Sunshine'n'Rainbows

That.. was a crazy semester..

I look back and see that my last post was in July 2014. I have not had any time to touch anything other than my course books and project work. I am not happy with average performance, and that is what keeps me busy all the time. My husband asks me to take it lite, but when I do it, I want to do my best!

My semester is now over, and all went well. Now I am focused on relaxing and having some fun before I begin my final and busy semester. A few interesting events happened this semester and I wanted to share them with you. Here goes:

  • Me and my team mates @ Virginia Tech successfully completed Phase 1 of our project – Building Energy Management Systems (BEMOSS, we call it!) funded by US Department of Energy. We competed with a couple of other universities in the US and guess what! We Won!!! When I look back, most of what I see is arguments with the team, and those numerous night outs that I put in to bring it alive. This is a very important milestone for me, in my experience. I started this project from nothing and brought it to something worth selling in front of our judges. I am thankful to all my team members for the collaboration and effort. In the end, it is success all the way.
  • Next most important event for this semester is my first publication in the ACM conferences. A byproduct of my course work, this project is very interesting especially for the potential it has. The project is titled ‘Shopaholic’ – which is an Android application developed to provide crowdsourced shopping assistance to the app users. It is not live in the Android market, but we soon plan to make it live.
  • A sad part of the whole semester was having absolutely no time to relax or have fun painting. And although I tried a better part of my semester trying to take that time, I gave up after a while, hoping to do my best in what is most important. But yea, now I am back to relaxing. And Winter is here!

I almost did not realize Summer and Fall passed without me getting a peak of it, but who cares! I did accomplish quite a few targets I set for the year. Now I am getting ready to build my website to showcase my Engineering skills as well. I hope to display it soon.

This post must be boring to you if you are reading it hoping to find some artsy detail. I will soon post my first few paintings for December 2014. These things aside, me and Shankar went on a Road Trip to places in Virginia spotted by LOVEworks (http://www.virginia.org/LOVE/). Although we were not able to cover much, it was a fantastic winter road trip with some LOVEworks conveniently located in wineries. Oh, we found one LOVEwork made of wine barrels.

Here is a collage of our LOVEworks road trip the weekend before Christmas 2014.

AStarred PhotosWishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Sunshine'n'Rainbows

Trips and tales..

This was a draft I found in my dashboard that I never posted – don’t know why! Reading through something you wrote a few months ago, and seeing how much life has changed makes you realize the vulnerability of time. The memories of the trip mentioned below is still fresh in my memory and of course the difficulty of having to do work when you are all jet lagged, but I learnt so much in the last few months.

Anyway, I didn’t want to ignore this post that I never posted on time. So here it is! And I am posting pictures of a few goodies I got from India and also our sweet pup at my mom’s!

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Tom ( the sandal is his favorite toy! )
Ganeshji wall hanging
Ganeshji wall hanging

January 31, 2014

This is an account of the first trip from US to India and back to the US. So, it is my first trip back to India after a year in the US. I packed my bags and I am all excited to go. The journey is terrible, no doubt when it takes away 17 hours of your life just sitting in an uncomfortable chair. And what better to add to your misery than a faulty flight that takes two hours to restore its normalcy and start its flight. I was stranded at the Dulles Airport inside the airplane with Shankar and several other fellow travelers feeling sorry to have even boarded the plane. And we had a connecting flight at Frankfurt with just three hours of stop over. And somehow we managed to board the connecting flight from Frankfurt to Chennai.

And in Chennai, within a short time span of about three weeks, I managed to get my student visa. And back we flew after a tiring vacation back in India. While India just got hot, hotter and hottest during our vacation there (we call it ‘winter’ when the temperature is around 15 to 20 degree Celsius), we landed back in Dulles at a -11 F temperature. And there was our cab driver, an Indian(oh! I felt blessed to see an Indian take us home from the airport), who took us home. He was bothered about people smoking all the way on the roads, more than anyone I ever knew.

And yes, there we were at our home sweet home. Jet lagged again! Oh, what life!!!

I started work as a GRA a day after arrival and lose my mind around 2 PM when it is night time in India. It is so far doing no good, but I am hoping I will feel good by the end of this week. What drains me of all energy most is my inability to do justice to my watercolor brush. I still have an unfinished oil painting left on the easel, and watercolors drying up and waiting to be used. I just got a few Strathmore Tiles, which I feel is an awesome concept. I always needed a small watercolor pad to carry with me, along with my travel color palette, to do some quick watercolor sketches on the go. I have not done one single sketch on winter, and that feels disappointing.

And TGIF! I have a whole lot to do pending at home.

