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Archive for the ‘Visual arts: Folk art, paintings, fashion…’ Category

Swati Rastogi – custom arts and products

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This month’s artist feature is a showcase of our very own city’s local talent Swati Rastogi.

We stumbled upon Swati’s breathtaking work at the Newton India day festival with her display of eye-catching lanterns and vases.

Lantern                Tea light, candle, Om

Each piece of Swati’s art is painstakingly hand crafted and one of a kind.  Swati is highly influenced by Indian folk art (Gond, Warli, Madhubani and Patachitra).  She also finds inspiration in images of the sun, Shiva, Om and Sanskrit Slokas.

What drew us to Swati’s work was her ability to marry an ancient and traditional art style to everyday household articles and that too with a modern flair.  Swati’s style is influenced by the bold brush strokes of Jamini Roy but she doesn’t shy away from any medium whether its water /poster colors, acrylics enamels or even pencil and charcoal

Swati-charcoal                 Swati-photoframe

To find out more about Swati’s eclectic collection or purchase/commission one of a kind gifts (including artwork on fabrics and bags and canvas), please contact her at or on 1-617 955 9431


Written by Redpatang

February 7, 2013 at 11:57 am

Almost grounded – Comic strip by Manjiri McCoy

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This weeks feature is on a new and upcoming comic strip called Almost Grounded.  The newly launched comic strip Almost Grounded is the brainchild of Manjiri McCoy, a software engineer who has teamed up with Brian Martin, a cartoonist from Richmond, Virginia.

The comic tells the story of a group of alien engineers with questionable credentials who are grounded on Earth, and have to make a new life for themselves while adapting to different cultures.   Manjiri says that she had been thinking about the strip for a few years now and started working on the script since last year in her spare time.   “Many of the storylines in the strip are inspired by true events. They probably are the more unbelievable ones! “  The daily strip often has writers notes at the bottom of the strip and I’ve caught myself chuckling at the way she captures humor in situations that people might not have given a second thought to.

And why aliens you may ask?  Well, although she is now a citizen, the writer was once a US visa holder (non-resident alien…under US immigration definitions) and then a green card holder (resident alien). “Being labeled an ‘alien’ made me think – what if actual aliens came to Earth, didn’t really have any superpowers (well, maybe one – just to keep things interesting) and had to live here for an unknown period of time because they were grounded? They’d have to get jobs and deal with the same stuff that we have to deal with. Being is the US, India or China wouldn’t make any difference to them because all places would be strange. I can’t imagine they’d all speak English. They wouldn’t all live in Roswell. They wouldn’t want to take over the planet. People would notice that our aliens were somehow ‘different’, though in varying degrees. Some people would freak out, and some wouldn’t notice anything odd about them at all. There would be plenty of opportunities for misunderstandings leading to comic situations, and the idea for the strip grew out of that.”

Here are some of her favorite characters – alien twins Wikk and Zikk. “They are very clever, well-meaning and good hearted, but they don’t have much common sense or tact. They cause a lot of trouble, but always get away with it. As a writer, I can do so much with these characters – I can put them anywhere on Earth and they’ll end up having some incredible adventures.”

Wikk and Zikk

Of course, this is a comic strip and so its meant to add a sprinkling of humor to your day, but Manjiri hopes that by basing her characters in different international cities like Mumbai and Shanghai…her strip not only creates a sense of empathy but also informs, educates and raises interest in these places.  A noble cause indeed!

The aliens will ‘land’ in India at the end of August 2011 and here is a sneak peek into a character who has not been featured yet (Audibaba the palmist and entrepreneur)



You can follow the adventures and misgivings of these delightful aliens in the daily strip and and follow them on facebook:

Daily comic strip at:  | Facebook page:

Peacock passions

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Peacocks seem to be the rage this year.  Everywhere I look, it seems like fashion catalogues and collections have at least one or two items focused on peacocks or peacock feathers.

This beautiful national bird of India is famous for its long and colorful train and its unique feathers can be a coveted possession.  I remember when I was in school in India, a classmate brought in a feather that she was planning to use as a bookmark.  It was amazing how quickly a crowd gathered around her to admire that perfect feather …and this was in India where the peacock is relatively ahem ‘common’.  

Here are some peacock inspired fashion statements and accessories in the market today

Betsy Johnson "Asian Jungle" collection at Nordstroms. Price = "various"

Peacock clutch by Judith Lieber  for $5,295

Peacock clutch by Judith Lieber for $5,295

Wedding dress at a whopping $1.5 million

Wedding dress at a whopping $1.5 million

Yes that wedding dress was for $1.5 million!  Made with brocade and real peacock feathers it took close to 8 months to create.

And finally for the little ones… a peacock hand puppet.  “Peek” says my not yet 2 year old – this one’s for you 🙂

Peacock puppet at Amazon for $35



Written by Redpatang

August 19, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Its not just a “Phad”

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The Phad painting style originates almost a hundred years ago in Rajasthan India, before the era of television and movies.  This live theatre variation used painted narratives on large pieces of cloth (the cloth itself was called a phad) and songs by bard priests (called Bhopas) to enthrall and captivate audiences.  The narratives were usually based on deities or the life history of heroes.

