Saturday, February 28, 2015

Saturday Art School: A Watercolor Fashion Portrait

Been missing from my Saturday Art School a little too long...
Though I have a lot of fun Art tutorials lined up for all of you... a bit of watercolor, a bit of sketching and even a few oil painting tips and cheats ideas...and of course- my favorite kids cartoon tutorials.
but we will get to all of those by and by...
first up is a watercolor tutorial for making a fashion portrait
whats with a fashion portrait you ask?
Well- firstly its from a fashion photograph and is slightly more minimalistic with bolder strokes than normal traditional watercolor portrait.
One person who does FANTASTIC fashion portraits is David Downton and I always look to his work for inspiration.

So this is the portrait that we will be learning to paint:

we start with a sketch of the face in a light pencil:

Add a watery wash of skin color around the upper eyes and side of the nose (watery burnt sienna)
and a bit on the eyebrows as well. (mix of raw umber or a darker shade of brown)

Add a little more of the wash around the side of the face that is flanked by the hair as well as a little darker hue on the cheekbones.
Add a few strokes under the eyes as well as the shadow of the lips+nose -like shown.

Add a light wash along the jawline with the same skin combo
Add a watery vermilion color for the lips- leaving a bit of white in the centre of the lips as shown.

Now take a wash of yellow ochre for the initial layer of the hair (just simple strokes)
and the add a bit of burnt sienna to the yellow to add some depth.

Continue with the other side of the hair- using the same loose strokes.

Take diluted prussian blue mixed with a teensie little black, and draw a clean stroke on the upper lids of the eye as well as the centre of the eye.
A little lighter stroke on the edge of the lower lid as well.
With a darker shade of brown (burnt sienna) add some depth on the lips too.

Now for some detailing with the same shades of blue- with and without the tinge of black...
to color the the eyeballs as well as the eyelashes.

Follow the same steps with the other eye as well as darken the pupils slightly as shown 
in the picture.
Darken the eyebrows and the eyelids as with a fresh wash of diluted color.
Add a shade darker to the lips- not in its entirety, but where its shown in the picture.

Add a few strokes of washed out-diluted black in the background- esp around the lighter hair- to bring out the golden beauty of the hair.

Darken the black now and use oncentrated color but with real loose strokes to darken the background and the scarf that she has around her neck..
Add a few diluted strokes in the hair to add more depth.

 and voila! the pretty woman is complete.
 I hope you found the tutorial useful and it has inspired you to get started?

Top post on, the community of Indian Bloggers

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tuesday Mexican Treat: Spicy Chicken Quesadillas

I absolutely luuurve Tex-Mex Food, the flavors seem somehow similar to our spicy Indian palette yet different because of their use of sour cream and guacamole and salsa... 
Its same-same yet different... and thats the fun of it!
And this recipe is another one of my favorite crowd pleasers- easy to assemble and cook and deliciously melt in your mouth-cheesy.
And whats not to love about the taste of hot melting cheese mixed with spicy chicken and creamy sour cream?

And as I had a bit of a problem getting the pronunciation right in the beginning- here is a little help for those of you who want to know:   Quesadillas- Cay-suh-dee-yuh

Now the recipe given below uses uncooked chicken (because thats what I used), but you can also use any left over chicken that you might have- a skinless-rotisserie chicken or a roasted tandoori chicken...
But it should be spiced up a little...
Bland chicken is no fun in a Mexican cuisine.

