Mar 28, 2014

Guest Posting on Celebrations Decor

Dear readers, please hop over to Dr. Lakshmi Arvind's beautiful blog Celebrations Decor to see my guest post on Art and Beauty in Coastal Sri Lanka.


I am sure most of you are regular there, but for those who are uninitiated into Lakshmi's blog - it is a visual treat, and is inspired by her love for Indian Architecture, Art, Designs and Indian Interiors.

Happy reading!

Mar 26, 2014

Craft Tour: Mask Making in Sri Lanka

For me, the meaning of travel has changed over the years. While it used to be “excursions” at school, it was “sight-seeing” in the teen years. I no longer delight in visiting the touristy landmarks just for that cliched photograph in front of it, but try my best to get a flavour of local customs, arts, crafts and cuisines while travelling. Time usually does not permit, but I try to squeeze it into the itinerary and it usually leaves me with a more open mind, and a greater appreciation of the place and its people.

The idea is not just to buy crafts as “decor accessories” to adorn some random shelf at home. I also get a high on watching artists at work, seeing art supplies strewn around, savouring the smells of the craftroom (of wood, paints, etc.) and just absorbing the positive energy that emanates out of creating art.

And so, a super-short beachside vacation planned in Sri Lanka HAD to be peppered with visits to a mask making factory and a 140-year old Batik artist’s home.

Now if you and I are on the same page, Ambalangoda in South Western coastal Sri Lanka is one of the destinations you can bookmark if you are planning a visit to the island nation and would like a flavour of local, traditional crafts. I must say that the predominantly grotesque demon masks with bulging eyes didn’t look appealing to me at first sight.




However a glimpse into the stories behind these masks, and watching the carving and painting process in one of the workshops, made me respect this age-old craft.

The masks are painstakingly carved of Balsa wood, painted bright with vegetable or chemical dyes and used in traditional dance dramas, folk plays, pageants and processions.

The master carvers apparently have traditional formulae for carving different types of masks. The entire process (for us laymen) is this ... sawing wood into blocks > measurements, applying the formulae > hollowing out the wood as per design > smoking for weeks > demarcating main features > smoking, drying > chiselling as per design > smoothening > painting.

Craftsmen at work in the chiseling stage


The main tools of the trade are hand saws, chisels, knives, abrasive leaves or sandpaper, paints/vegetable dyes.


Art supplies

Wood shavings, tools, and a vintage radio to lighten the mood


Oh, and not all of the masks looked evil, you know.

Traditionally, the demon lookalikes were used in driving away illnesses and in exorcism.
There are the theatrical Kolam masks which are used in folk plays which are distinctly different – they portray kings, queens, men and animals.



The whole story of mask making which used to be practiced in the hinterland villages sounded deeply mystic to me. One little story of queens satisfying their pregnancy cravings of watching mask performances seemed particularly delightful to me.

It is a completely different scene in contemporary Sri Lanka. Mask dances are performed only for tourists and mainly in the beach resorts. Mask making which used to be a deeply ritualistic process is now only a means-of-livelihood for some families on the coastal regions. And masks are now highly marketable handicraft products for art collectors and tourists.

Time takes its toll on traditions; however this craft still remains ever in demand. And it added colour (vibrant primary colours, mind it :-) to my otherwise blue-green beachside vacation. 

Mar 24, 2014

Dream Studio, and Art Journal Exploits Prompt #3

Happiness is in dreaming...
And in making dreams happen.
An ideal work day (photo: Ballet Feet by Jules Falk Hunter)
On an (imaginary) bright, sunny morning you would find me in overalls with cans of paint in a wooden shed painted teal, in the woods. Talk about ideal work spaces!

These busy studios speak to me, lots of light, mood boards for inspiration, display of artwork, space to paint and do social-media, part-messy, part-organized. I would WANT to create, and keep creating in them.

Super curious to know about you folks! 
Show n tell the world
What Your Dream Studio Would Look Like 
And that would also be The Art Journal Exploits prompt #3 for the week March 24-30.

Do tell me about your ideal studio in a comment. 

Or if you would like to link-up your blog post/journal page, pls Go Here and "Add your link" at the bottom of the page.
Please do read the guidelines before linking up.

Cheery day to all!

Mar 17, 2014

Art Journal Exploits - Prompt #2 - Portrait

I exchanged some interesting notes, and got to meet (virtually) a lot of creatives who journal their heart out! A truly enthusiastic bunch of them linked up with some wonderful pages, and I am glad we got it rolling! I hope this has been of help in getting atleast some of you to reach for your journals! :-) Click here to reach prompt #1 and see the journal pages linked up!
And, 
This week (March 17-23), let's go for
Portraits
To see the rest of the prompts go here.

And this is what I have to share with you folks, the first time I ever let my paint brush lead me, instead of the other way round. I like it this way!
I usually just "color within the lines".


