The Jhola Bags Collection : July 2016

The first edition of the Jhola bags that came out last year in February was a sell out. I mean that literally. They all sold out in about 12 hours. Though in the interests of full disclosure, I must be honest and say there were only 12, but still 🙂 You can read about and see some of that collection.

This edition is different looking in terms of colour and the surface treatment but it still has the signature ArtByAarohi feel. Each bag has a print portion of original art which has been appliquéd and then the bag further worked on and embroidered by me.

There are 18 bags in this collection and each is one-of-a-kind and hand-crafted by me. It uses left over pieces of fabric from other tailoring and bag making projects and yes, just the like the last time – the inner lining between the actual outer and inner fabric is old curtains (washed and cleaned before use).

I do take the feedback you all give me quite seriously. So this time there is no faux leather. The straps/handles are made with woven cotton yarn and the tie ups on the side too are recycled yarn. The bag is a tad bit smaller though that in no way compromises the insane amount of volume that one can pack in!  And the interior pockets are bigger and deeper. It really is a joy to behold.

I leave you with a few images from the new collection and a link to the store – they are LIVE right now 🙂

Happy shopping!

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The kids are growing up and time is going faster then I can keep up. Some days it feels like I am running to stand still. I know I have been quiet here for a few months but I find most people are on Facebook or Instagram or some other social media site.  I do post there every so often but that too has been sporadic at best.

I found myself going through some earlier posts in a an effort to find a specific post a few days ago and realized I miss my blog. I used to try and post a little something at least once a month. And then life caught up with me. I found myself with not much to say. And then guilt came calling. I had been away from the blog for so long that I did not know where to start. So much to share and no words to share it with. I decided to just write from the heart and say Hello! 🙂

I am hoping to get back to writing here. And sharing again. I find that since I work mostly on my own, I produce far from staggering quantities and most of what I do usually sells from the studio itself. So I have been lax in putting things up on the shop as well.

I wonder if my fellow bloggers/artists/creators feel the same way – that while e-commerce is good and wonderful, the effort to update the shop – take pictures/manage inventory/answer queries/ the trips to the post office etc don’t really leave too much time to create!

There are a few things in the works right now and I will of course post about them here when done.

This was just to say Hello…
…hello from the other side…
(may as well leave you with the whole song !)

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Simply Bangalore – February 2016


I was pleasantly surprised when India Today asked to speak with me on sustainability and how I see that. A bit more so as you get a glimpse of my new home and I made the cover 🙂

I try and incorporate something old into most of my work. I hate wasting something that might still have life. But more important to me is to maintain connections with the past. For everything shapes us into who we are. That has to be honoured.

Thank you Khusboo Patodia for the lovely write up in the Feburary issue  India Today magazine – Simply Bangalore. It was wonderful talking to you.


Note- Please click on the image to read the text.


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Raisin and Rage

I do commissioned portraits from time to time. It is something I enjoy and dread. It is a lot of pressure but the outcome is so worth it. To see joy, love, recognition and memories in a person’s eyes when they see the finished piece is priceless.




Raine and Raisin

Ritu and Rahul lost their little one Raisin over a year ago and had asked me to do a portrait of her. So I did. And since I was on a roll of sorts. I did one of their daughter Raine holding Raisin as well. The second portrait was my gift to them. The thank you note they gave me had me in tears.

Sadly a few months ago they lost their second daughter Rage as well. Rage was Raisin’s mother. It was gut wrenching to paint this second portrait and I delayed it as long as I could. Somehow I hated that I was painting one more memory that would be just that… but now they have Rumour – a gigantic Great Dane and I intend to paint her while she is living flesh and blood! 🙂






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Femina – November 2015

Thank you Akhila Vijay kumar for the DIY feature in the October-November 2015 issue of Femina magazine.

Femina-Magazine-Cover  Femina-Magazine-Article

It is a simple DIY inspired from  this post. Diwali is about festivities. Lights, mithai and of course card games. These set of bowls would do well to multi task as fruit/ sweet bowls as well as bowls to keep money and poker chips. These bowls have been made with newspaper layers stuck together. The motifs are all inspired by cards and the outside surface is a depiction of various card plays. Actually the bowls are cheat sheets!


This DIY was done in record time – three days. And that long because each layer of paper had to dry. There are about 14 layers in these bowls. I added a lot more colour and graphic lines after these images were taken. Will post those too one of these days. I know I am late posting this but I was traveling during Diwali week and this sort of slipped between the cracks…


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One Word

How do you wrap up a day in just one word? One word to reflect what that particular day had been about. No prefix, suffix or explanations of any kind. Just the word. The one feeling or thought that could define how 24 hours shaped me as a person, guided my interactions with others or plain just kept me bound within my own mind.

Earlier this year I decided to end everyday for a period of 30 days with just one word at the end of the day. I wanted to see if I could narrow down on what the most important, overwhelming or in your face action, act or interaction had been for me on that given day.

I did it. Religiously. Everyday for 30 days. Much like this experiment which ended here.

Starting 4th April 2015 to 4th May 2015.
This is what I have –
4 – Hope
5 – Camaraderie
6 – Paying my dues
7 – Exhaustion
8 – Conversations
9 – Resignation
10 – Revelation
11 – Exasperation
12 –  Journey
13 – Pain – Hope
14 – Exasperation – jubilation
15 – Possibilities
16 – Hope
17 – Unsettled
18 – Insightful – Hope
19 – Clarity
20 – Sadness
21 – Sadness
22 – As good as it gets
23 – Overwhelmed
24 – Joy
25 – Joy
26 – Nostalgia
27- Acceptance
28 – Hope
29 – Love
30 – Perturbed
1 – Fatigue
2 – Connections
3 – Acceptance
4 – Beginnings

While writing that one word at the end of a given day I was able to pinpoint with acute clarity just which person or incident had taken up the most mind share on a given day. And in turn realize who or what is able to ‘push my buttons’ – who was I giving my power away to.

The word I wrote at the end of everyday was true, with out artifice and as representative of that day as I could think of.  I learnt something and it surprised me. Today a few months after that experiment has ended, I find that I can no longer remember why I wrote a particular word. What action or incident happened or did not for me to have used that word.

Which made me realize that I had been allowing people, places, things, action and even inaction to take on greater meaning on a given day. Something could ruin it for me or make me almost ecstatic. And in reality it had no meaning the next day! I needed to learn to live in the moment and then let that moment go. Just because something good happened I did not need to walk on a cloud for a week OR because something did not go as planned – I definitely did not need to stay in the dumps for longer than the few minutes it should take me to rationalize the situation in my mind.

Change is good. And I needed to learn to embrace it.  It is a work in progress though – much like life itself.

Why am I posting this now after so many months? It is because I needed the reminder. The words for the last few days would be brutal, broken and raw. And I need to remember that this too shall pass…


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ChammC with love

ChammC came into my life on a morning walk. Rakesh who is the founder of VoSD was walking his dogs one morning and I happened to meet him. He had a baby carrier of sorts slung around his torso and inside was ChammC. This absolute adorable bundle of joy. A Cocker Spaniel with eyes that would melt the hardest heart.

She was found in a dumpster by a good samaritan and handed over to Rakesh. When found she was in a terrible state with a gigantic hole near her bottom filled with maggots. Tiny and young, I think just 2-3 weeks old. No one thought she would make it. But Rakesh did. He hand reared her for the first three months and literally brought her back to life. And she became Helen and Rakesh’s little love. One amongst the many others that live with them but that is another story!

Sadly ChammC passed away while she was only about 7-8 months old. A routine operation to spay her resulted in complications which led to her passing away on the operating table.

12 July 2015 was one year to the day she left and since I could not get her back for them. I painted ChammC as a gift for both Helen and Rakesh. Three portraits from different grainy Facebook pictures that show her at various ages/stages in her young life.

As all high res images of ChammC were lost in an unfortunate computer crash. The Facebook images were the only ones to work from. I hope these ‘high res’ versions bring comfort to her parents…




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The lines on my face

I read this in a book the other day and I can’t stop thinking about it. Literally. I love how the words string together and somehow the simile connects on a visceral level.

“.. life is a portrait. It’s a picture you paint everyday, every minute, every second, with the palette you were given at birth. It’s an expression of yourself, whether you want it to be or not. Make sure it’s a picture you are proud of..”

For a while there I found myself thinking about all those men and women who have somehow aged so gracefully that there seems to be a beacon shining from within. I just hit 40 so vanity demanded I look in the mirror and assess. Yes – I have wrinkles and ‘bad skin’. Crows feet and lines on my face. My hands have veins popping out and the skin is dry most of the time. Truthfully – I got worried there for a bit.

Ok – Deep breath. Inner calm.
I need to work with the palette and get control on my colours, school my expressions better and so on.

It did not work.

Deeper breath…

And then I got thinking again. This is me. My face. My body bears the marks of my journey through life. My palette has not always been of jeweled tones and candied hues. There have been harsh greys and some blacks too. But if you look closely enough there are more laugh lines than frown lines. The crows feet appear every time I smile. The bad skin tells me just how passionate I am – the hormones that still go crazy and pour out on my skin. The dry skin is a result of years of love with my paints, thinner and acetone. It is an outcome of the many times I forgot to put moisturizers and creme because the smell and feel of paint and thinner was too seductive to wash away. I wrote of me some years ago… you can read that here. You can also read more here.

I will still try and paint a portrait worth looking at. It is a work in progress. I have a few more years yet to finish it I hope. But I do believe the current version is an honest reflection of me.

Does your ‘portrait of life’ reflect you?

I thought I would leave you with a portrait of me I did some years ago as well as a link to an animation of one I attempted later…

Note- Not the best quality photograph. The painting is more vibrant though and me even more so in real life – I promise! (tongue firmly in cheek here)




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Divya Thomas and I have been friends on Face Book for a while now.  And I have greatly admired her work – Karmasuthra Jewellery. Her FB page is filled with beautiful jewellery and even more beautiful women. Each image begging to be painted with their luminous eyes. I always thought that I would be painting that set of eyes one day. But a mail from Divya changed that to one better 🙂

Divya wrote to me with pictures of little Lola and asked if I would paint her. The original source images were not the best quality and I was unsure if I could work with them. So I requested her to send me clearer high res images. Preferably where Lola’s eyes could be seen! Otherwise in almost all images her hair was covering them. Divya did one better. She actually sent me a new set of images shot in a make shift studio setting! This next portrait is a composite from about four images to get just this expression…

Lola. Acrylics on board. 16×16 inches.



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Colour me…

I can’t imagine my life without colour. I really can’t. So when I chanced upon this video it made me look at my life in a totally different perspective. I found myself with silent tears rolling down my cheeks. Profound. I find I am so grateful for life and all its abundance. For what is indeed a privilege to have for me -the joy and beauty of everyday, a colour filled life. I define my life in colour.

You’ll have to watch the video to see what I mean. But here’s the gist, so you don’t get blindsided.
As part of the #ColorForAll campaign, Valspar created a short film called ‘Color for the Colorblind‘. It is an Ad but oh! so gut wrencingly beautiful to me.

The video follows a handful of people who are colorblind. People who have never seen certain colours in their life. Ever.  They are given a pair of EnChroma glasses that allows them to see the colors that they’ve never experienced before. And their reactions are priceless.

🙂 got you too, didn’t it?

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