Tuesday, April 26, 2016
A while back, I retreated from life into a lovely farm somewhere in a village outside Benglur. Directions to the farm went something like this, "At the mango tree, take a right turn, then where the cows are sleeping, take a left turn..."
The setting is all very idyllic,
The setting is all very idyllic,
until you come to the Anthill!
And you see hair growing out of it -
So you cautiously move a bit closer to examine this hair
And the hair starts moving!
And you just...just...slowly back away...
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
I was very pleased when the Art Director at Verve magazine invited me to illustrate a story by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. I had wanted to illustrate for Verve ever since I saw their beautiful magazine years ago when I returned from Australia. Then, during pre-internet era, when I contacted them with samples of my work, they sent me an article to illustrate almost immediately. However, because of the logistics of couriering actual work across during those pre-digital times, it was an exercise in futility and nothing came of it. Therefore I was pleasantly surprised when I received a mail inviting me to illustrate for them this time.
I haven’t received my copy yet, but a walk along Indiranagar with a friend and a bid to escape the heat by plunging into air conditioned Crossword assisted me in getting my hands on a copy and photographing it.Do check out the April 2016 issue of Verve. But you can also read the story here >>
The story is a beautiful one about young lovers, a red sari and stars in the night sky on the terrace. It was a pleasure to do and it is one of my favorite assignments to date. The focus of the illustration is on his hands cradling her and her sari enveloping them. The resulting shapes remind me almost of a foetus within a womb, safe, loved and secure.
For those of you interested in such matters, this illustration was done on Canson Colorline paper with the rich pigments of Daler Rowney pastel. I love the grainy texture and the rich but muted, sophisticated colors that resulted. This has been one of those rare moments when there is a sense of satisfaction with what has presented itself to me at my desk.
Sunday, April 17, 2016
This time's comic for The Big Picture at Livemint.
You can read the entire story by clicking here >>>
I enjoyed drawing the illustrations for this story. When I requested him for one, it was almost immediately written and sent to me by my long time virtual friend Slogan Murugan of Mumbai Paused fame. Not only that, it had my favourite subject - fish (or rather lack of fish, which is why I got to draw only one fish), but still, drawing the sea, boats, troubled wives...all was good to do.These illustrations have been done with pastel and graphite on absolutely lovely pre-cut C a grain Canson paper.
Here are some of the illustrations -
Monday, April 11, 2016
When I was working on an illustration this afternoon,I ended up drawing a child with a strange expression. Whichever way I turned, the child's intense gaze followed me. The juxtaposition of cut out images on my table looked very interesting beside the child's face. I decided to take some photographs and put them up on my blog.This would probably work well for a macabre children's story. The lethal pair of scissors and the child's expression open up a lot of possibilities.
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Because I had read about Oak trees in books from my childhood, written by English authors, I had often wondered about The Mighty Oak and wished I could see one in real. Once, an acquaintance gave me an acorn for my seedpod collection where it remained one of my most prized possessions for a long time (yes, an acorn). So it was with awe and delight that I set my eyes on my first Oak ever somewhere at Westmount. The cold autumn air had freeze dried the leaves of this tree so that they'd slowly lost their color and yet retained their shape in this magnificent creation.
And the leaves! One has to admire them and press them and draw them -
Needless to say, I now have a hell of a lot of Canadian acorns in my collection :)
Quotation seen on a coffee mug:
'Every mighty Oak was once a nut that stood its ground'.
Sunday, March 27, 2016
Be still my beating heart, these great trees are prayers.
In Montreal, there are always a few days during the chilly autumn season when the sun suddenly shines and everything becomes unseasonably warm. Montrealers get very excited about it. I remember their eyes shone when they divulged that this was called an 'Indian Summer'. I have to admit I was rather bewildered both by the term and the excitement, but in retrospect, I understand why.
Here of course, the Indian summer is endless as a Montreal winter and the blooming trees are like a continuous, spectacular firework display, one after the other, splashing the skies with orange,purple, yellow, pink and now bright red. The same time the flowers bloom is when the old leaves fall and almost immediately new light green ones grow. Spring,summer and autumn are all rolled into one grand, continuous Indian summer in this part of the world.
Montrealers truly appreciate the small slice of beautiful, intense summer handed to them, and they appreciate even more, the tidbit of Indian summer rationed out during autumn.Here we Benglureans partake in a gigantic endless banquet for the senses every year. We are overindulged by nature. For me, it took just one year of denial to come back and hurl myself at this feast with renewed enthusiasm.
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Saturday, March 19, 2016
In the last six months, deadlines have started appearing simultaneously, two, three at a time. This makes me nervous. My hands shake, I lose things, I drink too much coffee... The giant hi-res digital scanning machine where I get my large work scanned is now churning out bad results. I am glad I have the camera and thankfully in this country, good light in any season is never a problem.
While returning from the Scan man, I stopped to buy some Chinese food. While waiting, I wandered into a shop next door which sold Organic food. They had with them, the chocolate I was searching for – Earth Loaf chocolate. And there was only one left in the fridge.
In Toronto, my flatmate introduced me to Chocosol. If there is the equivalent of pure gold in chocolate, it is this. It is excellent, dark, organic chocolate. No sugar, no additives. It is so good that just one piece is enough to give you your chocolate fix for the entire day. The Toronto flatmate was a generous woman who not only gave me some Chocosol chocolate as a parting gift but also took me to the Distillery district and to the SOMA chocolate shop over there. I could only marvel at the chocolate because it was very expensive. However I did treat myself to a cup of chocolate with hints of orange, pepper and spices, which needless to say was heaven itself on earth within that cup.
SOMA hot chocolate. Photo by Danielle
Here, Earthloaf chocolate is as good as Chocosol (I can’t believe I am saying that). It is as obscenely priced but it is value for money. The one I bought is studded with this strange fruit called Gondhoraj which lifts the flavor of the chocolate. It is so so so good.The commercial variety we get, even in the good brands like Lindt are essentially candy. We end up eating a lot of it because we don’t get the chocolate fix we are looking for and instead derive our high from the sugar content within it.
In that Organic goods shop I also bought some extra dark Palm Jaggery (Molasses). The extra dark variety is hard to find. It is usually available in temple towns in coastal areas and friends who actually procure it for me during their travels have been known to suddenly change their minds when it comes to parting with it. The jaggery's smooth, dark, muted sweetness is as good as the chocolate but in its own way. It tastes almost like chocolate fudge but better.It is of course very different from organic powdered jaggery. I tried some Palm jaggery in my coffee and the deep, complex sweetness that resulted was very good.
Why I am eulogizing these things so much? Because I firmly believe that strong coffee, excellent quality chocolate and rich jaggery is fuel and sustenance to an illustrator. The good things you imbibe, flows out into the picture you make and lifts it above the ordinary. With so much dark goodness in my system, my hands have stopped shaking, the answers I wanted have emerged on paper, I breathe easily and I am happy. The taste of dark chocolate, Palm jaggery and coffee lingers on...
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
The editor at Livemint sent me an email acknowledging that there were many, many queries and compliments for these illustrations. He certainly paired my style with the right story. The feedback actually encourages me to attempt a few more comics.Who would have thought that would happen?