The Last Day of the Year

The last day of the year. In the morning I walked in the hotel gardens. The air was cool, still, damp from rain in the night, almost no one stirring. A brown rabbit left the brick pathway and moved into the base of a row of shrubbery. A bird flew up – black, with a blur of russet wings, reminding me of a sad-eyed, perhaps larger bird I had seen once years ago, in Goa.

Yesterday I tried to take pictures of an after-party scene: a row of covered chairs, arranged as if in spectral conversation, tawdry in sunlight, with a burnt candle and discarded flowers. In my mind I sang
The party's over, the candles flicker and dim... (lyrics below, from here)
But my camera saw only this:

So, quiet, endings, and a song, on the last day of the year.

Listen to The Party's Over.


The party's over, it's time to call it a day
They've burst your pretty balloon
And taken the moon away
It's time to wind up the masquerade
Just make your mind up
The piper must be paid

The party's over, the candles flicker and dim
You danced and dreamed through the night
It seemed to be right just being with him
Now you must wake up, all dreams must end
Take off your makeup, the party's over
It's all over, my friend

The party's over, it's time to call it a day
They've burst your pretty balloon
And taken the moon away
Now you must wake up, all dreams must end
Take off your makeup, the party's over
It's all over, my friend
It's all over, my friend

The Inner Life of Things: Road Roller

Some inanimate objects seem full of character, to have a kind of machine-consciousness. I felt like that about this small road roller, which I photographed in Coonoor, in the hills of south India.

I altered the photograph with a Lomo tutorial, and copied the background from a Soviet propaganda poster.

fonts: Kremlin, tahoma
elements from
Katy Pertiet roughed up solids finest paper pack
Anna Aspnes finding my way fotoframe

5 paise

I 'saw' the cover of this book in my mind's eye as I was walking up on the flat roof of our house one evening: 5-paise coins in a harlequin pattern. My late, thrifty mother-in-law left a bag of coins behind. The smallest denominations have all been demonetised now, as inflation has taken their value away. But I like their varied shapes.

Making a little book like this -- 4.5" x 6.5" -- doesn't take much time, but I like to think lazily about how it should be, and how to go about it; to anticipate.

I cut the covers from an old book, and folded the pages. I used various inkjet papers in white and neutral colours. There are six sections/signatures. I painted, collaged and numbered the first page of each one. The third signature has an Urdu number 3, just to give the person turning the pages a little surprise, and a photograph I took of Badshahi masjid in Lahore. The Urdu text is a recipe for egg-and-tomato pulau, because I didn't want to tear a page out of a book of poetry.

I measured and punched holes, put eyelets in the covers, washed the coins and glued them on. Then I kept everything ready in a small basket -- covers, paper, curved needle, waxed linen thread.

Sewing the book took about 15 minutes. And now... what? It waits.

Some Politicians

Drawing faces from the newspaper:


The inner life of things, scrapbooking division. These horses are pensive, but ready to do their duty.

oh, right, Mother's Day...

I made this picture of my mother from a photograph taken before her marriage, in 1948:

I used an old book page, with very soft paper. I had made the background before painting her face -- it's not that I made her orange and green and polka-dotted deliberately. I loved her, anyway.

Stars and Stripes

I've inaugurated the watercolour book which I showed off in the post just before this one.  I wanted to paint something without a plan, to watch the colours and learn from them, to get away from what I usually do. I began with a star and let it grow.

A Watercolour Book

Someone gave me a pretty wedding invitation; the paisley motif on the front inspired me to make a little watercolour book:

Coptic binding, with eyelets

The inner cover paper was cut from wrapping paper

The paper is Fabriano Artistico 140 lb. watercolour paper. The book is 6 1/2" x 9"

January Sketches

I've been filling up my new sketchbook (see the post below this). The papers are of different sizes and varieties, which is more interesting than my usual one-size-fits-all books. I didn't bind in any watercolour paper; but that means that I'm using different media from those which I'm most comfortable with. Which is good.

The first page is small; I did a simple collage, for a title page. You can see two more pages behind it.

Left: two clay birds which live on a table in the drawing room. Right: I saw the Hindi film Dabangg (and liked it. Great music!).

Left: A friend brought a bunch of rajnigandha (tuberoses). Right: Sheru, a beautiful dog who died; and a Puppy brand matchbox.

Left: Collage over a scribbled sketch of mine, which was already on the page when I bound it into the book. Right: a teak root sculpture.

Left: I bound a small book wih pockets for receipts. Photographs of the book with notes. Right: a small page with a stencilled flower. Some text to come later.

Left: the other side of the stencilled flower. Right: a shower faucet that suddenly gleamed at me, all lights and darks, and complicated shapes, positive and negative.

Special Double Extra Thick

I felt the urge to bind a book. I wanted it to be fun, and to allow mistakes. I collected an assortment of papers, in different sizes and shapes. Some of them had my sketches on them, some were printed; most are blank.

I took covers from two old books and cut them to size. I usually cover them with paper or cloth, but this time I left them as they were.

The elephant came from the cover of a bedraggled file folder.

I bound it with Coptic binding, and used eyelets for the first time. As a bonus, the back cover came with a cobra.

It felt like a good thing to do, at the beginning of the year.

January 2

Leaf-dappled sunlight on a fountain: visible / invisible. Quickgold / quicksilver. Fall / strike / rise. Catch me if you can!