(makes 16 pieces)

2 Chicken breast pieces cut in long strips
2 tbsp oil
1.5 tbsp Taco mix* (store bought or home-made)
1 green or red bell pepper chopped in strips
1 onion chopped long
1.5 cup grated cheese- preferably cheddar cheese or any other that's handy and melts.
1 cup thinly sliced carrot and cucumber
8 tortillas or lightly cooked whole wheat rotis(made of dough mixed with a bit of oil) 
2-3 tbsp butter
1 cup sour cream
1 cup salsa

1- Take the chicken strips in a bowl and add 1 tbsp of Taco mix, coat it thoroughly.
2- Heat oil in a non stick pan and add the chicken. Cook for 5-10 minutes till its cooked through but not burnt.
3- Remove the chicken and add a little sprinkle of oil in the same pan.
4- Saute onions in the oil till they become soft and change color.
5- Add the bell peppers, remaining Taco mix and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes on high heat.
6- Now add the chicken to the onions and bell peppers and cook for another minute or so.

1- Take a tortilla or a semi cooked roti- lay it flat on a plate.
2- Add the chicken mix to one half of the tortilla
3- Lay on a bit of the carrot and cucumber salad
4- sprinkle the grated cheese generously
5- Now fold over the other half of the tortilla over the mixture, to form a half moon
6- Repeat the process with the other tortillas.
7- Take a grill pan, grease it lightly with a cooking spray or a dab of butter and cook these quesadillas on medium heat (pressing slightly so the cheese melts) till golden brown on both sides.
TIP: if you dont have a grill pan, you can cook these Quesadillas on a normal pan or even a grill panini maker (sandwich maker)
8- Cut the moon shape quesadillas into further halves and serve with a blob of delicious sour cream and salsa.

*Recipe for Home-made Taco Mix
1tbsp chilli powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp chilli flakes
1.5 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp dry oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
Mix all the ingredients and store in an airtight container to use as when required.
Even good for roasting meat (as a rub)

Nominated for the Top Post on Indiblogger!! 
Top post on, the community of Indian Bloggers     

for another Mexican dish: Chicken and Mushroom sour cream Enchiladas (click here)

or more food options in yummy cakes, good looking and delicious main dishes etc. click here

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Thursday Thought with my morning cuppa and a watercolor!

Today is my elder son's 11th birthday, Mashallah! 
and seeing the joy on his face when we wish him in the morning and give him his much awaited gift... makes me feel loved and blessed...
There are so many things in life we take for granted...
don't thank the Almighty enough for the simple joys and pleasures that he has blessed us with...
So today's thought is for appreciating sooooo many beautiful things in life that we can be happy about...
For example a quiet cup of tea ( or coffee) in the mornings when the house is blissfully silent (and everyone is off to school and work) and you can sit and enjoy sipping a cuppa or two...

basking in the soft winter morning... with a banana muffin!

Voted most popular post-

Top post on, the community of Indian Bloggers

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine Specials: 10 Red Decadent Foods to Blow yr mind!

Happy Valentines Day everyone....

I have been wanting to make some nice, yummy, absolutely sinful dessert today...
But unfortunately my army man is on a strict diet... got his medicals coming up and he has to spruce up his act!!
So I had kinda given up on making anything even vaguely sinful...
and then I got to know that there is a party tonight and I have just the dessert to take to my hostess of the evening...
They are celebrating thier anniversary and I have a red velvety... creamy, chocolaty concoction coming up!!
while I make it- and cross my fingers that it comes out decent...
I have lined up some wonderful...RED, decadent desserts for your V-Day!
Please click on the titles to go to the recipes of the desserts.

Aaaaaand the masterpiece is this absolute stunner of a dessert given below...
Which I am making tonight!
Though this recipe calls for everything store bought- the cake mix as well as the frozen pie crust...
I am making everything from scratch...
So keep a look out for my version of this piefor all of you who dont have the resources like me, or who want to try everything from the start....
will keep you posted!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Knife Oil Painting update... and its up already!

Ok this is one of those themes that was on my mind but I just wasnt getting down to it...
The dynamic fluid movements of a Flamenco dancer but not "photo-finished" and perfect, if you know what I mean?
all random, fluid colors and movement but no definite face and form...
And I wanted it BIG...
something on the lines of at least 5 feet, so that it could fit snugly above my big-black sofa!
haha... thats the best part about painting for your own home... you can get exactly what you envision!

