Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Artist of the month: Pragya Bhatnagar

Wishing you all a Happy and Blessed Ramadan… May peace and joy prevail during this holy month.

Hello Readers!! Welcome back to the artist series… Today’s feature is on an artist who is a textile designer by profession but fiercely followed her passion for fine art and got herself trained. Pragya Bhatnagar is well-known in the artist community in Muscat and made her mark in Dubai art exhibitions and in India as well. She has showcased her work in several group exhibitions.  I discovered her work recently while visiting an art exhibition that was recently held in Oman. Most of her paintings have a sense of harmony because of her choice of colours and strokes she uses. Her artwork is an extension to her personality, there is calmness and joy. She has infused a lot of Middle Eastern theme in her work and the portraits she has worked on are all beautiful. 

Let’s have a look at her beautiful paintings and learn more from her about her journey as an artist...
The Whirling Darwish:
The sufi dance, the hidden language of the soul and the true rhythm of the heart, uniting one with everything that exists.

A brief about yourself

Art runs in my family as I inherited the skills from my father. From an early age, I was always busy capturing things around me in my art book. I went on to study textile designing during my college and worked in the leading textiles and garment companies in India. I turned my focus to fine art when I shifted to Oman in 2005.

How did your journey as an artist begin? Did you have any formal training or is it self-taught?

Art has always been a part of my life since my childhood. Whenever I used to get some free time while I was working in India, I used to sketch and paint. Art has always given me a feeling of joy and calmness; it is a form of meditation for me. Apart from my textile design background, I have done diploma from Drawing Academy, London. I have done many online courses and attended workshops from eminent international and local artists in Oman to improvise my skills. I also study the style and work of renowned artists from different eras to further enhance my knowledge of the global art landscape.    

How would you describe your art style?

I believe that every artist is on a journey of constant evolvement. And I’m not an exception either. If I reflect back on my journey, I started with realism in my early years of painting with a lot of design element but over a period of time I have started working more on expressive and impressionism.

What's your inspiration for your artwork?

I draw inspiration from the nature and my experiences in life; anything that gives me peace and happiness, and motivates me to bring it on a canvas. Most of my work is based on mandalas, intricate patterns in Islamic architecture, beautiful landscapes and people that I have come across in my daily life. As an artist there is so much one can get inspired from!

What is the most challenging aspect about your work?

The most challenging part for me in my creative process is to convert the ideas flowing in my mind into meaningful and thoughtful concepts on the canvas in a free flowing manner. An artist is drawn towards various conflicting visual depiction options and it becomes a challenge which path to follow. I follow my instincts and let the brush give shape to my visual imagination. It is like a bird flying in the air or a musician playing an instrument in their own space. It may sound easy but it’s not so easy. It is a part of the process, everyone learns it sooner or later, and it’s a blessing when the awareness finally comes.

What is your creative process like? And what keeps you motivated?

Sometimes I start working with an idea in my mind and sometimes it’s intuitive. I don’t structure the image with a pencil sketch beforehand, rather I like working directly with the paints and brushes. The joy of creating something different every time keeps me motivated. Even if I am stuck midway, I steps back, take a break and start again after a while, painting guides me further itself.

Do you commission different projects? And how can people purchase your paintings?

I do commissioned work for individuals and institutions customized to their preferences. I have displayed and sold my work in many international and local art exhibitions. I keep posting my work on my instagram and facebook page where people can see my work and get in touch with me.

What is your favorite art piece that you have done till date?

It’s very hard to pick just one as these are not just the art pieces for me but part of my life, my time, my patience, many hours of thinking and working. I have an emotional connect with each one of my paintings.

Any tips or words of wisdom to aspiring artists who want to pursue a similar career?
Do what gives you unparalleled gratification. Do not compare yourself with anyone, get inspired from others, keep practicing on a regular basis and work towards improvising your skills.

The Nature:
Landscape inspired from the rich natural beauty of Salalah blessed with greenery and waterfalls during the Khareef season.
The Gorgeous:
An innocent girl beautifully dressed-up in a traditional costume for a special occasion lost in her deep thoughts

If you wish to get in touch you can email her at : pragyab@gmail.com, or click here to follow her on facebook.

