A large part of my life, which was in my hometown, was spent waiting for the annual temple festival at the local temple. It is usually in January/February every year for a week. The whole town practically packs itself tightly in the compound of our Shiva temple to see the lord atop caprisoned elephants majestically walking to the beats of the melam (typical Kerala percussion art). The atmosphere is heady and the air so spiritual and magical that no one left the temple grounds before the Lord called it a day.
Ever since P came into my life, I have fervently wished he could witness the magic, more so because P loves the melam and elephants. However the timing always clashed with our work and school commitments that going to our hometown during the temple festival or ulsavam took the back seat.
Guess someone up there was listening to my wish, as this year we happened to be in our hometown as a family, for the ulsavam. And sure enough we made the most of it. P was initially skeptical about the crowd and all the hustle bustle and wanted to beat a hasty retreat as soon as we made it to the temple. But the minute the majestic caprisioned elephants came out with the Lord, he was wonderstruck.
He insisted on walking and staying really close to the elephants and the melam and went to the extent of following the elephants back to their shelter where they were fed and rested for the following day’s festivities. This became routine for us for the days we were there. I was thrilled that P could experience what I did as a kid.
When he transalated his experience to art, I knew my little boy came back with a big piece of my hometown in his heart.
P’s aunt is a special ed teacher to kindergarten students in the U.S. She has an eclectic group of students and she often talks to them about India and about P.
While teaching about India, she planned a skype session of her students with P, so they can experience hown technology can bring people from different nationalities closer. Both parties were thrilled at the idea and were excited talking to each other. The class had so many questions for P and P, needless to say had endless ones too. Some of them were:
“What is your teacher’s name?, What do you like to do? , Do you know to write? Why are you not in bed. Isn’t it late night in India?”
P’s questions “Do you like my aunt? Is she your favourite teacher? Do you get lot of homework? When do you go to sleep?”
We had to end the happy banter of Q and As. Obviously, the kids wanted more. That’s when my sis-in-law came up with a lovely idea of pen pals. Weeks later we got a big letter from her class with more questions. P was super thrilled to receive a letter in his name – that too a big one.
He immediately sat down to reply and wrote out a longish letter, answering all the questions. He insisted on sending them his painting of his second favourite animal – elephant (first being dogs), which his American friends may not have seen (his logic).
We posted the letter and now he anxiously waits for their reply.
Happy new year from P and me.
As a child I remember making handmade cards for birthdays, festivals, and no occassion ones. Thinking up designs, planning the colours, writing the apt words and personalising it used to give me a great sense of achievement.
Today, in this age of whatsapp and fb wishing, such simple joys and gestures are far and few. I wanted P to get a glimpse of my childhood holiday activity and have the experience going to the post office, buying stamps and posting the art work.
We sat down and decided the basic designs. P has been following the activity of making various animals from thumb prinits, in the monthly Childrens Magazine we subscribe to. Hence he was keen to do similar reindeers.
We made a few Christmas trees from left over scraps of art paper. I got him to imagine what can be made out of the numbers 2016 and did a few myself.
Finally I made the envelopes for our cards and we trotted off to the post office to buy stamps and post them. P was super thrilled to stick the stamps and put them into the post box.
Such simple joys that made our end of the year memorable.
If there is one thing that has remained unchaged for P, it is his love for planes. Friends and family who know this, have gifted him all kinds of planes and yet if someone were to ask him, “what do you want as a gift?”, the answer will be “Plane”.
P has an enviable collection of planes including some that are scale models of the real ones. He usually plays with them, making them take off, land, refuel in mid air, emergency landings and what not.
Recently though, he has been fascinated with the behind the scenes like construction, hangars and airport. An airport set gifted by his uncle and a book on airport from his aunt was enough to trigger P’s imagination. He quickly collected his blocks and made an elaborate ‘ beesy internashional’ airport.
It was truly a proud moment for me to see how much my li’l fellow has observed during our visit to the airport.From food truck to aerobridge, ATC and luggage trucks, they were all there in our busy airport.
Now I am waiting to see the design get translated on paper.
Waiting to board throught the aerobridge, while the food gets loaded
Waiting for clearance from ATC
The invite to do an art workshop at the local Art festival was a big surprise and honour for me. I shared my joy with P and he too wanted to be a part of it. I always take him with me for my art workshops so that he can interact with the young and od artists, see their work and just soak in the arty atmosphere.But this one clashed with his school timing and we both moaned over it. Nevertheless I promised I would do a mini one with him first.
I was doing a workshop on Gondh painting – one of India’s oldest tribal art. It is easy yet intricate and has so many possibilities within.
We started off with me drawing a bird for P (for once he settled for something other than a plane). I told him he had to do a basic water wash of some bright colour, and once the paint is dry he can do the Gondh design with anything other than a brush.
He decided he didn’t want to wait for the paint to dry and before I could tell him anything he started doing the Gondh designs with the back of a brush, toothpicks, Q-tips, pencil stubs and just about anything he could get his hands on.
I was a little weary about P’s interest, as Gondh is a constricting art form in a way – it allows just dots and dashes. But my li’l artist took to it and went on to doing a fish too!
Hope next time he will consider the basic colour wash which will give the painting a brighter feel.
Water colour is a tricky medium, especially for children who love it’s vibrant transparency, but are unable to manage its runny character. P has watched me do innumerable water colour paintings as it is one of my favourite mediums. But he has never got the hang of controlling the ‘running paint’.
Just giving the drawing a water proof border will do the trick. Water colour resist is a good way of teaching children to paint within lines and to manage runny water colours. It is pretty simple and the results are more than satisfactory.
We chose to do this on a small canvas as P wanted to display his work in the living room and not on the door of art. I thought doing leaves will be a good start as there is enough inner space to paint. Thi is how you go about it.
Things you will need
- Fevicol (the tube one)
- Water colours
- Draw the picture of your choice
- Outline with a thick border of fevicol. Wiat for it to dry out completely
- Once the border is firm, use water colours and paint.
- Outline (if you please) once the art work is completely dry
The thick border of fevicol prevents the water colours to run around and they stay right inside. It also allows some amount of shading and texturing without spoiling the shape of things drawn.
Cool isn’t it!
I know I have done something right when I see P creating something after reading a book. In the past too, characters in the books we have read have inspired a lot of art work. Today, yet again P was itching to give form to the story he liked, that he sat down to work soon after he brushed his teeth.
The muse for today’s creation is ‘Heffelump’ (from ‘Winnie the Pooh’). P was gifted this book – Eoyore, be happy, from Winnie the Pooh series – for his birthday.
He doubled up in laughter the first time and every time that I have read it to him. Seeing his reaction, I knew it was just a matter of time that he will want to do an art work around Pooh or Tigger. That it was Heffelump who caught his fancy, came as a surprise. Guess it’s the mystery factor around him.
So, like in the story we have set up a Heffelump trap in our balcony, to ‘trick and catch’ him. And his face and form will be revealed to the world. We covered the trap with gift paper to trick Heffelump to think its a gift for him (P’s words).
So tonight is the night when the the unassuming Heffelump will ‘fall’ for P’s trap and the world will see him!