Friday, 10 April 2020

Lock down, And A Flashback!!

Warning: Lengthy post

I have not posted anything very personal in this blog,  except for sharing snippets of my creative journey.  But the times are absolutely  against the norm,  so a post like this seems to suit the overall vibe right now. 
It is day 17 of the mandated nationwide lock down in India, to combat the spread of the Corona virus, and the mood on social media is decidedly not upbeat.  Though there are some spectacular creations being shared by the artist community worldwide, be it dance,  music, sculpting,  painting,  pottery and others. Hard to feel positive  when there are so many losing livelihoods,  lives and loved ones all over.  

For me personally,  with a few art projects to complete,  a 6 month old adorable niece to cuddle,  and time enough to bond with my sister,parents and daughter,  an e-reader with access to any number of books, and in contact with all friends and family,  it is tough to complain,  except for the fact that my husband got stuck in Chennai,  though he too is home.  

This is one of the projects that I am working on,  and at times I have a tiny assistant to keep me company.  

It is not easy to work while caring for a baby,  but this takes me back about 11 years ago,  when I had a toddler and was confined to a room,  at a sort of crossroads that led me here and now.  

The biggest reason  why the lock down now feels easier is that I am in a healthier condition than I was all those years ago.  True,  I was a decade younger,   but physically, I was a wreck.  And while I have told a handful of people what I went through,  there has not been a total disclosure  about it. 

I had a very active toddler,  who took only catnaps that barely lasted a half hour.  The silver lining was that she was a very happy child who barely cried or made a fuss.  We were in Gurgaon,  and I was not used to the cold weather.  Having been misdiagnosed as having PCOS,  the medicines that I had taken were causing many a side effect.  Substantial  weight gain and painful periods were just the beginning.  

The winter months were excruciating, with water retention causing all my joints to swell. Some mornings, it took a while to get out of bed,  because my knees would not bend. So I had to roll to the edge,  lower a leg,  then lift up holding on to the headboard. The fact that even the soles of my feet would be puffed up,   did not make that exercise  very enjoyable!  

With a busy baby,  just prone to mischief,   we opted to spend the majority  of the time on weekdays confined to a single room with the TV,  a laptop,   a shelf full of books and her toys.  We spent our time watching  cartoons, playing memory games,   singing rhymes,   introducing her to alphabets,   numbers,  vegetables, colours,  and animals.  It was a proud moment for me when she recognized  'brinjal' from her book at the vegetable shop.!

The relatively sunnier days,   we took a walk to the park,  where she could expend her energy.  A couple of instances which started my grey hairs too - where she spotted dog poop and a big ant hole on separate occasions,  split seconds before I could warn her,   she would be squatting down with her nose an inch from it. Extracting her from her precarious position with knees that wouldn't  bend well,   and slow reflexes  were the start of a few of my nightmares.  

I started blogging at this time,  putting up recipes and exploring my love for art anew.  It was fun letting my baby mess with her own crayons,  but she preferred to use the wall instead of the paper to get creative.  

Her naughty smile!  Mischief at all times!!  

Once she started playschool, the questions about my going back to work started up from all quarters.  But with no other caregivers available, I was not too keen to entrust my child to hired help.  And surprisingly, a part time job that I could do from home opened up.  I was all set to sign on,  when I had a near breakdown for almost no reason.  
After some intense soul-searching, I let my husband  know that I wanted to be creatively engaged and not go back into a field that I really  did not care for.  Though being someone who is about numbers and being practical,  he had my back and supported my dreams from day 1!

I joined a few workshops for mixed media art and followed the blogs of people who were earning their livelihoods with art.  I practiced techniques,  styles and explored various mediums.  

We shifted to Delhi,  and then a few months later to Chennai.  The warm weather  was better for my mobility,  and I joined a course in jewelry making and simultaneously, discovered  Cold Porcelain!  

A few months later,  I started a page named 'Swardaa' in 2011. I started selling both handmade jewelry  and Cold porcelain  miniatures.  Also started this website 'Swardaa'

Since then,  I have been on a learning curve,  teaching art to children,  sharing all that I knew,   seeing creativity through the freshest and boldest perspectives! (children are fearless!!) I have had a few articles published in online magazines about my inspirations and artistic process.  Had the great chance to take part in a an art collaboration with 300 mixed media artists worldwide,  named 'Into the Forest'. 

