Monday, September 29, 2014

An Interview With Wyanne Thompson - Meet An Artist

Dear Friends,

It's 'Meet An Artist' again and you will be taken a tour around Whimsical land where you will encounter the fanciful art of Wyanne. I have so much to say about Wyanne that I lack words ...apt ones to describe her art. I knew her art even before I knew her and it was her art that attracted me towards Wyanne, the person. Her art found me at a time when I needed it  the most. I was running through a rough patch and her videos were a drive away into a realm I saw/see delight and ecstasy in. Her life is an inspiration for people like all of us. She is a survivor and her 'never-die-spirit-what-may-come' is something to emulate for all of us. I salute to that spirit and feel honoured to have her in my space, Hues n Shades. Thanks Wyanne for sharing your story and taking time to have this candid-chat :)

Presenting Wyanne Thompson, the indomitable artist! 

Wyanne Thompson

Deepa: Firstly, as the tradition goes, give us a brief about yourself. (Family, Education, Work etc)

Wyanne: My name is Wyanne.  It's pronounced Y-anne. I was adopted at 3 days wonderful older parents. They had a natural son in college when they adopted me!  I was born in Florida, and have also lived in Texas and Georgia.  When I was about 13 years old, I asked my adopted parents about my biological mother. They said she was an artist. So, I decided at that moment to be an artist too.  I started practicing everyday. But, my older parents felt that I could not make a living as an artist.  So they would not allow me to study art in college. After trying many different college majors and being unhappy, I took a handful of my paintings to the Art Department at Wesleyan College in Macon, GA.  I was able to get a scholarship to study art there.  Unfortunately, it was not a full scholarship.  My adopted father agreed to let me go to school there and study art, but after graduation I had to attend Law School.  I kept my promise, but never finished Law School.  I met my soul mate (and future husband) and his family.  They convinced me to be an artist and not a Lawyer!  Thank goodness....I would have made a terrible Lawyer!  My adopted parents forgave me, and my father lived long enough to see that I was able to have a successful career as an artist.  That meant the world to me!  And by the way...I did find out that my biological mother was really an artist too!  I currently live in Atlanta, GA with my husband, two children, two dogs, a cat and lots of fish.

"Good to be King" watercolor on paper

DeepaTell us your journey as an artist.

Wyanne: During my Art School days in college, I concentrated on Photography.  This was the late 80's and digital had not arrived yet.  Everything was done in the darkroom.  I worked as a commercial photographer until my son was born in 1994.  I decided to leave the hectic world of commercial photography and stay home with him.  I started painting.  But, since it was not my concentration in Art School, I had very limited knowledge of the medium.  The rest I taught myself, through lots of practice and determination.  In 1998, I opened an art gallery and showcased many diverse artists.  But, I quickly learned that it was a very hard business, even in a large metropolitan city.  I turned to the Internet to sell the artwork.  It was not as big back then, and selling artwork on the Internet was a new concept.  In 2000, I closed the gallery and decided to be a self representing artist on the Internet.  It was the best decision I have every made! I have been blessed with a loyal following of collectors and the power of the Internet puts your art out to the entire world!  It's hard to believe that I've been creating art and selling it over the Internet for over 15 years!  I am very blessed.

"Clingy Shoulder" - watercolor and acrylic on wood
"Snuggle Spot" - watercolor and acrylic on wood

DeepaWhich is your preferred medium of creation?

Wyanne: My preferred medium is actually watercolors.  But, I love fluid acrylics, because they have the same properties as watercolors.  In the past few years, I've migrated from using lots of different mediums in my work, like collage, inks, resin and beeswax to only using paint now.  These mixed media elements gave the work a depth and interest, but sometimes I felt that I used them as a substitute for painting.  I now try to challenge myself to create the same magic with just paint alone.

"Almost Home" Watercolor created during chemo

Deepa“Raining Flowers” is the first video of yours that I had watched…and instantly I was in awe of your work prowess…the music, the art and the video- everything inspired me (like anyone who watched your video) How do you conceive the process of such wonderful creations?

Wyanne: Wow...thank you.  My inspiration comes from many different sources.  "Raining Flowers" was inspired by my daughter who was always putting flowers in her hair.  I usually have a quick visual thought for a painting, sparked by something I see or dream.  I'm not the type of artist who keeps a sketchbook or journal.  The thought comes to me, and I usually do a quick sketch of it directly on the paper or canvas. I don't spend much time on the sketch. For me, the magic happens with the paint.  I cannot wait to start painting once I get an idea! While I'm painting, I usually notice that the painting is about something close to me...a story or feeling. As I discover that, I try to convey it in the painting.  It might sound a little mystical, but it's just my process.

