Al dente Art

A couple of days ago, I came across a T-shirt company whose slogan is “Perfectly imperfect”.

I gaped in mild dismay “That should be my slogan” I thought ” They have my slogan!! Imperfection is definitely MY thing!”

It’s true, I do like my design a little under-cooked, which is why I love printmaking so much. Imperfection is pretty much a given.
Have a look at these decidedly al dente mono prints I made this morning. I think they would make lovely greeting cards, or coloring sheets. The ones with clouds make me want to draw or write messages on them.

I have also been mistreating my kitchen again, and have just finished preparing some screens with new designs on them.
Tomorrow I start printing bags…and shirts…and pillowcases…and anything else that I can get my hands on that has a printable surface (I can hear my husband gulping nervously).


That’s tomorrow. Right now I’m taking a little break to do some paintings with my daughter. Under-cooked paintings. The best kind!

Ink and Courage

When I was 19 years old, I convinced my parents that I was mature enough to travel around Northwestern India on my own. I obviously possessed greater powers of courage and persuasion then.
My idea was to travel around with a sketchbook and camera, and produce an amazing portfolio of work that would help me to get into an Art college of my choice.

It worked.

While on this trip, I often ran out of art materials in places where there were no stores that sold them, so I improvised.  I painted with spices such as turmeric and chilli, and used old pieces of fabric and packaging to draw on.  But my favorite of these ad hoc materials by far was a stick from a neem tree that I had carved to a point. I happily filled sketchbooks with big, drippy ink drawings, and actually had a period of mourning when the stick finally broke, exhausted by my furious scribbling.

Many years later, I would range around woodlands like a crazed yeti, collecting sticks and branches for my students to dip into ink and draw with at school.

I have recently rediscovered the joys of  drawing with ink. It is really so much fun.
It is hard not to relax when you draw with ink, because you have less control over the sorts of marks you produce, every line has an unexpected beauty to it. Try it.

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Loosen up lady!

A blog about drawing and un-drawing….

I have produced some pretty uptight drawings, and now I’m going to have to unravel them a bit.

One of the things I like most about henna, or mehndi, is the fluid way in which it is drawn. Henna artists don’t really plan out their designs in advance, they just draw instinctively, and make things up as they go along. Definitely my kind of work process.

I chose a chunky marker as my drawing tool, because I thought it would help me produce bold and fluid drawings.
Henna patterns do tend to be very intricate, so I instinctively slowed down. As a result, the drawings are more ‘tight’ and controlled than I would like. More Doris Day than Katherine Hepburn. More chamber music than jazz. You get the picture.
A bit too stylised for my liking. I don’t really want my drawings to look too much like traditional henna designs.

Still, a start is a start…and I have lots of ideas about how to develop them.

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The drawings will get more scribbly, dribbly and fluid. I think they need to get simpler as well. Then I need to think about……shirts! Yes, we are back to the shirts. Time to start thinking about Autumn/Winter.

Return of the Thing

Ironwork window frame in India

So here I am, back in the US of A. Land of the free, home of the brave, I’ll definitely need to remember the brave part, because right now I am shaking in my rubber flip flops.

The idea of getting back into the swing of things is fairly terrifying right now.
Breaks are good, very good, but this break has been so long (long enough for a million Kit Kits) that I feel disoriented. I don’t know what to do with myself anymore, where do I even start when it comes to Noctiluna?

To tell the truth, I’m surprised they let me back in. I could tell the immigration officer was having second thoughts even as I scuttled off to collect my luggage.
My return was not very graceful. I kind of stumbled back into the country covered in biscuit crumbs and baby vomit, dragging my two kids and numerous suitcases stuffed with tea, chocolate, Marmite, and countless other British comfort givers behind me. Things that I hope will keep me in a fog of near-pleasure during my first few weeks back, while I yearn for the company of my parents and homeland.

I plan to start drawing today, that always helps. Big, bold marker drawings, inspired by henna patterns and Indian textiles.
Over the weekend I visited the African Art Museum in DC, and saw an amazing exhibition of work by Lalla Essaydi, a Moroccan born artist. It was a case of being in the right place at the right time. Her use of pattern and scale and script, and her choice of drawing medium (henna) struck a chord within me. Her photos are absolutely stunning. Visit the exhibition if you live nearby, and be inspired.

I’ll be back with some drawings very soon, promise!