December 31, 2010

A year in paintings - a video

Most of my work this year was of course in the 5 by 7 size. 280 of them to be precise. But, I did paint in a lot of bigger sizes too. The dancers are all 16 by 20 inches, the summer observations are about 10 by 12 inches and so on.

The bigger pieces I believe would be a better indication of my style of work, as compared to the smaller ones. The whole year, I have experimented quite a lot with subjects, style, colors and so on. I tried my hand at multi panel pieces and I am quite confident with them now. For someone who painted her first ever floral on the 1st of Jan 2010, they are now my most favorite subject by a mile. I almost completely became a palette knife painter. So many things that happened this year.

Paintings 2010 by Nithya Swaminathan

I have added the paintings in the precise order in which they were done. Hence I would love to hear from you if you see a growth in my work over the course of the year. Do you honestly think that these pieces, when seen together, are coherent in style? Do you see "me" in these pieces? In all of them? Are there pieces that stick out like a sore thumb? I'd love to hear any comments from you, all feedback is most welcome.

And for the record, from the first painting to the last one, I personally feel things have changed for the better. There is some hope after all! Feel free to share this video to anyone who might be interested.:)

And finally, one last and final reminder for my painting giveaway. I am giving away three original paintings as a New Year's gift, to 3 lucky people who have shared my link and left me a comment. And the giveaway ends today. Don't worry too much about the deadline based on your time zone, this is anyway not the first thing that I am going to do in the morning. So you are still most welcome to enter. I also noticed that some people have shared a link but have not left a comment. If you are not interested in receiving a painting but have shared just like that, thank you so much anyway. If you have missed leaving a comment but intended to, please do right away. Thank you so much. Have a fantastic New Year everyone. See you next year!

Up in the air - New Acrylic Tango painting and reflecting on 2010

I wanted to squeeze in one more painting for the year. I was having a huge quadtych of Irises that has been pending from quite some time. And my husband had given me a deadline till the year end to complete it, and since I too had the same idea, I was working on it the whole of today. But then, Mr. Murphy had to have his say and it was just not turning out right. It was somewhere between real and abstract and everything in between, and nothing related to what I had in mind. So I ditched it, left it aside for later. That's one baggage I carry with me into 2011.

But then, I was not at peace with this at all and had this nagging feeling eating my brains out. And then in a flash, it occurred to me that I do a quick small one and yet manage to squeeze in a new painting for the year. And I spent no time in deciding what to paint and stuff. And this was completed in about 15 minutes. Or a little less. I was mighty pleased with myself at having got the better of Murphy.

Up in the air
Acrylics on board, 5 by 7 inches
© Nithya Swaminathan

$35 + shipping
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Thinking back, it was just the perfect way to finish the year, as 2010 has precisely been that kind of year for me. A year where I could find time from the most unsuspecting corners. A year when I managed to create over 300 pieces of art, a lot of family and work commitments notwithstanding. A year that I could look back to, and beam with pride at all the art that was created in an hour or less, as opposed to feeling guilty about all the hours wasted. A year when I developed a unique style and am closer to the day when my paintings could be identified as mine without seeing my name on them. A year when I had a lot of people write to me that they loved my work. A year when I proved a lot to myself about what I was capable of. A year when my distant dreams became a bit more tangible and real. A year that had a lot of growth for me as a person and artist. Certainly a year to cherish, and a new benchmark to better next year.

I will not be publishing a goals post, I am sure you're already deluged with such. I did not post one last year either, and ended up with 313 paintings, the largest of which is 32 by 32 inches. I daresay I do not believe in publishing and publicizing what you plan to do. That's not to say I do not have a plan in the first place. Far from it.

A very happy New Year to everyone. May 2011 be better in every which way!

December 29, 2010

Vineyard Panorama - New Textured Triptych with Acrylics

I had promised a couple of days back that I have at least 3 more paintings coming up. This is the 3rd one, as promised. But then, this is technically three paintings into one. :)

The autumn season here is very beautiful in the wine growing regions along the Rhine. One of my very first paintings this year, "Evening sun at Assmannhausen" was also based on an early autumn view of the Rhine valley taken last year. This one is from one of our day trips this autumn. We had gone on a picnic to a little village called Edenkoben, in the Rheinland Pfalz or the Palatinate region in Germany. It was perfect timing for the harvest that we could pluck grapes and munch on them throughout the day. And I absolutely love the fresh new wine that you get in this season, just after the harvest.

Vineyard Panorama
Acrylics on Canvas, 16 by 36 inches
© Nithya Swaminathan

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This was quite an ambitious triptych as it is based on different photos. I cropped and played around with a few images to get a reference with a panoramic view. This was our view from atop a little castle in Edenkoben, just overlooking the vineyards. The painting is also entirely textured. For the first time, I have done even the skies with the knife. Vineyards are a super subject to paint with the knife, it gives that really nice look of rows and rows of grapes. It was great fun! This time with the triptych, I also made sure that the paintings work decently as stand alone pieces. I think I succeeded reasonably well with that. Let me know what you think.

This is probably my last painting of 2010, unless I get wildly ambitious tomorrow. :) I have a lot more pending things to complete with regards to updating the blog/website and the likes and probably put up a year end review post. I might just not get the time to paint, but let's see.

And finally, yet another reminder - I have my painting giveaway going on this week where 3 paintings of your choice are up for grabs. Please share the link and leave me a comment. Thank you for participating! :)

Flying Flames - A belly dancer in oils now

I fell in love with this reference at first sight and this time I have kept it really close to the reference. I did not want to change a thing, it was so perfect as it is!  As is the case with all my belly dancers, this one too is based on a reference photo from Flickr photographer Adelita Chohfi.

Flying Flames
Oil on Canvas, 16 by 20 inches
© Nithya Swaminathan

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After doing all the belly dancers with Acrylics, I wanted to do one with oils for a change. The flowy fabric was great to work with oils as I wanted it really smooth and silky without any texture. I hope you like it! Let me know what you think!

December 28, 2010

The world ahead - Commissioned Acrylic Painting

As it is the year end and just as I am completing pending paintings, I was also skimming through my drafts only to realize how many paintings I have not blogged. Well! I will try and post some of these drafts, but not sure if I will be able to post all of them. This one I just had to, as it is one of my favorite pieces from the year.

