Category Archives: Acrylics

Theyyam #4

I started painting large faces on canvas a few years ago. They were borne as a response to a painting of a Theyyam dancer I had done as a gift for Good Homes Magazine. See the link here.

While doing research for that first painting I found that it takes the dancer many hours before he is ready. The dancer almost goes into a trance by the end of the entire ‘dressing up’ phase which includes 8-10 hours of face painting after which he dons the elaborate costume. By the end he is said to channel the divine within himself.

I got thinking and wanted to paint the face of the dancer when it was still just a man with a painted face and not anyone channeling divinity yet.

Which in turn led me to start painting faces where we use marks as masks. It does not matter whether the entire face is painted or there are some caste/religious marking – horizontal or vertical across the face/forehead. I find even make up is a mask of sorts…

This series is an effort to show the man behind the mask with all the fallibility and irreverence of man.

Do have a look at the progression video of this final painting. You can see additional work on my Instagram feed and my Youtube channel

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As a theme, Theyyam lends itself well to artistic interpretations. By it’s very nature, it brings forth goodwill to those in its presence and promises to ward off evil.

Theyyam is an artistic dance form where metaphysical thoughts and expressions of immortal souls are impersonated by a believer through a mortal body. Theyyam originated from “Kaliyattam” once practiced by the tribal community of north Kerala. Theyyam has grown to the present form through many transformations since it’s origin. Landlords and chieftains of those days are the main forces behind many of such transformations. The community and its body began to use this art to propagate the major theme of social enforcement. The artists are also encouraged by the authorities to introduce new themes into its traditional layers and classified different acts and expressions to match specific needs for their desire. The character representations were very broad. They range from mild to wild in representations.

Theyyam is a sect in which old heroes are sanctified and worshiped as the guardians of villages and homes. Yet, it includes a complex universe centred on the belief that a man can—after suitable mental, physical and spiritual preliminaries—don the costume of a particular deity and then become that deity. In this elevated state he assumes superhuman and divine powers—speaking, moving, blessing and even healing as a god or goddess. What is crucial is that the person is not possessed by the spirit of the deity. It’s important to understand that Theyyam has a larger purpose that goes beyond the territories of performance – to all those in attendance, it assures assistance and security during times of crisis, promising to resolve all their conflicts.

You can read about Theyyam here – http://theyyamat.blogspot.in/

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Kathakali as Krishna

Many years ago I got a request from  a fellow blogger asking permission to use an image of my first Kathakali painting on his blog with due credit to be given of course. I said ‘yes’.

Cut to the beginning of this year – that same gentleman wrote to me. He requested a painting for his new home. He wanted a painting depicting a Kathakali dancer as Krishna. And the painting needed to be ready in time for the house warming ceremony.

I was touched and humbled. I was also a tad bit daunted by the very specific list of what the client wanted. He was very specific about the pose the dancer had to be in, his dress, his headgear with peacock feathers etc. The difficulty arose from the fact that the amount of wall space available versus the final proportion of the painting incorporating all that he desired would not match. So I had to crop out the headgear and the peacock feathers from the final image composition. But I did find a way to incorporate it in the final canvas 🙂

This painting was a pleasure to paint. And that it went to someone who obviously loves the finished work and has given it pride of place in his house… I could not be happier.

Do have a look at the progression videos of both the final painting and one of just the face developing. These two videos along with many others are also up on my Instagram feed.


I leave you with images of the finished painting as it rests in his beautiful home.

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Sadhu #7

I love painting faces. In the last few years I have painted portraits of my four legged friends as well as faces of the people that inhabit the dark recesses of my mind. Some are portraits of friends where I try and capture more than just a likeness to them physically and then others may have started with a photo reference but then the canvas quickly takes on a life of it’s own.

Over the next few posts I will share some work that has not yet been documented in the annals of this blog. Some will be videos and others just photographs. The right side on this blog has a categories drop down. Please do use it to access older work and videos.

I often get email asking if I can teach. I have not started that yet. Maybe someday. But until then I hope the albums on my Facebook page and the demo videos here on the blog and on my Youtube channel can help you. Do subscribe to the channel for updates on new videos. I am hoping that those interested will be able to find this helpful in some way.

This canvas is roughly 7′ x 2.5′ and is done in Acrylics on canvas.