"Raining Flowers" mixed media 
( watercolor, acrylic, rhinestones, collaged paper, resin) on wood

DeepaYour videos are extremely entertaining and unique with very distinctive and cool music to go along with which I have never heard before but each one is so perfect for your video. How do you choose them? It also shows your love for music, a musical soul…do you have any background in music too? Are you trained?

Wyanne: I'm so thrilled that you like my videos, thank you.  Sometimes, they take as long as the painting itself, to complete!  I don't have a background in music.  In fact, most of the time I work in my studio with no music.  I love music, don't get me wrong.  But, sometimes it takes away from my concentration when painting.  As far as picking out the music for the videos...I use the app Shazam on my iPhone to identify music that I hear in the car driving or out shopping.  Then later I go back through my library and find the right song to fit the painting.

"Guiding Light" - watercolor acrylic, ink and coffee on paper,
Most recent video

DeepaDo you ever realize that there are a whole of ‘us’ who are inspired by your art, your spirit & your knowledge? Do you have the unknown audience in mind while creating?

Wyanne: I am blown away by the audience.  Even after doing this for so many years, I can't believe that in some way, I am inspiring people.  It amazes me. I am so grateful.  I wish I could say that it was my intention to do so, when painting.  But, for painting is very personal.  It's something I have to do.  It's like breathing for me.  If for some reason I lost my hands...I would still find a way to paint.

"The Magic Maker" watercolor and collage on paper

DeepaYour great spirit, your bravery in reacting the way you did is a life-lesson to all of us…women! You are surely a role model for many of us…this never-die-spirit is what keeps us going against all odds, right! In case you would like to speak about your recent experience/condition…Would you like to enlighten us?

Wyanne: 2013 was a difficult year for me.  I knew something wasn't right inside my body.  I was tired all the time, no matter how much I ate healthy or exercised.  I developed a sore spot on my tongue that my dentist thought was caused by some bad dental work.  I went to many different dentists and doctors and got a wide array of opinions throughout the year. Finally an Ear Nose and Throat doctor biopsied it.  The biopsy came back suspicious for cancer.  She referred me to Emory University Hospital for further evaluation.  They diagnosed it as Stage IV tongue cancer.  In January of 2014, they removed my entire tongue and 66 lymph nodes from my neck and shoulders.  Nine came back positive for cancer. During the same surgery, they rebuilt a new tongue from skin grafts of my left arm and thigh.  I wouldn't let them use my painting arm!  It was a very difficult 13 hour surgery.  The recovery was very hard.  I went through chemo and radiation afterwards.  I was not able to speak for many months.  The new tongue doesn't move, it just simply fills the hole where my previous tongue was.  I'm also not able to swallow.  So I get all my nutrition from a feeding tube in my stomach now.  I'm able to speak now, but I'm still hard to understand.  I work with a speech therapist, but it's almost like learning a new language.  Head and Neck Cancers are on the rise, and are affecting more and more young people.  These are people, like me, who never smoked, rarely drank and ate reasonably healthy.  And although they have found a link between these types of cancer and HPV virus, mine was not caused by HPV. 

"The Survivor" - watercolor on paper  
(The painting was originally titled "The Runaway" and was started long before my cancer diagnosis. Then it was put to the side after the diagnosis and surgery. While recovering in the hospital, I couldn't stop thinking about it. My kids surprised me and brought cards, artwork, and other goodies to decorate my hospital room. They brought the unfinished painting! During really hard times struggling during recovery, it became my focal piece. I kept thinking that I needed to get out of that hospital and finish the painting I loved so much. But, as I stared at it everyday...I couldn't decide what to do to finish it. There was beauty in the white and she no longer seemed like a runaway....but a Survivor. When I was released from the hospital...she continued to grace my wall at home through chemo and radiation. She's the one painting that I will always keep with me.

"The Survivor" painting hanging in my hospital room

DeepaYou took a break, now you have again dived in with renewed energy into the process of creation…How does it feel back to be at base? Do you feel a shift in any manner? What significant impression/belief have you achieved?

Wyanne: It feels really great to be back in the studio!  After many months of recovery, I am just happy to be able to do the normal things in life again.  I love taking my daughter to school in the mornings and cooking dinner for my family.  I had to really slow things down this year with the recovery.  But, I still tried to paint...even in the hospital.  I wasn't able to do more than make circles of paint on the paper...but I love just seeing the paint hit the paper.  Once I was home, my husband created a special tray for me to paint while sitting up in bed.  I would even take my paints to chemo infusions!  Crazy, I know.  I just love it so much.  Eventually, the treatments became too difficult and I wasn't able to paint at all.  That was a very hard time for me. But, at the same time it helped me pull through all of it.  I realized that I had a lot more painting that I needed to do, so I had to get stronger!  When I did return to painting, my work seemed to have a new freedom to it.  It was a freedom that I had always dreamed about in my work...but never could seem to accomplish it.  Mental thoughts or insecurities were holding me back. Now, they have vanished. Life is just too short.

