A Day In Our Lives: Diag Squirrels

Hello everyone! My name is Marissa. This is my first post of many to come, and I am so excited to share with you all! 

I think that the squirrels on the Diag are always a positive part of my day and I like to imagine their lives. This series will touch on a lot of different aspects of living on campus or in Ann Arbor but I wanted to start with these cuties! They are a huge part of the culture here on campus and everyone seems to love them. One time, I had a baby squirrel hop on my feet! I grew up here in Michigan and nature has always been a big part of my life. I love all of the fall colors here in Ann Arbor and I’m ready to see what else I can incorporate into my art. 

LOG-014: The Kaleidoscopic Machine

An advertisement for the “Second Life Experience” Immersive Entertainment Package, 2084.

[Transcription: BOOK YOUR EXPERIENCE TODAY / Tired of the everyday tedium? Ever wonder about what else the world has to offer? Wish for a vacation from your life? Now you can! / UNDERGO A TRANSFORMATIVE JOURNEY WITH THE / SECOND LIFE EXPERIENCE / spend a day in someone else’s shoes — literally! / Kaleidoscope Technologies, LLC]

With the commercialisation of mind-transfer technology came a thrilling new prospect for augmented reality enthusiasts. Pioneered by Kaleidoscope Technologies, mindswap entertainment clinics temporarily transferred the consciousness of customers into new bodies in a radically new “entertainment experience,” which allowed them to experience life as a completely different person.

Within a decade, however, rumors of unsavoury practices started cropping up. Conspiracy talks about where exactly Kaleidoscope Tech sourced the empty bodies and their equipment ran in endless circles or died unceremoniously. The company became notorious in the public eye for both their ultimate fantasy fulfillment services and their secrecy, and abruptly shut down twenty-three years after the “Second Life Experience” debut.

The Indian Artist, Revamped: Payal

Good evening everyone! I hope that you are all well! This week I wanted to showcase my most recent painting titled Payal. This painting is one that I am very proud of.

Payal, (18″ x 24″) done in oil paint, depicts a woman putting on an ankle bracelet (called a “payal” in Hindi) while dressed in traditional Indian garb. Specifically, she is wearing a sari, maang tika (forehead jewelry), bangles, and flowers in her hair. I decided to make this piece for various different reasons. Firstly, I wanted to challenge myself by doing a portrait in oil paint that was as realistic as I could manage. Secondly, I wanted to depict a beautiful woman wearing traditional Indian clothing, something that I have hinted at in past pieces but never focused on. I have created pieces centered around various Hindu festivals and mythology but nothing that was solely focused on material culture.

This piece has given me the confidence to be able to peruse even more difficult portrait work. My plan is to create a tryptic, potentially making two more pieces: one with a woman putting on earring, a second with a woman putting on a nose ring or bangles.

In this piece, I focused greatly on light and shadow as well as tonality. I wanted to create a dramatic light source while keeping the background simple and non-distracting from the main figure. If you have any thoughts or would like to discuss this piece further, please feel free to reach out to me!

I am so excited to get back into my newly revamped column. Please let me know if there is anything you all would like to see from me. If any questions or thoughts arise, please comment or reach out to me at my socials!


Until next week,



Instagram: @riya_aggarwal.art

Portfolio: https://theindianartist.weebly.com/

Industrious Illustrating #12: A New Semester

A new season means a new semester, and a new semester means a new Industrious Illustrating banner! It’s been a while since I last posted to this blog, and I hope that the summer was a restful or productive time for all of you, whichever one was your goal. While I have some exciting new projects I want to share with you guys over the next few weeks, I want to focus first on a brief recap of a few pieces I made over the summer.

For most of the summer, I was spending time living with my parents in Hong Kong. We lived pretty close to the beach, so sometimes I’d go down to the beach and look for interesting-looking animals in the sand and rocks. Attached are a few watercolor and ink sketches I made of a Fiddler crab, as well as some clams, sea urchins, and sea snails I found when the tide was low.

Aside from sketching the wildlife, I also made more refined illustrations based off of the scenery and sights I saw in Hong Kong, albeit with a few changes for artistic effect. For example, one of the new pieces on my year 2 banner features a tiger girl dressed in summery clothing while leaning over the railing of a staircase next to overgrown terraces. This is actually based off of a real staircase near my summer home that led down to some tropical fruit trees and a tiny beach (though it wasn’t the one I frequented).


If you look at the other side of the new banner, one of the pieces I added features a girl floating in a brightly lit vestibule as if she’s in a spaceship. This is actually inspired by the Moncler clothing store display in Hong Kong’s International Commerce Center, which always caught my eye when I was walking from the Kowloon MTR stop through the ELEMENTS shopping mall and the ICC lobby. I made a few tweaks to the lighting to make it look more dramatic, but otherwise I kept it close to the reference in an attempt to capture what I liked about the design.

For a side by side comparison:


Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten around to making more studies of the sights I saw in Hong Kong, or even more pieces inspired by what I saw in Hong Kong, but I’ll be sure to work on some and post them when I have time!

What did you guys do over the summer? I would love to hear about it in the comments.