Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Bong Detective

I was feeling very blue since there were no sketching jaunts outside Bangalore this weekend, when the doorbell rang and I was delivered the latest copy of The Indian Quarterly (IQ) Magazine.
Here is my illustration for Calcutta Noir, where I had to illustrate a Bengali woman addicted to detective novels who eventually ends up solving a murder. I have depicted the protagonist engrossed in a detective story in a Kolkata tram and a scene from what she is reading taking place in the tram window behind her.
To show that the background is her imagination, I have done it in moody colour as appropriate to the story she is reading while the rest of the illustration is in black and white. To bridge imagination with the reality of the story, I have shown a cloud from the coloured scene making its way into the black and white one.

I was asked to do this illustration right at the beginning of the year, before I had barely recovered from the cacophony of a New Year party. Voices with strange South-Indian accents were ringing in my ears, weird psychedelic lights flashed in circles behind my eyes, drunken men carrying a sofa knocked around the insides of my skull, bad memories of fruit flavoured beer I had been plied with haunted my dreams and I was still freaking over the contents of my 2014 horoscope when the curt and coldly professional art-director sent me a mail saying 'Kindly complete this in three days'. Trams! Electric wires! Kolkata! Three Days! If that wasn't bad enough, I swear with my hand on my heart that drawing electric wires across the sky is the most daunting feat I have ever accomplished in my entire career as an illustrator. As any illustrator who has attempted this will know, it is like running full speed across a tightrope with your heart between your teeth. It can make or break all your hard work in creating the illustration. By the time I finished this picture, my hands were shaking with nervousness and my teeth were chattering with excess caffeine...

But it is done! And over with! And published!

Now I need some more morning filter coffee.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Candy Coloured Temple

This jewel, we passed on the way somewhere in search of something to sketch.
Absolutely unforgettable.

Some more photographs of my sketching trip can be seen be here >>

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


In the forest, you may find yourself lost, without companions. You may come to a river which is not on a map. You may lose sight of your quarry, and forget why you are there. You may meet a dwarf , or the living Christ, or an old enemy, one you do not know until you see his face appear between the rustling leaves, and see the glint of his dagger. You may find a woman asleep in a bower of leaves. For a moment before you don't recognize her, you will think she is someone you know.

~ Wolf Hall
Hillary Mantel

The Indian man who planted trees and made his own forest