Sunshine'n'Rainbows

A Weekend at Cacapon State Park, WVa

We were about 1.5 miles uphill. The hike was brisk since we decided to do it first thing in the morning; some of us called home and finished the daily conversation routines. I just turned on the MapMyWalk workout routine. All was well, and we felt eager to reach the top to see the other side of the mountain until we met a Mr. Snake on our way uphill and it was the most thrilling moment of the trip. I just walked past the snake and Shankar was behind me. The rest of them already went past the snake without noticing it. The snake was waiting to cross the path, but looked scared to cross it with all the human intervention in its path.

Front of our cabin
Front of our cabin

Shankar said, there is a snake and I was right in front of the snake. I just rushed forward not wasting a second. Shankar still had not crossed the snake and he had to wait on the other side. The snake, scared as it was, crawled slowly across the path, and carefully climbed the log and made it through. We were all super scared till it crossed, given the snake we saw was highly poisonous. Shankar could finally come toward us. Those five minutes felt like the longest ones ever, and finally we were together as a group again.

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View from the rear end of the cabin
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On our way uphill

All was well again! The summit did not please us though, since there were not enough view points to look at from the top of the hill, and it was just flat and full of trees around. Honestly I was a little disappointed after that strenuous hike. My previous hike at Humpback Rocks was better and felt like all the efforts paid off when we reached the top and had that one cold egg and cheese bagel. This time, it was not very interesting. We clicked a few pictures and then hiked back down. It took us about 4 hours in total, but was a good start to an awesome trip.

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Back from the hike..
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Us – The three musketeer couples – on our way back from the hike..
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Barbecue

Memorial Day was finally taking shape. We then came back, had some awesome dinner barbecuing all the favorite veggies and meat, and marshmallows! The next day was totally relaxing; we woke up late and the guys went golfing. We girls walked to the nearby lake and sat there relaxing by the shore. It was an amazing view of the sky and the lake from the shore. The guys joined us later, and we had an awesomely cooked lunch, once again a barbecue.

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You know! (Keep it light)
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Thats the veggie grill platter – mushrooms, tomatoes, red peppers, and pineapples. (A lot of people asked me why pineapples! For those who have not tried marinated grilled pineapples, you are missing something yumm!!!! )

The next day, we golfed and then went to the hot spa at Berkeley Springs, and spent a good half an hour relaxing. Thus was celebrated our Memorial Day this year. The log cabin, the kitchen, the backyard which was actually the mountain, the spa, the local markets, the tall trees, the pitch dark nights, and the daily barbecue all added to an awesome and relaxing trip.

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The lonely dandelion

This was something I most needed after a hectic Spring and before the more hectic summer began. The trip was originally planned as a final get together before one of the couples moved to Texas permanently. And it turned out to be a good farewell trip for them.

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The huge shady trees

What was your Memorial Day weekend like?

Sunshine'n'Rainbows

Nature love..

After a whole semester, last Saturday was one day I could totally chill out. I wanted to go out to feel nature. I don’t remember being in a garden for a long time now. Shankar was determined to shake the boredom of buildings and offices, and wanted to go someplace quiet and green and sunny. We have been to most of the places around, which left us with almost no choice. We decided we would visit the Botanical Gardens close by. It was so wonderful to be in a place so quiet and beautiful.

We missed our camera at home, and ended up clicking pics using my HTC One mobile phone camera. I loved them even though they were not of the highest quality. The flowers were a treat to the eyes after the long and hard winter.

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The lush green surrounding was a wonderful relaxation to the otherwise routine and urban life. The Korean Bell Garden, as seen in the last picture, is another attraction we enjoyed there. The structure was completely built by hand. This link describes the history of the bell garden in detail. It was an interesting addition to a garden full of botanical names written beside every plant.

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Artilicious · Sunshine'n'Rainbows

Summer is coming…

Its been a month since I posted. Blame all the semester finals, projects and deadlines. I feel relaxed after the most hectic semester ever. The Spring was here and there meanwhile, playing hide and seek, and now its almost summer.

I have been waiting for good weather and no deadline. The second is always impossible, so I manage to get some time here and there. For the most part I had been coding (programming; Shankar interprets ‘coding’ as the medical ‘coding’ – lol – so I made it a point to specify). I am at the office which is unusually quiet. My whole corridor is empty, with all my professors traveling to China and my friends relaxing around. I like it quiet and peaceful. My productivity levels have actually increased, and I can really concentrate. I hope to finish as much web development as possible with all this peace around.

My few relaxation moments here and there have been just going over colorful blogs from my favorite artists, and learning what they have to teach the world. One notable piece of work is by Alisa Burke, one of my favorite artists. She brings out something really exotic with simple tools. And I recently checked out her post on ‘Hand painted wall‘. Black and white doodle on walls – absolutely mind-blowing – with room-length beds. I love the idea of a simple and beautiful wall painting.

clematis_kruthikaAnother interesting read is that of Cathy Johnson. She is a great inspiration for anyone who wants to know, painting can be simple and beautiful. My first few watercolor paintings were in fact inspired from her work. I love the simplicity, and the subtle pen and color technique. Her artwork is a good choice for art journalling, which I have just started to explore.And while this has been my relaxation and learning to do justice to my art love, I did find a few hours to get a couple of paintings done. One of them is a 18×24 inch watercolor painting of a few clematis flowers. It took me about four hours in total, from outlining to hanging it in our living room. I loved the colors I have used, and it brightens up the space. Another is part of my sketchbook work, and it was derived from my sketchbook covers. I am posting pictures of these two paintings here.

sketchbook

Amongst several activities, one another great hobby I seem to like is gardening. I have not been much of a garden person till I got a few plants from Home Depot last week. I am a total newbie to planting, and this has been very satisfying. I love how the tiny seeds begin to grow and bear shoots. Its a wonderful feeling to wake up every morning and go visit those teeny plants, sit with them, water them. I am absolutely loving it. We got just a few plants and seeds to start with, and now that I know how I love it, I will get more of them now.

Artilicious · Sunshine'n'Rainbows

Spring is here, and so are colors!

So, Spring is here! Finally! It feels wonderful to hear birds chirping again!

The temperatures have been going up and down but it is at least not zero anymore! I have been working harder than ever, keeping pace in all the different activities I am involved in. Study, work, research, meet with friends, have a little fun, cook, etc.

I celebrated Holi with my friends at George Mason University, it felt wonderful. I was drenched in colors after almost 7 years. And I loved dancing and playing around. I also happened to be introduced to two new friends, a couple. Just as we are, they make a lovely addition to the group. Here is a picture from our Holi celebrations. And Shankar’s friend, Ganesh was also with us for that weekend, and he got drenched in colors too! Probably his first Holi in life! Ain’t that fun?!

Holi

Oh! I know, thats a funny picture! 😀 And Ganesh was the photographer!

I won the Art and Photography contest that was held at my University as part of the Graduate Education Week. Thats brings more confidence in me! Its always nice to know when people appreciate your art. This week was really hard on me, I had to work till midnight almost every day, and I am glad its weekend. I had to miss a party just to finish up the pending items on my list. And the list is hugeeee…! I miss you free time!

Its been exciting these days to learn something new everyday. Starting from my course, where the subject has been so enlightening, to work, I am learning something new everyday. I never loved it all along, but I am falling for it these days. Being in the US exposes me to a lot more in terms of resources to learn and be motivated to learn. Its not just plain programming or painting anymore! You can always find peers who work in similar areas, interact, and learn.

And yes, you should not miss my new painting in watercolor medium. Took me two days to complete. The first day I was exhausted just filling the sheet in with some background colors. I need bigger paint brushes. It was a 18 x 24 watercolor 300 lb. paper, and it took significant amount of effort to complete it, unlike the smaller ones that I usually make. I loved painting every bit of it. Here is the final painting!

Rural India

Who is watching Game of Thrones tonight? (Sunday, 6th April)..

Artilicious · Sunshine'n'Rainbows

Miss you, Spring!

What is going on with nature?

Its the end of March and it is snowing. I was so excited when it snowed heavily for the first time this season, because I don’t usually see that much snow in this area. But I am done with handling snow days for the year.

Spring! I miss you! Truly!

It looks like there is going to be no Spring, we are going to head straight into summer. Rains play spoilsport too! Anyway, I have been looking out through the window grabbing every opportunity I can get to go out and enjoy the sun! Meanwhile, work has been rolling. I have been working on the software for my work project, and seems to be taking shape right now. It is always nice to know new languages and develop new applications, but the learning part while on the job is as painful as it can get. I would have just set up my system, only to realize that it has some new error waiting to be resolved. Oh, I am sorry, I am talking about software development. This is really a kind of experience working with a team of to-be-PhDs, knowing how they think and how they work. I have been learning a lot, both good and bad, but in the end, it all helps! Doesn’t it?! 🙂

Also, having no time to paint to sketch, I have planned to invite my friends over for a ‘Paint all you like’ day. It is going to be a lunch / dinner meet up with friends catching up and painting. And yea, for those who love, there is the wine! My hands are getting itchy to paint and I really need to get my hands on painting! I want to try the canvas and acrylic now, given I have two big albums full of watercolor paintings now and only a few of canvas work.

I submitted a few of my paintings to my University’s Art and Photography Contest this week. Lets hope to win. 🙂

 

Artilicious · Sunshine'n'Rainbows

Looking back

Awaiting Spring!

