Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Superb Ending

I have just received the latest copy of the beautiful and very readable The Indian Quarterly magazine with my illustration in it for the story Mountain Disease, my first assignment since returning home. The story extract was a very challenging one because it consisted of a lot of conversation taking place in a school. There was no strong visual description within the story that I could use to capture the essence of it. However while re-reading the conversations within the extract, I found that it dealt with prejudice - about appearances, colour, places, intelligence, looks, wealth, gender... it was all there. I chose to depict it by drawing two symbolically different faces (by varying the eyes and the colour) and depicting the unpleasantness of racism in the conversation through snakes coming out the mouths of the faces .The colours are muted and cold. The atmosphere created in this image echoes the mood of the story.

I don’t use software while creating my images and I do everything using my hands, pastel, paper and a pair of scissors. Someone whose opinions I value a great deal pointed out that in a world of buffed and polished, perfectly finished images, this business of working directly with my hands makes my visuals unpredictable, spontaneous and very distinctive - qualities which give my images depth. I am glad to hear that. Probably because of these results, the kind of illustration work that I have been invited to do in these last few months has been very interesting to say the least.

2015 has been a year of hair-raising adventures, mind-boggling challenges and fantastic experiences across continents. It is a year that I will never forget especially if I consider my mindset during the start of the year and how I feel now. A friend in Montreal once assured me that everything would turn out all right. I didn't believe her then but I thank her for that reassurance now. This year has ended in the best way possible. Apart from the warm and supportive friendships that have been constant throughout this year, I can consider getting a copy of this particular magazine with my illustration in it as a sign of a very good ending to 2015.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Making Lace

I had gone to get my large illustrations laser scanned when I stumbled into a small stationery store where I saw these white Signo pens. The white ink flowed smoothly and it was thick and creamy. Only another illustrator will understand the excitement and importance of a find like this. Smooth flowing white pens are a rarity and when you find them they are useful for lots of things while illustrating.

The last few weeks have been spent hurtling through two very tight and challenging deadlines. At the end of it all I was so overwrought and exhausted that I found it impossible to unwind and relax again. Last night I sat on my bed and drew intricate patterns with this pen. It seems to be a good thing to do because at the end of it all I felt relaxed once more and was able to sleep. I wasn’t sure what to do with the lace I made so I cut around it and stuck it inside my new sketchbook. That’s a start to overcome the fear of blank pages!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Island of my Dreams

Foreign lands never yield their secrets to a traveler. The best they offer are tantalizing snippets, just enough to inflame the imagination. The secrets they do reveal are your own - the ones you have kept from yourself. And this is reason enough to travel, to leave home.
~ G. Sparkes

One day I will improve my photography skills and figure out how to take clearer pictures as well as remove the distortion. This picture above does not show the beautiful pale yellow colour and lovely texture of the background paper which is Canson Mi-tientes Lichen. Both the picture of the water and the island were done on Hoesch Watt paper and affixed on to the background. This picture is 25.5 x 21.5 inches in size.

Also, thanks to my blog, it is very nice to be reminded how sketches I made from visits to places a couple of years ago manifest themselves in an illustration in a different context. The picture of the island is very reminiscent of the first picture in this post of a boulder at Hampi.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A Sunday Expedition

During the beginning of this year I plodded through the snow in a forest in Quebec, now somewhere at the end of the same year I plodded through a tropical jungle. Last year I helped hunt mushrooms on the ground, this year I focused a pair of binoculars towards birds up on the trees. All these adventures are due to the many strange, unusual and interesting people who come my way. The latest adventure is thanks to my new neighbours who are not just bird watchers but avid sketchers as well.What's more, they are coffee drinkers too. One of them is an illustrator and the other is an animator. 
 We went over to Banerghatta National Park on Sunday, very early in the morning, to do some bird watching. Since it was so early in the day, the many names of the birds did not register in my head but from what I remember in the jumble, it went something like bee eater, flycatcher,drongo, paradise bird, red bulbul, bee catcher, honey sucker... But some of the birds I saw were supposed to be rare and all of them were very colourful and pretty.We heard lions roaring in the distance, then a park keeper came and shooed us away because there were wild elephants roaming freely somewhere there. We saw elephant dung on the way back.

I am a ground watcher, at least that is what I can photograph

Then the inevitable Chai break since Chai is better than Coffee in these small stalls that serve them. I did not try the cake.

Then we went to the zoo which was rather sad. The animals and birds were moth eaten and forlorn but we sketched them anyway and much to my relief I found out that I could still sketch even though I have not being doing it as regularly. The bright and clashing colours of clothes that people wore contrasted greatly against the captive animals and made me want to photograph them up close, but I settled for distance.

 A signboard asking you to keep your distance lest the caged, chained, listless, colourless animals viciously attack you.

The sketches
These are the animator's sketches - 

 These are the illustrator's sketches

And these are some of my sketches below which are done with a water soluble graphite pencil  -

I have to add here, a picture of my foldable, made in China sketching stool -

We finished the morning with a fabulous feast at the Bengali Bhojohri Manna.You have to pause a good day with filter coffee so we did. There were other adventures too, but I will stop talking about them here.

And add just one more picture of a lovely gift I received here

Monday, November 30, 2015

A Fine Exhibition of Sculptures

About a week ago one of the first readers of my blog who is both a mathematician and photographer, visited me here in Bangalore. Conversation was very interesting and varied (mathematics isn't about adding and subtracting, it is about patterns!),there was a wonderful exchange of opinions and a very thoughtful gift of a beautiful seedpod.My visitor was a Mumbikar and I was pleased when he specifically requested Filter Coffee since he had seen it featured on my blog. The kind of filter coffee you get at a South Indian home will never be found elsewhere!
      by Sagar Kolte
I took my visitor to the beautiful National Gallery of Modern Art. The picture of the tree above is taken by him. At the National Gallery there was a wonderful exhibition of sculptures by a South Indian Sculptor KS Radhakrishnan. The show is titled Mapping with Figures and is on till the 27th of December. Unlike most of the dreary work I’ve seen by popular fine artists from this corner of the world, the work of KS Radhakrishnan was vibrant and invigorating to look at. I liked the work so much that I made time to go there yet again and sketch the sculptures. While I wanted to come home and improve on the drawings further, it will be a while before I do so. Until then, here are some of the pictures from the show. Far better pictures of the works can be seen on the website of this artist over here >>

The shadows created by these sculptures are as beautiful as the works themselves. They form a part of the artwork by lending their beauty to it.


One more beautiful work

A couple of my quick sketches of these works done at the exhibition -

I am glad that NGMA brings us massive well curated shows by these wonderful artists which we in the South would not have gotten to see otherwise. Their efforts are indeed commendable. So far I've seen exhibitions by Ram Kinker Baij, KK HebbarAmrita Sher Gill and now KS Radhakrishnan. Good art leaves you with a sense of fulfillment. I only wish the quirky little circus side shows in the name of fine art that keep popping up and bursting like soap bubbles within this city had more integrity and substance. It is always sincerity rather than showmanship that endures.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

From the Bits and Pieces Box

Waste bits and pieces collected and juxtaposed in pages of my sketchbooks create the most interesting and unusual compositions. Looking at these pictures makes me feel I am turning the pages of a very strange picture book where I never know what the next page will bring. Just like real life.