowledge that he was responsible for the deaths of millions of people, not to mention Trotsky himself. One of Kahlo's last paintings was called Stalin and I, and her diary is full of her adolescent scribblings ("Viva Stalin!") about Stalin and her desire to meet him.

All over the world, people loved Frida. When she went to France, she was wined and dined by Picasso, and appeared on the cover of the French Vogue. In America, people loved her beauty and her work. In Mexico, her homeland, she had many great admirers.

Frida only had one exhibition in Mexico and it was in the spring of 1953. Frida's health was very bad at this time and doctors told her not to attend. Minutes after guests were allowed into the gallery, sirens were heard outside. The crowd went crazy, for outside there was an ambulance accompanied by a motorcycle escort. Frida Kahlo was being carried from it into her exhibition on a hospital stretcher! The photographers and reporters were shocked. She was placed in her bed in the middle of the gallery. The mob of people went to greet her. Frida told jokes, entertained the crowd, sang, and drank the whole evening. The exhibition was an amazing success.

During the same year as her exhibition, Frida had to have her right leg amputated below the knee due to a gangrene infection. This caused her to become deeply depressed and suicidal.

She attempted suicide a couple of times. In 1954, suffering from pneumonia, Kahlo went to a Communist march to protest the U.S. subversion of the left-wing Guatemalan government. Four days later, she died in what may or may not have been a suicide. No official autopsy was done.

Her last words in her diary read "I hope the leaving is joyful and I hope never to return".

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Visitor Stats

I look at the closed poll of the visitors' stats in terms of their inclination towards arts and here are the results -

Painters 15%
Knitters 69%
Crafters 38%

It's not adding to a 100% because some people fall into more than one category. Interesting stats indeed. I am so glad I have some very talented people visiting my blog and making their presence felt by their kind comments and tips.

Painter's Block

I am not sure if something like this even exists but that's exactly what I am encountering for the Spring II.

Spring II started off without much in mind with a vine of green leaves. Then two pink flowers appeared from nowhere sometime later. And that's when the block resisted the progress.

I am not sure if I want to add more of the small pinks, or a round crimson red poppy or a few buds of sunflower. Or all of the above amid a cluster of cerulean, sap greenish leaves.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Hmmmm... the question I am asking is this. Can a director save a movie if the screenplay is well, not great? Answer is,you guessed it, no!

That's what happened to Mongol. Looks like a well researched project. And thus there is no real build-up of the story, just told as is. Characters seem very two-dimensional and it almost has an anti-climax.

I have to admit that cinematography is superb. The beautiful landscapes are well captured. But for whatever reason overall a 'avoid it' movie.

Rating: 3/5


I am almost embarrassed to report that I watched this movie. Gosh! If you are older than 19, please do not watch this.

Full of icky jokes, total waste of time.

Hysterical Blindness

All I have to say is to avoid this movie. There was not a single thing that I could relate to :-( And the movie has sad end, double don't!

The movie is about women and their loneliness. Deb (Uma Thurman) is single and desperate. Her idea of a marriage and starting a family is too almost too good to be true. Then there is her mom who finally finds someone. But that special someone meets an unfortunate fate. And then finally there is Deb's friend, who is trying to have fun by hanging in bars. Bad idea for a mother of a 10 year old.

Rating: 2/5

PS: It's directed by Mira Nair.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

March is the national month for

I tried to find a comprehensive official list for what each month signifies but haven't found one yet. Here is something I stumbled upon on the web, not sure how authentic this is. Anyways, sharing as is -

March is the national month for several important causes.

Arts Awareness
Asian American Awareness
Crochet (Is it?)
Ethics Awareness
Hemophilia Awareness
International Listening Awareness
Mental Handicap Awareness
Mental Retardation Awareness
National Caffeine Awareness
National Crafts (Thanks to Joann's newsletter)
National Colorectal Cancer Awareness
National MS Education
National Peanut
Pollution Awareness
Nutrition Awareness
Parenting Awareness
Poison Awareness
Women's History (My local library told me first)

Counting in the Garden

I have this awesome book again but for a short period of time. I loved it the first time I saw and have fallen for it since. Rightly said in the introduction of the book that it's a feast for the eyes while learning a bit of counting. I agree with the first part but kind of disagree on the learning part.

It's a painting book through and through and so beautiful that it gets the reader distracted from the counting. The creatures to be counted are so colorful (imagine a dotted red turtle hiding in the bushes full of red flowers) that they are hard to distinguish for a toddler.

But for the mommy, the book is a godsend. I can go through the book over and over again without tiring myself.