Surreal in acrylics

Though I spent a month in India when the polar vortex hit US, I still feel that winter this year is never ending. I so need a break from these sub-zero temperatures right now. For one thing, I was at home last year, so I kept myself cozy. This year, going out every day for work and classes are making the winter crazier than before. Meanwhile, a year has passed by. Looking back at what I did last year made me feel good.

Watercolor doodle
I am no more the ‘all work and no play makes a dull boy’ I used to think I was. Today, I am sitting at my work (not sure if this is work yet 😛 ), and I find time to type this. Thanks to Shankar, for dropping me at work early today. I spoke to my mom for a decent amount of time, and now I am ‘looking back’ at the past year.

My entire 2013 has been recorded in bits and pieces in one place – ‘Instagram’. I joined Instagram around mid 2012, and had not been posting much until I had something exciting to post.

Tulips in a sketchbook

I started with a pencil drawing of a kissing couple and the latest post has been of a flower doodle in watercolor. My passion for painting and art has just taken the right path, and I now know I can really do it. US has amazing stores that help you get from where you were to where you want to be with respect to art. And I just love it.

You can find a few of my favorite art work in this post. For more of it, you can visit my Instagram. These last two are a serious effort to kindle the artist in me after I started work this year. Made me feel good every time I drew/painted something. For me, doing some art work every second day fuels me like to work better. It is what coffee/exercise does to most people. 🙂 I am glad art does the trick for me.

Flower doodle in watercolor0.4 mm black pen doodle

 

 

 

Artilicious · Sunshine'n'Rainbows

Time is Defenseless..

Last time, I was still having a few reports to submit, and this time I am completely done with my semester. Project report, summary report, powerpoint presentation, youtube demo – all done and submitted. I am free for the next fortnight after which I am going on a holiday – to where? To India! Yeay!

Its been a year since I met with my parents and friends back in India, and so this is going to be a good break and an awesome trip. I am so eagerly waiting for the day, but for the flying part. 24 hours of flying makes me so tired and sick and my legs go numb most of all.

Unlike last time, which was my first long hour air travel, this time I plan to be a little more prepared. I have a few activities planned for my travel. I am carrying my watercolor kit, my sketchbook and my Stephen King novel, and I have my pocket book of ‘The Hobbit’. I think this is going to help me going during the awake-time of my flight travel. Of course, if I am tired of all this, I can always resort to watching a couple of movies from my IPad. Sounds like a plan! Doesn’t it?

And yesterday, besides other work I had to do with respect to my Masters admission, I got an hour to paint. I have always wanted to paint in oils, but there are not many videos freely available on the web that teach you to oil paint. Being a self-learner, I tried my hands on oils to understand how it works. My first oil painting was a half flower on a small canvas.

First oil painting
First oil painting

And here is my painting from yesterday. As for yesterday’s I did not really start out knowing what I was going to paint. I just wanted to paint something that depicted time and its defenseless nature. I wanted to link it with just colors that might end up representing a strong element of nature.

Time and tide wait for none
Time and tide wait for none

This painting is yet to dry completely. It is still shiny and I could not wait to post it. This is painting on a 11 x 14. I kept it small to use just a small space to play with oils and still get something out of it. I hope you like it. Now that my vacation has begun, I plan to post something every time an idea strikes.

Artilicious · Sunshine'n'Rainbows

Sunset in watercolor..

Tik Tok Tik Tok !

My semester is coming to an end, and I am back to those days when I used to be idle all day long figuring out how best to spend the day. And meanwhile, me and Shankar just celebrated our first Wedding Anniversary. Oh! Did I say ‘celebrate’?

Ahem! It wasn’t really a celebration with me running up and down different campus building, and Shankar picking me up and dropping me just so we can find some together. And we finally ended up having lunch together, and I successfully completed the final presentation for my class project. We got back home around 11 PM.

And Monday was thus gone, with Tuesday all white and snowy and cold and icy.. I really wanted to see some sunshine, and there it was, just before sunset yesterday. A peek of sunshine! Just enough to say it made my day.

The onset of winter is good with a snow. I just started hating those bare trees; they make me feel almost dead. That’s when Shankar told me – they are not dead; they wait till time favors them and bloom back to life. Mean’t so much to me – those words. Nature’s ways!

All this, and finally I get some leisure time, and for leisure and relaxation, I prefer painting than anything else in the world. It has been almost four months since I did any good painting. Today, I found time and inspiration. I loved the hour I spent painting today, and I wish I always get this hour everyday to keep me relaxed.

Here is the painting in two stages.

First Step

Sunset is so pretty anytime anywhere. Isn’t it?

Sunset - Watercolor

 

I enjoyed painting this piece, every minute of it. Hope you enjoy seeing it, the sunset – it sets only to rise again 🙂

Have a good day!