I let all the colors run down and meet at the very bottom... my way of saying - She is one with Nature.

Pleased to update that this 8*8 inch artwork is now Sold. 

Now, I'll wait for your versions of Portraits.
Have a good week ahead!

Mar 11, 2014

Weekly Art Journal Prompts for Soulful, Creative Expression

Weekly Art Journal Prompts and Link-party for Soulful, Creative Expression


Just look around you... inspirations can be overwhelming.
Are you more a visual person than a writing person who prefers not to "write" a diary,
and need that gentle nudge to dig out the sketchbook and art supplies that are gathering dust in your drawer?

As for me, a Haathi Chaap journal was indeed gathering dust in my drawer! 
The illustrated poem I had done in mid-2012. 
Art Journal - Painting Poems

... and a Sketch-a-Plant done earlier
Art Journal - Sketch a plant

If we are on the same page,
how about a weekly rhythm to bring back the creative discipline in your busy week? 

Let's make a beginning with an affirmation.
These prompts are just ideas. You can stretch them as far as imagination can go!
Here is your first prompt for the week 10-16 March 2014 

"Creative Freedom"

(1) It can be an illustrated quote, or a painting, type, doodle, collage, a moodboard - you just run wild!
(2) Post it on your blog, and link up on the linky in this page. If you don't have a blog, pls send me the digital journal page OR photograph of the journal page, and I will link it up here. My email ambika.kolangarakath@gmail.com 
(3) Do share this on your blogs/other social media so that More-the-Merrier! Bring your friends along.
(4) Please link back to this post on your blog
(5) Pls do meet-n-greet the other folks linked up here

Please remember, this is not a contest. It is a vent-out space to meet like-minded creatives and discuss everyday creativity boosters. It is meant to be a soulful, creative process of self-expression.
The intention is to keep drawing, to keep coloring, to keep cut-pasting inspirations, keep blogging, to keep our creativity outlets open and not let it fizzle out inside.

Here's to living and journaling a creative life!
Go to this master page to see all the prompts and pages linked up so far.

Mar 6, 2014

A Bohemian Home Tour

In one of the residential streets of uptown Colombo, Sri Lanka is a small colonial villa whose facade is shadowed by a wall of creepers surrounding the gate.
Enter,
and a purring cat welcomes you along with Mrs. Padminee Nanayakkara, the charming owner who has traveled far and wide in her heyday.

(This was the first time I walked into a truly Bohemian home, it had only been Pinterest, Blogs and Instagram images of "bohemian homes" in faraway lands, so far.)
The Facade of Plants

A glimpse of the garden. (Doesn't look Boho, not yet!)

The highlight of the villa is the breakfast in the backyard garden, which is dotted with plants, terracota artifacts and masks from different parts of the world.
You can check out Padminee's website here which has pictures from her villa.

Now, we got to spend a day at her colorful apartment (next door) which is tastefully peppered with artwork and collectibles from the world over.
Stylish furniture, Plants, and interesting Fabric take centre stage framed by the Yellow wall

The beauty is that despite the presence of rich musuem-style artefacts, the apartment is casually styled and looks lived-in, as if the owner just stepped outdoors after a cuppa coffee.

Large floor cushions, books and footwear on a dhurrie in the middle of the room

Plants, Earthenware, Green, Paintings - my favourite corner

A corner on the floor for a quiet read, or for playing chess on a wood board 

Zoom in - The wooden chessmen
Another wall... more artefacts, Orange, artwork!

Much more for the eye to devour, the red painting on the left caught my fancy instantly
The home of a well-traveled person always springs up surprises, don't you think?

On a visit to Colombo, you can keep Mrs Padminee Nanayakkara's homestay in mind for a quiet stay in the middle of the city, interrupted just by bursts of color!
Tweet: A truly bohemian home tour... an art-filled cottage tucked away in a quiet lane smack in the middle of Colombo http://ctt.ec/Mo34j+

Mar 4, 2014

Beautiful remnants of colonialism in Sri Lanka

The last week in sunny, tropical Sri Lanka gave me a pleasant surprise. Unlike India, this island country is CLEAN (be it the streets or markets or beaches); it appears that "tidy" is ingrained in the culture of the land.

The elegant colonial buildings (mainly from the Dutch-era) in every street have been immaculately maintained and lends super charm to this quaint country. 

I have a few nooks of colonial buildings to share with you readers - of homes, our resort and cafes that we went to. Let me transport you there instantly...

A grand entrance to an old house-cum-resort

A nook with precious collectibles in a Batik artist's home

Stylish traditional furniture, and the pattern play of light and shadow

White walls, dotted with deep brown furniture and plants

Old white, wooden doors with pretty carvings

Wooden clock

Old musical instruments make a conversation-starter nook

A lovely reading nook

What elements caught your eye here?

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