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My friend – Manas Kunder

Manas Kunder. Artist. Illustrator. Unassuming. Mad. On a Madtrip. Manas is that guy who I would be happy to spend hours discussing art and life with. Somehow everything about him is calm and non threatening. His art and way of thinking is so different from mine and yet… his sketch book gives me insight into a very complicated mind. And it is one I would love to unravel over a few drinks just talking and painting. This guy I wish lived closer…

I met Manas at Beach House Project in march last month at an idyllic week long residency in Fort Kochi. You can read about that trip here. One week together can get a bunch of people quite close quite fast. And that is exactly what happened.He is next in my series of Effortless Friendships. Read on to find out more about him.

What did you study in college?

I completed my B.F.A (bachelor of fine arts) from Rachna Sansad College of Applied Arts and Crafts. It was a four year course which took me five years to complete as I had flunked in the second year board. It did come as a big surprise as I had flunked in art rather than all the other boring things I’d studied, but it did give me a push to excel more and I passed out topping the university in the last year.

What made you pick art/ design?

I have been inclined towards art right from the earlier days of my childhood right from making my own paper toys to silver foil creatures. My grandma”s wall was all distorted and had paint chipped off, so when she would try to put me to sleep in the afternoons I would stare at the wall and form all  kinds of different creatures in my head. Post college I spent  five years in advertising and design, I figured my strength lies in creating funky illustrations and not being restricted by any brand. So I created my own brand called ‘Madtrip’. I also freelance as a designer, make murals and also recently started teaching part time in Pearl academy.

What made you expand?

My range of merchandise in ‘Madtrip”  are limited to what I personally prefer or what I would like to get or buy as a consumer myself. For instance the reason I started designing sleeping masks was cause I love sleeping and I mostly end up sleeping in the day. In the start I got lot of doubtful questions from people around me as to whether it would sell or not but I was quite confident with the concepts that I had in mind and it worked out great.

What is your company called and why?

Well my company was initially called “Manimal” but then I saw that there was an existing clothing brand called Manimal so I asked the people on my Fb group at that time to suggest names and finalized on Madtrip which was suggested by a close friend and it fit in perfectly.

Could you share a typical work day with us?

Well I don’t have a fixed routine, but during tight deadlines I would wake up at eleven and have a good breakfast with a cup of coffee. Then start doing some research on my topic with some rough sketches. Eat food at three and start my main work by seven thirty and go on till late at night.
My work schedule  also ends up getting split between designing or printing orders from amazon for Madtrip and my freelance designing.

What is your design process/thinking/philosophy?

Well I still have so much to learn, but as of now I feel it’s a balance between creating certain designs that are more abstract and personal to art which is more relevant to the people. When it comes to designing or creating illustrations for a Madtrip product,  I wouldn’t invest time in it unless the concept moves me and I can visualize it being something that’s not been seen before.

What sets your work apart from another designer?

That would be my style of art and a certain sense humor that I assume I have 😛

What are some of the hurdles you face as a young business?

Keeping a balance between management work and designing. Also a balance between my personal and professional life. I’m still in search for the right market place for my original designs.

What is the next step you see for your business? Expansion plans?

Well a website is on top of the priority list. More outlets to circulate my merchandise and get some one to manage my online marketplaces. Planning to test my designs in the US by the end of this year.

Favourite drink/ movie/book/go to place?

Drink – Lemon Barley in the summer and Old Monk in winter.
Movie -I love watching Japanese animi movies its super inspirational.
Go to place –  It would be on the Docks of Versova where you can take your own bottle of alco and get fresh fish to eat by the sea.

Manas

www.instagram.com/madtrip/
www.facebook.com/madtripin/
www.behance.net/madtrip
www.amazon.in/s/ref=sr_pg_1?rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Amadtrip&keywords=madtrip&ie=UTF8&qid=1492423240

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The Fusion Projects – With Royal Enfield

The next in the series of The Fusion Projects is with motorcycle company – Royal Enfield. Although the project came to me many months ago I started work on it only in August end. But as they say everything happens for a reason. By the time the tank was finished it was time for The Royal Enfield Rider Mania 2016 – an annual community driven event in Goa each November. And I had the joy of taking the tank to Goa. To see first hand reactions of bikers across India to my vision of a hand painted tank has been gratifying to say the least. I got to be a fly on the wall and just watch people react to the tank artwork.

The endeavour has been not just to paint a motorcycle tank but to view the entire exercise in a new way. The tank needed to look different from anything out there and still have my stamp on it. I was not looking to make just  decorative artwork that would sit in someone’s office or a showroom. I want to see how this painted tank fares on an actual motorcycle. How the paint will react to sun, moisture, dew. Will the paintwork stand up to general wear and tear and fuel spills.

