Monday, February 10, 2014


Kolam is a sacred design drawn with rice flour at the entrance of homes in India. The women and girls of more than a million Hindu households in South India create new kolams every day of the year. The only exception is during the heavy rains of the monsoon season when drawing outside is impossible.

Kolams are made as invocations to the gods and goddesses that are believed to protect the home. They also provide food for ants which keep them from entering homes. Always placed on the ground before the front door of a house, these drawings are believed to prevent evil and to encourage good spirits to enter the home. The designs have been passed down from mother to daughter for untold centuries, although there is a premium placed upon innovation and experimentation with new concepts. Once she has created a kolam, each woman prides herself in never precisely repeating that design.

Here I am at Visalam Hotel in Karaikudi, Talmil Nadu, India, getting a lesson in kolam. It starts with a grid of white dots and then I was instructed on which ones to connect with what sort of lines...straight or curved. I got a bit frustrated with the need for symmetry and started freely adding designs. My teachers reacted to this disobedience, but I informed that it was called "free form".

Here is the master and my teacher......

Friday, February 7, 2014

YES, India

I must admit is has been challenging to return to the computer after spending a month in India. Not just the computer, but a life altering experience superimposed on my life in the Pacific Northwest.

My travels focused on the Southern providence of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The tour with Magical Journey captured the essence of India. In contrast, traveling on our own provided George and I with a closer experience of nature and the Indian people. The month was stupendous!

I etched out only a few hours of sketching. "Coconut Lagoon" is a stunning hotel in the backwaters of Kerala. "Hornbill Camp" on the Periyar River borders the Thattekad Bird Santuary.

Coconut Lagoon
watercolor & ink
Joanne Osband

Hornbill Camp
watercolor & ink
Joanne Osband

Too much fun!!!