Art of India: Drawing and Coloring Book

I finally have copies of this book available for sale.  Art of India is a drawing and coloring book I worked on over the last few years. Written by my sister, Suhag Shirodkar and illustrated by me.


Here’s what Amazon has to say about the book:
This delightful coloring book introduces young readers to the art of India, which can be found everywhere from monuments and textiles, to sidewalks, vehicles, movies, and objects of everyday use.

With 34 attractive illustrations, the book takes the reader through a broad spectrum of visual arts, from seals of the Indus Valley civilization, embroidery, folk and performing arts, murals, monuments, mehendi, and movies, to objects of everyday use. This excellent book will ensure ample inspiration for curious young minds (and some older ones too!).

Here is a peek at some pages from the book:
art_of_india_coloring_book-sm2The book is more than just a coloring book: it combines short descriptions of many art forms with pages to color. Most pages are partially colored to give you a feel for what the original art looks like. You get to color the page using whatever colors suit your fancy, or you can imagine what the artwork would look based on the short text that goes with each spread.

Some pages like this one below, go a step further with you drawing in and completing these masks.

You can get even more adventurous and imagine and draw in more of scenes like the one below before you color them.

If you enjoy images of work-in-progress, here’s a couple of photos of me working on some pieces. I first created line-drawings designed by studying examples of each art form. I then colored parts of the pieces in watercolor layered over with colored pencil.

This piece below is inspired by Pichhwai (painted temple cloths) from the state of Rajasthan.


Below are my reference photos and piece-in-progress. This artwork is based on the intricate stone-inlay work that embellishes the Taj Mahal.

If you buy the book here at my Etsy store, it comes signed by the author and illustrator. If you’d like a custom message added to the book before it ships, feel free to send it in via the comments section when you buy it.

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On assignment @ Hoot & Howl

You know you have a dream gig when it’s so much fun you think “I get paid to do this?“.

That was my Saturday evening: reportage sketching at Happy Hollow Park & Zoo‘s Hoot & Howl fundraiser. Hoot & Howl  is an evening for grownups to come to the park sans kids. Happy Hollow puts on quite the party for them, from live animals wandering around the zoo, to hot air balloon rides, live shows in the puppet theater, lots of food and drinks and much, much more. Here are some highlights from my evening.

Danny the Dragon, the zoo’s beloved mascot welcomes early arrivals who enjoy a drink while they wait for the gates to open. (Yes, the attendees were so excited, they arrived early!)

Once you enter the park, there’s no dearth of stuff you can do. This candy artist spins dragons, hummingbirds, dolphins and just about anything you can imagine out of candy, and hands them to you on a stick. No one seemed to have the heart to take a bite off those beautiful confections.

All the while that you wander around the zoo, there’s ambassador animals with their handlers. Many of the animals were once rescued and are very tame. They visit schools as part of an education program.
Here’s Morocco, an African porcupine, who tried taking a hearty bite out of my book. Good thing it was a solid, hardcover book, or he’d have gone right through it…

And here are the raven and baby kangaroo.


Spike the alligator was rescued about 25 years ago. He’s never needed to catch prey, never had to battle for a mate or fight another alligator, so he’s super-docile.

If you’ve looked at the progression of the photographs so far, you might notice the light fading and the park’s halogen lighting coming on…That’s the one bit of the evening I didn’t account for. Drawing under dim light outdoor light is hard enough, but painting under it means you have to know what color is where in your palette, because every color looks the same under that light… and you just have to hope that the sketches look halfway decent in daylight.

This camel was pretty vocal.  And I think she liked posing for pictures.

After I’d spent some time with the animals, I headed over to the Puppet Theater for a mime show.

And then back out to watch some acroyoga.

Finally, I ended the evening with a bunch of very jolly people getting their fortune told by Madam Fortuna Fischi.

All this fun and games is for a very good cause, and many party goers generously donated at the event and went home with some really fun swag.

I love reportage: it’s intense and exhilarating. You need to plan and be prepared, but also be able to improvise and react quickly, and capture what unfolds as it happens. And, you get to cover and experience a whole range of events, from fun parties like this one, to protests, performances and even symposiums.

Another lovely bit about drawing in public is that people will come watch, chat and more often than not, tell you that they loved making art at some point in their lives. I always hope that seeing me draw might make them consider getting back to what they loved: art doesn’t have to be big, intimidating and abstract. It is whatever you make it to be.


Posted in Animals, california, Close to home, people, reportage, san jose, Silicon Valley | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

A colorful week

Last week I bought a small, thin-papered Fabriano book on a whim at my local art store. I Thought it might be nice to carry around a super-light book and a bunch of colored pencil for times when I knew I wouldn’t be using any water media… I tested it immediately on the way home. (Yes, on the middle spread: if the book absolutely didn’t work, then I could pull out the page easily and give my kids a blank book to draw in… I think I’m keeping the book, though.)

Switching gears, a couple of pieces from figure drawing last week. You can see my Derwent Colorsoft pencils are turning up everywhere.

Local Color is a wonderful project based out of San Jose. The project aims to reactivate out-of-use buildings in the city and make them art hubs for the community. We visited last week and enjoyed adding to their community wall. Well, the kids added to the wall, I sketched the kids…

And then on Saturday I cleaned up and topped off my palette for a really exciting reportage project that evening.
reportage_HHPZIt turned out to be one of the most fun reportage projects I have ever worked on…More about that in my next post.

