Girija Hariharan @2flatbrush

Girija Hariharan @2flatbrush

When I wanted to do something related to art, I just looked around me for ways in which I could include it in my life. Giving up a comfortable job, it was time to network, meet artists and conduct workshops in art, in collaboration with artists. It was in one such collaboration that I met and was introduced to Girija Hariharan by my friend, Preethi Prabhu. And we could instantly connect. Every time I meet her, I am in awe of her. You will be too, when you read of her journey and understand all that is Girija @2flatbrush. No wonder all her paintings call to me….her thoughts and emotions translated to vibrant colours and forms.
Girija @2flatbrush

Girija @2flatbrush with her mural in the background

Strings of heritage- What was your ambition as you were growing up?

Girija @2flatbrush- I always used to wonder about children living in railway stations, pavements and under bridges when I was a kid. I had made up my mind around my tween years, to provide a safe and secure place for them to be educated and provided for, when I grow up. When I had a chance to return to India after my education and work stint abroad, I hastily started a foster home for kids and ran it for a while despite being quite naive and inexperienced.

Girija @2flatbrush
Girija @2flatbrush Pic Credit- Preethiprabhu
Strings of heritage- What changed and how did you plan the way ahead when the orphanage was no longer feasible?

Girija @2flatbrush- In Karnataka, the orphan children are given to government institutions. Private institutions like my ‘Annai Charitable trust’, would be given single-parent kids who can’t afford good living conditions. The kids I was given by the child welfare committee for my foster home, had a mother and she simply wasn’t able to support them. As the kids started missing their mom, I realised I was making orphans in order to run an orphanage. It was during my foster home experience that I realised it was important to see the big picture and help others the way they wanted to be helped, not the way I wanted to help them. So I let go of the foster idea and sponsored the education of those kids and they were happily resettled with their mother. From then on, for the past 14 years, with the helpful donors of my trust, I have been sponsoring at least 10-12 single-parent and orphan kids each year to complete their education. I am very proud of each one of those kids. Some have moved on to jobs after their degrees and are inclined to help other kids like themselves. I have some big things planned and have been saving up for it, to launch in a couple of years.

Girija @2flatbrush

Girija @2flatbrush Pic credit -Preethiprabhu

Strings of heritage- Was art always part of your life?

Girija @2flatbrush- Yes! Strangely enough Art has followed me everywhere, and sneaked up on me at the right time 🙂 I used to scribble a lot of colors on walls and floors from a very young age. My mom’s idea of baby-sitting was to give us (me and my brother) a bunch of sheets and pencils and color pencils and we would be occupied for hours. An artist who lived opposite our house was my inspiration to draw and paint. I used to watch him work with great focus and it was meditative. Incidentally he used to paint on walls too!
I had been painting a lot in my college, three hours a day during our cultural programs, and made some lifelong friends there. Every pleasant memory I have, is associated with some art in the mainstream or background. We used to paint humongous posters and backdrops and I was in love with big canvases and larger than life artworks. I always had a painting brush in my handbag, for as long as I had a handbag. I am not sure I ever used it, but it was the universe’s plan for me, I guess.

Strings of heritage- How did you make the transition from software engineer to an artist?

Girija @2flatbrush- It wasn’t a planned transition. It developed organically. When I did my first mural for my home I just put out a Facebook post asking for volunteers to lend me their walls for mural practice. Strangely enough I had a taker and I did my second mural and I started considering mural art as an alternate career. Meanwhile I was more and more dissatisfied with my job. When it got to be too much, I just decided to quit the company. I was thinking of going solo or start my own firm. I still love technology and I keep myself up-to-date

Girija @2flatbrush

Girija @2flatbrush Pic credit -Preethiprabhu

Strings of heritage- Was it a planned change or sudden?

Girija @2flatbrush- As soon as I drafted my resignation, I remember going to a job portal site to look for alternate jobs in freelancing. I must have spent five minutes and I got incredibly weary of reading the same job descriptions over and over again. It was then that it struck me, ‘I could be a mural artist!’ It was a no-brainer, as I had the initiative, interest and some basic experience for me to build upon! I didn’t even have three or four pictures for my Facebook page for 2flatbrush:) when I started. It was a crazy adrenaline rush and I launched my business on Facebook. I had steered away from everything comfortable, in just a couple of days. I remember brainstorming with my friends about the name of the business. We had several favorites. There was this brush in my college that I had reserved for painting, it was an ugly flat brush which used to be blue, and I loved it to bits. And it came to my mind at the right time. I looked at the brush in my handbag, and it was size 2, Flat.