Therein lies the purpose of this joint exercise. I learn. Learn about material and it’s usage. I get to try and think out of the box from established norms of what constitutes successful artwork for bikes. The next step is to go to the Enfield factory and see how the paint is applied. To try an incorporate my artistic style while using industry standards. As a start I decided to paint with a brush and not an airbrush. Used Acrylics. And used a theme- Theyyam – which is not seen on bikes but has been central to my work for a few years now.

As a theme, Theyyam lends itself well to artistic interpretations. By it’s very nature, it brings forth goodwill to those in its presence and promises to ward off evil. What better way to kick start a new series. My friend Sachin Chavan – the Head, Rides and Communities, Royal Enfield – who was instrumental in getting me on board for this project has been a friend for almost 20 years. He rides (obviously!!) and my parting shot to him has always been to ‘Ride Safe‘. It has been similar to my father and brother who are both retired fighter pilots from the Indian Air Force. For them it was and is – ‘Fly safe, Blue skies and Happy Landings‘!

I hope the good will always carries through…

Theyyam is an artistic dance form where metaphysical thoughts and expressions of immortal souls are impersonated by a believer through a mortal body. Theyyam originated from “Kaliyattam” once practiced by the tribal community of north Kerala. Theyyam has grown to the present form through many transformations since it’s origin. Landlords and chieftains of those days are the main forces behind many of such transformations. The community and its body began to use this art to propagate the major theme of social enforcement. The artists are also encouraged by the authorities to introduce new themes into its traditional layers and classified different acts and expressions to match specific needs for their desire. The character representations were very broad. They range from mild to wild in representations.
Theyyam is a sect in which old heroes are sanctified and worshiped as the guardians of villages and homes. Yet, it includes a complex universe centered on the belief that a man can—after suitable mental, physical and spiritual preliminaries—don the costume of a particular deity and then become that deity. In this elevated state he assumes superhuman and divine powers—speaking, moving, blessing and even healing as a god or goddess. What is crucial is that the person is not possessed by the spirit of the deity. It’s important to understand that Theyyam has a larger purpose that goes beyond the territories of performance – to all those in attendance, it assures assistance and security during times of crisis, promising to resolve all their conflicts.

You can read about Theyyam here- http://theyyamat.blogspot.in/

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More Jhola Bags – Dec 2016

Your response to the Jhola bags has been so heart warming. To have every piece sold out in a matter of hours or at best a couple of days makes all the hard work I put in so worth while! You can see the styled images for the last two collections here and here.

A few of you requested that I make some for Diwali.  Diwali deadline was a little tough to catch but I have been working away at my sewing machine, burning the midnight oil as it were. I shifted the goalpost and we are ready in time for Christmas 🙂

Please note – There are 18 new Jhola bags up for grabs on the shop. And as always each is one-of-a-kind! There are no two alike.
After this lot I really do need a break from sewing so I can get back to painting full time for a bit. The next lot of jhola bags after this will only be out next year – in 2017.

Happy shopping!

Happy shopping!

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Fempowerment Women Achievers Award 2016

I won! And the best part – I had no clue that I was even in the running!

Some one from YourStory wrote to tell me that they had nominated my name for an award and that someone from the awards organization would get in touch with me. I thanked the said person and promptly forgot all about it.  Imagine my surprise – I learned that I had won the award in the category of Fine Arts – Painting and sculpture 🙂
Thank you YourStory!!

Sadly due to unforeseen scheduling problems and prior commitments I was unable to make it to Mumbai for the Award show on the 17th of July 2016. Swanky affair it was from what I understand. I looked up the past recipients for 2014-15 and 2013-14 of the awards and this year’s winners in the 16 categories – I am in exalted company and I love it.

It would not have been right to post about it without actually having the physical award in my hands. I just got my hands on the trophy a few days ago. So now I am sharing it with all of you.

    

It’s been a joy to receive the Fempowerment Women Achievers award 2016 for Fine Arts. Recognition of any kind for work one loves is always wonderful. The jury was daunting to say the least and the illustrious lot of achievers before me is both empowering and humbling. Thank you so much for giving me yet another push in following my dreams.

