Out of the box – Finally!

It took me years to complete this 1500-pc jigsaw puzzle. I started many years ago, in Bangalore or Mumbai (I can’t remember). When the face was done, Ma said it reminded her of the time when Durga idols are made, and everyone awaits the completion of the eyes!

After the figure was done I took a pause because there were about a thousand black pieces, and no patience left. Then we moved house, and country, and another country. The half-done puzzle stayed secure in layers of newspaper all that time.


It was only after our France vacation that the urge to complete the puzzle present itself. Here in Jakarta we are blessed with plenty of outdoor space and bright sunshine, the perfect setting for bending over hundreds of small black pieces. Still it took me another 3 months before I could enjoy the masterpiece in all its glory.


An interesting trivia is that Mona Lisa has no eyebrows! It came up in a quiz on one of our travels, and I had to check the picture after getting home.

So many memories associated with a single jigsaw puzzle, and the icing on the cake is that Mia approves of it!


Scuola di Atene

School of Athens is a huge painting by Raffaello in the Vatican Museum, and very popular, because of the faces he put in it. All the famous Greeks are there – Socrates, Aristotle, Plato, Pythagoras, Euclid, etc, but he’s painted the portraits of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo to represent two of the characters in the painting. (Leonardo is the old guy in the center representing Plato, and Michelangelo is the mopey Heraclitus right in front. Raphael painted himself in the extreme right facing the viewer, but difficult to spot here.)

Because the painting is so popular, there are always crowds around it, and very difficult to photograph. So, once again, I got tempted by the puzzle on sale. 1000-piece puzzles are no longer a challenge for me, but quite entertaining, and this one got done in 3 days flat:

At this time, Michelangelo was painting the Sistine Chapel, and was always suspicious of Raphael, who spent quite a bit of time observing him.


It took 10 -12 hours, albeit spread over 4-5 days, and now it’s done. Feast your eyes:

I spent the rest of the evening reading a book on all the major works of Michelangelo, from start to finish. Interesting, though he was the master of the male body, Michelangelo had very little understanding of the female form, and most of his women ended up with masculine features and physique in this painting!

I’m no longer that hung over on Italy, having achieved some sort of closure with this puzzle. Can move on with life now!

Drawn to Capella Sistine

My knowledge of Christianity is very limited. To me, the significance of the Sistine Chapel is only in the ceiling. And for the most part, it is. But the wall behind the altar is also dramatic, with Michaelangelo’s painting of the Last Judgement.

At the Vatican Museum, all paths lead to the Capella Sistine. They really do build up the hype, by putting a number of exhibits along the way, mostly heavyweight art and sculpture. Then they build it up further by putting a pit stop just before the actual exhibit. You definitely need to refresh yourself, and get a coffee before climbing the steps to the Capella. ‘Coz once you’re in there, you can only gape in awe at the ceiling, think of all those cliched images you’ve seen in books and TV, and then admire the real thing. Crane your neck up and absorb all the details that appeal to you – the biblical characters and the stories, the amazing paintings, colours, composition, or visualize what Michelangelo must have gone through while getting on the scaffolding and actually paint the ceiling.

No photography allowed inside the chapel (though some do flout the rule and get bad pictures on their mobile phones). I guess that is the clincher – to make it so popular. Some of the other ceilings in the museum are also spectacular, but you can photograph them. And to think Michelangelo resented this commission, because he preferred sculpture to painting.

The information about the chapel is quite interesting (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sistine_Chapel). After getting there and seeing that, you do want a souvenir, since you can’t have a picture. So we did the next best thing  – bought a jigsaw puzzle. Michelangelo took 3-4 years to finish his work of art. I hope to take 3-4 days to complete my masterpiece.

Until it’s done, I will be back-bending and working like the master, and getting to know the ceiling painting intimately. Will unveil next week.


That’s finally out of my system!

I thought I would finish the Van Gogh’s World puzzle by the middle of April, but the sunflowers made me work!

I fit the last of the 5000 pieces earlier this week, to make it look like the masterpiece it is:

Van Gogh's World (5000)

There’s a fine coating of dust around it in the room, as no one was allowed to clean lest I lose some pieces. Now that it’s done, I feel a vacuum in the day! Guess I’ll arrange all the books in the bookcase, and dust and mop and reach those spots that I couldn’t for a month and a half.

Ummm, maybe let the sunflowers brighten up the room for a few more days, huh?