Wednesday, November 12, 2014


As often happens to Westerners in India, I have been ill. The heat, dust, noise and chaos of Varanasi have taken their toll.

Kriti Artist Residency is an cool, clean and quiet oasis where artists are well cared for by Petra Manefeld and Navneet Raman, owners and directors. Their extended net of friends and acquaintances is truly impressive.

Petra took several of us on an early morning walk in the narrow streets of old Varanasi, where shop keepers were preparing for their day.

 After walking for sometime and ending up on the ghats, we decided to take a boat back to Assi Ghat, passing the main burning ghat, Manikarnika, where hundreds of devout Hindus are cremated each day, breaking the cycle of rebirth.

I have enrolled in an amazing Indian Miniature Painting Workshop with the master painter, Raja Ram Sharma, who as luck would have it, is scheduled for an exhibition of his contemporary miniature paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago next year. His demeanor is quiet and unassuming, and it is truly humbling to learn from this man who spent over 22 years of his life training and refining his painting. Student after student, including me, handed him their bumbled efforts and with a few, efficient, deft strokes, he transforms the painting into something clear and viable.