Beginner Digital Art

Started and ended with CS3 only. no prior sketch was made. 

A friend with another friend's spectacles.
Dilwale Dulhaniya lejayenge

A mixed media artwork- pencil sketch, acrylics & CS3 edits

Started with just a rough sketch and acrylics and ended up with an outrageous portrait not worth uploading. So the stock taken on day 1 was quite useful and worked on it with CS3. And finally I am closing this project .Not a perfect one but am glad that pictures taken at various stages of development did help me save this work.
Acrylic with water medium - Day1

Acrylics & CS3 edits - Day2

Edited with adobe PS CS3 - Day 3


I spoke too soon about acrylics ,I guess, and the jinx has cast on...!
I overpainted and ruined my friend's portrait. Need to do some adjustments now to fix it.  I just couldn't get the arms and shoulders right and finally decided to make it abstract and finally discarded the plan.
Undoing in watercolour is soooooo easy.... :(

The only respite is that I had a saved copy where I had coloured 50% and what could be better than photoshop to fix and recolour. trying my hand digital painting again.

Digitally modified acrylic

Still WIP. Have to remove all the hardlines and do tonal adjustments. But I like it so far. A sense of relief that the whole thing is not destroyed. :)

More is less in watercolour and less is more in Acrylics

When I decided to dabble with colours, I chose to start with water colors as they are supposed to be easily 'undone' and activating the water colour is easy unlike acrylics. I have distanced myself from oils because of its slow drying property. Even though I had got myself a set of acrylics colours I never dared to play it on the expensive cold pressed sheets. Recently from the flea market, I got a 20 pages A4 size drawing sheets, which had the texture exactly like the cold pressed sheets, like a  for just 2 Euros and I tried my hand at acrylics and loved it a lot. Loved the way acrylics holds on to the paper and the rich strong effect it brings to the whole artwork.  Only that you have to be quick and plan your moves in advance since the paint dries too fast. There is so much more to learn but after these 3 starters I have learnt one thing for sure: More is less in watercolour and less is more in Acrylics. 

Bee and Blue rose

Lady with the orange rose 

WIP  - A friend

Sleeping sides

Sunday nights are the worst of all nights because you don't get sleep early and the thought of going back to work early in the morning keeps your irk quotient on the ticker. As I was tossing and turning on the bed with eye-blinds on, VR was watching his mind-relaxing-episodes of 'Yeh jo hai zindagi'. The times of snuggle-sleep is long back gone as after five years of marriage we do not compromise on our sleep; we sleep on the respective half of the bed and mostly with backs facing each other, not because we are angry but because that happens to be our favorite sleeping side. That is when VR's phone alarm started to beep.  VR checked it and switched it off and said ''anniversary'' as he resumed watching the silly soap. Without stirring even a bit from my side, scared if my sleep would go off, I asked ''anniversaryaaaa...?  who's anniversary? ''.I did not get any reply from VR.  For birthday's you can set the alarm for 12 AM but for anniversary you do not generally do it unless it is your own anniversary and you want to remember it for your wife's sake to avoid all the nagging sessions .. "you do not remember any of the dates" "you do not love me anymore" etc etc. Jolted by his silence to my question I started to think what date it was in May that was important and while pondering over it I realised that it was the day of our engagement. I was awestruck by his thoughtfulness and a strange sense of guilt creeped in as I turned around to hug and wish him. I rolled over , grinning from ear to ear and whispered  " it is our engagement anniversary, Happy anniversary!" . For a moment there was silence and I thought I will get to hear a play back session from him .."You also do not remember any dates " ..blah blah...!  But there, his eyes grew larger as he saw me from the corner of his eyes and with a stiff neck and a wider grin he turned around and said "yaaaaaaa... our anniversary ...Happy Anniversary to you too... but actually the reminder was for my uncle and aunt's wedding anniversary!" ......!!!
And there we were  laughing out loud, realizing the accidental discovery. Sleeping sides were not of worry any more. I snuggled and made my way into his arms to watch the rest of 'Yeh Jo Hai zindagi' till we fell asleep.

