Wednesday, June 20, 2012

winter is a great time to visit ArtPlay

I didn't even realize that it has been so many days since I last posted on my blog. I think I need  a blog schedule and then stick to it. But then I have been doing many things on the side. June has been a very happening month for me. My birthday comes in June YAY..and so does winter. And with winter comes the Pandora of allergies. Anyhow between allergies, steroids and endless supplies of chai and coffee I managed to attend an information session at ArtPlay here in Melbourne. The information session was meant for artists/teachers interested in conducting workshops at ArtPlay. The age group of the children attending these workshops is upto13 years age group I feel quite comfortable with. I loved teaching middle school, and most kids in middle school are 11-13 years old.
So right now I am finalizing my workshop proposals for submission. If my ideas get approval from the selection committee..then next term I will conducting workshops at one of my most favourite places in Melbourne :) 
ArtPlay is a place where children and families come together and indulge in a little bit of art, drama, music and creativity in a very supportive environment. It is highly accessible by public transport (just a few meters walk from Flinder street station).The center has a very nice building for all kinds of indoor activities, and there's also a  play area which is open for public. I was there just last month on a play date with my son and my cousin's boys. 
I remember the first time I walked past the ArtPlay center was in 2009. It was our first month in Australia, and our trip to Melbourne city. My hubby and I were walking along Yarra river and I spotted some metal sheets on the path with intricate etchings on them..those etched plates lead me to ArtPlay building. I stood in front of the red bricked building, intrigued and wanting to know what was inside. Then last year I met an incredible artist who was attending university with me. Having conducted two successful workshops herself at ArtPlay, she told me to apply to artplay for art workshops. But I was too busy with assignments and teaching placements. This year it's a different story. So here I am..tweaking my ideas and penning them down for submission. I leave you with this image of the ArtPlay building. Go visit it at your earliest. Their new programme schedule is out and you can access it here

Sunday, May 27, 2012

I sketch when I can..

On my weekly outs and abouts I do two things to satisfy the artist in me..I either indulge in some sketching or take photographs. I find sketching much more satisfying and therapeutic. I fancy becoming an urban sketcher (though I am using the term rather loosely here).
As the winter is almost upon us is going to be a bit challenging to be able to sketch en plein air. But as long as we have cafe..we can sketch our coffee cup :)
These sketches that I am sharing today..I made these sketches while I was waiting for train/bus/tram, or during a lecture. I prefer to draw my lecturers and fellow students much more than taking notes, you see..every single bit of information is available online on university it's not like I am doing myself any disservice or anything like that. So these are two sketches from a lecture on assessment and learning..

our lecturer..I have no idea why I was drawing feet

my tiny moleskin notebook that I carry in my bag
a beautiful girl in my class, I loved her hair and 80s inspired cardi
another student in a hoody
at absolutely most favourite place to sketch
taking my son with me to Ikea meant I got to draw some toys too

One of my most favourite places to do some sketching is Ikea..I get free coffee and I plenty of inspiration to draw people, furniture and food. As I go to Ikea almost every week to sketch, expect more images from my sketchbook.
What is your favourite place to sketch outdoors?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Connections, Identity, Roots, a work in progress

I started these drawings when I was teaching a unit on silhouette art last year. I was extremely inspired by Kara Walker's work and even blog about it here. I was unable to take my inspiration any further than playing around with certain elements that I wanted to incorporate in my work. Revisiting these works now have given me fresh new perspective on how I can possibly resolve these images and create one finished painting.
When I was making these images I was thinking about textiles, patterns and embroidery a lot. I was thinking about my mother. She was a brilliant embriodery artist. Back then I didn't even know there was an actual title for what she did. I just knew she could transformed any textile material into beautiful work of art. I was thinking of connections, identity, my roots. Things all diaspora artists often think about. Hopefully I will like my final painting.