Above pictures are copyrighted via Pragya Bhatnagar.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Inspiring Ways to Style Open Shelves

Everyone has a strong opinion when it comes to open shelves.  Aesthetically it looks beautiful. An open shelf system is ideal when you don’t have storage and when you have a spare wall with no cabinets. But it’s not everyone’s cup of tea and definitely not mine, even though I have a couple of open shelves in my home. The thought of dusting it always puts me off… but lately I am beginning to get obsessed with open shelves. Most people love the styled look on an open shelf because it adds personality, charm and warmth but dusting is always a worry… but I guess it can be tackled. Open shelving is great for smaller homes because it can save space. And it breaks the monotony of closed cabinets and gives a big visual impact. It is also cost effective when compared to closed cabinets.

Image via House&Home
Image via here

Here are some tips on how to handle an open shelf
  • Style the shelf with a colour palette in mind
  • Groups of two clusters or 3 and each of them are in different heights to draw attention
  • Display your favorite things on open shelves that are attractive to look at but space them out to give an uncluttered look.  
  • If you have a spare wall in your kitchen and no pantry, open shelves is an ideal solution. 
  • If you own a set of gorgeous crockery, open shelves are the best way to show them off.
  • Use houseplants to add a green effect or use herb plants if the shelf is placed in your kitchen. 

Image via The Spruce
Image via Trendir
Open Shelves for Laundry Room, Image via HomeDit 

Do you love open shelves? Would you switch to open shelves if given a chance? Do you have any in your home and how have you styled it? If you wish to share your open shelf styling, please email me at tickledbyinspirations@gmail.com . I would love to share it with my readers!

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Gingerbread Garam Masala Cake with Orange Buttercream Cheese Frosting

The spiced flavor in Gingerbread cake is the epitome of any holiday treat because it is filled with warm and cozy flavours. It works great as part of your dessert, breakfast or tea. The flavours are strong that scream Holiday and goes perfectly well with coffee. The recent cake competition that I took part in , made me think out of the box… I had to step out of my usual comfort box where I used to regularly bake anything with chocolate. Unique flavoured cake category definitely made me think out of the box and discover how I could add a twist to the flavor. So I decided to take my gingerbread cake to another level and I added a teaspoon of garam masala to the recipe, which actually complimented the cake with the other spices and it wasn’t strong at all. I felt good trying something new though I could never associate garam masala in a cake… but this recipe changed my outlook completely! 

You can frost this cake with chocolate, caramel, white chocolate or any cheese frosting! I paired my gingerbread cake with orange buttercream cheese frosting. It was the perfect tanginess and sweetness to this cake. This wintery cake can be made any time of the year if you want to feel festive!! Decorate it with rosemary or thyme, cranberries or pomegranate and your cake will be show stopper for sure! I hope you get to try out this recipe and keep me posted on how it turns out!!


For the Garam Masala Gingerbread Cake
·         1 cup brown sugar
·         3/4th cup butter
·         2 large egg  
·         1/2 cup molasses
·         2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
·         1/4th  teaspoon baking soda
·         1 teaspoon baking powder
·         1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
·         1 teaspoon ground ginger
·         1 heaped teaspoon Garam masala
·         1/2 teaspoon salt
·         1 teaspoon vanilla extract
·         1 cup hot water

For the Orange Buttercream Cheese Frosting:
·         1 lb of cream cheese room temp
·         1 cup butter room temp
·         2 Tablespoon orange zest
·         1 Tablespoon orange juice
·         1 teaspoon vanilla extract
·         200gm powdered sugar

1.       Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2.       Lightly grease and flour pans and place parchment on the bottoms. This is a sticky cake so please do not omit the parchment paper on the bottom of the pans.
3.       In a large bowl add the flour, spices, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Stir with whisk to combine. Set aside.
4.       In bowl of mixer fitted with paddle attachment beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy.
5.       Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition.
6.       Add in the vanilla and molasses. Mix well to combine.
7.       With mixer on low speed add the flour mixture in by spoonful alternately with the hot water, starting and ending with the flour.
8.       Mix just until well combined and smooth.
9.       Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans, smoothing the tops.
10.   Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
11.   Cool completely.
To make BUTTERCREAM frosting:

12.   Cream the cream cheese and butter together until light and fluffy.
13.   Add in the vanilla, orange juice and orange zest, mix well to combine.
14.   With mixer on low speed add in powdered sugar one spoonful at a time until well combined and completely mixed and creamy, about 3-5 minutes of mixing after all powdered sugar is added. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed.
15.   Note: This is a soft frosting because of the cream cheese, it does not pipe designs due to its soft nature.
16.   Place dab of frosting on cake board/cake plate to keep cake in place.
17.   Place the first cake layer on the cake board/plate.
18.   Spread a large dollop of buttercream on top and spread evenly to the edges of the cake.
19.   Place next cake layer on top and spread with buttercream.
20.   Repeat with remaining cake layer until all are stacked.
21.   Once all the layers are in place apply a crumb coat of buttercream around the top and sides of cake. Refrigerate at least 45 min. (Crumb coat gives a nice smooth base to work with when ready to apply final coat of buttercream and decorate).
22.   Apply final coat of buttercream, I chose a semi-naked cake design for this but I still used a crumb coat to keep the final coat clean.
23.   Decorate with fruits or nuts or any holiday cookies and greenery you may have on hand.

All the above pictures are copyrighted Ticked by Inspirations.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Tips to make a Green Bouquet

It’s cloudy outside and the weather is just fabulous… and I can’t get enough of the moody lighting outside which is just perfect for me to take pictures. And as I was busy clicking away and learning more about photography, I realized my tulsi plants or basil were looking fabulous and so green!! As you know I keep dabbling with different plants and flowers that is readily available in my garden and make a bouquet out of it, I decided to make a tiny bouquet out of my tulsi plants and bring it indoors.

I am a hopeless romantic when cozying up my home… and my love for plants and flowers is never ending. And as I brought my tulsi bouquet indoors, the tulsi aroma and the green colour was just enough to change the mood of my space. And have a look at the pictures to see the end result. 

Here are some tips to make a green bouquet:

·         Do not be afraid to mix and match with different leaves and different shades of green.

·         Infuse herbal plants for aroma like rosemary, lavender, basil or sage.

·         Make sure everything you have collected are in different height or length. And if not, just trim them accordingly.

·         Include flowers if you want and that pop of colour is always welcome. Or add some rice flowers to add warmth and texture. And don’t be afraid to use long leaves. They add drama to your bouquet. Ferns are my favorite.

·         Wrap them together with a tape or don’t tie, just put it in a vase with water.

Image via https://www.brides.com/ 

I hope the above tips were useful… Let me know what you think and do share the pictures of your bouquet if you end up making one!!! Have a great day everyone!

Above Images are copyright Tickled by Inspirations

Monday, February 18, 2019

Artist of the Month: Tarini Agarwal

I had a fabulous opportunity to meet Tarini Agarwal, a prominent artist in Oman, during the Affordable art show that was recently held here in Muscat. I was instantly attracted to the paintings that were displayed at the exhibition because I loved the different textures of colours she used.  Tarini, as an artist and her work captures your imagination and takes you on a journey. She started her art journey from realism and lately she has ventured into abstract. And I found that each painting of hers evoked emotions and gave me power as a viewer to interpret meaning of her art in my own way.  Her art is a celebration of calming and soothing colours. And you will also notice as a viewer that most of her work is inspired by the beauty of Oman. She has showcased her work in different group exhibitions and solo exhibitions. Her art work has also raised money for charity for many occasions.

Let’s her hear more from Tarini and learn about her art journey and have a look at her brilliant work...
A brief about yourself
I have grown up in the midst of Modern Indian Art in Mumbai. As a nine year old I spent my Saturday mornings, walking to Jahangir Art Gallery, Mumbai and seeing master artists painting. 
      Growing up I chose academics over art for various and obvious reasons. I’m glad for that, as it has shaped my personality and made me who I am.  Art has been a consistent part of my life because it brings joy and so I have followed art passionately.