This was a private commission from a friend that was completed earlier this year. The seed of thought for this one came from my friend who wanted an image that will be very South Indian. This child is her little girl, dressed up in a Pattu paavadai, the traditional Tamilian attire which is a long silk skirt. When it comes to a backdrop that is distinctly South Indian, nothing beats a temple really.

I decided on a monochromatic look because I did not want the temple to compete for attention with the child, which was definitely the focal point of the painting. But then, the temple had to be prominent too, so I have incorporated a lot of texture into this painting. This was my first time experimenting with structuring elements like pastes. The temple was carved out with heavy gel medium and then painted with Acrylics. And since black and white was too bland for my liking, I gave it a light sepia tone.

The world ahead
Acrylics on Gallery Wrapped Canvas, 32 by 32 inches
© Nithya Swaminathan

The temple reference is based on the Somnathpur Temple nearby Mysore, which is one of the most stunning temples I have been to, a symphony in stone. The temple is full of exquisite carvings from the Hindu mythology, done in intricate detail. The temple in real is monochromatic and doesn't have a colored Gopuram (tower) like temples in Tamil Nadu. So the minute I thought about a b/w background, the Somnathpur temple was the first thing on my mind. And fortunately, I had some nice photos based on which I could do a sketch.

With a commissioned piece, that's how I work. I will give a preliminary sketch which has to be to the complete satisfaction of the client, only after which I will start working on the actual piece. It is much easier to make any changes at the sketch level itself. I will be sending across work in progress images regularly as often as I could too, and there is always room for last minute changes, but still.

The main challenge was that the child had to be the focus of the image, though she occupies about 10% of the canvas. And the child had to resemble the little girl in the reference, though her face was hardly seen. Now this is a real challenge I tell you, to convincingly get the resemblance in the profile. This piece is huge and the biggest problem was in shipping it. When shipping smaller pieces itself makes me very anxious and stuff, shipping something of this size is a lot of tension. I can never trust my painting with anyone else, not even my husband :-D So definitely not the shipping guys and it makes me really paranoid. Anyway!

Your comments are welcome!


I am sure you now know pretty well that I have a painting give away going on this week. Don't miss it, it is a great chance to receive a piece of original art. My post about the giveaway. Do share it with your friends/anyone who might be interested. Thank you!

December 27, 2010

Show Stopper - New Textured Acrylic Painting

Got back to another belly dancer after a long long time. I had started with this one more than 9 months back, as soon I completed Break Free and Ecstasy. With the background done and some initial sketching done, I had just put it off one day as the face wasn't just turning out right. The angle was very tricky and the proportions between the face and the body were always haywire. I never got back to it till a couple of days ago, and I am glad that I did not in a way.

Now when I picked it up, I was completely fresh with the subject, new perspective. After correcting the errors with the face and the initial sketch, my first thought was where to use the knife and get in some texture. Of course, these belly dancers have highly ornate dresses with beads and mirrors, so it is ideal to play around with the knife. I have painted her dress completely with the knife, have also used a little bit of metallic silver paint. I like the effect it gives.

The belly dancer series is all about capturing movement. With the hazy background, flowy dresses etc, it is my attempt to capture the carefree attitude and movement. This one was entirely the opposite though. There is nothing about movement here, it is all about a moment of silence. A pause in between a performance. And the anticipation of "what next". The dancer's grace and attitude had to be there without an iota of movement. I loved that challenge and it was great painting this one.

Show Stopper
Acrylics on Gallery Wrapped Canvas, 16 by 20 inches
© Nithya Swaminathan

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Looking back at the entire year, my most favorite paintings are all of dancers. Or at least people. This is definitely one of my focus areas for next year, to paint the figure as often as possible.

I am very satisfied with the outcome of this one. Very very. Thrilled in fact. I love the impact it gives. You comments are of course most welcome!

A reminder:

My year end painting give away is on this week, please do participate. You get to win an original piece of art :) Check out my post here. Please pass on the word and get as many people as possible to take part. Thank you so much!

December 26, 2010

My first painting give away - Welcome 2011!

Why a give away?

Just because I am happy :) If you thought you had enough of giving and sharing with Christmas, how about extending that a wee bit longer? Isn't that exciting? I have wanted to run a painting give away for sometime now, and after mulling over the idea, I decided that the New Years is the perfect time for it. I think it would be great for you too, to start the New Year by receiving a special gift. Isn't it?

2010 has been a great year for me on many counts, and I would love to look back at it fondly. 2009 ended on a lousy note and I was SO looking forward to this year. And it has been a real blessing. At the end of the year, when I look back at all that has happened Artwise and otherwise, I am a very happy and contented person than what I was a year before. And I would love to share that happiness with you, my dear readers. Yes, even if that is just a single digit number of people :P And what better way than sharing a piece of art.

The other reason that I want to do a give away is of course to get more readers and blog subscribers. I share my work on facebook and/or twitter almost every other day, and my blog feed is published on facebook as well, but I am not quite sure how many actually read it.  I could get more people to read now, hopefully.

I have had people on my facebook friend list send me mails asking if I sell anywhere online, if I take up private commissions, if there is a portfolio where they can see all my work together under one roof etc etc. The list is endless. The answer to all these questions is always a "Yes", and it is all right there if you take a moment to drop by my website. Actually you know what, you could buy my art right on Facebook, on my fan page! How cool is that! So when I have published all information and people are still not aware, then I am obviously not networking right and promoting myself well enough. So I hope this is a baby step in that direction, to get more people to be aware of what I do and what I could do for you.


This whole week, till Dec 31st 2010, I will be running a give away and you could participate no matter where in the world you are. On the 1st of Jan 2011, I will draw out 3 names using a random number generator and each of them gets to win a painting of his/her choice. So yes, not only do you have the chance to own an original piece of art, you also get to choose which one. :) So here we go!

Which paintings could you choose from?

Now this is very important isn't it. Though I do paint in sizes upto 3 ft by 3ft (largest so far), for the give away, you get to choose work that measures 5 by 7 inches only. Don't worry, you have nearly 300 paintings to choose from, remember my 300 to 30 project earlier this year? That would include my pears, snowscapes, waterlilies, the million irises, gazillion tulips, poppies, poppy fields, lilies, coneflowers, the Tango dancers and what not! And don't worry, not all of them are trash, I am sure you will find one or two that you like :) In my sidebar here, you will find links to my facebook albums too having all these paintings.