Right now into a second lockdown,  this time not due to personal limitations,  but for fighting to slow down a pandemic,  I feel calm.  Last time with severe limitations and at an unsettled stage, I did find the best way forward for me,  took care of my child without mishaps,  and founded a business.  

Now,  more than a decade older, and have lost about 1/3rd of my earlier size.  Healthier than I have been in ages,  business albeit down but not out,  surrounded by family, doing our part of staying at home,  is personally,  not a huge deal.  The past years have instilled a sense of tolerance to biding time while things out of our control sort itself. And an intolerance  for people who never even lend a helping hand,  but are ready with judgements and criticisms - like body shaming,  making fun of my little hobby,  etc. 

Staying home means staying safer and in turn, keeping others safe as well.  There can be freedom even in confinement,  if it is spent well and results in personal betterment and sorting out life on our terms.  It was great that my husband gave his wholehearted support,  but it took me realising that I wanted to do what I loved,  and not live for others,  that got the ball rolling.  And that came while living through a challenging phase.  

Prayers and thanks to the support personnel all over the world, who have the toughest jobs in these trying times.  Hoping for a safer and better tomorrow. 

Friday, 22 February 2019

First Post Of 2019 !


February is nearly over, and here I am with the first post of this year! It has been productive this far, in terms of learning a style of art that I wanted to, for so long. The traditional style of Kerala mural art.

Here is a sneak peek at the one I am doing. The experience has been so rewarding! Being in the company of people who share similar passions, who speak the same language, understand the daily struggles ...

The greatest blessing was that we got someone so gifted in the art to instruct us.. especially since it was exactly what I had been seeking for more than 2 decades!!

The rest of my work as been a bit slow, but with a few orders already, I will have that side of things ticking along too..

I am at that stage where shutting down self-doubt has become a bit easy..of course it must have to do with being on this path for more than 7 years, and knowing that this is where I want to be.

So will be soon posting the projects I have completed so far.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Birds Of A Feather

It has been five months nearly, since my last post. As I was nearing my birthday in September, there was this feeling of ennui, and an for renewal.
I decided to join some sewing classes, though it is really not a joyous process where I am concerned! But the people I met there became good friends, on a similar creative bend, and their company was a great joy.

I also made a  time share arrangement of the space to conduct my art workshops. And again,it became the ground to meet some really interesting folk.

It has been but a few weeks, and it feels like I have known some of them forever. It has been a chain reaction of sorts, and has led into an even bigger opportunity, to learn something that has been my dream for a couple of decades now!
What THAT is,I will reveal by and by. Here too, meeting people with similar tastes and passion for art, discussions and sharing experiences, it has been a truly amazing couple of weeks ...

Meanwhile, for my workshop, I started with Warli art, and plan to introduce other folk art like Madhubani, Kalamkari - mainly the motifs on that, since the original style cannot be done through workshops, and different mediums like charcoal art .

A few pics of theWorkshop

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Vacation, Settling in And Back to Work

The Annual vacation starting a few days before April, was just a hectic time of preparation and making sure that schedules and lists were made in advance for - sightseeing in Doha,  spending quality time with my brother and family,  especially my cute nephew, visiting old friends and landmarks and also shopping !

Back in Doha, the place of my oldest memories, before coming to India for schooling,  where we spent all vacations,  started my first job,  and worked for a few years -even after marriage.  This was the longest I had not been to Doha - nearly a decade!!

It was astonishing to see the progress,  the huge number of sky scrapers dotting the horizon,  the Corniche-changed,  yet the same,  the old Sheraton made diminutive by it's towering neighbours and every single road,  and by lane,  just filled with vehicles.

It was great to see the Heritage village and the work that is going into preserving and documenting the bygone era.  On the other hand, the huge advancement in infrastructure and rapid changes on  the landscape including demolition of old institutions like the Popeye restaurant,  the Amani shop, Sana,  the New World Center,  just made us feel like we were visiting a new place,  and not one we had built memories over three decades!

A few pics from our sightseeing.  

Revisiting the sights,  sounds and amazing eateries.  

It was a good thing we did not have a place to stock the lanternS,  decorative plates,  boxes,  ornate lamps and such,  or I might have been tempted to buy a few!  The artistry is amazing.  

There was the unavoidable trips to quite a few malls,  and I succumbed to the wealth of irresistible handbags and purses. 