Sketching in Art Gallery

Earlier last month I attended an exhibition of Matisse's drawings and prints at the gallery of modern art (GOMA) in Brisbane. I uploaded a few pictures from the show on my facebook page here. The whole exhibition was such an inviting and memorable experience for art lovers who love to draw and sketch more than anything else. I love drawing. Pencils, papers, charcoal..these are some of the most beautiful objects for me. Drawing itself is such a primitive and intensely absorbing experience for me. So imagine my delight when I found out that adjacent to the curated show, there was a whole drawing room set up inspired by artworks of the great Matisse. There was so happening in the drawing room. There were so many people sitting before different compositions set up throughout the space. There were still life set ups. Live drawing. Live music. And no I wasn't dreaming.
I spent around two hours in the drawing space. If I didn't have to catch a flight back to Melbourne that day, I would have stayed there the entire evening. Here are few sketches I made that day.

I think it is a bit too obvious that I really liked the big comfy chair. What can I say? It had strippes. And tons of character. I wanted to bring it home with me.
But to be really honest, drawing everyday items like coffee cups, fruits and vegies, chairs  etc. is very comforting. 
What do you like to draw?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Back to start

My brush with blogging began in 2006, when I was teaching different courses in drawing and painting at two local art colleges. I had way too many classes, all filled with students with little or no skills in drawing and painting. So I started a blog writing about my experiences as an art teacher (mostly good to be really honest). But that blog was short lived, as I moved overseas and started a family:)
Then back in 2010, I started this blog on wordpress, had so much fun publishing it..but then there was another major change in my life. I joined Melbourne University to pursue a post graduate qualification in teaching. My course was so intense that I had no time for anything or anyone. Blogging was the first thing to go.
I completed my teaching degree this year YAY :) and now things are more streamlined than last few years. I am back to art making, and joined Stephanie for a fab course Creative Courage. I am meeting all these super talented and inspiring women everyday. I am making friends. It's curing my loneliness. By connecting to all these fellow artists, I no longer find myself *alone* in my art world. A phenomenon that's far too common in the domestically bliss life of subrurbs..anyhow I am importing some of my favourite posts from my previous blog for the sake of some continuity. Will continue writing new blogs too:)

trains rides, lattes and cupcakes

I love training into city on a bright sunny day. I sometimes take my 4-year-old son with me too. We spend a few hours in the city, there is always something new happening at Federation Square. Plus the food and the coffee is so much better than anything we get in suburban Melbourne. Last week, I took my son to city during Easter break. We first went to the Cupcake Shop in Melbourne Central. Holding a cupcake is literally like holding happiness in your hands. My little one got a special Easter bunny cupcake, while I bought my favourite carrot cupcake. After that we spent sometime playing in NGV's Kids Corner, and then we were off to burn off the calories.
NGV keeps coming up with these interactive play areas and exhibitions for the young ones, which are very entertaining and educational. If you haven't been to the NGV's Kids Corner, I suggest you take your kids soon. Here are some pictures of the place for you.

when curve is a straight line

so few  days into my blog I am introducing this new category where I would like to share all those very straight and not so straight thoughts that come buzzing into my head when I am:
a) washing dishes
b) vacuuming around the house
c) mopping the floors
d) and doing other extremely important chores..
so here it number one:
What day is today? Friday..hmm..who cares what day it my days/tasks are different on each day of the week? Three seconds later my brain recalculates and tell me that tomorrow is a-Saturday..yippe :) phew, earlier I had wasted 5 important minutes thinking what to pack for hubby darling's lunch for tomorrow. I am doing a memory check now..recalling names of the days..Friday, Saturday, Sunday..all the while I am vacuuming my lounge's carpet..then it hits aha-moment!!
What is my most favourite day of the week/calendar/year/all time????
And the answer reaffirms my belief that I am a poster girl for a very deadly disease "procrastination" :'(..let me elaborate please..of all the 365 days in a year and roughly twelve thousand days of my existence on planet earth, my favourite day is:
close to this are ONE FINE DAY (extremely important if you indulge in day dreaming), Just Yesterday (very handy when playing I blame u-u did this game with your spouse), SOON (which is not a day but refers to one that is to come soon, duh!!)
But of course nothing beats the beautiful perfect day-ness of Someday :)
Oh someday..I will have it all!!
Someday..I will do it all..
Coming up some fab illustrations based on this post..
Soon, of course ;)