A word about these paintings. Most of them are textured, done with the palette knife, and look three dimensional. All of them are Acrylic paintings and will be shipped varnished, ready to frame. And they will fit into a standard store bought frame. The work will tempt you to touch and feel it, which is very exciting I can assure you. There are non textured pieces as well, the water lilies for instance.

How to participate?

All you have to do is this:

  1. Share a link to my blog/website on Facebook/Twitter/elsewhere. (I wonder if anyone uses any other network other than the two, but still).  Maybe even on your blog.

  2. It would be awesome if you could share the link to this post itself, so that more people could participate in the give away.

  3. Come back and leave a comment here on this post, with the link. If you have tweeted, leave me a link to your tweet so that I count you in for the draw.

  4. And while you leave a comment, also let me know which painting you would like to receive, if you were to win. And why. As in, why do you like that particular piece. The last point is important, otherwise I will choose your art for you :P

  5. If you share separately say on Facebook and Twitter, feel free to leave two links and I will enter your name twice. :)

Was that simple? Thank you so much for your patronage, as always!

This is not the last post for the year by the way, I have at least 3 more paintings coming up. So stay tuned.

December 24, 2010

Christmas Penguins - New Oil Painting

One more still life capturing the spirit of the season. I am having great fun with these little pieces. Last year, I tried doing an aerial view of a big Christmas Market, but I trashed that piece as I did not like it. These pieces are much more fun, they are focused on just 1 or 2 objects and still capture the spirit well. If I have to buy all of these, I'd run out of space at home, so painting them is the least I could do. Most of the Christmas markets have a lot of things in common, and superficially they look alike. But these decorative pieces in the shops are generally based on the regional specialties. Like in Michelstadt, there were a lot of wood carvings and work made out of wood. They were of course very expensive too :)

Christmas Penguins
Oil on Canvas, 8 by 8 inches
© Nithya Swaminathan

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Did I mention already that these Christmas pieces ship for free? Oh yes, ABSOLUTELY FREE WORLDWIDE! Just because I am quite happy and wanted to offer something nice to my collectors. This is only for the Christmas pieces though. I will add the normal shipping rates from the New Year, so this is only for the next 1 week.

I hope you like this one! Feedback and comments are most welcome :)

"Moo"rry Christmas!

This is yet another still life from one of the Christmas Markets here in Germany. We visited 4 different markets over the 4 weeks of advent and it was great fun. This set of dolls is from the market in Michelstadt, Odenwald. It was my favorite market this year, thanks to a great suggestion by a friend. We had an awesome time, the atmosphere was terrific and the Gl├╝hwein, phenomenal! I'd love to go back there next year.

We had such a tedious drive with quite a few detours due to some road work and accidents. But it was all worth it in the end. Hope you like this one.

"Moo"rry Christmas
Oil on Canvas, 8 by 8 inches
© Nithya Swaminathan

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Merry Christmas!

I'd like to wish all my collectors, readers and everyone else a very Merry Christmas. May you be blessed with a lot of peace and happiness in life. This is a new still life that I painted yesterday. I hope you like it. :)

Merry Christmas
Acrylics on Canvas, 8 by 8 inches
© Nithya Swaminathan

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Now on YouTube - bookmark it my dear readers!

This was looooong due, and am I mighty glad that I finally overcame my laziness! Since videos are *hugely* popular, maintaining an active YouTube channel has been on my to-do list for so long! And everytime I started working on it, I realized it was very time consuming and would so something else instead. Today somehow I decided that I had to complete it.

A year in paintings, Originals by Nithya Swaminathan, 2010

I am a complete novice with iMovie, and was figuring out things with the help of some how-to videos and stuff. I must say of course that Apple makes it child's play with iMovie, to create videos, add music etc etc. I am yet to explore it fully. I have also wanted to do some demo videos of how exactly I paint. I think it is quite interesting to see an artist at work, coz each one of us is so different from the others. I hope to get that done during the holidays as well. A simple short demo of my working with the palette knife. Let's see.

I have right now uploaded two videos, both only of my floral paintings. It does not contain all the florals done this year though. I have omitted more than 50 of them as they were downright embarrassing. However good or bad the work looks, it is I must say extremely gratifying to see all of them together. And to actually think that I have painted quite a lot during the course of the year.

Original Floral Paintings by Nithya Swaminathan, 2010

Looking at the videos, I think the transition time between pictures is too less, kind of changing in a hurry. Let me know what you think. Any feedback is greatly appreciated as I am a complete beginner. Even feedback about the background music, do you think a voice over would make more sense, and so on! Thanks so much for viewing, and please feel free to share! :)

December 23, 2010

"Ablaze" - New Oil Painting

Last night I was working on a Christmas still life with Acrylics. And painted this one with oils, for a break from my Acrylic paints. Working on multiple pieces at once is great fun but is maddening. And if you throw in a mix of oil and acrylics into this, it is drama of the highest order. New set of paints, new set of brushes, new palette and everything else! Thats's kinda how I work.

I have all my materials, oils and acrylics within reach, within sight. Pick up a different canvas and brushes depending on my mood and just take off from where I left.

Oil on Canvas, 4 by 12 inches
© Nithya Swaminathan

My method of working might leave anyone else completely dazed, but it works like a charm for me. I am disorganized as disorganized can be. I paint sitting down, with at least 5 panels around me. So yesterday, as my paint was drying a bit, I was waiting. If I did not have this other canvas within sight, I'd have probably spent the waiting time browsing facebook or some other crap. What I did instead, was pick up this long canvas, pick up my oil paints and palette and stuff, and started painting. Voila! It was completed in half an hour. Or 45 mins at the max.

This was great fun. And after a long long time, this painting is done entirely with a brush. It is not textured. I still love it. Actually love how all the three long canvasses turned out. I think I should work in this format a little more. It has a lot of scope for interesting compositions.

Please click on the image for a larger view. Thank you!

Reading by the Lake V - New Oil Painting

Continuing with the reading series of paintings, this one is done with Oils though. Oil paints are much more fun when used with the palette knife, they are much easier to work with than Acrylics. The drawback of course is that they take ages to dry. What with oil paints "normally" taking so long, the paint is so thick with the knife and drying is a never ending process.

Reading by the lake V
Oil on Canvas, 10 by 12 inches
© Nithya Swaminathan

There are some areas that I am not happy with in this painting. Some that I really like too. I am pleased with the overall figure, but the contrast between the guy's nose and the background is very minimal and it is kinda lost somewhere. The background and foreground turned out much better than the Acrylic pieces. I am planning to buy some smaller canvasses and go berserk with oils for a while. I love love love them!

