Posts Tagged ‘art’

Whimsical Winter Craft Project
Author: Guest Blogger

This post is authored by Bhavna Mehta – art educator and founder of Hansa Arts.  Bhavna teaches art classes in the San Diego area for children and adults, including drawing, painting and other paper crafts.  She also teaches a class in Upcycled Art at UC San Diego, where students explore how to recycle and reuse materials to make art.

My Changing Garden


5 sheets of white paper – 8.5″ x 8.5″
1 sheet of colored paper – 8.5″ x 8.5″
Glue stick, Scissor, Stapler, 2 paper clips
Ruler, pencil, eraser, color pencils

Take each sheet of white paper and fold it in half lengthwise.  Glue the 2 insides together to form a thicker sheet of paper.  These are the pages of your book.

Now make measurements and lines on the first page as shown below.  Collect the 5 sheets and cut them all together on the red line.  Each page will now have 4 sections.

Cut the colored sheet of paper in half lengthwise and use that as the front and back cover.  Staple along the side as shown.

Your book is now ready!  Decorate the front cover with the name of your book.  Feel totally free to change the name and the design.

Now you draw inside the book! On the first page – draw the 4 sections of a potted plant as shown. Stem and flower in the top section, leaves in the second, pot in the third, and a base on the fourth.

Now comes the fun part.  SImply turn the top section and draw another flower on the next page, taking care to match the stem from the previous page to the new flower.

Turn the second section of page 1 and draw new leaves on page 2, taking care the stem of the leaves will go into the pot on page 1.

And so on.  Do this for all sections and the 5 pages.  See a bunch of pictures below.

You can play with your book endlessly, mixing and matching flowers and leaves and pots and bases.  See which one you like the best!

You can make a Mix and Match Book with a variety of subjects.  See another one below.  Instead of staples, I have used thread and needle to do Japanese binding.  You can also use a sewing machine.

Section 1:  Head and hair
Section 2:  Torso and arms and clothing
Section 3:  Legs, clothing
Section 4:  Feet and shoes

© 2011 Hansa Arts
Hansa Arts offers creative, unique (and truly inspirational) project ideas for kids and adults.  Bhavna also recently held a Portrait Workshop in Ahmedabad for disadvantaged kids – you can see some of the creations here. Truly heartwarming!


I am loving these paintings by Kolkata artist Krishnendu Chaki for my kids rooms. They are from a collection entitled Folk Tale. They are happy, colourful and remind me of Indian folk art – kalighat maybe?

Images from Mon Art Gallerie (available for purchase)


This post is authored by Ms. Dithi Chakrabortty, a self-taught freelance artist from Geneva, Switzerland.  Dithi’s work has been featured in various Indian and international magazines and websites.  She takes on private commissions and also sells her work online through her Etsy shop.

Here is a step-by-step on how to draw Goddess Lakshmi, one of my favourite subjects – along the lines of how I would do it.  Depending on the age of your little one(s), you can have them draw just the face, down to the torso or even the whole figure.  Enjoy!

Draw a straight line along the mid-point of your drawing sheet – this will help maintain symmetry as you proceed.  Start with a circle on the top half for the face and follow by drawing a semicircular crown around it.  Two smaller circles can be drawn on both sides of the face to mark the ends of the Goddess’s crown.

Next, fill-in the facial features and mark the hair-line as shown above.  Draw paisley shapes inside the circles at both ends of the crown.  Then, draw two lines downwards from both sides of the face to mark the neck.  Add semicircular lines end to end to mark the pearl necklaces.

The crown can now be filled with any design of your choice.  Usually a Goddess’s crown is depicted in gold and studded with jewels (emeralds, rubies and pearls, for example).  I have added two circular earrings right below the crown. We can then proceed to draw the torso and end with the Goddess’s legs wrapped up in a padmasana posture (the 8-shaped form or the lotus sitting posture).  We can also draw the left foot, as this is the only one that shows through Her saree.

Next we draw Maa Lakshmi’s flowing hair –  downwards from her crown.  The hands on both sides have very specific mudras (hand gestures):  in her right hand, She holds a lotus with her open palm (a sign of blessing for Her devotees) and her left hand holds a bunch of rice grains (note her left arm is wrapped around a pot of gold).

Filling-in the details once you have the outlines ready is the fun part.  Draw the petals of the lotus as Her seat to complete the drawing. Voila – Maa Lakshmi drawing simplified.

Hope you all have fun with this.