a bowl full of vegie goodness

I have been making this veggie soup this whole winter because it is just so easy to cook. It has a silky smooth texture and taste so divine. Soup is the mother of all comfort is not exaggeration although it may sound like it :) I invite my son to help me out by putting the veggies in the pot and then pour water over them, he gets super excited and the end result is him enjoying a bowl of vegetables with me :) How cool is that?? This is so far the easiest way to feed him some veggies. He even snacks on raw carrots as I prepare them for the soup. For this recipe I just boil a desiree potato, brown onion, few carrots, one parsnip and one turnip till they are tender..then I simply blend them for a smooth, silky texture. I usually drizzle it with olive oil before serving.
veggie soup
I enjoyed this soup with a slice of German dark bread smothered with creamy avocado, and topped with salad leaves and a slice of tomatoes.
veggie sandwich
My son shared this meal with me, complimenting "ooh its good mama" :'), and if you are a mother you know how important it is to include vegetables in our children's diet. It's a super veggie satisfying and delicious. I have a lovely friend who is vegetarian, I dedicate this post to her:)

chu chu chagga chagga big red car

so sang the Wiggles..this song is played so many times in my house (and in my head) that it only deemed inevitable that I would make some sort of illustration inspired by thats how I made a mono print of a red car for my son..I used Japanese rice paper as its very delicate and picks up all fine details..I used normal gouache colors to paint the image on an acrylic sheet..and while the paint was still wet, I transferred the image onto the paper by putting the paper directly on the image..I used back of a table spoon to transfer the image from acrylic sheet to the paper..this process is called buffing.
chu chu chaga chaga big red car

banana bread

Over the weekend I kept myself busy with different things, cooking was one of them. Made this banana bread for Sunday's evening tea aka Shaam ki Chai. I served the bread warm, fresh out of oven and my hubby and  son enjoyed it with a thick layer of butter on top.
banana bread with Chai
We are one of those families who always like to eat something with tea, so a fresh homebaked bread is always a winner. Plus the kitchen smells beautiful long after you have finished the bread :)

Flowers, chocolate cake, and a painting

sunshine, cake, flowers, a painting..oh love!!
Flowers..white, orange and chocolate cake..heaven was the place where I spent my weekend :)
I had a great time..had a stream of guests coming over for lunch and tea. So there was food, food, food and chai :). I started celebrating my weekend by making this small painting on Friday night. I had been painting this image in my head for quite sometime and since I had no commitments as such for Saturday morning..I took the opportunity to disappear in my studies to paint..while hubby dear kept our son entertained. We have this farmers' market on weekends, I only go there to buy fresh flowers for my this weekend hubby dear brought not one or two but three beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers..lucky me :) so right now I have flowers throughout the house :)
hmm..she clearly doesn't eat sweets.tsk tsk
On Sunday I had guests over for tea it at my place..and apart from other goodies I made a chocolate cake with went down very well, thankfully I was able to save up a slice to photograph it later :)
So have a look at these pictures, enjoy and let me know what kept you busy over the weekend?
Spread love and joy..
chocolate cake
she wants to live and dye green..