Do you like this one? Better than the ones done with Acrylics? Any comments/feedback? Thank you!

December 18, 2010

Neck Out - New Textured Acrylic Painting

During my birthday in July, we had gone on a short beach vacation in the Netherlands. But as Murphy would have it, it was too windy and rainy on the day that we could not even walk on to the beach. In an instinct, like my husband and I make a lot of decisions, we drove to Amsterdam. We went on this awesomely romantic "Amsterdam by Night" cruise through the lovely canals at around sundown. This picture was clicked during that cruise.

Amsterdam doesn't have many tall buildings, hardly any. The guide was telling that this is the tallest building in the city or something to that effect, but I was busy watching the gorgeous light fall on the building and tried to get the best possible picture of it. I knew I would paint it, that very instant. I clicked to paint it infact. Now after some googling, Wiki tells me that this is the Westertoren, the tallest church in Amsterdam at a height of 85m. I clicked this almost lying on my back in the boat, which is why the extremely unique angle.

Neck Out
Acrylics on Canvas, 4 by 12 inches
© Nithya Swaminathan

Click on the image for a larger view. I had a blast painting this one. Great fun! Let me know what you think.

Carnation - New Oil Painting

God knows after how long I have picked up my oil paints. My last piece was in 2003, as a rank amateur. I love oils, as does any other artist. The richness in color is quite unmatched. When I started working in 2004, I was hardly doing any painting, and when I ventured again in 2006, I began afresh with Acrylics. One big reason was that with a baby around, I did not want fingerprints and footprints (!!) in my still-wet oil paintings. Acrylics were a safe bet.

Now that my kiddo is four and a half years old, I thought I must teach her that these paints will take time to dry and she cannot feel them until then. I love her enthusiasm in wanting to touch and feel my work, but now I have to curtail that in order to work with oils.

I expected that my love affair with oils would still be intact and that we would take off from where we left. Hardly! Somehow, in the recent past, over the last year to be specific, my speed has increased by leaps and bounds. I can start and finish a piece, even up to 9 by 12 inches in size, in a couple of hours. My speed of working had as much to do with the awesome Acrylic paints, as it had to do with hundreds of hours of practice. I don't have to care about going wrong with Acrylics, I can always paint over. I can do that with oils too, but not until they dry. Which is like 5 days. It is like a chiseling process now, to chip out my mistakes and get myself equally comfortable with oils too.

Oil on Canvas, 4 by 12 inches
© Nithya Swaminathan

I started one of the Reading series of paintings in oils, and reached a point where I had to paint over something and that had to wait. Realized that I must get over my rustiness with something simpler, not a figure for sure. So what better than a flower for me! Had picked up these long canvasses and it seemed perfect for this gorgeous flower. This was done in an hour or so, and I am slowly getting back at ease with the lovely oil paints. Hope to strike a balance between Oils and Acrylics going forward. I can always work a bit with an oil, leave it to dry and finish couple of Acrylic pieces in the meanwhile :)

Your comments are welcome!

December 10, 2010

Reading by the lake IV - Impressions of a European Summer

I have named this one too as "Reading by the lake" just to keep with the theme, as they're a series you see. But then, this is not actually from a lake. It is from a nearby park that we used to frequent in summer. Since it was well within the theme of this series and captured the same spirit, I wanted to paint this one too.

Reading by the Lake IV
Acrylics on Canvas, 10 by 10 inches
© Nithya Swaminathan

This one I think is my favorite among the series. I am quite pleased with the result. I did this one entirely with the palette knife, including the body and hair. Resisted the brush temptation entirely and am quite happy with that. :) I would love to hear from you, what do you think.

With this painting, I am done with the pending figurative pieces I had I think. Or wait, I have couple of more dancers pending that are half way through. Should get to them after I complete a landscape that has been lying around for a while now. My head spins thinking about all the incomplete work and I hate to get into the New Year that way. On finishing up all the incomplete ones, I hope to make this blog a daily painting blog from next year onwards. Let's see. :)

Reading by the lake III - Impressions of a European Summer

When I go out to shoot photos of people or places on a well lit sunny day, it is amazing how many of them actually get converted to paintings. Almost all the pictures barring a few have great lighting, good shadows and make really interesting subjects to paint. All that I generally do is push up the color saturation a bit and it gets even more exciting.

Reading by the lake III
Acrylics on Canvas, 10 by 10 inches
© Nithya Swaminathan

Compare that with taking pictures now, it gets really pathetic with uniform lighting, hardly any shadows and so on. Doesn't excite me much at all. I was painting a lot of snowy scenes the last couple of winters, but I am not so excited this time. I do have a lot of gorgeous snow references from our Austria trip though, and who knows, some of them could turn into paintings :)

I would love to hear your feedback on this one. And on the series as a whole. Do the "Impressions of a European Summer" pieces excite you? :)

December 9, 2010

Dancing feet #1 - SOLD

Another painting of mine sold today. This was the first Tango painting that I did and my favorite among all the Tango pieces. I had a blast doing it, and was thrilled that it sold. My client wrote to me saying "This piece spoke to me"! I was floating for a while upon hearing such a thing. It is things like these that make me feel extremely grateful of the fact that I am able to do what I love to. She made my day today :)

Dancing Feet
Acrylics on board, 5 by 7 inches

God bless patrons who support artists!

Reading by the lake II - Impressions of a European Summer

I am sure you'd have known by now that I badly need some sunshine. Desperate really, and it is just the start of winter. I am so done with the snow already! In Germany, it rains all through the year. When it isn't raining, it snows. Phew! No wonder no one here ventures even to the supermarket without checking the weather.

So that cribbing aside, I wanted to get to this piece just to fulfill my mission of not having unfinished pieces during the turn of the year. Started this one too during summer actually, soon after the Reading the lake I. I started 4 pieces at once, in similar square canvasses. Unfortunately only one went to completion and the others were lying around. Well, not anymore. I loved this scene too, an elderly couple having a relaxed afternoon at the lake side, book in hand and some chatter. What more does one need in life! I wanted to capture that "perfect afternoon" feeling.

