December 5, 2010

Cleome Hassleriana

Cleome Hassleriana, commonly known as spider flower, is the subject of a plein air watercolor I did last summer. Cleome, a native of South America, appeared in our backyard a few years ago with a magnificent display of pink flowers. Since then cleomes sprang up every summer and thrived with practically no help from us. I am sure there'll be a lot of PINK to enjoy in 2011!

If I haven't been a little careful about its slow encroachment, there would have been a backyard full of cleomes.

November 28, 2010

Real Watercolor and Digital Watercolor

Artists everywhere are abandoning old methods of painting and embracing digital tools for various reasons. Most successful artists have been working in traditional ways before jumping the ship.

Though I don't claim myself to be a master of the traditional watercolor medium, I feel quite confident in acknowledging that I have been doing watercolor pretty good on paper for years. And I will continue painting. Digitally. And otherwise.

The watercolor above began with nothing on my mind or on paper. No pencils were broken in the process. It took just plain old watercolors, sable brushes, and a 4x6 Strathmore watercolor post card. Sort of a miniature painting, one might say. The only annoying thing was the interpolated texture of the paper  thanks to the scanner! Shhh... the boat was added later in Photoshop. But who cares? After all, ars gratia artis!

November 16, 2010

From India With...

In an earlier post dated 11/09/09 I had caricatured the physical change Obama had after his visit to China, Korea, and Japan. This time around the change was more of a different nature.

Obama went to India with a laundry list of wants. That included selling stuff to India to the tune of $10 billion. The deal would, hopefully, generate more than 50,000 jobs for Americans. Won't the big guns send the backoffice jobs to India and manufacturing jobs to China again to save money? Of course they would.

Obama promised to keep all the jobs in America in his inaugural speech. Will he keep his promise? May be not. Why? Banning outsourcing of jobs may not be a good idea because protectionism is a double-edged weapon that can cut both ways with unpleasant outcomes.

What did India get from Obama? A promise of a seat in the Security Council. And what did India reward Obama for his generosity? A Nehru cap, I guess!

Note: Illustrator CS5 and Photoshop CS5 were used in creating the Obama illustration.

October 17, 2010


Bougainvillea, a watercolor painting originated from a photograph that I took while living in Bangalore has a little history behind it. Starting its life as a lowly courtyard resident at a two story house, this Brazilian beauty assumed its rightful place as the most spectacular and beautiful climber east of Mumbai. It was also the most attractive bougainvillea ever to grace the face of a bungalow in Bangalore.

But alas! its life was short lived. My precocious landlord was more concerned about the railings on his balcony, on which the lovely bougainvillea prospered, than the attractive vine. One fine morning bougainvillea disappeared from 10 Murphy Road without any fanfare.

Now "Bougainvillea" lives only in my thoughts and on the walls of my home in Baltimore. Here it's for all those who would care to share my labor of love.

A little more about bougainvillea: In 1768 when Admiral Louis de Bougainvillea began his long journey to the Pacific Ocean and discovered the vine that now bears his name, it was a botanical highlight of the voyage. Through the ensuing years, this spectacular and beautiful Brazilian native has become one of the most popular tropical plants.

October 8, 2010

Beyond Normal

One of the illustrations for my forthcoming graphic novel titled "Beyond Normal," shows an establishing shot of Karivara village. Karivara is a remote village tucked between Panchalimedu, a soaring mountain range, and the flat expanse of Malayalam Rubber Plantations.

The story revolves around Manu Menon, an NRI from New York, who is visiting his ancestral home after a long time only to find himself thrown into a diabolical quagmire. 

Great Rock

Creating images on a blank canvas is quite an effort only if one thinks so. Once the stylus is unleashed on the Wacom Intuos 3, lo! there emerges a picture that never existed! 

The image shown here began with a gray background and a clear mind. Then the clouds started popping up. Soon a giant monolith emerged to my left that reminded me of El Capitan at Yosemite National Park. A thin waterfall that crashed down from its crest created a gorgeous shimmering veil in the afternoon sky. Birds of prey scanned the valley for a meal as they floated aimlessly in the sky.

July 31, 2010


"A ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are for."   
Monsoon is an annual spectacle of torrential rains that bring much relief from heat and drought for millions of people on the Indian subcontinent. It also brings untold miseries when rivers swell and lands submerge. A blessing may become a burden when given in excess.

A sketch I started in Photoshop has turned out to be a rocky seashore pelted by Monsoon rains and rough waves. A small yacht is seen making its way from the sea to a safe harbor. After all, this yacht is not built to travel the seas come hell or high water! That's for ships.

April 20, 2010

On the Rocks

Watercolor on Crescent illustration board. I used a process of masking, pouring and selective manipulation of color on paper to achieve the desired effect. Based on a tabletop I did for a client, the watercolor is in my personal collection of artworks.

Acrylic layering and glazing helped bring out highlights and details especially on the glass, ice cubes, and tray. Still life is an enjoyable form of art for me. That goes for photography too.

It's always about what you come away with a painting or shoot. Never the other way around.

Hedy Lamarr (1914-2000)

Hedy Lamarr is labeled as one of the most beautiful women ever to grace the silver screen. Lamarr was born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in Vienna, Austria. Though known as a Hollywood actress, she is also credited to have co-invented an early form of broad spectrum communications technology, a key to modern wireless communication. 

In 1998 Corel Corporation was sued by Lamarr for the unauthorized use of her picture on CorelDraw 8 packaging; the case was settled for an undisclosed amount.

I did this illustration of Ms. Lamarr by using Corel Painter X, another product by the very same Corel Corporation, and a 9x12 Wacom Intuos 3. Painting on Intuos 3 with a stylus pen was an intuitive process than a laborious task.

Digital Lake

It all started with a blue sky. Then clouds and distant hills emerged from an otherwise blank iMac screen. It didn't take me much time to get to the lake and the boat and see the new digital landscape coming into view.    

Photoshop CS6 + Wacom Intuos 3

11/15/2009: Obama arrives in China

President Barack Obama said in Shanghai that Washington would work hard to build strong relationship with Asian nations such as China and Indonesia aside from strengthening alliances with Japan and the Republic of Korea.

Obama believes in building bridges across the international divide. The effects of such relationship, like the old saying "When in Rome do as the Romans do," can be overwhelming. Notice the change in him after his visit to China?

I am eagerly looking forward to his forthcoming visit to India in November for the next caricature. 

March 28, 2010

Lone Antler

This acrylic painting was done years ago for my cousin when he moved into his new house in Connecticut. The painting adorned his basement office wall until he sold the house and moved out to live in Kochi, India. 

Medium: Acrylic Size: 24"x36" (SOLD)