Friday, October 28, 2016

A Day of Drawing

One of those ENTIRE DAY OF DRAWING days. This time a second visit to see A.Ramachandran's exhibition. 10 am sharp in the morning until 5pm. Sketchbook and foldable sketching stool. Fortified with ammunition: None of that sugar water NGMA canteen tea. I brought my own masala chai in a flask. See the reflection of the beautiful trees from the campus inside my cup. At the end of it all I feel a rejuvenating kind of tiredness which is such a wonderful feeling to have.

The friendly security is just so damn bloody strict when it comes to taking photographs. They keep an eye on you all the blessed time so I managed to sneak this one above as a reflection through the window. 
I risked it all with this photograph below during that one brief second when security wasn't looking. As long as there is no flash, it is all right in the best of museums. Will I be hauled up and reprimanded severely? Will I be banned from future exhibitions? It remains to be seen.But I am doing this for the love of art and as a service to society (hand on my heart when I say this). And what is an artist anyway if she doesn't break a few rules?

This is my absolute favourite painting - A village wedding under a Gulmohar tree.The folds of the pink cloth travel from the groom towards the bride in the center and the lines flow upward into the flowering tree.

In the foreground you can see my kutti Made in China foldable stool on which I sit on to sketch. It created a biiiig sensation at the gallery. One by one the security guards silently came over to stare at it intently. Then one of them called a director type of person."We must have seating here sir" he implored, "See, people are actually resorting to bringing their own seating!" The director said, "Haan, haan" and went away.

When you walk up the ramp to the first floor, you are met with the large beautiful Selfie Mirror. It is a ritual for all women to stand in front of it,adjust their hair, take a selfie and then go inside the gallery. Of course the men do it too, but they do so quickly and surreptitiously so that they won't be jeered at.
So this is me, older, wiser and wearing my favourite faded cotton t-shirt and intense Getting the Selfie Right expression. Had I worn a faded Khadi kurta instead, I would have definitely fit into the Kannada artist look which I've managed to steer clear off till now. But one acquires the look with time. First grey hair, next the crushed clothes, then big paunch and finally the khadi. By the next visit I should get the last two right. I might even end up making strange work like the rest of them.

Do take a look at this early post:

Saturday, October 22, 2016


Maybe the journey isn't about becoming anything. Maybe it is about unbecoming everything that isn't really you so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.
                                    ~ S.S.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Mountains and Valleys

At some point, we are all headed home. 
At some point, all of this, 
everything and everyone 
became memory.
                    ~ JW

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


There are two memorable and distinctly different exhibitions on at NGMA for a short while.
The first exhibition is a sensitive glimpse into the life of Mahatma Gandhi through the lens of  Kanu Gandhi; sepia studies in spirituality and haunting simplicity. One looks at these images with reverence not just because of the subject but the way the pictures were taken. Kanu Gandhi might have used a very basic camera, but he seems to have had an almost intuitive understanding of composition. The drama that is captured is subtle and sophisticated - a thin almost imperceptible curve of light highlights the rim of the Mahatma's glasses in a composition of muted shapes - circle of head against white of shawl; a soft line of light lights up Gandhi's outstretched arm reaching out to receive a donation from the window of a train; the chiaroscuro of Mahatma Gandhi reading in the light of a lamp at 4am is worthy of an etching by Rembrandt. Through these pictures one is astounded at the utter simplicity of Mahatma Gandhi's life. The gravity of what the man achieved in such an unassuming manner is evoked powerfully and with dignity in these beautiful photographs taken by his grandnephew.

 The next exhibition could not be more different than the previous one. While one stood before Kanu Gandhi's pictures as one does in a church, Ramachandran's paintings blow the mind with their joy, exuberance, color and celebration right from canvas one.Till now I had admired the artist's line work and compositions through small images in books and even smaller images on the net but nothing prepared me for what I saw in real before me.You want to dive into these spectacular pictures and be a part of the life there. That is how beautiful they are. There is no abstraction to decipher, no angst that pervades contemporary art, no deep messages to mull over, instead there is just good, wholesome,luscious drawing. And color. The kind of color one experiences in warm, diffused winter sunlight in Bangalore which turns everything golden and mellow. Then you leave the show feeling that life is good and beautiful and all is still right with the world.


A lovely rain fell in Bogota
In its drops were lumps of sugar;
But only lovers kissing in the rain
Were aware of this.
                  ~ Juan Diego Passa

Oh the relief and sheer joy of being able to hurl myself into my sketchbook once more and muck around within its pages. Here I tried to make the text a part of the illustration and after a few accidents which I managed to turn into happy accidents, I got what I wanted: an emotion I wanted to evoke. In addition there were nice surprises which I didn’t expect – the lettering fell into place perfectly with a slight upward slant and what is not apparent in these photographs, the textures and nuances of pastel which always delight me when they emerge on paper and which give the illustration its atmosphere and integrity.

I’ve used my White Signo pen here for the raindrops and lettering. The rest is of course done with various shades of pink pastel in my lovely Canson Sketchbook which has the best paper ever.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Invisible People

This is my cover illustration for Harsh Mander's book of stories Invisible People. Stories of Courage and Hope. 
When I was reading through the manuscript, I could not help commenting to the publisher Anushka Ravishankar, how good the stories were and how absorbing to read. I also couldn't help remarking on the quality of the writing, it was excellent. The real-life heroes who make up these stories are truly people who have made their way out of the depths of despair and darkness and walked towards the light.
Do read what the author has to say at Duckbill's blog over here >