A must have for any artsy mom or parent.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Street Corner in the Early Morning

Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 36" x 24"
Category: Landscape reproduced
Brushes: Filbert 12, Flat 10, and White Sable 6
Other: Colormixing knife

I loved the various stages of transitions this very ambitious project has gone through. As you could tell from the earlier blog-entries, how procrastinated this self assignment got. Finally, when I finished it over the weekend, I could not stop wondering what kept me from this work for such long time.

Little history

I was cooking up this idea of paining a suburban street or a street corner for a long time when one day, some five years back I saw a picture of a narrow street of Rome in a book that I borrowed from Sunnyvale library. I instantly fell in love with that worn-out yet bright street houses. And I knew that I am going to reproduce that kind of scene in a sketch or a painting. Not immediately though because my graduate studies were too grueling to let me take any other assignment into hand.

Then after almost a year or so, I received a gift of a painting class from my HD. I thank him for this thoughtful class! In the class, I had to choose a subject for the painting and for me that was obvious! I showed my subject to my arts instructor and she agreed that it would make a great oil-painting project although she cautioned me that it would be a challenging assignment nonetheless so I picked a small canvas of the size of 8 x 10. For some reason, the paining didn't move beyond the initial drawing part. The canvas was lying around for almost a couple of years and later I painted some tulips on that canvas.

I nearly forgot about it until later that year I got a bigger canvas with no particular subject in mind. I started the search after running out of ideas for the suitable object to paint. I didn't want to pick anything too grand to handle for I was expecting our baby in the coming months.

There was nothing much appealing after tulips, hibiscus, and black-eyed-susans(yet to paint). So I hesitantly accepted a 'street view' (that would later become 'Street Corner in the Early Morning') suggested by HD. Hesitant because I wasn't too sure if I could create the color-composition this required. Plus, I had never made any architectural painting before. But there was something about it that I decided to work on it.

I drew the picture and started off but let's just say, life came in the way and I couldn't work on it. It was September of 2006. I revisited this a couple of more times since then but I finally tofinish it, I had to push everything aside. And then painted it last week. And to my surprise, I finished it in less than three days!

I jumped with joy when I looked at the finished piece. I finally, finished it. Yes, I did! I am just so happy that I don't really know what to do. I have one more project at hand but I want to let this happy-feeling sink in first.

Color Notes

I used most of the following hues for Spring
Reds using Cadmium Barium Red Light with yellow
Greens Sap was the only green in my box and played with it mixing in Burnt Umber & some white
Blues Pthalo Blue and French Ultramarine in different intensities


Similar work could be repeated for a different time of the day

Books References

Color Mixing Bible by Ian Sidaway

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Spring is almost here and tis the reason enough to bring it on my canvas. So here goes -

Size: 20 x 16
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Brushes: Filbert 12, Flat 10, and White Sable 6

I chose to stick to neutral tones of the cheery colors of the flowers for I wasn't sure how the color blast will affect the final outcome. And as the painting is finished I can safely say that I can be bolder next time I work on a similar theme.

At this time, I am just glad to be able to come back to painting and having to actually finish something with paint & brush! And in the retrospection, it wasn't so hard after all for this work that derived inspiration from Kim Parker's Garden of Love. All you need is the right theme, project depth and support of your toddler :-) There was a lot of pink (see notes below) that I planned to use and thankfully, it fitted into this theme very well. Some yellow-green, however didn't mesh well and I toned it down with pale sap green. I also made multiple shades of peach, mauve and crimson to satisfactory levels. I missed cerulean for some reason. I didn't know it's hard to make but then again, there is some substitute in the palette somewhere.

Color Notes

I used most of the following hues for Spring
Pinks using Alizarin Crimson in different tints by Titanium White
Mauves with Alizarin Crimson with Pthalo Blue and white
Greens Sap was the only green in my box and played with it mixing in Cadmium Yellow & white
Blues Pthalo Blue


Similar work could be repeated for a bigger canvas with some intense colors or to coordinate with the room and furniture.

I will look at the piece for the rest of the time and try to figure out what could have been done differently. I know there is a lot to be desired but hey, I need to give myself credit for stealing some me time when there was none!

Books References

Color Mixing Bible by Ian Sidaway

Unaddressed Questions

For the flowers does Permanent Rose give any better output? I also noticed a Magenta on the shelves, was wondering if that could be a choice instead of Perm Rose for Cherry Blossoms, my future project?

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Namesake

I loved the movie, mostly because there is so much that I can relate to. The end, however, is little sad. And I just don't like sad endings so, there.