Reading by the lake II
Acrylics on Canvas, 10 by 10 inches
© Nithya Swaminathan

I wanted to keep away from the brush as much as possible, but had to pick it up for the bodies. My knife was screwing things up and the brush *had* to intervene. The backdrop, the umbrella and parts of the bodies are with the knife. Some tweaks have been done with the brush. I am not entirely happy with it, the perspective of the umbrella is bothering me a bit, I might tweak after a few days. When it was going on and on without any perceivable change, I decided to stop it for the time being. Must see how it looks in a couple of days.

I enhanced the color saturation a bit and modified some of the colors from the original scene. This one too is like the previous painting, with the paint continuing to the sides of the canvas too. It can be hung as it is without a frame and will still look great. Better still, two from the series can be hung together :-) Your feedback is most welcome.

After my craving-for-sunshine paintings are done, I want to get a couple of still lifes done with holiday decorations and stuff. We do not celebrate christmas, I do not decorate a christmas tree. Despite all that, the season tempts me to buy something and a still life is the perfect excuse. I hope I have the time.

December 5, 2010

Reading by the lake - SOLD

Last weekend, I was not in town. We had been on a short ski trip with friends and I had no access to mail. And when I came back to the online world, it was unbelievable to see my painting "Reading by the Lake" was sold. I was thrilled to bits, needless to say.:)

This was one of my favorite pieces from this summer, if not THE favorite. It was a welcome break from the hundreds of florals that I painted, and a scene that I thought captured the essence of summer in this part of the world. I would like to thank my client who bought this painting and I hope he loves it as much as I did.

Reading by the Lake
10 by 10 inches, Acrylics on Canvas

I have shipped my painting to my client and I am waiting with bated breath to hear back from him. I am usually a bundle of nerves in this period between shipping a painting and hearing from the client. I keep wondering all sorts of things - what if the client does not like it in person, what if it doesn't reach in good shape and so on. The list is endless. Anyway, I hope all goes well and I get to hear a positive response soon. :)

New Painting - Bring me some sunshine!

I was tired of the grey and gloomy November that I badly wanted to bring in some color. The sun simply wouldn't show up no matter how hard you prayed, so I had to create my own little piece of sunshine.:) Coming from a city that has nothing called a winter, the winters here are truly a nightmare. I love how the landscape takes a complete turn around and all, but the cold really gets onto me after a while.

But all the cribbing aside, we also managed a short ski trip last weekend with friends. We were chilling out, no freezing in Austria and it was great fun. I had never even seen ski shoes before so it was a completely new experience and good fun. Fell down more number of times than I could count.:)

Bring me some sunshine
16 by 16 inches, Acrylics on Canvas
© Nithya Swaminathan

I wanted to paint something really vibrant, and what better than sun flowers! This is from a reference in WetCanvas and I loved painting it. I am not really happy with the compositions of the individual panels, they don't make sense separately. But since it is meant to be as a whole I guess it is not so bad after all.

Your comments are welcome!

Still life with Hydrangeas - Take two

I had started with my Hydrangeas set up on a white surface and was half way through with them. Meanwhile, it was really weird to be painting on white after a long long time. All through this year I was painting on black, and it was like something was amiss! So I decided to paint the same set up again on black. Not exactly the same, but slightly different. I usually take a lot of snaps of the same setup and compose them later, so the two paintings are from slightly different references.

Still Life with Hydrangeas - take two
12 by 16 inches, Acrylics on Canvas
© Nithya Swaminathan

Instead of just varying the surface alone, I also brought in some changes to the palette. The painting on the white background is done with a warm palette, my usual kind of palette with a lot of reds and browns. This painting on the other hand is done with a much cooler palette. I have gone in for a lot of blues and cooler hues like magenta instead of crimson and so on. It was fun painting both and I like both. If I were to pick one though, I like the previous one better.

I would love to hear from you. Which painting do you like better of the two? All feedback is most welcome!

Still life with Hydrangeas - take one

You would be forgiven if you don't even remember this post about having this painting as a work in progress, 6 months ago! I had actually started it almost a year ago, posted an update 6 months later and it has slept ever since. When I was looking back at the year in order to make some year end posts perhaps, what struck me immediately was the number of paintings that were lying unfinished. Nothing new about it, but this year has certainly been different. In all these past years, I had about 5 completed works and a dozen unfinished. Right now, I have about 4-5 works in progress but more than 300 paintings completed this year thanks to my pet project. That, to me is a huge change, by far the biggest success that came out of my mammoth undertaking.

So coming back, I wanted to complete all the works in progress before starting the New Year. And this one jumped at me first, as it had the dubious distinction for being a WIP for the longest time this year. :) This is from my own setup as always. The lace in the set up is my curtain. I had the vase and the plums set up and wanted some drapery around. Tried some other fabrics but did not quite get the look I was after. In a flash of brilliance, I just pulled down my curtain and voila! There it was, as I had in mind and ready to paint.

Still life with Hydrangeas
Acrylics on Canvas, 12 by 16 inches
© Nithya Swaminathan

I was not going after a realistic feel at all, as has been the case these days what with my knife taking over! How it turned out though is quite different from what I had visualized. I think this painting is much more loose in style compared to all my recent work. I kind of let it paint itself so to say. I like the end result, and I am glad I stopped it without ruining the painting. I was not at all happy with the painting when I decided to pause and take a WIP photo. When I saw the painting through the lens though, I felt it was much closer to completion than what I thought. It looked better through the lens than through my eyes :)  Then I decided not to mess any further and keep it as it was, flaws and all.

These are not real hydrangeas by the way, plastic flowers from IKEA in a vase that I really liked :) Your feedback is most welcome. This post is titled take one, as there is a take two as well, as you might have already guessed. Stay tuned.

October 14, 2010

How to: Set up your Art website easily with Wordpress - Part 1

As mentioned earlier, I wanted to do a series of techie posts to enable artists to migrate to wordpress. If you already blog on wordpress, and want to have a portfolio/gallery also included in your blog to make it look more complete, then this would help you too. But before I go into the details of setting up with Wordpress, this part is actually about what led me to choose Wordpress.

I have seen a lot of artists using a Mac. A LOT actually. The Mac seems to be a very popular choice among artists and photographers, myself included. While the Mac is indeed fantastic for image processing and image organizing, choosing iWeb for my website was a bad idea. The main factor that influenced my decision in favour of iWeb was the ease of maintenance. It is unbelievably easy that my daughter could do it. For a largely static website, it is indeed a great choice. But then, I did not want a static website really. In my home page for instance, I would like to have my most recent works displayed and this display to be updated automatically everytime I upload new work. iWeb makes this like this extremely difficult, for those who are not proficient Mac users if I may add. It's been only a year since I converted, so there could be stuff possible with iWeb too, but well given a choice I'd spend my time painting than doing it.