Donuts for breakfast, lunch and tea

For some strange reasons my son started asking for donuts since Monday. It is strange because we don't eat or keep donuts in our house. Not because we don't like fact me and my hubby love them so much that we can't exercise any control whatsoever. So, we were dealing with this temptation by living a donut free life :) Easier said than done, specially if you have a toddler at home. But somehow we have been so busy that a quick run to the market for a box of donuts just did not happen..therefore finally today AFTER 10 YEARS I decided to make donuts for my son..sigh!
Yes, you read it right..the last time I made a fresh batch of donuts was way back in 1999. I used to make them every Friday evening as a treat for my siblings, but then once I went to college and later started working full time..I had no time for making donuts and baking cakes etc.
Anyways, I am glad I still remember the recipe and was able to make my son so happy :) We went a little donut-crazy, and had them for breakfast, some at lunch and the rest we ate up at tea time with his father :)
I have a feeling that I will be making these on a regular basis now :)
Donuts for breakfast, lunch and tea..
My son arranged these donuts on our favourite plate :)
It was a beautiful experience for make something with my son which I used to make with my youngest sister ten years back..he had a great time playing with the dough I gave him..rolling it out and cutting out shapes using cookie cutters. Too bad I was too busy to take any pictures. This reminds me of a recent survey on IKEA's website..about children's play called Play Report. I don't find it surprising that kids love to cook and bake with parents more than any other play activity. I think it is the best opportunity to bond with your child. It gives them a sense of accomplishment, and the skills they learn over the years help them live an independent life.
So get cooking in the kitchen with your kids. If you are worried about the mess (I know I am), then keep the activity in the earlier part of the day so you can clean up before meals time :) Enjoy life, have a donut :)

decluttering your dreams

I had many dreams. Many of them are not relevant anymore...
I only hold onto the realistic dreams..the crazy dreams are gone...sigh!
But it is not bad at is rather more of a process of de cluttering and creating a more clear head space..for thoughts and ideas which are accessible/doable and thus prompt me into action rather than spending an infinite time weighing pros and cons, dos and donts etc.
I am happier than ever before, more clear about my goals, more action-oriented :)
De clutter your mind and hold onto the ideas that really matter to you. And then make the most of what you are left with.

new work

so as I keep mentioning my work is going into two parallel themes, the above images are all part of a series of drawings that I started doing earlier in June this year. I made a lot of images of burqa-clad women, then narrowed it down to contour drawings of female forms clad in chadder. I am still exploring this theme and beginning to understand its spiritual connotation rather than just looking at what it represents *socially*. I presented three drawings from this series in a group show in July.

Red teapot and cupcakes

I have this fascination with red glazed teapots, cups and plates. I bought a red teapot in Dubai along with a few red plates, and it is one my favourite things in my kitchen..I am looking for similar plates now but I haven't found the right color or glaze..sharing an illustration of my teapot from a series I did, and a few mono prints of cupcakes I have been doing to keep myself busy (and happy). I am one of those people who are seeking the ultimate secret of loosing weight without even trying..let me know if you have any tips. Meanwhile I have decided to switch from baking cupcakes to painting cupcakes ;) the latter last for longer, and the joy you feel is never followed by any guilt trip whatsoever :)
my red teapot..
I made this illustration using watercolors, the yellow dots show the happiness I associate with a pot full of tea ;)
red cupcake with big cherry on top
and look at that yummy cupcake :) I painted the image on an acrylic sheet using gouache paints, and printed this image of a Japanese rice paper. Here are some more prints:
sunshine in my cupcake
cupcakes party
and here is a detail of the cherry..
haapy red cherry at cupcakes party
I hope these prints and illustrations bring a smile to your face :)

to look at a thing of beauty..

little girl in snow
Look up a beautiful work of art today, google it..go to library and browse through the pages of an art book. How about a watercolor painting of flowers?? I promise will make your heart sing :)
One of the things that I love to do is browse through childrens' books..doesn't it make you happy? I know so many of my friends who are crazy about books and some have a huge collection of childrens' books (you know who you are!!) I am sharing an illustration I made..I love it :)

An inspiring workshop

A lot has happened since I last updated my blog. I finished my post-graduate diploma in teaching, travelled to three different cities (Canberra, Brisbane, Sydney), visited many art shows and museums, made new friends, and most importantly I finally enrolled in Stephanie's e-course Creative Courage. Stephanie started her workshops in September last year when I was buried up to neck with university assignments and teaching commitments. Thankfully I am able to participate in her April workshop.
Hardly a week into the workshop and I already see a change happening within myself. Great company of creative people do this to you..lift up your spirits, help you find your voice, your direction..and provides with plenty of inspiration and motivation.
I will share more about the workshop as it progresses.

