Rudrapur

Rudrapur, is a city in Uttarkhand (uttara-northern, khand-land). The city is located in the fertile Terai region of northern India that is crisscrossed by rivers which flow from the Himalayas. On a clear day the Kumaon ranges of Himalayas can be sighted like a misty dream.

My husband lives in an apartment that oversees a  mustard field. A railway line runs along the apartment block and on the other side stretches sugarcane fields and  woods filled with poplar trees.

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It was winter in Rudrapur when I visited, and I took long walks to keep myself warm during the day. I left home soon after breakfast and came back  for lunch, went out again till late evening to ramble through fields and visit villages tucked behind woods and  paddy fields. This became my routine everyday.

There was hectic activity in the fields. It was harvest time for sugarcane and green peas. Tractors were loaded with harvested sugarcanes and the pea plants were hurled to the backs of bicycles and tricycles. The peas were shelled overnight and taken to the market the next day morning.

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I walked past farmsteads that grew wheat.  Poplar trees formed boundaries to farms and villages.

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Poplars are deciduous trees and were bare, their thin fingers pointing to the sky.

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I sat at the edge of the woods and painted these trees.

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It was my second day outdoors. A young man rode past on his bicycle, he came back.
‘I saw you near Fauji Matkota yesterday,’ he said.
I showed him the painting from the previous day. He was curious to know about me, why I had walked so far.
‘It is cold inside the house, and it is warm and beautiful out here.’
He nodded as he looked at my other paintings from the sketch book. He showed me the water color painting of the sea.
‘Where is this place?’
‘Near Chennai. Have you heard of Madras?’
He flipped through the pages in the book, looked at the paintings from my travels. As if he finally discerned what I do with my time, he pointed ahead.
‘Come to my village Burrarani tomorrow, there are beautiful fields that you can paint.’

We chatted for a while, he told me that he owned a tractor and lent his services during harvest time. He brought my attention to the poplars, showed that the trees were planted in perfect rows.
‘I run my tractor between the trees where wheat paddy is grown.’

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The next day I went to Burrarani, and painted a paddy field and the poplars that stretched beyond. I did not meet the young man. He told me the previous day that he had a job in a tinkering shed in Rudrapur when there was no work for him in the farm.

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Munnar

We were at crossroads as a family when we planned this holiday in Munnar. My husband had taken a new assignment in Uttarkand, I had to stay back in Chennai to take care of my ailing mother-in-law, and my son who had just then completed college was on the verge of a new phase of life. It was a difficult decision we made to function as a long distance family, and the more we thought about it the more desolate we felt. That was when we thought a holiday would help.

A year later and after many visits to the picturesque Uttarkand, I am posting these paintings from my visit to Munnar.

 

 

 

Seascapes

I love living in Madras, and the reason is the sea and the long beaches. In any place that is not along the sea coast I feel landlocked and as if  suffocated. When the sea has such an influence over me, it is only befitting that I paint it. I have begun a series of 100 seascapes.

Though I have not set any time to this undertaking, the last few weeks I have been diligently visiting the beaches along the East Coast and painting the sea at sunrise and sunset. I have tried capturing light and mood of the water and sky in water, acrylic  and pastel colours.

I worked on one of the paintings from a  photograph I took of the sea. A particular morning the light was magical, I wanted to express the drama with acrylic colours on canvas.

Dry pastel sticks are useful to work, especially when you want to rub and blend colours. But carrying the painting home without fixing it is difficult. I wanted to check if water soluble pastels will be of use for quick sketches and for filling a large painting area. I bought a box of water soluble oil pastels and tried a seascape one pleasant evening, at the time when the sky was turning purple and peach.I could not complete the painting, it was taking more time with water soluble pastels than I expected. I had to take a photo, go home and complete the painting. The style I adopt with this medium is totally different than with dry pastel sticks. I work layer by layer, much like with acrylic.

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Pastel sticks on paper

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Water colour on Canson paper

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Water colour on Canson paper

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Water colour on Canson paper

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Water soluble oil pastel on Canson paper

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Acrylic on canvas

Puhar

Kaveri Poompatinam was an important port city during the Sangam Age in the 4th century BCE . It was the capital of the Chozhas. The flourishing capital city was also known as Puhar, aaru puhum edam, the place where the river enters the sea. River Kaveri drains into  Bay of Bengal here.

The city is immortalized by the great literary work ‘Silapadikaram’ written by the Chozha poet prince Illango Adigal. It was in the golden sands along the river that Madhavi the dancer mesmerised the rich merchant Kovalan with her poetry and music.

‘Silapadikaram’ describes the city in great detail – the two regions Maruvoor pakkam and Pattina pakkam divided by sprawling gardens, the king’s palace built of wood, the temple taller than the palace, the viharas built by rich merchants for Buddhist monks, terraced mansions where the nobles lived, busy market places called angadis (there were the day and night markets called naalangadi and allangadi), the dockyard and the port where large ships from Roman lands visited carrying precious stones like carnelian and lapis lazuli.

Below is an artist’s recreation of the port city. Nothing of this has survived because it is believed that the ancient city was destroyed by giant waves.

You can read more about Puhar here.

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I visit Puhar very often, it takes six hours by road from Chennai. Time cannot take away the magic of this place, the city is deeply entrenched in the collective subconscious of the Tamil people. There are too many ghosts here that beckon me. Here are a few paintings from my previous visit to Puhar.

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