How did your journey as an artist begin?
I have always drawn and doodled from a very young age. I could never have paper around me on which I did not compulsively draw on. I had art in the many schools I studied. Then as a preprimary teacher I had ample opportunities to draw and paint and hone my creativity.

Did you have any formal training or is it self-taught?
I have not had any formal training in art, I’m self-taught. I created a curriculum and followed it for 5 years. My skills I have enhanced with online learning from all over the world.

How would you describe your art style?
In the early years I worked towards Realism and like all aspiring artists my roots are there. Only to discover to my horror that working realistically did not bring me joy and satisfaction. I felt creatively unchallenged. I moved towards expressive art and now towards abstraction.

What's your inspiration for your art work?
The main subject of my art is always my emotional response to people, face, landscape and culture around me.

What is the most challenging aspect about your work?
I always start intuitively; my process is not mapped out. So I never know how I will finish. For me this is the most challenging part of my work. It is challenging but it is also the most exciting part of my work.

What is your creative process like? And what keeps you motivated?
As I work intuitively, it is always a response to what I have put down on the canvas. The best way to describe my process is that of working and erasing and unearthing my paintings. It is the process of unearthing is what keeps me motivated. One of the skills I developed as a teacher has been that I’m not the focal point of the learning and teaching process, I’m just a catalyst and it is this very learning that helps me in my creative process. The onus is not on me the artist but on the painting. I use the paintings to guide me to its logical conclusion, so staying motivated isn’t difficult. I also believe that simple discipline of daily practice keep me motivated and on the path. I have a time limit of 15 – 30 minutes daily drawings that fits into my life as a wife, mother and daughter. It’s amazing how much one can do in this time frame.

Do you commission different projects? And how can people purchase your paintings?
I have done a few commissions. Luckily for me my collectors gave me a long leash to finish my work. With my process being what it is, it can be difficult to do traditional commissions. I have had people buy at group and my solo exhibitions. I have also sold a few pieces online.

What is your favorite art piece that you have done till date?
That is a difficult one to answer. I don’t see them as my favorites but to answer your question I could say, there are a few paintings that have been the turning points in my learning and growth. The study I did of the famous ‘Afghan Girl’, it was this painting where I realized that Realism did not satisfy my creativity. ‘Thames meets Oman’ and ‘Crossings’ were the paintings where I discovered my confidence.

Any tips or words of wisdom to aspiring artists who want to pursue a similar career.
Keep your process simple, try and work every day. Get in there and do your thing. Don’t paint to sell, paint because it is your calling and the rest will follow.

Here are two of Tarini's beautiful art work:
Name of the Art piece: Thames meets Oman
Tarini  explains what "Thames meets Oman" means to her
"This painting is an outcome of very artist's dream, I was at a workshop that happened which was a result of my indulgent husband gifting me a live workshop with my online teacher Pauline Agnew. I reached London in a studio overlooking the river Thames. It was a very cold rainy few days. This painting is my response to my environment. This is a painting that painting which can be counted as a personal gain painting. It is a turning point for me. I learnt many things while and after painting this work. I gained my confidence and learnt to trust my intuition. I learnt shut the sounds of internal and external criticism. Both are detrimental to the creative process."

Name of the art piece: Sincere
Tarini explains about her art piece "Sincere"
"The sea has always been near me all of my life. I feel very connected to it and this is what I feel when I'm near it. I love to work with blues and here I have painted my emotional response to the sea."

Thank you Tarini for sharing your art journey and your inspiration with me and my readers. Looking forward to viewing more of your brilliant work in the upcoming exhibitions!! 

For those who wish to follow her work and for updates, please click here to access her page on Instagram.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Home Tour: Residence of Priyanka from North Carolina

Let’s start the new season of home tours for the New Year with a gorgeous home all the way from

North Carolina, USA. Priyanka Simgekar, a décor enthusiast, experiments her home with a mix of contemporary and rustic décor that gives a warm and peaceful vibe. There is pops of white, neutrals, colours, wooden textures, beautiful textiles and pops of green. Her décor is mostly functional and yet stylish. She has used storage boxes in the form of books, a wicker basket in the foyer to store gloves, scarves and hats to avoid clutter. Priyanka loves nature and she has displayed her indoor plants and flowers from her garden and created her Zen corner. And her home gets a good amount of sunlight streaming in which is such a wonderful mood booster for any home!!