The screenplay is amazing, the actors should not have had any trouble playing their characters.

Vogue International Winter Issue

I could not believe my local library is going to have this on their shelf. This is the first issue here.

The focus is on super-chunky yarns. I am relieved my recently knitted pieces are still in! *phew* But on the flop-side, I won't be making any of this soon for two reasons I just finished a lot of chunky yarn, one and two, Winter is almost over!

I think everyone can enjoy little bit of eyecandy. So sharing some pics.

Now I sit and wait for the next issue.

Match Point

I decided to watch this movie 'cuz of Scarlett Johansson thinking this movie must be about some predictable romance. But, was I in for a big surprise! It was nowhere close to what I thought. You have been warned this review has a spoiler!

Chris (Jonathan Mayers) is a Tennis coach who appears to be a underachiever in everything in life until he meets Chloe (Mortimer). They discuss marriage, get engaged and things start falling to his lap, thanks to her rich dad. He offers him a job in his company and promises the opportunities to rise. Chris takes it all. (A bollywood actor wouldn't do it ever :-P) Okay then comes the twist. Welcome Nola (Johansson) who is the fiancée of Tom, Chloe's brother. She is a struggling actress and is trying hard to make a mark of her own. She lets Chris know about her dysfunctional family and also accepts the offer of moral support when she is out for a big audition. The audition bombs but they seem to develop a bond.

Then things change. Chris gets married to Chloe and Tom dumps Nola for someone. And after a while Nola and Chris bump into each other. And then their romance starts. Chloe has a doubt that something is not quite right about her husband but she isn't sure. She is rather depressed why she couldn't get pregnant. In the meantime Nola gets pregnant with Chris's child.

What happens next is rather unexpected. I know, I said spoiler but I am not going to reveal the end :-)

I loved the movie. Excellent screenplay, sensible dialogs and a fitting cast.

Rating: 4.5/5

Monday, March 9, 2009

Blue & White Sweater - II

A picture is worth a thousand words. So here are some from my recent project.

This is the swatch from Vogue Stitchionary that I thought could become a point of start for a two-colored sweater

Or may be this one

So I tried both combinations in the colors I had
but neither seemed promising!

So, I decided to alter the approach altogether and considered the following for a possible restart point.
It has more than 4 colors but I modified it to only 2 for my project. And the result was quite neat!

I combined it with seed stitch
But it looked kinda rusty. But I didn't want to go back to stockinette or texture. That made me gravitate towards garter. Hmmmm....let me try it, I thought. And here is the final result!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Upcoming Project - Something Green

I am kind of unsure on what to pick for my next project. Initially I wanted a cardi, then a vest, and now I think I'd sit happily with just a plain pullover. One thing was clear right from the beginning that it has to have something to do with leaf, lace, or bud pattern. And that made me gravitate more towards the cardigan. May be a bolero, or cropped version of a longer cardi,who knows.

And now I am torn between saving or letting go of this yarn for its color. This love hate began recently. Springy, bright, cheery one day and ugh, kiddy, too-bright the other! I am not sure where to begin with!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Blue & White Sweater

I am glad I finished this sweater. I can't believe I did this despite the super-busy week!

Anyhoo.... I can't wait to go out to show this one off. And this time I didn't take any pics. No reason, really. So I will model for it and post pics.

"What art offers is space - a certain breathing room for the spirit." --John Updike

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Color Wheel

I got my very first color wheel. It's very basic and let's say, not what I was really looking for :-( So, I guess, I will read it a little bit before I get an improved one. It has the prim-colors, tint-tone-shade info and compliments. Not sure what will I do with this redundant information anyway.

Gracie, Billy Madison and The Gambler

Gracie, Billy Madison and The Gambler - what do all three have in common?

They are all those movies we watched over the last week. What a variety pack, I say!
Gracie is a football movie, Billy is silly and Gambler is, well, about gambling.

Rating: 3/5, 3/5, and 2.5/5

Monday, February 23, 2009

Vests Galore

I will post the little stories behind these vests, but enjoy the visuals till then -

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Express

Based on the true story of Ernie Davis (Rob Brown), this movie actually hits an unexpected end.

The story is set in the 40s & 50s. The super-talented football player recognizes his talent at a very early age mostly due to the hard decisions he's forced to make. He makes his mark through the local winnings. He gets the attention of coach Ben Schwartzwalder (Dennis Quaid) which brings the turning point to his life. Coach helps him to get admission in Syracuse University where he is well received albeit gradually and after a few more wins.

