Arkham at FHL

Meet Arkham, he is a bit larger than the other three octopuses at Friday Harbor Labs and he is a bit bristly. He is the main man in the study being done in Gire Labs, where they are studying navigation and sensing. Because he is a bit darker and moodier, he is more reclusive, but when I manage to take a photo he is quite dramatic. He uses something called papillae in his skin to make the dramatic horn-like bumps.

While here, I have also been given a studio.  Ashwin and I spent hours in the studio yesterday, where I draw and he writes in his journal. I knew I would want to do some sketching here, but somehow ‘a place of ones own’ makes all the difference. Now I may want to buy some big paper and go larger! I can’t wait to get back to the studio again today, it’s bright and airy and smells of fresh wood.

In between sketching sessions we go down to the water to scavenge for treasures, the shore is full of driftwood that we take up to the studio. I know I want to draw octopus, but I think I could also get swept into drawing pieces of driftwood, or printing the grain. I’ll just have to come back again for round 2!

Former scientific study specimens – now dinner

The gynandromorph who couldn’t sing.

This is the story of the bimorphic gynandromorph who couldn’t sing. He/she is split down the middle, with the red side being male and the gray side female.

The following is from a BBC article on gynandromorph animals by David Robson:

‘Unsurprisingly, courtship for these animals sometimes presents difficulties…..The other birds largely seemed to ignore it. This isolation is apparently common for gynandromorphs. Either they are quietly shunned, or actively attacked, by their peers’

Haven’t we all felt this at some time in our lives? There is something so sad and beautiful about this bird with no mate and no song. 

One Part He, One Part She

A title I have stolen from Patricia Edmonds in the January 2017 Issue of National Geographic.

This is not just a drawing. I feel it says something special, so I have moved it from my last post to this one. To quote the NG article: ‘The difference in appearance between a species’ males and females is called sexual dimorphism. The term implies that there’s a bisecting line between sexes, a clear divide. But in the animal kingdom, a lot of creatures straddle it.’

I thought this ‘bilateral gynandromorph’ so beautiful that I had to draw it. And I post it today in support of the Women’s March yesterday, and the spirit of openness and acceptance that it engenders. Get it? En-genders? 🙂

March on ladies, and the gentlemen who support them!

Just drawings

As it has been almost a year to the date since I posted anything, I thought it might be time to end this blog. But after looking at it again I realize that I still enjoy it. So just a small post for now, of some drawings I’ve done this year and one I finished today



Buddhist caves at Ellora

Ellora is a place I have wanted to go to for such a long time, since I was studying Asain art as an undergrad. I don’t know how to describe this experience and it can’t really be explained in pictures either, but here is a taste of the great beauty I experienced. My favorite spot is the Buddhist cave with the ribbed ceiling, and the stupa with Buddha carved into the front. There were very few people when I was there and I was able to sit quietly on the floor and breathe it in. A once in a lifetime experience – the enormity was overwhelming at times. These caves were built by hand from solid rock between the 6th and 9th centuries!


Jain cave


Man from Jain cave


Man blowing into a conch shell on a post in a Jain cave


Three stories of Buddhist monk meditation quarters


Perfectly aligned posts carved from a solid mountain. This cave lacks decoration because it is for meditation. Only the two columns flanking the entrance (halfway down on the right) have carved pots with overflowing plants as a welcome.

Buddhist cave for worshipping the Buddha.

Buddhist cave for worshipping the Buddha.



Ceiling of cave

Ceiling of cave

Looking out from behind the stupa

Looking out from behind the stupa

The largest Hindu Temple in Ellora. Carved from solid mountain from the top.

The largest Hindu Temple in Ellora. Carved from solid mountain from the top.

This temple is for worshipping the god Shiva. It is built in the shape of a carriage, but instead of wheels it is carried on the backs of elephants and other animals.

This temple is for worshipping the god Shiva. It is built in the shape of a carriage, but instead of wheels it is carried on the backs of elephants and other animals.

Elephants, lions and gryphons supporting the temple.

Elephants, lions and gryphons supporting the temple

The hindu temple from behind

The Hindu temple from behind

Fabric Printing Workshop


Dyes on the studio wall remind me of a Cy Twombly painting.

Yesterday I took a fabric printing workshop at Tharangini in Bengaluru (the city has officially changed it’s name since the last post). It was so much fun to spend time in the studio, touching the beautiful wood blocks and printing with them. We began by practicing on a sheet of wrapping paper and a gift bag. We were then given two cushion covers to design and we could choose from the hundreds of blocks lining the walls. The printing process is quite different from block printing with a brayer and printing ink. The textile color is not as tacky. It is spread onto a flexible support and overlaid with a rough jute fabric for blocks with larger print areas. For finer blocks a fine smooth muslin is put on top of the jute and the ink is encouraged to seep up through the layers.


The owner, Padmini, told us about the history of Tharangini, then introduced us to some of the materials and the steaming process. Everything used in the dying and printing process is Eco friendly and often organic.


Gum Arabic on the upper right and pomegranate rinds on the bottom. The pomegranate makes a dull lime green color.

The steaming area for fixing silk dyes.

The steaming area for fixing silk dyes.

The container on top of the red oven in the foreground is where the water is heated, it is then piped into the tall metal cylinder behind, where the fabric is first top loaded and then steamed. The cone in the foreground goes on top.


For me one of the greatest highlights was seeing the teak wood blocks being carved. The artisan had his small chisels custom made in Calcutta. I love how he lightly outlines the pattern first, then carves with chisels and mallet to get a deep relief carving. Teak is a very hard and durable wood. I’m in awe of this craft.


How Sweet It Is!

French stitch

French stitch

Forget Indian sweets, do you know what’s sweet? Seeing the finish line of a project. I should take a personal leave from work more often. 🙂 It’s amazing how much you can get done. I’m nearly finished binding my edition of ‘Sound Horn Okay!’. Only two more to sew and then I’ll be doing the finish work on the covers.


I used sheets of handmade paper from India in various colors and chose the binding thread that looked best with the end sheets. Binding an edition can get pretty boring, mixing up the colors made it a bit more interesting. But it is so satisfying to see them stacked up on the bookshelf! Now it’ll be fun to work on some new things.