November 1, 2018

Christmas Ornaments

New from Art by Bala! Hand-painted Christmas Ornaments ... a limited edition of only 100 with just 10 purple ones for the first 10 orders. I am thrilled to try something new again this year (last year I did the coloring book for the holiday season). These little approximately 3" plastic shatterproof ornaments are painted on both sides. I was able to find the disc-shaped ones in just red & blue and have painted the blue over for a few bluish green ones and purple. All of them had to be painted over before I could do the textures so the thick paint adheres better to an already painted surface rather than the plastic one. Initially I was thinking of offering custom words on the back inside the hearts, but given the time it takes to work on them & the price point, I am sticking with "Love" on all of them. Can't wait to start shipping these out.

October 17, 2018

Broccoli for Breakfast

Seems like these days all the cooking revolves around using up what’s left from the garden! We had our first frost over this past weekend and all the remaining vegetables in the garden needed to be plucked and brought in. I have two brow bags with green tomatoes ripening on top of the kitchen cabinet. There are about 2 dozen butter gourds waiting to be roasted on the counter, along with some bell peppers, chilies and hyacinth beans. The last of the broccoli has been waiting to be used up and this morning I decided I can’t let them go to waste. So I did a quick stir fry of them with some garlic, ginger, almonds and coconut - breakfast is ready!

August 10, 2018

Katmai National Park

S and I spent a week in Alaska to celebrate our wedding anniversary this year! We took the trip at the best time of the year and it was so amazing I can't wait to already go back. We flew in from Chicago to Anchorage, connecting in Seattle. We finished dinner at the Seattle airport at a little vegetarian joint called Floret. We took an uber from the airport to the airbnb we stayed at. 

Day 1 in Alaska, we took a flight to Katmai National ParkKatmai can only be accessed by plane or boat and we took a plane ride with an outfitter for a full day trip to Brooks Camp at Katmai. We had a very early start to the day - we were at the airport at 6.30! Thankfully our airbnb host had packed us a brown-bag breakfast to go. Best part was being the co-pilot on this flight :)

The first leg of the trip was to Kulik lodge & it was just an amazing journey over the mountains and water bodies. For days after the trip, I kept dreaming of flying through these mountains!

At Kulik, we switched to a sea plane for the much shorter ride to Brooks Camp.

We had to sit through a short intro video and lecture at the visitors center by a park ranger and off we went to see the one thing that was on everyone's mind - Grizzlies!

And this bear was right under the bridge at the end of a 1 mile trail! Breeding season yielded him a lot of the scars & injuries you can see here.

We could already see a couple of bears at Brooks Falls as we approached. Here is a link to a webcam to watch these bears.

It was interesting to see the dynamics of the various bears that made it the river when we were there. The guy in the foreground made sure he only allowed certain individuals to fish when he was on watch. A few of the younger ones that came by just took one look at who was in the river and took off. A few that dared to step in the water were chased off without mercy.

We saw a few of them trying to catch the salmon from upstream, though most of them were wading the pools by the falls to catch fish.

From the viewing platform, this bear was at most 10-15 feet away from us. Glad we were up on a platform :) We took a quick lunch break back at camp - a buffet with vegetarian options. We almost ran into a bear on our way to the lodge - a quick warning from a park ranger who heard us talking loudly on the trail helped avoid a head-on! (we did pay attention to the intro video at the visitors center)

 This is the only bear we saw catch & eat a fish when we were watching! We also saw a lot of salmon and trout, magpies, a merganser swimming with 12 chicks (one of them on its back). We were so focused on watching out for bears, we mostly ignored everything else.

We left Brooks Camp a little after 3.30, both exhilarated and exhausted. All of us on the plane other than the pilot slept most of the way back. Ended the day with a quick dinner of dal and rice at Namaste Indian restaurant in Anchorage.