Wyanne in the hospital painting after surgery

"Uncharted Territory" - watercolor on paper.  
This was done after my diagnosis and before surgery.  The text says "Sometimes you have to venture out into the unknown. Put your brave on and surround yourself with love. Say over and over thank you...thank you...thank you. There's never too many thank yous."

DeepaYou love pets and I have seen you working with pets around…Do they influence your creative juices too just like the pond, the ducks, the sky, the flowers, the garden and everything that you show which happens to be around you?

Wyanne: Yes, definitely. I have a 100 pound Doberman dog.  We joke that he's like a miniature horse in the house.  A lot of horses started popping up in my paintings after we adopted him!  My ideas come from so many different sources.  I was very lucky to live on a beautiful island off the coast of Florida for 5 years.  I was very influenced by it's beauty when I lived there.  Now, that I'm back in the big city of Atlanta, I have to rely on my imagination a little more.

"Painted Pony" watercolor and sumi ink on paper

DeepaYour themes often navigate through fantasy and whimsical…love that journey myself. Which path are you ‘travelling’ currently(…which is your current project)?

Wyanne: I would have to say more whimsical.  I love making happy paintings.  My current painting on my desk is an elephant with a giraffe on his back kissing the moon.  It's silly, but it makes me happy.  Hopefully, it will do the same for others. 

"Guiding Light" - watercolor acrylic, ink and coffee on paper

DeepaWhose works are hanging in your home? Who inspires you the most?

Wyanne: Most of the art that hangs in my home is from close artist friends.  I do have several pieces by Eric Legge.  He's a folk artist here in Georgia.  I used to sell his work in my gallery.  I also have work from Rhett Amick, a photographer.  And Art Werger, a printmaker and one of my former college art teacher.

"The Great Escape" - mixed media 
(watercolor, collage, and beeswax) on wood

DeepaWhat is your dream project?

Wyanne: Before I got sick, my dream project was to paint very large.  With are somewhat limited in size. And I have a very small studio which also made it difficult. But, now that I have weathered this health challenge, my dream project has changed.  It's no longer important to me to paint really large.  It's just important to paint!  So, I get up every day and work on my dream project!  I paint...that's my dream.

"Come Dream With Me" - watercolor and acrylic on paper

DeepaOut of curiosity, what is the best and worst thing that you have heard about India?

Wyanne: The best that I've heard is about it's food and beauty.  The worst I've heard is about the smell of garbage. 

"The Wanderer" - watercolor, acrylic, gouache and resin on wood

DeepaWho is your favourite Indian artist? Any specific reason.

Wyanne: I would have to say my favorite Indian artist is a friend that I attending art school with, Malika Ghosh Garrett.  She is an amazing painter.  She was born in Calcutta and came to the US in 1985 to study art.  Her work is vibrant and colorful.  Her website is

"Fingers Crossed" mixed media 
(watercolor, acrylic, collage, beeswax) on wood

DeepaA tip/technique that you would like to share with our readers.

Wyanne: So many times, we waste time waiting for the perfect idea to strike.  Don't wait.  If you want to do something, just do it.  If you want to make a painting...don't wait for around trying to get an idea for a masterpiece. Don't think that you need the next best paint or supply in order to do your best.  The truth is you probably have everything that you need.  Just jump in and do it.  We tend to find excuses to put off doing something we want to do because deep down, we are scared.  Try to let all that go. Try to approach it like you would have at 5 years old.  You didn't worry about what you would paint, or if you had all the supplies you needed.  You just enjoyed the pure process of creating. That way of thinking can be applied to so many areas of our life.

"See" - watercolor and gouache on paper

DeepaYour parting words of advice for aspiring artists.

Wyanne: Don't give up.  Don't let anyone tell you that you can't be an artist.  Practice your craft every day.  Even if it's just for 15 minutes. Share your art. It's your gift to the world. Don't worry about what others think.  There will always be people who love your work and those who don't like it.  That's okay.  Create art that makes you happy, and the rest will follow.

"Go Your Own Way" - watercolor and acrylic on paper

DeepaSocial media networks/contact where they can get in touch with you.

Wyanne: My website:

Thank you Wyanne, once again for this Lovely "Talk"...I am certain Hues n Shades readers would definitely enjoy your art and reading through your candid and inspiring talk. 

I would also like to share an important news that Wyanne's latest scans found NO CANCER :D  

We all wish you health, happiness and loads of creative urge to come up with many more incredible art!