Girija @2flatbrush

Girija @2flatbrush Pic credit -Preethiprabhu

Strings of heritage- Did you get the support of family when you decided on the transition? What were the challenges you faced?

Girija @2flatbrush- They were already used to my spontaneous decisions, I guess. My parents were used to me, but this time I had in-laws! They were super supportive as well. There were apprehensions from my near and dear ones, but there was encouragement all around. Everyone for some reason already knew I would be a good artist. Even if they hadn’t seen my works! My husband for one was so excited and there was not an iota of doubt in his mind. I have a great friend circle, and a great family who support me in everything I do.

Girija @2flatbrush

Girija @2flatbrush Pic credit- Preethiprabhu

Strings of heritage- When you look back today, would you have done something differently with your life,education or decisions?

Girija @2flatbrush- I would probably be more polite and less rowdier I guess 🙂 Art has softened me and made me much more empathetic than I ever was. I wouldn’t revise any of my decisions or education.

Strings of heritage- How do you decide on what to paint next when it is not a commissioned work?

Girija @2flatbrush- It is not a decision, it is just coming into being, I think. I believe I am a medium, and the paintings flow through me, not from me. I have lots and lots of ideas that always come to me while day-dreaming:) I note some of them down, forget many, and forget what the note is about sometimes too! I read a lot, and I am tuned into many social issues as well, and it inspires me and gives me a lot of new ideas all the time. I want to paint every day, and I never run out of ideas. If I ever feel out of my element a quick meet up with my friends or a good book will put me right back in my studio.

Girija @2flatbrush

Girija @2flatbrush Pic credit- Preethiprabhu

Strings of heritage- Why do you love murals?

Girija @2flatbrush- Firstly, because it shares five letters with my husband Murali. 🙂 I know it’s a tacky answer, but maybe there’s a pattern to how the universe matches us with things.

Jokes apart, I have always been an introvert, and I get intimidated by outgoing, confident and assertive people. Large paintings are a way to assert myself, it’s my little way of showcasing who I want to be. Little things blown up larger than life give us a unique perspective on things, and give us a sense of wonder. I think any artist looks for this wonder, ‘elusive wonder’ that we try and package into music, dance or art.

Strings of heritage- Your favourite subject to paint?

Girija @2flatbrush- I am forever obsessed with faces and hands. I love thoughtful paintings that add layers to it than just a visual appeal.

Strings of heritage- Any favourite medium ?

Girija @2flatbrush- Acrylic for life. On everything. (Canvas, walls, doors, skin)

Girija @2flatbrush

Girija @2flatbrush Pic credit- Preethiprabhu

Strings of heritage- Your thoughts on experiments in art, your favourite artist and contemporary art.

Girija @2flatbrush- I am so psyched about art installations. Larger than life art installations that just literally make you walk in to the art. I love amalgamation of several art forms and collaboration of artists.
There’s no single favorite. But I love the lines of MF Hussain, the fearless Frida Kahlo, Acrylic techniques of Milind Nayak, an old man in Jayanagar who doesn’t sell his works but just wants to express himself in inks, and displays art just for pleasure, my brother who was the first portrait artist I knew, and a million others I follow on Instagram who inspire me every day. I love oil painters who have the patience to layer and glaze. I love a lot of illustrators and comics who comment on social issues relentlessly. Most of all, I love sculptures and our traditional nameless painters of Indian Historic murals of all religions.

Strings of heritage– Do you think an education in art is relevant to ones success?

Girija @2flatbrush- Success is a dicey term. It is set by one self. I don’t see art as a means to an end. Art is itself success, to be able to express yourself creatively is a success, and to package wonder is a success. Art itself is an education. Having said that,I see tremendous improvement in my work in the last three years working full time. So if art education lets you practice for years, I am all for it. I am for anything that’s a focused approach to practice your craft without you having to look over your shoulder for validation all the time. So a formal education is both bad and good in some ways.

Strings of heritage- Where do you see yourself five years down the line in terms of your evolution as an artist?

Girija @2flatbrush- I have my cake and I am eating it too. In five years, I want to be able to do what I am doing right now:) Live, love and paint! If I am able to bring about some social awareness through some public art, it will be the cherry on the cake.

Girija @2flatbrush

Draupadi, the five elements expressing her life and emotions

Strings of heritage- Any advice that you could give from your own experience? Be it in terms of changing career tracks, to art or otherwise. This is especially so as any change comes with its own challenges.

Girija @2flatbrush- I am not a big fan of advice. Giving or taking. But these are what worked for me.

  1. Integrity. Do what you say. Say what you do.
  2. Build a network. You can’t sit around in your studio if you are making life changing decisions.
  3. Trust yourself. Be your own warrior, even if you stumble.
  4. Learn relentlessly.
  5. If you are changing careers don’t expect comfort. If you want comfort go back to your old job.
  6. Be comfortable with your finances. You might earn less than, or minimum wages (there’s no such thing in India, another political issue) for a long while. You should be ok with cutting down costs while you are building a client base.


Thank you Girija,for sharing so much of yourself with us.

Girija @2flatbrush
And that was Girija @2flatbrush for you. You can follow her work @2flatbrush in instagram and facebook. If you want to contribute towards educating a child, contact Girija on her profile.

Write to me and share your thoughts or challenges you faced with transition.

Lots of Twinkles to all of you.




A long break from writing…and not by design let me tell you. Immediately after Diwali I was all set to share my Diwali with all of you. But that weekend my friend who visited me told me to start immediately with the school hunting for my child and I was already late. And lone week on, there’s not much in terms of progress. At this rate, I think my child is destined for home schooling. So this school thing has been messing my life real time. I just could not sit still and write. But I have realised that life has to go on… so today I have chucked the worry under the carpet and decided to tell you all about my Diwali.

It is such a lovely festival…a favourite with everyone. Even one week on, we see that Facebook and Instagram are still lighted up with images from Diwali. Diwali conjures up images of Diyas, flowers, sparklers, new clothes, yummy sweets, a lot of laughter, get-togethers and all things nice.

Diwali Decor

Diwali Decor. Pic Credit –  Preethi Prabhu

This Diwali was really special for me as it was all about feeling good. I intentionally decided to light up from within. You know I am a great gal…but I have a very bad habit of hoarding. To the point that when my friend sent the carpenter for repairs and some changes, we did not have to buy a thing….I had everything he needed! Well times like these I feel good about my hoarding habit…but what about all the 364 days…even I was fed up with the clutter. This Diwali was a time for resolutions and changes. And how! I am so super pleased, I can’t stop smiling.

7 Tips for a clutter free home from a novice

  1. All that needs to be sorted has to be boxed and labelled. Keep it in storage, go through in phases and clear it. I used to have it lying around, until I got down to sorting and it was so messy I couldn’t think and felt like a failure just looking around my home.
Nooks for display- Diwali decor

Nooks for display

  1. A gallery wall- this one’s a gem. Preethi Prabhu from Transforminions helped me do a gallery wall and style my work space. Until then, I did not appreciate the wonderful collection that I had of paintings, masks and displays. It was only when it was arranged and put up that I could feel the impact. I would highly recommend this to anyone who has no reservations about nails. This one took some cajoling and convincing as my hubby was totally against drilling the wall. But it’s all worthwhile… especially when I see it every day. First measure the wall and arrange it on the floor. Only when you are happy with the arrangement go for the wall and the drilling machine (This gyan is from Preethi. Hop over to her blog to check out interesting DIYs in home decor)
Gallery wall for Diwali

Gallery wall for Diwali

Gallery wall for Diwali

Gallery wall for Diwali

Gallery wall for Diwali

Gallery wall for Diwali

  1. Those repairs…my kitchen was in dire need of a carpenter. A drawer had caved in, a cupboard door had come off and it was a catastrophe waiting to happen. I got those fixed and so many items went to their rightful places. A stitch in time saves nine…so true!
A corner in my Kitchen - Diwali decor

A corner in my Kitchen

  1. Less is more…this one’s a real treasure.  My display nooks which were cramped with collectibles were also contributing to the overall chaos. So these spaces were first cleaned up and just two large pieces were assigned in each nook instead of the earlier six or seven. This brought in a sense of calm.
Less is more Diwali decor

Less is more. Pic Credit – Preethi Prabhu

  1. A place for everything and everything in its place. Let me not go over the top. I am still working on this one. In fact, I am still “a work in progress” where being clutter free is concerned. But I work on it every day in small ways. So I am sure I will get there one day.
The Foyer Diwali decor for positive vibes

The Foyer

  1. Just don’t buy it. Resist and resist. I don’t think our ancestors ever had this problem of clearing clutter. For one thing this consumerism is the bane of our generation and the next. We tend to buy even before we think it out. So hold your horses before you splurge.
My work space for diwali

My work space for diwali

  1. Share and gift. Sometimes we end up with a lot of things that we bought say in a sale. I especially do this with handicrafts and home decor items. I had three dhokra wall hangings which I had bought and never used. This time we gifted two of them to the people we loved. Look around you…I am sure you will find something to gift or share.