This art form was traditionally passed on from fathers to sons and done on khadi cloth but today artists have moved to paper versions too.  Colors are used in a fixed order….for eg, yellow for ornaments, orange for limbs and torsos, red for dresses etc.

Pabuji ki phad (Image courtesy Wikipedia)

This vibrant Phad painting called Pabuji ki Phad has been carefully preserved for future generations. Yes the Phad painting style, although obscure, has stood the test of time. Its said that even Amitabh Bachan, the bid B, has had a phad painting created on his life history!

You can teach yourself (and your kids) this ancient art form with the Phad painting kits now available at

Phad Painting Kit

Written by Redpatang

August 4, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Alicia Souza – Chumbak’s Illustrator

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This week we’d like to introduce Alicia Souza – the artist that helps bring Chumbak creations to life.  Alicia’s whacky and fun style has won over many hearts and she has shared some insights into her creative process with us.

What inspires you?
“Everything and nothing. I guess sitting alone in a room can get me thinking about the quirkiest things to do, yet sometimes going out, even for just a drive, can show you things you’ve not seen before!”

Who is YOUR favorite illustrator?
“Ohh, well, I have many favourites but I’ve always had a soft corner for Quentin Blake. Something about his loose lines and colour makes his pictures look like an organised mess”

What Chumbak project did you have the most fun doing?
“Hands down, Bobby the bobble-head. I’ve never thought I would get an opportunity to do something in 3-D so soon! I was stoked that it came out perfectly and such a relief too. I’ve never been so satisfied. ”

What medium do you like to draw on besides paper?
“People, when they are not looking. And slings. ” (Hehe..funny girl that Alicia…vot? )

What do you like to do other than your art and Chumbak?
“Make coffee, drink coffee, write letters, and dodge cows on the streets. And I have an extensive collection of photos of my dog, so unconsciously, I believe I like taking photos of my dog.”

Here are some ‘illustrations’ that have become Chumbak bestsellers:

Illustrations before production

Chumbak bestsellers - Paanwallah, Computerwallah, Chaiwallah etc














And finally, a cute and quirky illustration on “How to make Chapati like a pro”.  Click on the picture – the steps are downright Hilarious!

How to make Chapati like a pro!

Thanks Alicia!  That was super fun.

Written by Redpatang

June 21, 2011 at 3:15 pm

RK Laxman’s “The common man”

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If you read the Times of India anywhere from the 1950’s onwards, you couldn’t have missed the little comic strip “You said it” featuring  the common man by RK Laxman.

The common man

This caricature could be found in the daily comic strip, peeping down manholes, observing speeches, fights and  games.  He is usually a silent witness to all the action around him but ah… so memorable.

So for all of you who feel the same nostalgia, here are some timeless strips.  Enjoy!

The common man celebrated 50 years  sometime ago -he  has been featured on a commemorative stamp as well as honored by way of a 10 foot bronze statue at the Symbiosis Institute (Pune).

Warli art revival

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Does this artwork look familiar?  No-this isn’t just a hip T-shirt print you may have come across.  This Warli art form has its origins in the Warli tribe from western India and is said to go back to 2500 or 3000 BC! The Warli use only white for their paintings. Their original white pigment is a mixture of rice paste and water with gum as a binding.

By Jivya Soma Mashe (1997)

The Warli used circles based on their observation of the sun and moon, triangles from mountains and trees and squares to denote an enclosure of land.

Humans are represented by two triangles joined at the tip:

Jivya Soma Mashe (1997)

Today, this tribal art form has found new life through the efforts of artists like Jivya Soma Mashe and is exhibited in galleries around the world.  And yes -it has also found its way to inspire hip T-shirts and other modern Indian accessories 🙂

Warli painting kits are available at

Written by Redpatang

April 22, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Artist feature – Aarohi Singh

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We recently stumbled onto Aarohi’s gorgeous pieces of art.  This self – taught artist from Bangalore, India says she gets inspiration from everything around her.  Aarohi paints on almost anything whether its paper, wood, metal, cardboard or fabric.

Her Kitsch kettles are one of a kind and she never repeats a pattern.  We love the cheery colors on the India kettle:

Nazarbattoo kettle

India kettle


People have always told me to put a ‘kaala teeka’ on my kids…thats where the idea of the ‘Nazar batoo’ kettle was born”







These watercolors will transport you to warm summer days :

Chalte chalte

Boys scribbling















And for those of you who prefer functional art, check out this vibrant game table:

Khiladi table


Aarohi does have a few select pieces in some stores in India but those are few and far between. Her art is available from her directly and she can even ship to North America!  Just contact her on her site and she will take it from there.   So which of these appeal to your style?


Written by Redpatang

April 12, 2011 at 4:22 pm

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