The biggest spending was on art supplies as I had planned in advance.  It was quite tempting to grab everything I saw,  but managed to ensure that I bought things on my list,by and large,  and so I rewarded myself for good behaviour! - By buying a few things that were not on my list. Hahaa!!!

Taking leave after a blissful month was tough.  Our childhood was full of such scenes,  flying away from half the family with regularity.  AS grown ups, I had thought that saying good bye to my brother would not be as tough,  but somehow the pain was still the same,  made worse by the heart-wrenching sobs of my nephew and sadness of my daughter. 

By now,  we are resigned to the fact that this is going to be an inevitable part of our lives since we plan to meet whenever we can do so. It is the depth of love and caring, that makes saying goodbyes so tough,  and thus not to be taken for granted.  

Back to normal, has been tricky, a whole month just getting back into routine, putting the house to rights,  preparing for the next academic year. 

The one thing that I had been keeping up with, has been the 2018 earrings challenge on instagram.  It is up-to week 24 and I have managed to keep up,  albeit not with the creations that I had planned to make.  

This week's earrings are made of cold porcelain and are handpainted,  with Warli designs.  I will update the earrings of weeks 16 to 23 soon.  

AND yesterday,  was our 17th wedding anniversary.  It was a double celebration with family.  With my sister and brother in law with us,  it was extra special.  Hoping for  few more decades with my best friend and partner.

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Gadget Problems

Ever since my iPad has been acting up,  it has been a huge pain to do anything other than post occasionally on my social media sites and that too,  mainly because I had taken up the earrings challenge for the whole year.!! 

I am one of thoso people who do not take to new devices easily,  and then once used to those,  want to keep them forever.  But this time I did take a huge leap if faith,  and have gone in for the new Lenovo yogabook,  instead of continuing with an iPad.  Mainly becauso of the Wacom drawing pad that is part of its feature. 

It has just been a few days,  and I am just getting used to the device and installing my favorite apps and such. 


Tuesday, 3 April 2018

#Earringchallenge Weeks 5 to 12

It is the week 13 into the earrings challenge, and I have managed to post a piece, albeit by the skin of my teeth, a couple of times. I have seen a few people do the same, but this was just a personal challenge to see if i can stick to something for a whole year ! The only thing that I found vexing, is when I have projects that have totally different supplies out, it is tough to switch to jewelry supplies every few days in that tiny work spaces. It takes a lot of organisation, and a juggling to keep all of the stuff in that same space.

So here are the earrings in random order, weeks 5 to 10.

It has been fun to make them as varied as possible. I had repeat orders, and it is never easy for me to get multiples of the same. Mainly because I do buy my supplies in variety rather than bulk.

Few days ago, I did get an order for multiples, and thankfully, I had enough of everything to get them done, Also it was ordered before I put away the supplies. So that was a breeze ! Almost makes me want to do all of the elements myself!

These are the earrings of week 11 and 12. The frames are ready made. But they have both been popular designs.
I am getting more orders on variations of the above designs. But they will be limited editions because I do not believe in making things in bulk. The whole point of handcrafting many of my elements is so that it cannot be available elsewhere.

It is vacation time for my daughter, and I find that it is tougher to stick to a schedule, than it was when it was her exams ! The next few weeks of sticking to the challenge, is going to be.... yup, Challenging !!

Check my Facebook page, to see how I fare..

Monday, 26 February 2018

Handcrafted Cold Porcelain Focal, Inspired By Clay Embroidery

The first thing that I was thinking of, when I started this piece, was an earthy palatte of colours that is my favourite. I took pains to ensure that the designs would not seem similar to a couple of pendants, I had done in similar colour tones, before.

While the technique was inspired by the ever popular faux clay embroidery, it is not truly the same as that. It is slightly reminiscent of a henna design , even when it is colourful.

Once the clay design was set in , It was time to add the rhinestones. I find a few aesthetic placements of the bling better, rather than going overboard with it.

Finally, when it was done, it felt like there was still there was something lacking. Since the design was inspired by a mehendi style design, I decided to accent the dimensional design with a few tints of brick red.

I also edged the side with the similar design, with also some raised accents .There are a few amber colour rhinestones, hence when I picked out the simple wooden beads, shaped like rice grains, again, earthy and organic to complement the feel of the pendant - I picked a few amber beads also to create the accents on the necklace.

While I do go off a tangent and sometimes just put together a design, this was one of those that I took a long time to find the right fit. I hope that I was able to do it justice.