Posted in california, Close to home, Everyday Sketches, Figure Drawing, people, san jose, Silicon Valley, Supplies and Materials, tools | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Back at Stanford

Spot the sketcher in this photograph? He’s a little harder to spot than most because he has no telltale sketchbook and overflowing kit of pencils and pens. That’s Rob Sketcherman.

I met Rob and his wife Louisa one afternoon for a quick sketch session by Memorial Church on Stanford Campus. I have to say, we sketched less and talked more. Chatting and sketching means I ended up with a fiddly, overworked sketch. But that’s okay. It’s great when sketchers visit: you get to actually talk with friends whose work you know so well, but don’t get to talk much to during a Symposium.

Here’s another sketch, made while waiting for Rob.

If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area on a visit and head down to the South Bay, stop by Stanford to sketch for sure. Besides these iconic buildings and the Rodin sculptures at the Cantor Museum, there’s also this gem of garden, the New Guinea Gardens that’s worth visiting.

Thanks Rob and Louisa, it was lovely catching up. If you want to see more of Rob’s fantastic iPad sketching from this trip, it’s here.


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Monday’s Mixed Bag

Last week was thin on sketches: when the temperature hits 110+, (a record for the city) you stay home and do pretty much nothing. Still, here’s a few things, mostly from before the heatwave.

Some days are better than others. But mostly it’s just a matter of how many hours you put in: drawing over and over until you can see clearly. I finally feel like I’m starting to understand how the tubing and wiring on neon signs works. And that’s what makes it possible to whip a bold sketch out in 15 minutes. I love liquor store signs, they’re the best.

From my day figure sketching. I usually prefer to do full-figure studies. Last week was unusual. You can see in that first sketch of the full pose that I got interested in a portrait, and then I did several quick takes.

In my studio right now, a commissioned portrait in progress. Not quite done yet, but close…I’m enjoying working bigger on a half sheet of Stillman & Birn’s Beta paper.

A couple of small sketches. My daughter. Rainbow pencil and pen.

And a cup of chai at the end of a long day. First sketch with a set of Derwent Colorsoft pencils I’m trying out.

I must be in a testing-new-supplies mood because I just loaded up my new @theminipalette with  @qorwatercolors watercolors.

I’m looking forward to lots of playing and experimentation this week. And you?

Note: Since a few of you asked, here are the colors in my Tiny Palette (for now)
Top to bottom, left to right:
Viridian Green, Burnt Sienna (natural), Paynes Gray
Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Hansa Yellow Light, Phthalo Blue (Green Shade)
Quinacridone magenta, Nicel Azo Yellow, Ultramarine Blue


Posted in california, Close to home, Everyday Sketches, Figure Drawing, people, Portrait, reviews, supplies, Supplies and Materials, Vintage Signs | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Workshop: Urban Sketching for Beginners

In ‘other news’, I taught a multi-session workshop called Introduction to Urban Sketching  at the Cupertino Library. Many thanks to the staff at the library and to the Friends of Cupertino Library for making it happen! The class was designed for beginners but open to all levels and it was both challenging and rewarding to watch the group of mostly-beginning (and some returning-to-drawing) students discover the joys of everyday drawing.

We covered a lot of basics of what it would take to draw and paint in a sketchbook. We covered drawing objects, buildings and trees, and incorporating figures into our sketches. Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? I had a bunch of really enthusiastic students, unafraid to try new stuff, so it was fun. Here are some quick snapshots of the content we covered.



And along the way, we sneaked in value studies, a little bit of color mixing, some watercolor tips and tricks, and simple approaches to perspective.

I never remember to take photos because I’m so busy squeezing in one more thing we can talk about… All I found on my camera were these two photos, (left, below) taken from our last session: I took them to explain how to look beyond color at value. On the right is the demo from that session. The fountains really were on and the kids were playing in them when I did the demo.

It’s really fun to teach a bunch of adventurous students: they’ll take on anything, even if they’ve never done it before. And I love watching how they surprise themselves with what they can achieve.

Do you know a group that would be interested in the class? I’m always happy to reteach it, especially close to San Jose. Just email me at



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Happenings this week

In happenings this week: The tree in our front yard died. Just like that. Perhaps 6 years of drought was too much for it? It was sad to see it go. Now it sits completely cut up in our front yard, waiting for the green waste truck to pick it up.

Are you stuck in a rut with sketching? Finding you’re making excuses to not be able to draw? Here’s a blogpost by Liz Steel and some thoughts on getting out of that rut. I needed this today. Lately I’ve been working towards sketching the last few signs for my Vintage Signs project. And on a 3-part class for beginning sketchers that I’ve been teaching (more on that soon).


And while I love both projects, I’ve been doing less little experimental sketches, less drawings of things that catch my eye… So today I stopped by Pete’s Coffee on my way home and did a few quick sketches of people in the store. It was fun to go straight to paint and shapes and then just add in a some line.  I didn’t really switch book, but I deliberately did this first sketch in my smaller Stillman & Birn Beta softcover book. Small vignettes are the best place to lay and try new things.
shape_big_people2This next page is back in my bigger spiral-bound Beta, but only because I was super-eager to keep going and that first spread (above) took forever to dry. That’s why I always carry around at least two books.shape_big_people1

Wet-in-wet watercolor + drawing people. Always makes me happy.

Posted in california, Close to home, Everyday Sketches, people, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments