Sunday, January 24, 2016

An Exercise in Curiosity

 There is a lot of difference while working on large sheets of paper with charcoal and when working on smaller squares of paper and graphite. While working with charcoal, I am standing at my desk, exerting pressure and practically hurling my entire body onto the paper, cutting, tearing, blending, coaxing...The complete opposite seems to be the state that I am in while completing these 13 illustrations for a story about barbaric Witch Hunts in India.I have posted two other illustrations for these in the previous post as well. 
While drawing these I have been seated at all times during the last two weeks in the same position and the only movement has been my wrist as it builds up layer upon layer of graphite on textured paper (Cretacolor 6B graphite on 180gsm precut Canson). The only sound is the kich kich kich kich as the lead moves while shading yet another area.

I took on this graphic novel kind of short story for The Big Picture in Mint, out of curiosity, to see whether I could do this, if I liked doing it and if I had the patience. This platform is a great one for amateur illustrators and writers and I only wish I had had something like this to work on in my early years as an illustrator. However for professional illustrators this is a wonderful way to try out and experiment with what they have never tried before as I am doing now. I directly began the fair work without rough sketches or planning because you are compelled to work at a fast pace. In this case unlike the highly professional editorial illustrations that I do which involves so much thought, planning and conceptualizing, a completely different mindset is required. It seems that here the illustrator is a tool rather than a voice.

Will I attempt this again? I am not sure. I find sitting chained to my desk for lengthy amounts of time exhausting and frustrating. Also, there is not much if any thinking at all for the illustrator because you are told what to draw. I found the trite visual interpretations given to me tiresome and while I did what was wanted of me for some of them, I also did what I wanted for others. If I do attempt something like this once more, the story will have to be a very good one. However I must say this, doing this has left me with nothing but admiration for illustrators of graphic novels, their patience and tenacity is to be lauded.

Outside, the Bangalore winter results in cloudy weather and beautiful diffused sunlight in which I took the first three pictures at my desk. Naturally my thoughts go back to last year especially when I see blog posts of friends in the midst of winter. Some of the pictures are beautiful, like this post from The Cassandra Pages and these haunting and moody pictures from the same blog.  Winter can be beautiful when you are looking at it in photographs.
But when I look at my own pictures like the one above (this is a color picture btw), I am reminded of how I removed my gloves, quickly took a picture and quickly, quickly put the glove back on again over my freezing hand at -20 degrees in Montreal last year beside the St. Lawrence river. Immigrating to Montreal too was an exercise I took (a mega exercise perhaps) to satiate my curiosity and yet again, I wonder how I ever did it all.


Gwen Buchanan said...

Priya, you are a born explorer. Luckily we are not having a winter like last year. that was Unbelievable.... never seen anything like it... no one did. Hope it was once in a lifetime.

Wonderful drawings!!

Beth said...

I love these new drawings, Priya, whether or not you're enjoying the process! But the best part is knowing you're working and being an active artist again instead of suffering through a Montreal winter, though as Gwen says, this is nothing like last year. Even so, I'm looking forward to our annual escape to Mexico City and sunshine and COLOR!

Nancy // and while we are here said...

I really admire these drawings. They are so full of atmosphere, they are dark and haunting - the way you drew them, this soft, almost faded texture (I hope I describe it right) makes them look like memories or glimpses. They are fantastic. You are such a talent, Priya!