October 20 - November 20, 2009

Trip to India (Part 1)

I've been interested in traveling in foreign lands for new subject matter for a long time. The variety of subjects: architecture, land mass, culture, market places and shops has been a vital part of my growth over 40 years now. I really had not considered visiting India until I had talked to people who had been there; most had returned many times. I now will do the same. For a visual artist this is one of the most fantastic places to see. It is also very outrageous! Where else can you see a snake charmer with a king cobra, rising out of a basket while two guys wearing fluorescent turbans lead some camels down the street? A procession of Hindu women going into a temple wearing saris that looks like a color swatch sample of artist's colors. The architecture is quite magnificent and astounding. I found the people were extremely friendly and warm. A lot of positive stories to tell.

My daughter Tiaja had accompanied me on a trip to India that was a month in length. After getting home, I calculated the number of days painting was 18 and12 days of sightseeing and travel.

Now something about our itinerary: Old Delhi was extremely ancient and interesting. Very intense as Istanbul, Turkey. Almost too much going on to comprehend. Stayed near Red Fort and painted it. The Red Fort (1639) has an ambience of its own. From the top of our hotel roof, I did a painting of Jami Masjid Mosque (1656) that had a fairy tale look like something out of "Tales from the Arabian Nights". One of the ways to experience a new culture if you're brave is to just wander around some evening in the city so that's what Tiaja and I did. We also wandered into a tent of some kind, it was huge. We were guests at a reception for a Muslim wedding! We got a glimpse of the bride and her attendants. It was almost surrealistic, veiled, beautiful and stunning. I'll never forget that. I also had a chance to discuss Islam with a man and talk about the prophets, Abraham, Moses and ISA AL-Masih (Jesus). I felt really out of place at this event - since Halloween was coming up I had a very outlandish tee shirt on. It was a black tee shirt with the rib cage in white, complete with cobweb, spiders, and a few hunks of flesh (only artwork) hanging off. I got it at Walmart and it was "marked-down". All the other guests at the reception wore suits, fancy embroidered shirts and some had the classic lambs wool caps from the Middle East (like Afghanistan's Karsi wears). Had no idea we'd be going to an upscale event - just wandering around!

We visited the Taj Mahal, wow! It's not overrated! Spent two days there, painted it also. Our driver Rav took me to a spot that he said only he knew. It was a security point along a dried up river bed. Very peaceful. From a distance you could see crowds of people at the Taj Mahal. To a do a plein air painting of it from the front is impossible - it's overrun with people - overrun might not really describe it. Overwhelmed might be a better word. There's panels of Bas-Relief Islamic script at the base - EXQUISITE! The size of the Taj Mahal is huge, the gardens around it are very beautiful and there's even live gazelles and deer there. Our next stop was Jaipur. Was overwhelmed by Amer Fort (also called Amber Fort). It's very ancient 1592 A.D. Very excellent condition, I painted it twice; once from the roof top of our hotel. I was impressed to say the least.

Continue to Part 2