The things that I looked for in a solution are:

1. Sleek and minimal look and feel, sans any clutter. Uniform look and feel in my portfolio and my blog pages.

2. Easy to update.

3. Adept at handling images - converting them to a portfolio, sorting images into sub galleries. In short easy to upload, organize and maintain my works.

4. Facilitating collectors to buy directly from my website without having to login to a store or anything of that sort.

I had quite a few issues with iWeb, most of them related to the way images and photo galleries are organized. If you look at it, the other pages, like the Artist statement or Biography, they are largely static. It is the image gallery that is the crux to a good artist website and I found iWeb severely lacking in this.

Some of my pet peeves were:

1. No permalink for each image in the gallery

Now if I have to link to a single image in any blog post, I cannot. Only the album as a whole has a unique link and each image is just bookmarked there. This is a major drawback in an Artist portfolio where images are the key. These days, with the omnipresent facebook like button, it really helps if each image has it's own page and a like button to go with it. Makes it really easy for someone to share your work with others.

2. Not very easily customizable

It took me quite a while to actually get to know where the files of the templates can be found and how to tweak them etc. I am one who looks for a ready made template but I like to add my modifications to it. I do not like my website to look like any one else's, so the template/theme being unique is very important to me. iWeb cannot really be customized at the code level, like modifying the CSS or something. I did look through a lot of video tutorials later on and saw that it indeed is quite a flexible platform, but I prefer meddling with code anyday. That's just a personal choice again, and not something prefered if you do not have a technical background.

3. Cannot add links to images

You can create an image gallery in iWeb in less than 30 seconds. You just need to drag and drop your images and it organizes them into a beautiful gallery with a slideshow option embedded. In a blink literally. But now, if I want to add a paypal button below each image, I cannot. If I want to give a link to my blog post about this particular work, I cannot. These things really get onto my nerves. iWeb also offers very little customization on how these images appear, their borders, frames etc. I spent days on end trying to figure out how to add a paypal button below each image, without sacrificing the features that the image gallery offered, all in vain. Of course as I said earlier, if this is indeed possible and if someone could enlighten me, I would gladly stand corrected. I would definitely like to know, out of curiousity.

4. A good for nothing blogging platform

iWeb also offers the option to blog, but it is a joke really. It has absolutely nothing in terms of features and it is something even less than primitive. When my whole idea when I moved from blogger was to integrate my blog and website, and here I was left with only two options - one, to still have them separate defeating the whole purpose of my move and all the $$ I spent in hosting. Two, was to choose a blog template that is similar in look and feel to my iWeb template and allow seamless navigation between the two. I chose the latter, and for a long time was updating two different sites literally and taking a lot of time to make them look seamless. I guess I came up with this brilliance in one of those moments, and would strictly not recommend it at all. I cannot even think anyone else would be that stupid to come up with this idea.

So that is in a nutshell why I finally made a move from iWeb. While I have moved to wordpress, I'd like to add a word about good old blogger here. Within weeks of my move, blogger introduce the "pages" feature, thereby making it ridiculously easy to integrate a blog and portfolio. If I had not spent money on hosting, that's what I'd have done. I might revert after my hosting ends in another couple of years, but it is too early to tell. As of now I am thrilled with Wordpress and could just choose to stay. More techie tips and tricks soon to follow.

September 24, 2010

I am back!

It's been a couple of weeks since I returned from my freaking awesome vacation in Chennai. Did I mention already it was my sister's wedding? Unbelievable that she's already married for a month now! My brother (cousin) also got married earlier this month. It was so hectic with two weddings and one wedding reception and a lot more related festivities, and we hardly had any time to breathe. It was however great fun to meet the entire extended family and spend good time with everyone after quite some time.

Now back to work. I am experimenting different stuff with Wordpress and seeing how best it can be leveraged to build a full fleged art website - with the portfolio, blog and everything else together under one roof. I will be writing in detail about it. There are a lot of wordpress related posts that I wish to write about, and do not worry I will not make it a technical overdose. If any artist is contemplating a switch of blogging platform or any major changes to the website, my posts would be of help to them. Of course, you can always write to me with any stuff that I can help you with.

I am also toying with some project ideas but do not have a very clear idea as of now. Will keep you updated on what I plan next on the painting front. Stay tuned :)

August 18, 2010

August 17, 2010

Summer Flowers - Lily #30

Summer Flowers - Lily #30
Acrylics on board, 5 by 7 inches
© Nithya Swaminathan

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August 16, 2010

August 15, 2010

Summer Flowers - Lily #28

Summer Flowers - Lily #28
Acrylics on board, 5 by 7 inches
© Nithya Swaminathan

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August 14, 2010

Summer Flowers - Lily #27

Summer Flowers - Lily #27
Acrylics on board, 5 by 7 inches
© Nithya Swaminathan

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August 13, 2010

August 12, 2010

Summer Flowers - Lily #25

Summer Flowers - Lily #25
Acrylics on board, 5 by 7 inches
© Nithya Swaminathan

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August 11, 2010

August 10, 2010

Summer Flowers - Lily #23

Summer Flowers - Lily #23
Acrylics on board, 5 by 7 inches
© Nithya Swaminathan

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August 9, 2010

Summer Flowers - Lily #22

Summer Flowers - Lily #22
Acrylics on board, 5 by 7 inches
© Nithya Swaminathan

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August 8, 2010

Summer Flowers - Lily #21

Summer Flowers - Lily #21
Acrylics on board, 5 by 7 inches
© Nithya Swaminathan

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August 6, 2010

August 5, 2010

Summer Flowers - Lily #17

Summer Flowers - Lily #17
Acrylics on board, 5 by 7 inches
© Nithya Swaminathan

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August 4, 2010

Summer Flowers - Lily #16

Summer Flowers - Lily #16
Acrylics on board, 5 by 7 inches
© Nithya Swaminathan

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August 3, 2010

August 2, 2010

Summer Flowers - Lily #14

Summer Flowers - Lily #14
Acrylics on Board, 7 by 5 inches
© Nithya Swaminathan

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August 1, 2010

Summer Flowers - Lily #13

Summer Flowers - Lily #13
Acrylics on board, 7 by 5 inches
© Nithya Swaminathan

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July 27, 2010

A Round up of 300 to 30 - what did NOT go well :)

It's been a busy few days that I haven't completed the round up of posts about my project. However, I want to complete all this before I commence a new project. Besides, I am going on vacation in a couple of weeks and I do not want to leave any blog posts pending for after my vacation, when I know my motivation will be zero. :) In this post, I would like to elaborate on the things that did not go as expected, or were screwed up by my own stupidity. These things are aplenty, and every bit is a learning.