© 2010 Dithi Chakrabortty

Raising Young Artists
Author: Guest Blogger

(Image © 2008 Dithi Chakrabortty)

This post is authored by Ms. Dithi Chakrabortty, a self-taught freelance artist from Geneva, Switzerland. Dithi’s work has been featured in various Indian and international magazines and websites. She takes on private commissions and also sells her work online through her Etsy shop.

My childhood – including my family and the home that I grew up in –  has almost everything to do with my love for art.  I remember vividly my very first art lesson, at 4 years of age:  my mother was teaching me how to draw flowers.  She would emphasize drawing “clear, confident lines” and would say “….try to use the eraser as less as possible, keep it neat.” I probably fell in love with creating art right then, watching Maa enjoy herself as she drew a bouquet sitting pretty in a vase with a Camel HB pencil – helping me with my first drawing copy.

A lot of learning and inspiration came from the family.  Both of my two elder sisters loved art and crafts.  Sitting down to paint was a way to relax for all three of us –  on weekends and even on some vacations.  Both parents encouraged us to take our art-kits along when we travelled – so we could draw scenes from holidays to bring back home as visual journals.

Then there was this one-of-a-kind art school that we attended (all three of us in succession) in the quaint little town where we grew up – very close to Kolkata, India.  It was a school that didn’t just hand out certificates to students at the end of a cut and dry curriculum; it was a place where kids learnt how to enjoy and immerse themselves in the process of creating something that is their own.  One of the many interesting activities in our class was when our teacher took a blank page from each one of our copies, hand-drew borders to the page and then wrote in the top right hand corner Mon theke which in Bengali means “from your imagination.” Those blank bordered pages became the windows that led us into our own creative worlds.

Meaningful family activities can go a long way in stimulating children to express themselves creatively.  Every time there was a birthday in our family, for example, it was sort of a tradition to make gifts and greeting cards from the scratch (buying presents was not considered a cool thing to do as it was the “easier-way-out”).  Not just that, we would make gifts out of recycled products – the idea was to create something thoughtful and relevant, with whatever resources were around.  So birthdays meant thinking ahead of time, trying to conceive an appropriate gift without being repetitive and then giving that idea shape and form.

Making art, as you can see by now, is associated with loads of happy memories from childhood, probably the reason why it still remains for me:  a therapeutic process and one of the best ways to unwind and introspect.  This, to my mind, is one of the most valuable gifts parents can give to their children – enabling them to appreciate the fact that you will have a beautiful friend in any form of art, be it music, painting, photography, drama or dance – a  friend that is demanding but one that will never fail you.  On that note, I hope all of you parents reading this today will take a page Mon theke and give that to your little one(s), letting their creativity take flight and letting them have fun as they fill it up.

© 2010 Dithi Chakrabortty


This post is authored by Ms. Dithi Chakrabortty, a self-taught freelance artist from Geneva, Switzerland.  Dithi’s work has been featured in various Indian and international magazines and websites.  She takes on private commissions and also sells her work online through her Etsy shop.

India boasts of an immensely diverse platter of folk art forms – each one heavily influenced by the culture and people of its region-of-origin, and each unique in its style and technique.  Growing up in West Bengal, I had many opportunities to come face-to-face with several different folk art styles, be it the patachitras (scroll paintings) from Kalighat, the terracotta horses from Bankura, or the floor paintings known as Aalpona that adorn every household during festivals and weddings.  Durga Puja pandals (temporary structures to house the Durga idols for the 10-day festival), for example, would be an ideal playground for folk-artists to showcase their craftsmanship (and a treat for us gawkers to relish magnificent displays of indigenous folk art).

Even as a child, I was intrigued by and drawn to folk forms of art, be it in paintings or in sculpture.  Their beautiful detail, their naive and rustic quality, the use of traditional designs and simple themes, the unapologetic use of vibrant colours and the intricate patterns make these art-forms so rich and so Indian in character.  Not a surprise, then, that much of my love for everything folk spills over in my work as well!

The paisley motif (known as Kolka in Bengali), for example, is a very popular pattern used in many Aalpona designs.  I used this as the base to develop the jewel-studded ends for the crown of Goddess Lakshmi (Maa Lokhhi) in this painting:

(Images © 2008 Dithi Chakrabortty)

Folk art has influenced the work of many artists from time to time.  Kalighat Patachitra is one such style (named after its inception and presence right outside the famous Kali temple in Kalighat, Kolkata) and has influenced many renowned Bengal-school artists over the years.  Jamini Roy, one of the greatest Indian painters of the 20th century from Bengal, was greatly inspired by and prolific in the use of the Kalighat lines and themes.