Nothing is ugly

Nothing is Ugly.
No object, place, living being..nothing.
But "prejudices" and only "prejudices".
Prejudices that lead us to war, make us judgemental, make us see things as ugly..which they are not really.

My ever-moving studio space

Creative people often need a place where they can create their projects away from the hassle bustle that is life. Some art forms require a specific, state of the art setup (like ceramics, photography, printmaking etc.), while others simply need a few tables, chairs, and plenty of light.
I live in a three bedroom old-fashioned house. We are renting and there is not much we can do with the house. If I had my way I would have painted the walls, put in new kitchen, ripped out old mismatched tiles etc. BUT the reality is that I can't do any of that and still have to make this house my home..I am still in the process of doing that in bits and pieces. So, out of three is our bedroom, one is my son's room, and the third and the largest one which was once a shared study-cum-studio space for me and my husband is now his home office.
When we initially moved into this house last year in April, I made the meals area my studio. All of my materials and canvases were conveniently jumbled up on each other on my dining table. That for me was the best space to continue to work because the meals area is adjacent to our lounge and kitchen, and as a stay-at-home mother and artist I thought I was so strategically placed between lounge (hub of my son's activities) and kitchen (hub of domestic activities). Unfortunately my husband thought otherwise, as he viewed my art materials as a "mess".
Eventually I moved into his study and immediately the level of my productivity went down..I went from doing one to two detailed studies a day to hardly any work done in a week's time. The reason was my son was too young and he wanted to play and stay in the lounge with all his toys and TV, and he didn't approve my "moving out". The only time I could concentrate on work was when my husband was home to take care of the little one. But even that arrangement didn't last for long as my husband needed a home office to deal with increasing number of clients (and friends). So the study-cum-studio became his home office and I ended up in my son's room. I got myself a table from Ikea, a few boxes to keep my nicknacks and an old chair from my bedroom which my husband painted in white for me. I love the fact that my table is next to a window from where I can see the two lemon trees in our front yard, have a good view of street, and basically enjoy some sunlight while having my morning cuppa :) I am slowly beginning to work there, even though it is a very small area but I am managing so far..lets hope I get to make a lot of art in this space of mine :)
my meals area first study of flowers in 6 years
sharing studio space with my hubby, and son :)
someone is having a great time
peek-a-boo, where are you mama?
I understand that not all artists have a dedicated studio space and they are still able to produce beautiful art works from their home. Stephanie Levy is one such artist who lives in Munich and creates beautiful collages. Recently Etsy did her interview and documented her studio space for their blog. What a treat for me, to be able to peek inside the studio of my favourite artist :) What I wasn't prepared for was the fact that Stephanie (who is also a dedicated mother, blogger, and accomplished baker and cook) doesn't have a dedicated studio space, in fact her lounge is her studio..which she shares with her girls and hubby. Have a look at her studio and tell me if it inspires you :)
I know that I can't pursue printmaking from home unless I have a press and other essentials, but it doesn't mean I stop being an artist..thus the need to pick up the brush and paint. As long as I keep working..I am happy.

Hidden Treasure of Waxed Alphabets and Numbers

I held this painting session with my child earlier today. He loves "discovering" alphabets, shapes, numbers etc. All day long I keep hearing things like "look mama a W", "a beeg M", "look a 15", "look, look, I found a number 2".....
So that gave me an idea..I drew numbers, alphabets and different shapes with a white crayon a white paper, and gave those papers to my son to paint over them with watercolors. As he kept painting, shapes and alphabets kept appearing on the paper. He wasn't prepared for this as I hadn't explained it to as he proceeded to paint a "bird", he was surprised to see a number 2 emerging on paper.."look mama my birdie number 2" (my birdie is a number 2). As soon as he realized there was this treasure of numbers and alphabets hiding on the page, he started painting all over the page to uncover everything :)
It was a fun fun exercise for me and him :)
two circles in water
painting a birdie's wings
"look look a big W and 2"
Yay!! I have found it, I found it :)