Diwali décor from my home

For me it was all about going clutter free. How was it for you? What was your focus? 

Clutter free Diwali decor

Clutter free Diwali decor

I also needed a pleasing space to work in. So I happily got a lively shade of blue. Not one but four shades in small 200 ml boxes. This was the first time I tried painting a wall and I should say that it was wonderful. Though I wanted to do an ombre wall, that is four shades in gradation, when I saw the last shade, I so loved it that I made waves with this shade all over. What do you think? How’s it come? Then it was time to style it with a bookshelf, that I already had elsewhere (I just moved it to my blue wall) and a pin up board. Tada…
Diwali decor - An inspiring workspace

Diwali decor

DIY Pin up board– I had seen an ikat fabric covered pin up board in Preethi’s office (You can see her office tour here) and that was when I decided I wanted a custom made one. Half pin up and half black board. I already had this board from Amazon. Preethi and me brainstormed on how to achieve the look I wanted. It was a pin up on one side and a black board on the other.  After removing the frames, we cut up the black board halfway and a foam sheet (I already had this!) was replaced, covered with a kakamkari cloth (I was supposed to get a kurti made out of it). This was all glued together and the frames replaced…lo and behold I got this one-of-a-kind pin up cum black board. You could try this…let me know how it turns out.
Diwali decor

The Sandalwood box from my granny resting on the cash box belonging to my hubby’s grandfather

Diwali involving kids– I want my child to feel a sense of involvement in all the festivals. So from last year, Diwali is the time to buy earthen Diyas in varied shapes, sizes and paint them in different hues. It’s a favourite bonding activity for both of us. Then she gifts them to her friends, my friends and relatives. We also use some…so each one of my Diya is unique and we light it with a sense of pride. And yes you can do it by yourself or with your spouse. Children are just an excuse to bring out the child in us.
Diwali - Diyas in different shapes and colours

Diyas in different shapes and colours

Also the savouries and snacks that I prepare, I enlist her help and she is all of five. But she loves that she gets to do something as important as laddoos and cut through for shankarpalis. In fact we are so used to doing things in one way, we stop thinking about them. My five year old wanted pyramids and smileys in her laddoos and that is exactly what she did. And off course I also got a Diwali Hamper from Sinful slices…they make the yummiest cakes and desserts.
Diwali - Rava laddoos or pyramids or smileys?

Rava laddoos or pyramids or smileys?

Diwali Hamper from Sinful Slices

Diwali Hamper from Sinful Slices

Even after so many days past Diwali, the glow of Diwali remains. It remains in my soul and my home because I intended for this Diwali to light my life from within. Try it for yourself, Diwali was just an excuse…and don’t forget to tell me about it.

Lots of Twinkles to all of you.


Preethi Prabhu’s Design Studio

Preethi Prabhu’s Design Studio

Even before I introduce you to the amazing lady, who is a Blogger, Interior Designer, Compulsive DIYer and creator of the handicraft store, ‘IndyaKaleidoscope’, I have to tell you of my experience and interaction with her. When I started on the idea of my website, I wanted to speak to someone who had some experience in blogging. After all, being a blogger was a different ball game altogether. The only person I could think of was Preethi Prabhu. The reason being, we were classmates in high school and though not close, at least I was familiar with her. But I had my doubts, as it had been years since I last spoke to her. She was also very popular in the blogging arena and a successful interior designer. “Would she be able to make time? Would she help me? Would we hit it off well?” DOUBTS, I say! Well, I just called. She was so warm and friendly, all my doubts were forgotten and I immediately went over to her office the same day. I am still amazed, I spent nearly 3 hours with her that day, just talking, catching up, using her as a sounding board on what I wanted to do and generally offload all my apprehensions. She was just the person to help me. Her suggestions and experience as a blogger helped me set it all up. And there’s been no looking back after that. Thank you, Preethi! You have no idea how much you helped and inspired.

I have been planning to do an office tour of her space for quite some time now. Preethi’s design studio ‘Transforminions’ (such a cute name) reflects her personality, design and aesthetic sense, warm and collaborative spirit. A comfortable and inviting space, with many DIY projects, it is an inspiration. So let’s get inspired!

