Thursday, May 17, 2018

Ramzan Mubarak.

The holy month of Ramadan or as we call it in the subcontinent "Ramzan" is here.
Time for fasting, praying, keeping away from all vices and regenerating mind, body and spirit...
Reconnecting with your soul and giving charity, helping the needy...
That is the spirit of Ramzan.
Happy fasting everyone.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

May 2018 Desktop Calendar... a watercolor Lily

I have realised one thing.... I love teaching art.
That doesnt mean that I want to be an art teacher in a school, I am still petrified of that...
and much to the disappointment of my kids...
Mainly the responsibility that comes with it.
I like teaching art on my own terms, at my own pace and as and when the mood takes me.
And also, because I am a little too social... I love meeting people and talking.
Again- not yak yak yak, all the time...thats soooo not me, but meeting people, knowing them, they knowing me....
Especially as we move to a new place every two years! 
So every two years you've gotto try and break the ice, make new acquaintances and who knows... good friends eventually?
And Army is a funny place...
As one's husband moves up in the hierarchy... no one wants to talk to you or take the first step!!
believe me when I say... NO ONE...
You are too senior for that and I've realised just how lonely that gets....
Especially if you are working from home, and haven't picked up a job in one of the schools (where you automatically make friends) 
So the only time you meet other people is, if u see them on a daily walk- you exchange smiles and move on...
You meet in a formal fauji party, you do small talk...
and thats it!!
You just dont end up laughing, joking with other people!!!
Getting to know them... gossip, talk inane stuff....
So what better way to break the ice?
Teach art, discuss art.... and over a hot cuppa coffee... discuss husbands and kids!
And voila you've broken the ice!

So my art classes are just that.
A good way to break the ice, get people together... have coffee, and have fun!
I have finished two batches already, of sketching-different levels.... will be putting up some demo sketches soon.
And the watercolor classes are coming along really well.
My rusty hands are getting to practice (rusty coz I have gotten too used to working digital and watercolor needs regular work!)
My students are practicing hard and blooming every day.
Its awesome to see them grow in the capabilities and the wonder and love that they develop of the scary medium that is watercolor!
Most of the work that I teach is not original... its mostly copywork from pretty watercolors or photographs off Pinterest or shutterstock...
so that they get the hang of copying first... then, I will be teaching them how to make thier own original art.
That will be fun.

So as its already the 7th of May, I thought why not convert a pretty lily watercolor (from a photograph) into this month's calendar.
I have also made a tiny 5 minute video of the entire process which will be up on Youtube as soon as I get the editing done.
Imovie is supposed to be easy... but learning the ropes on my own is pretty darn difficult... its trial and error most of the time, and bcoz you did just one thing wrong... you've gotto start again!
Its frustrating and eats up a lot of my time... but I have to get my Youtube Channel working ASAP!!
its high time, and Ive got soooooo many things to share and teach :-)
I told you, I am social!!
And virtual friends are another set of friends that I need...

and this one is for the phone or the tablet!

Save, and enjoy!

p.s.... These images are for u to enjoy personally.
They are copyrighted and NOT to be used for commercial purposes.
Thank you!

Monday, April 30, 2018

Monday Moment with my sketchbook! Some sketches, and a coupla cute watercolors

Just picked up a lovely brush pen from a Delhi stationary and I am loving it!
The lines are crisp, whether they are thin or thick and the ink is excellent-dark and deep....
Perfect for outlines and inking.

I am also busy with a few on-off art classes that I have been taking as per my schedule and the schedule of the busy-bee Army wives.
They are eager learners and are growing in thier expertise in leaps and bounds.
Here is a peek into a cute little watercolor portrait that I had done a while back:

And this is what I made for my FASHION FRIDAY!!
What I wore for a fun brunch date at a friend's place!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

A moment with my watercolors. Black is Beautiful

Trying hard to limp back to work, back to the old routine...
I've got no excuse to dilly-dally and procrastinate, so I have to get my life back on track and get all those things going that are on my mind and my to-do list.
One of them being the quick demos and YouTube videos that are just lying around, unedited and unfinished.
Also have to get my daily drawings, paintings, sketching back on.
At least however much I can manage with my busy schedule.
This watercolor was made for yesterday: "Wednesday Watercolors"
but I didnt get time to upload it here yet.
Adding it today.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Weekend Dhamaal: Interview with a Fauji wife: Sahana Ahmed

We, our phenomenal tribe of Armed Forces wives are a force to reckon with!!
We are enterprising, strong, connected, and extremely versatile.
We are ready to face whatever challenges that life throws at us with a "Bring it on" attitude and a fierce smile. These challenges may be career oriented, or vague postings to unknown, untouched back of beyond areas, or the upheaval that our children face with each new move every couple of years, long separations where we are virtually bringing up our children like a single parent, or the unsettled feeling that we get (which I am going through, these days) where we see our life pass us by and we feel that we are capable of soooo much more, if only we were posted to a better/bigger city with more opportunities...
And then we shake our head, shrug our shoulders and make the best of what we have.

I don't do interviews on my blog, though I have been contemplating doing a series on Army wives... authors(you wont believe how many published authors we have among us!) and  creative enterpreneurs, esp woman who have defied the odds and moved on from being just a Mrs. so-n-so.

And made an independent identity of themselves.

So when Juggernaut (a fantastic ebook website that functions as an app on your phone) approached me to do a write up about their upcoming author- Sahana Ahmed, on my blog, I jumped at the chance!

Not only because she is a fellow Army wife (though her husband is retired now) but I have had the opportunity to do some work for her, and I found her to be very warm, relatable and and extremely nice human being with a fabulous smile!
And when I read her ebook The Combat Skirts, (which by the way has been one of the most purchased books on Juggernaut, second month in a row since its debut!!!) I was enveloped in the same warm, fuzzy feeling that her persona exudes.
Sahana's style of writing is witty, charming and very relatable. One is immediately enveloped in the fun and tamasha of a girls' hostel and the trials and tribulations in the love life of the main protagonist, Saba. A fauji kid with a no nonsense approach to life.
Once I started, I read the book in one go, it was so much fun, like watching a well made rom-com!

So I sent her a Q&A, for all who aspire to have thier books published (even an ebook) can take some tips from her and learn about her inspirations and trials!

So here's my conversation with Sahana Ahmed:

1-   Tell us a bit about yourself… where are u from, your background+education.

I live in Gurgaon.

My childhood was typical of an Army kid of my generation; completed my schooling from eleven different places, then went on to study Hotel Management.

2-   So Sahana when did u realise that you had a writer inside you? Moved from writing school essays to writing a full fledged story?

I cannot remember a time when I didn’t write but it was always a hobby, never a career option.

3-   You are a defence kid… what was it like growing up? Did your childhood shenanigans influence the stories whirling inside you?

Oh, totally! Army kids are exposed to so much, it makes them natural storytellers. And there’s a market for our stories. Case in point, when Juggernaut read my story set in a Special Train, they loved it so much, they asked me to write a novel for them. They wanted a love story with an Army backdrop. That’s how ‘Combat Skirts’ was born.

4-   You have married an Army man, did you always want to marry an Army man and why or why not? and how different is the life of an army kid to an army wife? Did you come with some expectations as a wife, and how did they add up?

No, that wasn’t something I had ever actively thought about. I met my husband during Operation Parakram, and by the time we got married, he had retired: an option he exercised as a Short Service officer. Having said that, we are extremely close to his unit and I have never felt we aren’t in the Army anymore.

5-   Your main protagonist is a Army kid, what edge do you think army kids have over civilian kids in terms of outlook towards life, confidence and the hardships/separations they endure while growing up?

I had written an article about this, years ago, called ‘The Soldier and the Beauty Queen’. I used to own a training institute at that time where we had a wing for SSB coaching as well. I had written how Army kids did so well in beauty pageants, and also the hospitality industry, because soft skills came naturally to them. Growing up in the Army, with its challenges and its privileges, a child spontaneously imbibes what are called Officer-like-qualities.