Grab a cup of tea and get ready for the virtual home and lets her more from Priyanka about her décor inspiration and style.

Foyer - Love the rustic charm but at the same time functional

Tell us something about yourself. 

I am a Marathi girl born and raised in Hyderabad. I came to the US for studies and have been residing here for past 13 years. I am married to a Marwari from Delhi, so we both are exposed to different environments and we thoroughly enjoy the diversity in cultures and food. I have a four year old who is super energetic and curious, and keeps my hands full all the time. We have been living in apartments until we got our current home little over an year ago. Our home is a new construction builder grade and hence has a very modern look, so I am always trying to add some character and charm to it. I would say it is still a work in progress with the room for constant improvement, in fact there are many corners that haven’t been touched yet. 

What is your Décor Inspiration?

I had no idea that home décor could even be a hobby or passion until I ventured out on Pinterest and Instagram for décor ideas when we moved into our home. I thought it was only for the magazines to sell their stuff !!  So my décor obsession started recently and the inspiration came from all the beautiful images I saw online. You know how it is when you happen to see breathtakingly beautiful pictures of some landscape, rivers or mountains and you really want to be in them and feel the moment; that’s how exactly I felt looking at some pictures. That inspired me to try creating my own sanctuary at the comfort of my home. A place that I would want to get back, enjoy and relax at the end of the day, and that according to me is the ultimate luxury.

Living Room: Love the pops of blue against the white

the grey tone has set the mood for the dinning area

What is your Decor Style?

I would say it is an eclectic mix, as I do not fall into any one category of style. I fear the monotony of sticking to one style. However I do like rustic style the most as it imbibes raw, organic and natural elements and you would see that rustiness in my decor pieces and furniture. With eclectic style it is tricky to combine different elements and bring them into harmony. Hence one rule I try to follow is to strike a balance between the colors and textures as it is easy to fall to one side and get overboard. There is one other thing I try to achieve whenever possible is to use every day regular items in my decor. These could be books, plants, storage hooks/racks, decorative storage boxes baskets, textiles, crockery and so on. These not only makes spaces look beautiful but also functional without having to deal with clutter and the burden of accumulating stuff over time. In that way I also consider myself a minimalist trying to create, simple, bright, crisp and airy spaces with clean lines. 

Family lounge area: the rustic centre table and that wooden ladder shelf has stolen my heart!

Your Favorite Space.

As I am a nature lover, I like the green corner of my home which is the bay window by the dining table. It is the most sun lit area of the home and perfect spot for my green babies during winter. I do enjoy my summers in the backyard gardening, but for now it is my happy place.

Priyanka's zen corner with her beautiful indoor plants

Beautiful styled Kitchen sink.. note how she used her rolling pin board as a stand and her pretty cut labels
Ethnic Desi corner with bold colours

Can you provide some décor tips for my readers?

Be practical - go for a style that works for you best, rather than going for something just because it is a trend. I am a huge fan of modern farmhouse style which mostly means neutral/white theme. But with a four year old, I cannot go for a neutral furniture not does Indian cooking goes well with white cabinets (unless I have a cleaning squad or I commit to cleaning every day).

Less is more when it comes to styling - with clean lines even simple things pop out beautifully bringing up the much needed points of interest

Be content with what you have in hand and make most of it. All you need is little creativity and sometimes out of box thinking to make beautiful and interesting spaces

Diligently follow the process of re-purposing and restyling, and curb your urge to buy new stuff often. And do not forget Purging once in a while. 

Her gorgeous outdoor space

Thank you so much Priyanka for opening up your beautiful home to me and my readers. Just viewing your home gave us so much comfort and ease! And tons of inspiration to take away!

Stay tuned for more home tours!

Above pictures are via Priyanka