Fixing unnecessary restrictions

It was not a great idea on my part to fix the size and price of the paintings as a constant. It was as stupid as it could get. My objective should have been just to complete 300 paintings, which would have made a lot more sense, and not 300 paintings of size 5 by 7 priced at $29. This I say because I did get to complete many more paintings of much bigger size in this period over the last 1 year. If I had committed only 300 paintings without any other restriction, I’d have completed my project itself much earlier. Though I was doing many more paintings, I could not include them in the project because there was no way I could offer them at $29. That was probably the craziest idea I have come up with in recent times! It greatly restricted the subjects I could tackle as well. I was itching to do some figure paintings in between, but I wasn’t very comfortable doing figures in this size. I have a long way to go before that. And while I was interested in painting people, I could not even pick up a slightly bigger canvas, say an 8 by 10. Crazy!

Bad pricing strategy

My pricing was ridiculous that the word "strategy" doesn't fit in at all. Simple, there wasn't any. I just decided in an impulse that I could offer the paintings at $29 and all that jazz. No calculation went into it. Zero. Had I spent a few minutes listing down my costs in detail, I'd have understood that it was a stupid decision. You can offer paintings once in a while at a low price, have a sale of sorts etc. It should be time bound and for a very limited period. Underpricing not a dozen but a whole 300 paintings is a blunder. If any of you plan to venture into anything like this, give the deepest thought to the pricing and make sure you pay yourself well. It is not a luxury, it is a bare necessity.

No marketing strategy

The whole 300 to 30 project was decided in an instant, on an impulse like I usually do with most things. No great level of planning went into it. My only objective was to venture into something that will help me get more consistent and get better at what I do. My focus was not on selling the work. But, when I was offering the paintings for sale, I ought to have had a marketing plan or whatever. What the hell was I thinking ?! I have so many paintings now that I need to build a house to store them. Phew! I never thought of that aspect, which again was quite bad. When I made my plan on how to complete the requisite number of paintings, I should have made a marketing plan side by side. Very costly lesson, this.

Infrequent updates

With me painting for bulk of my time, it became very tedious to update my blog, website, twitter, facebook etc etc. Facebook was the easiest to update and I chose it over the rest. With Facebook, I did not have to write eloquent texts about each painting, I just had to upload the images and most of my friends could get to see them. It was very easy. Maintaining the blog when you are doing upto 5 pieces in a day is a very time consuming process, and it suffered greatly. Same holds good with the website too, my site badly needs an update. I have this bad habit of putting off things that don't excite me much. I would think of updating my blog, but would change my mind to paint one more instead and keep the blogging for later. And so it goes. Even now, my blog has only about 200 paintings I think, or maybe less. All the paintings are there on my facebook profile though. It is available in 2 albums that can be accessed here without even signing into facebook - Album 1 - paintings 1 to 203 and Album 2 - paintings 204 to 300+. When I commence something new next, I must make it a habit to update the blog first and everything else later. Let's see.

So that's about what I messed up with. Don't worry, it wasn't such a black hole as it seems, there were some patches of light here and there. I shall post about them next. :)

July 23, 2010

"Reading by the lake" - Impressions of a European Summer

We had gone for a cycling tour with a couple of friends a few weeks ago, along a picturesque route dotted with small fresh water lakes in the Rhine-Neckar region. Summer is finally truly here and we could go out leaving the jackets/umbrellas at home. Phew! And here I was thinking we are going to go from winter to winter bypassing everything in between :0 Wherever you go in Germany, a water body is never too far away and that's what I love about this country. In my view this holds good for Europe as a whole, the parts that I have visited. Be it a river flowing right in the middle of a bustling city or a lake out of nowhere. We managed to cycle about 40 kms, which is not much but a great deal for us considering how unfit we are! My husband and I rarely put ourselves through any form of exercise and we were quite surprised that we could cycle so much, that too with the daughter sitting behind us alternately. It became too unbearably hot in the afternoon forcing us to call it a day.

During the ride we stopped by this lake for a while, just to relax for sometime and munch on some snacks. There were hordes of people by the lake, some taking a swim, some just reading a book, introducing little children to the water and so on. A visual delight for the figure painter I'd say. I clicked a few references and this is the first one. I have one more in progress, and hope to do a few more.

Reading by the lake
Acrylics on Canvas, 10 by 10 inches.
© 2010 Nithya Swaminathan
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I still have not mustered the courage to do the figure with the knife. Just did an initial layer with the knife for the woman, and later switched to the brush. Makes life a lot simpler that way. The surroundings though are done entirely with the knife and I hope to slowly get to a stage where my figures also are done with the knife.

There are some things that I tried with this one - a square canvas to start with. I haven't painted on a square canvas after my apples series more than a year ago. I felt it would suit this image and just went ahead. Also, usually I paint the sides with a neutral color - black or brown. This time I thought black would look ridiculous with this canvas, as it has such bright colors. So went ahead and continued the painting itself to the sides too. Too bad that I did not take a photo from the side, will do it tomorrow. The painting flows over to the sides too and doesn't look odd even when hung without a frame.

I quite like how it turned out :) Let me know what you think.

July 20, 2010

"A Round up of 300 to 30" - Some challenges faced

A little bit of background about my 300 to 30 project that I just got to complete successfully last week. On my birthday last year, I had taken up this huge task of completing 300 paintings before I turned 30, which was last week by the way. I had a lovely time with family on my birthday which fortunately fell on a Friday, and over the weekend. We were out on a short break in Holland. And just as every trip to Holland triggers, I came back with several ideas for paintings. I simply love that country!

For those of you who were not aware of this project that I had taken up, you can read my announcement around the same time last year. Funnily, that annoucement is titled "about the blog" because I had started this project as a separate blog and then merged it with my regular one. I initially thought I'd post these 300 small paintings in a separate blog and other bigger ones in my regular blog, but it turned out I wasn't painting much outside of this project and so it made sense to merge everything into one.