In fact, this is a conversation that happens in my book more than once, most significantly in the climax.

6-   Any particular Indian writer whose books or style of writing really appealed to you or influenced you?

So many! Satyajit Ray, Ruskin Bond, R.K. Narayan... I would love to build my own Malgudi someday.

7-   Any particular routine that you follow when you write… as in when is the best time that you get the most output, and what timings do you follow, seeing that you are a young mother?

With ‘Combat Skirts’, I was writing under a deadline, so I had no choice but to cut myself off from everything. I constantly felt guilty about not spending enough time with my daughter, who was just five then. Thankfully, I have an extremely supportive husband who took care of everything, from lunchboxes to birthday parties to parent-teacher meetings.

As far as timings are concerned, I use my days for research and for the structural work, and at night, I write.

8-   Do you think for newbie writers its important to attend the writers workshops/seminars or take writing classes?

It has helped me. I was part of the 2016 Fiction batch of University of East Anglia’s Creative Writing India workshop. And even though I was pretty clear about what I wanted from my writing, the validation I received from my mentors was a shot in the arm for me. Actually, that is an understatement. The writers I met there continue to be my support system, and I cannot be grateful enough for them.

9-   A lot of Army wives and Army kids are becoming successful writers and bloggers and really creating a mark in the publishing world. Any particular book, blog that you like by people in your fraternity?

Well, Anuja Chauhan and Chetan Bhagat are Army brats too…

One book I would like to mention here, one I loved, is ‘Everyman's War’ by Capt Raghu Raman. And I love your blog, especially the illustrations.

10-  Thank you! What is next in your writing agenda? Do you have another book/story lined up?

I do have something in mind but that’s just a vague idea right now. I’ll spend a little more time with ‘Combat Skirts’, I guess.

11-  What according to you is the best route to take for a newbie author who has no publishing house connection… Take a risk and self publish? Or keep to the traditional way and approach the established publishing houses even if you get rejected time and again?

I would choose traditional publishing for a first-time author. Self-publishing or vanity publishing is easier but there is so much to learn from working with an established publisher.

12-  What do you think is the future for e-books?

I am all for books, regardless of the medium. I was one of the first writers to sign up with Juggernaut, which pioneered mobile publishing in the country, so I can speak from experience here. Today, other publishers are looking to create a digital platform for their books and there is huge money being invested, so the future is bright. However, a few things need to be looked into. Publishers need to ensure that the technology is stable. They need to ensure that e-books get marketing support beyond social media. Writers themselves need to treat e-books with more respect. And readers need to be more open-minded. E-books are as much books as emails are letters.

13-  Any parting words of advice for struggling writers who dream of making it big some day?

Send your writing out into the world, and by that, I do not mean social media. Submit your work to literary journals and magazines; keep an eye out for contests. Work hard, learn the craft, and hang in there.

So people, just head onto Juggernaut already, grab the Combat Skirts and have a warm n fuzzy weekend read!
Her website is:

Friday, April 6, 2018

Happy April 2018 with a Coloring Page Calendar!

All my to-do lists (which includes the making of a fun coloring book and a delicious recipe book, and the seed of a graphic novel, ummmm..... should I go on?) have all taken a backseat these days...
I just dont seem to get any time for myself and my personal work.
They are still there on the backburner... simmering within me... reminding me with each passing day that there are dreams sweetie, that you have to run after, that you have to plan for, fight for.....
No one else.
everything else is just life.... dont get sucked into it.
So at least set a time-line, woman!!!
So when making this month's calendar, my illustrative recipe book was on my mind...
I have gotto start working on it....
And maybe have a few coloring book tear-off pages at the back, for my readers to enjoy?
But for now...
This coloring page calendar is just for you my dear friends, to download, take a printout and color to heart's content.... or just use it as your Desktop Calendar....

In case you are confused about the fruits and what colors to be used for them... I will be posting a colored version of it over the weekend.... done digitally, but you can use colored pencils or markers. 
and maybe, not even wait for tomorrow.... just get coloring and use yr imagination!

A few more coloring pages to download and have fun with:

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