Images: (left) Typical Kalighat painting;  (right) Jamini Roy art (Theme: Household cat with Prawn)

Here is a little background on 3 popular Indian folk art forms.


Image Source:

:  Bihar
Medium:  Vegetable dyes on handmade paper
Themes:  Hindu Mythology, nature, daily life and social functions
Special features:  The paintings are made with bamboo sticks; hence, the lines are very thin and sharp, with prominent black outlines and intricate patterns.  Popular themes are Gods and Goddesses as well as women, birds and fish.  Originally, only the women of the village Madhuban were authorized to make these paintings.  Over a period of time, men and children were brought into the fold and now entire families are dedicated to this tradition.


Image Source: miniimpex

Origin:  Bengal (Orissa, West-Bengal)
Medium:  Vegetable colours or ink on handmade paper or palm leaves
Themes:  Mostly narrative
Special FeaturesPatachitras are narrative scroll paintings. Many different styles of patachitras exist, the most famous ones being those from Orissa and Kalighat, Kolkata.  Indigenous artists sometimes try to spread social messages through their scrolls and often accompany the display of each piece with a self-composed song that explains the story as the scroll unfolds.

Interesting Link:  The ancient art of patachitra meets modern day advertising.

Warli Paintings

Image Source:

Origin:  Maharashtra
Medium:  White pigments on earthen walls or terracotta
Themes:  Nature and village life
Special Features:  Historians believe that the Warli tradition (named after a tribe that makes this art) can be traced back to as far as the Neolithic period between 2,500 BC and 3,000 BC.  Warli paintings are a celebration of life, nature and tribal living.  Geometric patterns painted in white on a terracotta backdrop draw scenes from village life, depicting man and nature side by side.  The wedding scene complete with ritualistic detail is a very popular theme with Warli artists.

Exposure to folk art from India is a wonderful way to introduce your kids to India’s creative traditions.  You can visit galleries, ethnic craft fairs or even check out books from the library.  Encourage your kids to examine the art and then let them depict a subject of their choice in a folk style they like.  Enjoy!

© 2010 Dithi Chakrabortty


painting by Chittra Singh

We’ve been seeing a lot of rainbows lately.  With the official start of spring and last week’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration at school, suddenly rainbows are everywhere.  (We also featured them in our March Newsletter as part of our Holi special).

So our latest Telugu letter is i for indradhanussu (or indradhanush in Hindi and Gujarati).  It’s a mouthful to say, but its derivation is simply divine:  dhanussu or dhanush means “bow” – so the word literally translates to “Lord Indra’s bow.”  How perfect:  as we stated in our newsletter, the word is a “linguistic affirmation of a rainbow’s ethereal link between the heavens and the Earth.”

Featured above is a gorgeous painting entitled Rainbow Dream by UP artist Chittra Singh (you can see more of her works at – she ships worldwide).  And here are a few more examples of rainbows-done-right (from the left):  rainbow animal alphabet by Katy Holmes, sophisticated rainbow girl’s room featured at ohdeedoh, and Nova Natural’s Four Elements Blocks.

The Art Bug
Author: Gnaana

In Summer by Pintu Paul

In Summer by Pintu Paul

Some people get hit with the Travel Bug.  I get hit with the Art Bug (in addition to the Travel Bug).  It usually happens when I’m staring at a wall in our house and decide I’m not happy with what’s currently hanging there (usually a print or photograph).  My problem is that I’m in love with contemporary Indian art – a sublime fusion of modern and ancient.  So I just can’t skip off to some L.A. art gallery.

India has some amazing artists. When my husband and I were living in Bangalore, we took full advantage.  One of the pieces we purchased was by up-and-coming Bengali artist Pintu Paul. (It’s a stunning piece entitled “Krishna to Battle” in which Paul cleverly replicates (with paint) the old tradition of temple stone work with a modern, abstract twist.)

Fortunately for us, there are quite a few online galleries that sell contemporary Indian art – at price points much lower than what you’ll find anywhere in North America or Europe.  Two of our favourites are Mon Art Gallerie (based in Kolkata) and Different Strokes (based in Udaipur). The galleries typically ship just the canvas – great for saving on shipping costs.

So many walls….so many wonderful (and affordable) choices.  Great art inspires our whole family!