After some very demading games he finally gets chosen for the NFL. This is where the end begins. Spoiler alert - stop reading if you want to watch the movie.

Movie has hints about the racial lines - how deep or dark those were then. And to a moment it seems as if he's going to leave Football and join NAACP but that's not what happens. What happens is, Leukemia. At 23. And that takes Ernie away right before he's set to hit the pinnacle.

As a movie, it was nicely done. Some twists and turns and great momentum. Only thing that I didn't like was the sad ending. But what can you do? Movie imitated the life, however sad that was.

Star rating: 3/5

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Calling

I just heard my calling and it's name is Patty Baker! She is just so talented that I cannot take my eyes off of her work. Stunningly beautiful pieces and lovely presentation. I will have to write to her to get her blessings for my next arts project.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Rosemary Petal - Pattern & Chart

Pattern for the Lavender Pullover (Rosemary Petal)

Yarn: Lavender Jazz of Chunky USA
Swatch info: 12 x 16
Needle size: US 10 and US 11


1. Cast on 48 st using either methods(I used thumb method).
2. Make a ribbing of 2k2p for 13 rows
3. Divide the stitches in three parts. Prepare central panel for the cable pattern 1.
(See below for the chart)
4. Rest of the stitches are worked in stockinette st.
5. Knit even until the armhole shaping.
6. Shape the neck for a turtleneck.
7. Shape shoulder at 76th row and BO at 78th row.

Chart for Cable Pattern 1


1. Cast on 48 st (same as front)using either methods(I used thumb method).
2. Make a ribbing of 2k2p for 13 rows (as for the front)
3. Pick the central panel of 44 + 4 extra st.
4. Work Cable pattern 2 (Bubbles) on the central panel.
5. No shaping for the armholes needed in the back.
6. Shape shoulders at 76th row and BO at 78th.

Chart for cable Pattern 2

Sleeves (Make two)

1. CO 48 st.
2. Divide the st in three parts and worked cable patt 2 on central.
3. Decrease 1 st at either side every 4th row.
4. Make ribbing when desired 26 st reached.


1. Join shoulders and pick up st using tp needles
2. Work in rounds for 12 rows in 2k2p ribbing.
3. BO, break the yarn and darn it in neatly.


1. Sew front and back using invisible stitch.
2. Sew the inside of sleeves.
3. Darn any loose strands.

Some Pics for fun

This is the swatch of the 'Bubbles'

Here is my swatch

Swatch for Cable Pattern 1

And this is how it turned out on the sweater.


Just to make sure there are no copyright issues with the patterns I adopted for this sweater let me report the sources for both cables. These are taken from "Vogue Knitting Stitchionary, Volumes 2".

If you are interested my review is available at

Here are other details on the project with more pictures.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Rosemary Petal

Yes, that's what I call this pullover. I have to pinch myself and remind that it's over. It's actually done. I had so many retakes on this project that I am kind of exhausted (hand then to machine, mistake in pattern, again back to machine, finally landing on needles). And so very glad to get it done, finally!

I kept a day-by-day picture record of the project. When you see the pics, you'd know what I mean.

Day 1

Day 2
I know! It was quite a progress in the second day. And not to mention the coziness the handknitting had brought to the piece.

Day 3
I had finished the front and started the back.

Day 4
The back is nearly complete.

Day 5

I worked on the sleeves. The initial idea was to make the sleeves upside down because I started to have the feeling that I will run short of yarn if I stick to initially planned long sleeves. So I started sleeves using circular needles with an estimate of 66 st. It was very obvious that this count was way more than what I could handle, secondly, I didn't really enjoy knitting in circle for the sleeves. So, here I was, unraveled the sleeves entirely and redid it using sp needle.

Day 6
Okay, by now I had serious doubts about the remaining skeins and I chose to make the neck first and use the leftover for the sleeves. I was sincerely hoping for some sleeves!

Day 7

The sleeves are worked and I kept thinking to myself, when would I know to stop to start the ribbing. Guess what, I managed to make a decent 3/4 sleeve and correct amount of ribbing before exhausting all of the yarn.

Day 8

No work - I had a bad case of upset stomach.

Day 9

I joined all the parts together. Yum yum! My first formal sweater is ready to wear!

Final Word

The best part about this sweater was the use of my statsh! It was there in the original brown bag since I bought it last year. I knew that 4 skeins are just not sufficient for my own pullover but finally I put my creative self to work and the result was a completed piece! I am just so proud of myself that I want to make another sweater for me! I am sure my HD would be little horrified at the idea but hey, he is the biggest fan of my work :-)