So I first had a frame made... stretched and stapled the canvas on it...
gave it a wash of Fevicol and water and let it dry....
and then got started with the sketch...
Sketched the dancer with burnt sienna diluted with turpentine, sketched, erased with a dry cloth, then drew again, till I got the form, movement, and the size of the dancer just right!

Finally made this one slightly bigger than the sketch given above...
Filled in the background and the shadows with diluted color (diluted with turpentine becoz it dries faster)
added white where I thought I would be putting in the highlights.
Dont worry- you can keep changing as you keep painting- thats the beauty of oil painting!

Next I started mixing a bit of linseed into the colors as I was starting on blocking the colors of the background... 
where I thought I would be putting say "shades of blues/yellows" or blacks etc.
Linseed oil becoz it gives the colors a sheen and takes longer to dry, so I can keep blending colors.  

Kept adding more colors till I got the base of the painting in just the right colors....

Some more yellows and deeper blues with vibrant reds....
So the painting is coming along nicely....

And now the fun part...
Layering on thick colors with different palette knives- bringing out the flowing shawl and the dress...

A close up.....

The vibrant background

and here she is...
dancing, moving, fluid....
I think I am quite happy with it! :-)

Aaaaand its up!!
In its full glory....

and even at the risk of repeating myself... 

and just for you all... 
here is a peek at the rest of the living room...

Friday, February 6, 2015

Friday Food for the Soul: Carrot-Orange Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting.

I absolutely love citrus flavors... whether its the tanginess of the lemon or the beautiful sweet aroma of the oranges... it just adds a different dimension to your cakes and bakes and even stir fries and curries!
Takes it to the next level!
Gives an exotic twist to the boring old salad dressing, or flavorful oomph to a glaze or a marinade  or an amazing kick to your frosting!
which is what I have tried here...

My take on the normal Carrot Cake with normal Cream Cheese Frosting...
just add the zest of oranges in both and you have:

Carrot-Orange Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

dry ingr:
1 cup all purpose + 1 cup whole wheat flour.
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1 tsp salt
sift them together at least twice so that they they get mixed well.

other ingr:
4 eggs at room temperature
3/4 cup refined oil
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup sugar
4 cups grated carrot
grated zest of one full orange (be careful NOT to grate the white part coz its bitter)
the zest should be about 1 tbsp

1- Preheat the oven at 180C
2- Sift all the dry ingr. like mentioned above.
3- Take two bowls... in one beat the eggs with the vanilla essence, set aside.
4- In the other bowl beat together oil and sugar till creamy
5- With the beater speed on low- add 1/3 of the flour, then 1/3 of the egg+essence mixture.
6- Keep adding the flour and the eggs alternatively, till they are all finished and just mixed.
7- Now add the carrots and blend with hand and spatula, NOT the blender.
8- Add the orange zest and mix all of them gently till everything is blended well.
Do not beat.
9- Spoon the mixture into the cupcakes till a little more than 1/2 in each cup.
10- Bake at 180C for 20 minutes, please check with a toothpick to see if done.


now for the cream cheese frosting while the cupcakes cool off.

8 oz packaged cream cheese or like me- I used one pack of Amul Cheese Spread
1 tsp vanilla essence
Grated zest of one medium sized orange
2 cups icing sugar or powdered sugar
1/4 cup of softened butter OR butter at room temperature.

1- Beat butter and cream cheese
2- Slowly add the powdered sugar and vanilla essence and the orange zest.
3- Increase the speed and beat till creamy and the sugar is well incorporated into the frosting.
4- Pipe it onto the now cooled cupcakes or if too impatient... just slather it on and enjoy!

NOTE: if baking a cake instead of cupcakes- please just change the baking time to 35 minutes.

Like I made this yummy looking simple Carrot Bundt Cake first, with the simple cream cheese frosting.... just follow the same procedure given above and omit the orange zest.

for more ideas on cakes:


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