December 4, 2017

Meditative Mandalas - Coloring Book

November was a hectic month in the studio with my time spent between finishing up a bunch of new paintings for the upcoming One of a Kind Show this weekend and my biggest project - Meditative Mandalas. I am so happy to announce that I have just published my Mandala Coloring Book! Over the years I have always said that I can paint, but I cannot draw. I threw out that notion with this completely hand drawn coloring book with 20 mediative mandala patterns. 

It was a little daunting to think of trying to sell a coloring book in an over-saturated market, but it felt like enough of my fans were asking about it & its something I have always wanted to do. Getting the book done was pushing my limits & challenging myself to hand draw near-perfect symmetry is one of the best things I have ever done! Now my goal is to sell 100 copies!

Here is a free sample page you can download & color! Don't have the patience to color? You can always enjoy the meditative mandalas as a coffee table book!

I have posted a few more photos & videos on my facebook page of the drawing process!

If you are in the US, you can order a copy of the book from my website! They will be shipped starting Dec 11. These books along with my calendars make an excellent stocking stuffer :)

Freinds & fans in India & Europe - you can now buy my coloring book on Amazon!

October 27, 2017

Spooking the Sparrows

I love all my backyard birds - even the house sparrows that flock in dozens & empty the feeder I refill in about 20 minutes flat, even when they kind of yell at me when the feeder is empty. recently I bought a bird feeding station kit where I can hang about 4 different feeders, it includes a suet cage and a tray and also a small bird bath. I also got a woodpecker feeder for adding peanuts and sunflower seeds. 

The problem was some of the sparrows decided they liked this feed better than their regular mix. It was fine for the most part, but they were aggressive towards the woodpeckers and the nuthatches. The poor downy woodpecker below, tried and tried, but couldn't get a morsel when the sparrows were there. 

After a lot of research into sparrow spookers, I settled to make a Magic Halo! Most of the commercially available ones are for keeping away all birds and this is the only thing I found that helps to keep sparrows away from feeders. I used a plastic bowl, drilled a few holes in it and dangled 6 jewelry wires from it. And it really worked like a magic! It's been a few days since I have put this up and the sparrows are sticking to their feeding station. Almost all the other birds - woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees and a few red-winged black birds and grackles have been visiting the woodpecker feeder without having to fight with the sparrows! Every once in a while there is an errant sparrow on this feeder, but they hardly stay on. 

A blurry photo from inside the kitchen doors to show the sparrows sticking to their station & the ground :) Now I am tempted to get one of these stations for the front yard too!

August 18, 2017

Beans from the Garden

As the summer progresses, my gardening woes have also increased! We had a huge hail that damaged most of my squash plants. In its aftermath, all the squash, pumpkin & melon plants have been stressed & developed powdery mildew. In addition to that, we now have squash bugs :( However, not everything is doom & gloom. The pole beans & some of the bush beans not near the squash plants are happy & in production mode. 

Today I am taking the day off from painting & studio chores to spend time tending the garden. I also harvested enough green beans this week & took the time to make a sauté with some peas & coconut. I also have some yard-long bean plants growing on the vegetable garden fence & noticed a couple of flowers blooming yesterday. Hoping for more beans to grow in the next few weeks. 

May 26, 2017


Today the suet feeder in the backyard was empty - with so many birds at the feeders, it seems like a daunting task to keep all of them filled all the time! The White Breasted Nuthatch was having a tough time competing with the other birds on the regular feeder and managed to discover the feeder in the front yard. He even managed to bring a friend along today & this is the first time I have seen 2 of them at the same time. 

The doves also love the front yard more! Sometimes its useful to have the red-winged black birds (female in the picture below) come around to splash some seeds on the ground for the doves.

May 25, 2017

Downy Day

Among all the visitors to the backyard, my favorite is the Downy Woodpecker - the smallest of all the North American Woodpeckers, he is elusive and I have to sit still for a while before he will land on one of the pear trees. Last week he found his favorite suet in the feeder & gave me a chance to get some nice shots...

...till one of the blue jays chased him away for a bit! He came back & hung out for a while and I only accumulated about 5 dozen pictures of him :)

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