While one year has flown by as time always does, I surprised myself by completing things on time. I have so many things to blog about – a handful of things that went really well, a bucketful of things that got screwed up royally, what I learned and so on. So without much ado, here we go.

When I started last year on my birthday #29, there was just one challenge in front of me, to do nearly 1 painting a day so that I get to 300 over 365 days. And I started well and completed 24 paintings in as many days. But then, things in my personal life went a little out of control (not because I was painting all the time, you silly!), and the husband had to change jobs etc. When he is around, he manages my daughter so well that I can paint as much as I want. But he started traveling too much and wasn’t around most of the time at home. This arrangement was draining me so much, putting up with my little one's withdrawal symptoms missing dad etc was too much of stress leaving me hardly any time and mood to paint. And so what started as a short break stretched blissfully over 4 months till the year end. I did not pick up a brush for 4 full months.

While I was telling myself that I had not committed to do one a day anyway, I was feeling guilty of not working on the project having committed in public. A few friends even mailed asking me why I wasn't putting up new paintings and what was up on the 300to30 front. And then with the New Year, I kind of started afresh with some renewed enthusiasm and have painted atleast 1 a day this whole year. And there have been days when I've done even 5-6 full paintings.

In between, I got caught up in other work in the real world, I had to complete a huge commission by the end of May which took up most of my April and May. At that time I thought that even if my project gets delayed a bit it's not that bad because I had a valid reason. But the saner side in me insisted that if I managed my time a little better it could all be accomplished. And so I'm rather glad that it all went fine, though I'd have been happier if I could've completed a little earlier. My obsession to have anything done at the last minute continues... :) Stay tuned for more, will write more about my learnings soon..

July 16, 2010

Happy birthday to me :-)

Do you remember the "300 to 30" project that I started a year ago and have been doing over the last 1 year? Well I have completed it successfully just in time before my birthday. And this painting is a piece of cake to celebrate it. This image might be familiar for some, as I had painted cupcakes last year, as Return of the Muse. This image is a part of that reference, with the focus on just one cupcake. Also, this is done with the knife. I chose this image not just because it denoted a celebration of sorts. It was this cupcake painting last year that was the first piece I did on a black support. I have painted over 250 pieces on black after that, it is my most preferred background these days. This image was provided for the DSFDF by Karin and is one of my most favorite references from that challenge. So I chose to paint it. And I wanted to try the same subject in my current style, just to show how much my style has evolved. This was done in less than 20 minutes btw, and is heavily textured. I like the three dimensional feel that there is to the icing that tempts one to touch it. :)

Paint the cake and eat it too
Acrylics on board, 5 by 7 inches
© 2010 Nithya Swaminathan

I have just titled the painting thus, but I don't eat cakes that much. I ain't a fan of anything sweet and cakes are no exception. I just wanted to do one final painting to mark the successful completion of the project, coz I was darn proud of myself. I have loads more to write about the project and learnings and lots of blah. That will follow soon, so just have some cake right now :-) And guess what, this painting is NOT being offered for $29. We are getting into the thirties and no more twenty something prices on paintings. Mail me if you're interested in this one.

July 15, 2010

"Complementary Colors" - One last iris

This is the last painting in my project 300 to 30. With this, ladies and gentlemen, I am maha-proud to declare that I've completed 300 small paintings while still being 29, as promised last year. There is a funny story about this painting. I had started a poppy on this board, and had left it half done. It got missed when I finished all those poppies, because my little daughter had hidden it somewhere. Oh yeah we play hide and seek with all these :P And after I was done with the poppies this half done painting surfaced out of somewhere and I was taken aback. I was neck deep into the lilies by then and was not in a mood to fix this one, and had left it aside to do in the end. Only to realize that when the end actually came, I could not recognize the painting with the reference. I still have a hundred poppy references and could not figure out which photo was the basis for this one. At one point I got really wild and gessoed over the board to start again. And guess what I felt like starting? Undoubtedly an iris.

Original Palette Knife Iris painting by nithya swaminathan
Complementary Colors
Acrylics on board, 5 by 7 inches
© 2010 Nithya Swaminathan

Over the last one year, the one thing that I’ve realized beyond doubt is that it is the iris that really gets me into the zone. Something magical about these flowers that the pictures seem to paint themselves with no effort from my side. This iris is again a big favorite, as I was running short of time to complete it. I did not want to upload 299 paintings and tell that the last one will be completed later or some crap like that. While I dragged myself out of Himalayan inertia to complete this, the painting did 90% of the job and I just signed it I should say :) It was blissful! The reference for this is an absolutely gorgeous double colored iris from a neighbour's garden. I was completely floored by its beauty. Let me know what you think.

"Facing the Sun" - if you're tired of red that is :-)

How about some yellow for a change? Any other color than red actually? After doing so many paintings with red and exhausting a few tubes of paint, I finally decided to pick up another color. Let me know what you think.

Yellow daisy - palette knife painting by Nithya Swaminathan
Facing the Sun
Acrylics on Canvas, 5 by 7 inches
© Nithya Swaminathan 2010

"Yellow Daisies #3" - Light and Shade

This painting is one of my favorites. It is a pattern that the extent to which I like a painting is inversely proportional to the amount of time spent on it. It has been true wonderfully so far that I will list all my favorite paintings in the end of the project and let you know that all my favorites were completed in less than an hour. This one's no exception, I think I completed it in about 45 mins or so. And I really like it. Let me know what you think.

Original Palette Knife painting by Nithya Swaminathan
Yellow Daisies #3
Acrylics on Board, 5 by 7 inches
© 2010 Nithya Swaminathan

Yellow Daisies #2

Yellow Daisies #2
Acrylics on board, 5 by 7 inches
© 2010 Nithya Swaminathan

"Yellow Daisies #1" - May the sun shine

These little beauties are right from my backyard. I did not even know that they were daisies, how dumb is that. I thought they were some mini versions of the sun flower. And then googled to find out what flowers they were. I took quite a few shots of these flowers but they did not look greatly different from each other, so just stopped with 3 paintings. As a big group of flowers they looked so lovely that they'll make a nice subject for a bigger canvas. Some other day perhaps. Let me know what you think.

Yellow Daisies #1 - Original Palette Knife painting by Nithya Swaminathan
Yellow Daisies #1
Acrylics on Board, 5 by 7 inches
© Nithya Swaminathan

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