Monday, September 12, 2011

Dog portraits

It's been a long time since I last posted (yikes!), but I've been having fun recently doing dog portraits.

First, here's one I've done on a hand-made tile of an adorable dog; the tile, combined with the glazes I am using, makes for a lovely "crackle" background.

In contrast, "Ellie" is done with a scratchboard technique.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Come see some tile "paintings" of India!

I've translated several of my sketches of India to tiny tiles (2"x2"). These and others will be on view from November 11 through December 23, 2010.

The gallery is STUDIOgallery at 1815 Polk St., San Francisco.

An opening reception will be held on Nov 14 (Sunday), 2pm-6pm-- I hope I see some of you there!

And there's another (annual) Party on December 5th, 2pm-6pm, if that timing is better for you.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Another birdie under glass... in a good way. Introducing: Winnie!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Bird portrait

Just thought I'd share a bird portrait today. I hope to do a few more for MickaCoo, a dove & pigeon rescue that's holding a silent auction in a few weeks.

If you're interested in a bird portrait, please do let me know.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Termites and monkeys

One day, while driving from one location to another on one of the many narrow two-lane roads that run through the countryside of India, I spotted a huge mound of dirt.

Sure enough, it's a termite mound. But, more interesting than that, the mound pictured here is about four to five feet tall, with a larger hole than termites require.

When termites build a home as large as this, another creature sees it as a desirable living space: cobras. In this case, it appears that a cobra has moved in to its new digs.

Furthermore, cobras hold significance to the Indian people. When a termite mound becomes the home of a cobra, the local people start making offerings and prayers to the snake, which is thought to have powers of its own. As time goes on, the mound can even been reinforced, decorated or otherwise modified by the local population, in ongoing honor of its revered occupant. Ultimately it can become a small, local temple of its own.

Meanwhile, down the road from the termite-mound-cum-cobra home, we spotted many monkeys being fed by a local man.

Amazing creatures, monkeys are fascinating to those of us who don't see them in our day-to-day lives, but they do become difficult pests when encouraged to get food from people. Our guide told us of a woman who stayed at a hotel with a local population of monkeys that regularly stole things from the hotel's rooms' balconies. Either she forgot or did not hear the warning and hung some hand-laundry out to dry on her porch. Pretty soon the monkeys were swinging around with her underwear!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Third Day of Pongal--Cow's Day

Back to the celebration of the New Year which is called Pongal in India.

The third day of celebration is cows' day. Being a revered animal (and a significant contributor to the health of a family), the family cow has its own special day.

At every local market, several vendors sell many powders of brilliant colors for the various Pongal purposes.

(You've seen them before, used in the designs drawn in front of the homes-- see my March 12, 2008, posting.)

For this third day of celebration, they are used on the cows.

First, the animal is washed thoroughly in a nearby river or lake.

Next, dots of the powdered colors are used to decorate its body; in the picture of the calf here, additional decorative material has been placed around his neck.

Once prepared, the family cow is allowed inside the family's home for a while!

Other animals get to enjoy the special status on this day as well......

For more great information on Pongal, which is celebrated this month (January) each year, please see Varun Withu's blog (link posted on my site here)!

Monday, May 26, 2008

I've been away from the blog for a while now-- so sorry! -- but I have a few pieces to share tonight.

The next day after seeing the fortune teller, we traveled through the countryside. Pretty soon we came to a very small village and pulled to a stop slightly outside of it.

We approached an inauspicious-looking dirt road on foot. Not until we got closer did we see a most beautiful sight of hundreds of folk-art animals lining the road on both sides.

Most of the ceramic sculptures stood between four and six foot in height, I would guess. Horses were primarily represented, with some cows, some elephants and a few other miscellaneous animals. Apparently the horses were created an installed here for good luck in battle (of some kind). They were in various states of repair-- many no longer had paint; some were broken; and other, newer ones were in stellar condition. The paint patterns, expressions, sizes and shapes were greatly varied and entertaining!

The men (I presume they were men) who made these large ceramic pieces are older now, and the art of them is being lost as the men die. Additionally, the 'need' to petition for blessings on a horse for battle is not as great these days.

At the end of the road, which must have been almost one-half mile long, a huge tree served as the temple to which these offerings had been made. The base of the tree (and moving up the trunk) had hundreds more sculptures, mostly small and many quite naive. These pieces depicted children, animals and all other sorts of things, all in the hopes of having blessings--perhaps for a child to be born, or for an animal that had taken ill.

As we left, we saw some children playing with a stick & a tire... one of the oldest games in the world.

Later, on the road to our next adventure, we passed a river where an enterprising soul was doing quite a bit of laundry-- perhaps for her family, but it looked as if she may have been doing it as a business. Naturally, I could not resist the colors.....

Continuing down the small country roads, we see people taking goods to market...

... and our guide tells us that our bus is passing between mango groves on our right and cashew trees on our left. I think I could live in a neighborhood like that!

We stopped to see a family who shelled and roasted cashews by the side of the road. This is the father, who is doing the shelling (not an easy task).