Guide to Indians coming to Brussels - Part II

After living here and learning from the mistakes a re-look at the guide for Indians coming to stay in Brussels.
1.     Winter
We came to Brussels just at the onset of winter and it is quite a bad time to come to any European country. The initial enthusiasm to see and feel snow lasts only for a week or two before you start realizing the 'side-effects' of snow.  You better own good quality woollen wear and leather accessories to stay warm.  Woollen scarf, socks, thermal wear, leather gloves, cardigans/jackets.  You could buy all these at stores here too but they are very expensive. A good woollen cardigan for ladies can cost you from Euro 150 onwards. And sport shoes will definitely not work during winter here, no matter how fancy it is. You need to get yourself a pair of good leather boots if you intend to be outdoors during winter. It looks tempting to go out and feel the snow on your palms and the moment it touches you can feel it seeping in and soak you numb.
2.     Residence permit procedure
Call it unfortunate but It did take 5 months to get our residence permit and since our visa had expired a week after we landed here, we were practically stranded in Belgium and we could not travel out of country.  We consoled our desperate travel hearts blaming it on the weather and we pinned our hopes on spring. It is heard that the commune for 1000 Brussels  (Central area, Schuman and near by areas where the Pincode is 1000) is generally a slow one and it takes a long time before you hear anything from the commune for police verification and hence the delay in getting the residence permit. The steps involved in getting one.
a.      Within a week of landing in Brussels, you need to find the house and get the house agreement. To create the agreement you should give the agent 1 month rent as advance and also have 2 months rent deposited in the bank as guarantee. And to open a bank account you need to have your house agreement. You will be given the key to the house only when you create the bank guarantee.
b.     With agreement and other legal documents visit the commune early in the morning. The serpentine queue to get a token starts growing from as early as 7 AM although the counter starts issuing them only at 8.30 AM. You give  the documents and get an acknowledgement letter from the commune. Commune sends an intimation to the police for verifying the details.
c.      After some days you will get a letter from the local police of your area asking for you to visit the police station at a specified time. This step is skipped at times as sometimes police just sends the report to the commune without you having to visit them.
d.     After receiving the police report commune then sends a letter of appointment to your house address.
e.      You meet the authority at the specified appointment and based on how much you are ready to pay the time taken to send the residence card is decided.
                                                             i.      35 Euros for a normal processing. It could take minimum of one month
                                                           ii.      150 euros for fast processing. The card will be posted within 3 working days
                                                        iii.      200 Euros for super fast processing. The card will be posted next day  itself.

3.     Travel within Belgium 
a.      The Belgium train transport SNCB is quite good and you have packages to local sightseeing/family/adventure based on your interest levels.
Caves, beaches, adventure sports etc are some of the category. It works out very cheap since the price includes the to and fro train travel and entry to the major attractions in the town of visit.  
b.     Museum entries are free on first Wednesday of every month. Royal museum of fine arts and the Japanese tower & Chinese pavilion are worth a visit.
c.      Keep checking the website for any upcoming events. We got Atomium entry for half the price on feb 14th as it was the anniversary of its completion. Buy one get one free.
4.     Travel to nearby countries 
a.      Thays, eurostar are classy super fast trains but very expensive to travel in unless you book the tickets atleast 2 to 3 months in advance.
b.     SNCB trains are what you will resort to if you do not plan in advance. They connect to most of the well popular destinations at much cheaper rates but they are very slow. Ex: Thalys connects to Amsterdam from Brussels in just 2 hours where as SNCB can take upto 3.5 hours. 
c.      Eurolines is bus service. If you have the time and patience then can opt for this service.
d. is an Indian association in Ghent which organises tours around Europe at a very reasonable rate. You can opt to be a member of the association.
For all travels I check tripadvisor  first. It gives a comprehensive understanding of the destination, hotels, B&Bs, tips and most importantly reviews. 

5.     Shopping:
a.      The shops can put up sales only in the month of January and June and you can bag huge discounts on products. However in some shops the leftover from the sale-months are dumped in the corner rack of the shops and if you hunt you might get some good stuff.
b.     Flea markets are held at Midi and clemenceau on Sunday mornings(6 AM to 2 PM). Fresh vegetables, fruits, Mediterranean specials like variety of olives and dry fruits, meat, sea food, second hand goods etc. There are other flea markets all through the week in different parts of Brussels. Antiques, paintings, vegetable markets etc.

6.     Things to get from India 
a.      Pressure cooker set
b.     Rolling pin (for making rotis)
c.      Pair of tongs (making phulkas)
d.     A pair of pliers (Pakkad)
e.      Small deep pan for seasoning
f.       Tea vessel with a lid
g.     Nail cutter
h.     Mortar & pestle
i.       Strainer
j.       Set of Tupperware boxes for carrying tiffin/lunch

Ladies special 
Plucker (for Eye brows. Parlours are @&*# expensive). you can find wax strips for eyebrows here.

Although you get all the above mentioned items here too they might be very expensive.

7.     Notes on food
a.     Europe is known for its farm fresh cheese and butter. Try different brands and get to know them.
b.     Best salted butter I have tried so far : Beurre D’Isigny. Others are chimay,president, kerrygold, carlbourg etc
c.      Butter for making ghee:  Rochefort (blue pack which is unsalted).
Look for butter made from milk (Beurre de lait). And nowhere on the pack you should find ‘Sel’ or ‘Doux’ (meaning salt in French and dutch respectively). Any cooking butter made from milk and which is not salted can be used for making ghee
d.     If you are a vegetarian then before buying cheese check the ingredients on the pack. If it says it contains ‘Ouef’(eggs) or ‘Animale’(animal) then you might want to think over. I have read about how some cheese is made using rennet and ever since then I always ensure that I read the ingredients very carefully.
e. The concept of drinking water from the tap is quite alein and my hygiene soul repels even to take a sip. So we buy bottled water from the stores. 
f.  A trolley bag to get groceries is very much recommended and can cost you from 7 to 10 Euros. 
g. Mixer : you can get a makeshift mixer with 2 jars  for 15/- at the clemenceau/midi flea market. there are two types of mixers available One with all plastic and two jars and the other one with plastic base and a glass jar.  We bought the first one. Though It does not look sturdy it is good enough for light grinding. I usually make ginger garlic paste, coconut chutney and other masala powders in the small jar. I use the big jar for making dosa batter.  But recently I used it for grinding  parboiled rice as the recipe called for it and ended up spoiling the mixer. 

Click here for part 1 
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