You can read about the award here

And this is an excerpt from their letter to me –

“…proud to inform you that you have been selected as the Fempowerment Winner in the category of Painting and Sculpting Artist, your selection has been done unanimously at our Jury Meet on 7th July’16 at St. Regis, MumbaiFempowerment Women Achievers Awards is an initiative of Molecule Communications where women achievers are honoured in their respective fields, the one and only Women Awards where the nomination process is open and anyone can nominate any woman along with one unique category.  Zee TV has associated with the awards for the cause of social betterment and soon the awards will be telecasted on Zee TV. The nominations have been received from the every corner of the country in all the 16 categories and a strict and unbiased on-site review has been done by the Screening & Main Jury. The event is happening on 17th of July, 2016 at Mumbai.

Mr. Subhash Ghai, noted Director, Mr. Annurag Batra, Chairman & Editor in Chief – Business World, Mr. Adil Malia, Global Head For Leadership, Learning & People Management, Essar Group, Ms. Mrunalini Deshmukh, Senior Lawyer, Ms. Bhawana Somaaya, noted Journalist & Author & Mr. Ridham Desai, MD Morgan Stanley were the respectable Main Jury for the Fempowerment Women Achievers Awards 2016.”

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The Fusion Projects – With Glasshopper

The first in the series of The Fusion Projects is with stained glass studio – Glasshopper. It’s been 6+ months in the making but the thought actually has been brewing in my mind for almost four years.

Jewellery.

I have always wanted to see my work in the many possible ways it can be used – to take a concept across mediums and hopefully have it successful in all of them. I wanted to take my art and make it accessible to more people. To those who may not have space for a trunk or a kettle or even a large painting…

But the jewellery had to be different and yet be universally appealing. I could have worked with a regular silver/gold smith to make the pendants but then where is the fun in that? Enter Saarus Nirhali – my friend and a wonderful stained glass artist.

I had originally asked her to just encase my artwork into some pendants and I would buy those off her and then get down to my solitary work. Collaboration had been on my mind for sometime so it was serendipitous that she asked to collaborate. And things took of from there. I knew what the end pieces needed to look like. I just needed Saarus to see my vision. And she did.  Her reaction when she saw the first set of completed necklaces was something I can’t describe.  Her words -‘ I knew you would do something but this I had not expected! I did not know my work could look like this...’ 🙂
Saarus works with glass but on a much larger scale.  So to work on one square inch pieces meant she needed to rethink her entire approach to her own work! The challenge for her was to get a fineness in the edges and edge finish. She needed to see the potential. I have to say. Saarus was ready for the challenge. The pieces are truly wonderful even if I say so myself.

At ArtByAarohi I have always tried to push the envelope a little, to blend material and media. To add an element of up-cycling or recycling.  An element of surprise. This collection too has a little bit of that.

Gold and silver have an innate value irrespective of how good or bad a design maybe. These needed to be good designs! Since neither gold nor silver is being used. The design and finesse had to be something that worked for everyone. Or at least everyone with a certain sensibility. It has been months in the studio, doing, re-doing and refining pieces.  There have been instances where a finished necklace has been pulled apart and re-done because the loops on the pendant did not sit right. I am an extremely detail oriented person and would go back to the drawing board  when I wanted a piece to be a certain size or the loops a certain orientation. But I think we are now at a level of finish that I am happy with.  Our work will only get better from here.

The artwork in each piece is based on my original painting. The materials, their use and how the end piece would look has been my work. Saarus on the other hand has worked on encasing the artwork using true Tiffany style stained glass techniques.  Her studio has been busy working away at cutting/grinding and then soldering many tiny pieces of coloured glass to fit my vision. The  loops on each piece of glass has been a very time consuming and exacting process.

I have learnt so much through this collaboration. Not just about stained glass and it’s possibilities/limitations but about working with another individual. Patience was never my strong point but I have learnt it along the way. This collaboration has allowed so many wonderful iterations in the ideation process that I can truly say that alone this series of jewellery may not have packed the punch that it does.

Please do click here to read Saarus’s experience in the making of this collection.

To view this first collection do drop by at my Studio in Bangalore on the 27th and 28th of Aug 2016 at:

The ArtbyAarohi Studio
C-44 Diamond District Apartments,
Kodihalli, Old Airport Road,
Bangalore – 560008 KA

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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.

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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.

ArtbyAarohi_dogPortraits_raisin1

Raisin

ArtbyAarohi_dogPortraits_raine&raisin

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! 🙂

ArtbyAarohi_dogPortraits_rage

Rage

ArtbyAarohi_dogPortraits_raisin2

Raisin

 

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