Transforminions, Preethi Prabhus design studio
Transforminions – Transforming Interiors
An engineer who worked in the IT industry for nearly eight years, she pursued her interest in interior decoration as she was working. Many of us might have experienced the lack of joy in our job. But in spite of that, many continue as uncertainty is riskier than unhappiness. But Preethi is an example for changing tracks, when she was at the peak of her career in IT. I had some questions for her and here are her answers.

StringsofHeritage- Do you have any regrets that you started late at your passion for home decor?

Preethi Prabhu- No, not at all. Every experience in life is a learning and comes in handy. When I was doing my IT job, I was very happy and gave my 100% to it. Now I do what I love and I put my 100% in that too. I enjoyed the work and grew in it. The day I felt that there was something else I need to do, I changed tracks.

Preethi Prabhu- Office tour
Preethis love for cushions is evident in the wide array on the day bed. A quaint wrought iron bed.
StringsofHeritage – Which is your favourite piece in your office? Something which inspires you maybe?

Preethi Prabhu – Many of my pieces have a story and have seen many makeovers. The fact that I have spent so many hundreds of hours with them, re-imagining and enjoying them, it is difficult to pick a favourite.

Workspace with some plants

The tables surface is a DIY and so is the pin up board

Preethi Prabhu- Office tour
Pin up board with Ikkat fabric. The elephant is a paper mache from Orissa
StringsofHeritage – What would be the best time to consult an interior designer, if the house is being built?

Preethi Prabhu – Most architecture firms give design services too, so I would say while deciding the building layout. In apartments there is no much choice, in terms of layouts. The reason why you would need a designer is so that you don’t end up making expensive mistakes.

Preethi Prabhu-Office tour, Gallery wall
Beautiful paintings make up the gallery wall. Cane chairs with wooden frames complement the setup.
StringsofHeritage – Can you give us some suggestions on how an established home can be decorated with some Indian aspects or flavours?

Preethi Prabhu – Our ethnic arts and crafts can fit into any style of home. I have seen many westerners blend traditional Indian art and artefacts into their very modern and contemporary homes with ease. If you love something, you will automatically find a place for it in your home.

StringsofHeritage – How can someone complement the modern and the traditional? What aspects can we concentrate on?

Preethi Prabhu – The modern and the traditional always complement each other. It’s a matter of understanding that. A very modern looking sofa can be upholstered with a traditional fabric; a very ethnic looking wallpaper wall can adorn a modern art.

A comfortable winged chair
A winged chair, reupholstered in a dark shade but with a peep of ikkat. Functional and Inspirational!
StringsofHeritage – When you are designing for someone else, where do you start….are you able to envision it and then work on that image?

Preethi Prabhu – There needs to be a jumping off point. A picture online that they have liked, a fabric they love or an idea. Once you have that, you build around it. Design is as much about functionality as it is about look and feel. So depending on the functionality of the space and the design inspiration, we slowly create the look we want.

Check out the 5 ways to glam up a bathroom by Preethi Prabhu
A glam bathroom in office. Notice the pretty mirror and shells in a glass jar. Lovely idea!
Like the way the bathroom has been glammed up? Check this out.

StringsofHeritage – How would you define your decorating style? What does Preethi look for or identify in all the spaces decorated by you

Preethi Prabhu – My style, I don’t know-is being very personal, I think. When I am working on something, I live it every single moment of my life. And I ensure that me and my team create the positive vibe in a space while we work and it shows when the space is all done up.

Preethi Prabhu - ofiice tour
Preethi has a fondness for plants and greenery. The snake plant purifies the air and adds a dash of green.
StringsofHeritage – You are always experimenting, the different DIYs that you have…how do you get your inspiration

Preethi Prabhu – I don’t know. The inspiration just comes from constantly looking. It comes from around me, magazines, online, anywhere…

Preethi Prabhu-Transforminions office tour
A wonderful collection of books on plants, the different art forms and textiles.
StringsofHeritage – Some values that you stand for and believe in..

Preethi Prabhu – I believe good design should be available to all. It is the reason I share what I do, on my blog and my social sites freely. Also being honest and upfront with clients is the best policy for me.

So that’s it for today. A lovely office(Thanks for the pics, Preethi), many many ideas and one amazing lady, Preethi Prabhu. Thank you Preethi, for the lovely tour.

Many times, the fear of the unknown freezes us. Inaction itself may me the wrong step that we take. So if there is something you want to pursue, today is the day. Seize it! And if you want a makeover for your home, you know whom to lookup- The Transforminions.

Lots of Twinkles to you. Have a great weekend.


Check out Preethi’s website.