Please do not use/reproduce the content (words as well as images) without the written consent of the author.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Bommai Veedu (Doll House)

Top post on, the community of Indian Bloggers

Navarathri (Nava - nine, Rathri - night) has begun and to celebrate the occasion with all it's myths specific to each region, rarities of celebrations, divinity and energy's a nine day divine affair with 'Shakti' (energy), 'Vrudhi' (Prosperity) and 'Budhi' (Wisdom...Knowledge being the essence). On the 9th day Ayudhapuja (Ayudham - Tools, Puja - Prayer) is performed and on 10th day the festival concludes with 'Vidyarambham' (Vidya - Knowledge, Arambham - Beginning). Knowledge is innately associated with divinity in our country that even initiation into the world of letters is done ritually during the 10th day.

Read more about Navarathri here and here.

Now, my focus however is something else, it is part and parcel of Navarathri here in the is intrinsically attached to the occasion and that is the arrangement of dolls in nine steps (3, 5, 7, 9 or at times 11 steps are also followed) which is called Bommai Kolu, Bomma Golu or Bome Habba according to each region. The bommais (dolls) are proud possessions of each family which are handed down through generations. It is a traditional art and has been in practice for a real 'Nile' time :) I would like to share a find...a place in Palakkad which caters to these dolls. 

Vijaya Sirppa Kalaikoodam (Bommai Veedu - Doll House) is a haven for the dolls that can be bought for the display and arrangement called Bomma Golu. It is situated in Kalpathy Gramam (Village) which is also one of the UNESCO declared World Heritage Site. The house-shop has been christened after the lady of the house. The husband, wife and the two boys together they make a great team and I could sense that energy there. The boys are school-going and they give a helping hand as when possible during holidays. Down-to-earth, simple folks whose world revolves around this traditional art. Their house smells and imbues the scent of this art that covers from floor to ceiling in that agraharam (traditional house of the village).

Sri.Palani & Smt.Vijaya

They have dolls made of paper mache, clay, cement and even wax. Wax dolls are made only on order. There are also dolls made from mould like the best selling ones of Krishna, Ganesha, or Devis. They also take custom orders if photographs are provided but that does cut your purse as they need more time, energy and labour. The dolls range from 200 to 15,000 at the time of my visit. Palani however added that he can also make dolls that cost almost a lakh.

Palani is the one who creates the moulds and tends to all the work that has to be done for the dolls but the doll gets complete only with the eyes and that is the 'speciality' of Vijaya according to Palani. The eyes of all the dolls are drawn by Vijaya who paints with her left hand, she has lost her right one. The eyes are truly marvellous when you consider it closely. She learnt it from her granny who was into this traditional art of doll making.

It takes around 3 weeks to make their hot selling Krishna which is around a foot high with the mould. They make the dolls the whole year through. 

My delight was on the high when I found out loads and loads of Krishnas of all sizes :) You could see some rare ones too if you eye closely...








 A whole range of Krishnas...sells a lot the whole year through


 Devis - Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathy

 Hanuman & Swami Vivekananda hiding behind Ganeshas

 Sree Narayana Guru among the Gods

 Loved this Ma Durga! expensive affair (it costs around 12k to 15k!)

 Varaha Lakshmi, RadhaKrishna and MahaVishnu...not very common

In love with this Goddess Saraswathy

A unique Dhanwanthary Murthy (God of Health and Medicine)

Loved this big ones??? Now drool over these tiny little treasures...


 Dasavatharam and AshtaLakshmi all wrapped up


 Lakshmi Vilakupuja

 Karthikai Pengal (Karthika - a star, Pengal - Girls)

 Kalyana (Wedding) Set


 Madurai Meenakshi

Indra Sabhai (Royal Court of Lord Indra)

I reached there almost during twilight and so the snaps were taken under the tubelight. They had also wrapped up all the dolls as there were customers constantly moving in and out buying them. As it was dark outside, couldn't get a picture of the outdoors.

 Bommai Veedu family - Subith and Bhuvaneshwaran with their parents

When I wanted to click their picture...they posed but that lovely curve was missing and I asked them for it and then the second picture happened which I liked a lot :) So natural...What say?

Kalpathy Village - the pictures below are from Palakkad Walks, Sanskriti and The Hindu




Kalpathy is a place to be during November when the renowned Chariot Festival takes place and then these narrow lanes will be thronging with people, elephants and The Chariots!!! This is how it will look :)


(Click on the pictures to view it big)

A special thanks to one of my best buddies, Pushkala, and her Father to get me the address of Bommai veedu. She is my buddy from school and she lived in here until she got married and settled in Mumbai. She recalls them as Bommai Veedu and thanks to her as I thought would be a nice title for the post. Thanks Kala!

This is how a Bomma Golu looks like...

Bomma Golu

On this auspicious occasion re-posting two of my earlier mural works...Ma Durga is missing...should make one presently :)

Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswathy
Kerala Mural painting

Linking the post to Eva & Kristin's Paint Party Friday!

PS: In case anyone is interested in these Bommais (dolls), do drop me a mail at I will convey the message to them as they don't own a site or page.

Please do not use/reproduce the content (words as well as images) without the written consent of the author.