Junkie self-portrait

Lisa, over at the Satsumabug blogΒ often paints herself while looking in the mirror. In her own words, Lisa is a ‘transdisciplinary artist who works in text and image.’

Since I used to do stuff like that myself, I enjoy her blog for the way she keeps track of her experiments, the meticulousness with which she documents some of her more painstaking work, like this card she made for Valentine’s Day.Β 

These days I am a woman of few words, so I feel inadequate when it comes to describing anything or anyone much. And Lisa is all about introspection, so her blog is my go-to place when all I want to do is nod agreeably at what someone else is saying. She is just so wise. And articulate. I want her to infect me with her zest for life!

She has her off days too though, and this is what she has decided to do when her life feels out of balance. It’s so weird how often what she says resonates with me! I love the seemingly effortless way she puts into words everything I’m feeling or have felt.

Lisa, this post is for you. The least I can do is show you my junkie self-portrait. Just remember, this was done around eighteen years ago….and I don’t think it took more than 15 minutes πŸ™‚

Jazzing with colour!

When someone does not display any particular artistic skill for most of their childhood/teenage years, then one fine day decides to pick up a brush and proceeds to paint anything wooden she can get her hands on, one can’t help but shake one’s head in disbelief, amazement and yes a bit of amusement thrown in. You wonder if it’s a passing phase…..but then years go by, and she’s still at it, painting her heart out. For quite a few years now she has been running a shop from her house and has made a name and a niche for herself, going by the name ‘Articrafts’.

Over the course of time she has produced and sold a mind-boggling amount of work, and that would include just about anything she was obsessed by at a given point. She gets ideas, and then does not rest until she has given them some kind of form and shape.

She is, truly, an extremely creative woman, with an eye for colour and a sure, firm hand with a paintbrush or a sewing machine, whatever medium she chooses to dabble in, often combining all. The following sea of pictures should speak for themselves, I think.

I’m lucky that person is my little sister Fatu, so I get a lot of freebies πŸ™‚

Here is evidence of her work around my house….

this is a ceramic bowl she found in a flea market and painted a border to. it was just a plain blue bowl before this! i had to buy it off her when i saw it at her house because i couldn't take my eyes off it πŸ™‚
a tiny, gorgeously painted little wooden thingy I fell in love with too.
i asked Fatu to design a circular mirror for Amu, and this is what she came up with. I think she did a spectacular job, and it goes beautifully in Amu's room πŸ™‚
after the stupendous success of the blue mirror, I felt like putting mirrors everywhere, so I asked Fatu to make another one but with a different colour scheme. this one seems to be in a state of flux, as it has switched 3 places already and i'm seriously thinking of relocating it again. or maybe i'll ask her to make me yet another one. can't help it if i like circular mirrors can I?
this is supposed to be a keychain hanger and is one of the oldest of Fatu's things around my house. it belongs in my kitchen and I hang an assortment of dusters on it πŸ™‚
this is supposed to be a covered dustbin, but then I thought it was too pretty for trash. so we use it as something to store wires and camera paraphernalia and various other thingamajigs
a lovely compartmentalized jewellery box that prettifies my dresser πŸ™‚
this little wooden box was once part of a toy. Fatu painted it for me a long time ago and I use it as a place to store my most used recipes wriiten on squares of card paper πŸ™‚
plain, stained Thai trays, rejuvenated. for free! πŸ˜€
and a rack for newspapers...

Fatu makes lots of other stuff too, of course, and I feel you need to see that too. Most of it is made by a carpenter she hires, and she sands everything smooth, stains it, and embellishes it with some paint and finishes it with lots of lacquer so it doesn’t ever come off.

But she also scours the flea markets to look for worn-out old pieces, which she then proceeds to refurbish, thereby rescuing them and what is more, creating works of art that can be used on an everyday basis….

who says we can't scrub our feet with something pretty?
or wear pretty, painted wooden clogs in the bathroom? (trademark Fatu! they sell like hot cakes)
wooden trestles and spreads to match! (these sell like hotcakes too!)
the artist is not above painting her own clothes as well πŸ™‚
corner of a table, and a painted trunk in the background...
freshly painted keychain hangers
big, all-accomodating trays πŸ™‚
everything on this shelf is for sale πŸ™‚ so let me know if you like anything.
wooden bowls and spoons, renovated πŸ™‚
an assortment of colourful keychains
and candlestick holders...
handmade bags, designed and stitched entirely by Fatu herself. I have lost count of the hundreds she has made and sold!

She loves glimpsing sights of people carrying the bags that she has made, in places she never dreamed she would. And since she does not keep a proper inventory, she herself has no clue of the sheer volume of work she has done, nor does she really care to dwell on it. I find that amazing about her.

So this is my sister Fatu, everybody. If you live in Karachi, do check her out. Drop me a note here if you would like to contact her……maybe I could connect you. Or look for her page on Facebook….it’s called ‘Jazzing with colours’ and ‘like’ it. Or if all else fails, just email her at crazy_hair@live.com.

She’ll love to sell you her stuff πŸ™‚

Fluttering a summer away…an art project and some memories.

The year was 2002, and Huz had some work in the Maldives. Yes, you heard me right. The Maldives. He had to be there for a month, and luckily the time coincided with summer holidays for Amu, so after working out the feasibility of the two of us going along and staying at a nearby resort island while Huz ferried back and forth to work in Male, it was decided that we would accompany him πŸ™‚

In retrospect, it was probably the most idyllic month of our lives, and I would give an arm and a leg to be there now, when I have so many more digital cameras, but really, at the time I couldn’t help wondering what Amu and I would DO all day to keep us entertained. How much snorkelling and swimming can one possibly do? How much can you read in a hammock? How do you keep a four year old occupied all day for weeks on an island without any forms of recreation besides the obvious ones? How many sand castles can you make? (we made one every day πŸ˜› )

These are questions (among many more) that I may answer in some future blog post, with pictorial illustrations. For now, I will have you, my dear readers, know that I took along with me my paintbrushes, watercolours, and some good Cansen paper. And a Nature book on butterflies.

I love butterflies. They are the most mesmerising creatures (in my opinion) and I am blown away by the sheer variety of them. If one happens to flutter by, I will drop everything and watch it till it flutters away. It’s just one of those things you have to do. Watch butterflies, yeah.

I never liked the idea of real, dead butterflies framed and put on walls (no offense to anyone who does so, it just doesn’t appeal to me.) But I had an idea when I came across that book on butterflies in an old book store. Why not replicate them in watercolours?

So I decided to make that my summer project, and what better way to put your nose to the grindstone than to maroon yourself on a tiny Maldivian island?

Every day (after my post-breakfast nap) I sat down by the window in my beach bungalow, with all my paraphernalia laid out neatly. I would first sketch the butterfly, a painstaking process (when you’re feeling lazy in the summery torpor) because one half of the butterfly had to be an exact mirror image of the other half. Crazy concentration. Once the sketch was complete, I’d start mixing colours and painting.

When I look at my framed butterfly panels now, I associate them with that idyllic Maldivian summer of 2002. It brings back (slightly blurred) memories of white sand, dappled sunlight filtering in through the trees, turquoise waters and countless afternoons spent going for walks around Paradise island, sand castles, and yoga on the beach.

So I hope you enjoy looking at these today. I inscribed the scientific names of the butterflies underneath the watercolors because I love saying the names out loud and would have forgotten them otherwise…

To give you an idea of the size, these were all done on 5”x5” squares of white paper.

bottle green

Can you guess which one I love the most? What would you do for fun/recreation on a month-long getaway in Paradise? πŸ™‚