Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Accidental Drawings

The drawing above, and the inadvertent image created by ink seeping through to the back of the paper.

Bodies in Ink

After seeing how well the participants at the Life Drawing sessions drew the human form, I too decided to make a frantic attempt at improvement. Somewhere I had bookmarked an article with photographs by Elizabeth Heyert where she photographs sleeping figures in the dark and projects them onto ruined walls in an abandoned town in Sicily. While her results are astonishing, I homed in on them as references for my drawings, seduced by the fact that these were everyday bodies in the nude and were therefore interesting to explore with ink.

My drawings at first in pencil were careful, I would fill in the parts of the anatomies that were obliterated by shadow in the reference photographs.  Then when I began filling in washes of ink, the ink would take over  from me leading my drawings into unexpected pathways resulting in surprising abstractions which I could never have envisaged. 

The textures that resulted were startling, the paper would lump up with the dampness and soak underneath creating a speckled surface and then dry out in shades of blue, grey, black and green which shown through the overall monochrome. The bodies became a result of abstract constructions of strokes, patches and bleeds out of which one could discern the human form suspended within a pool of black ink.  

What I liked a lot  was how the ink bled through on the other side of the page creating a shadow image. It was irresistible to take some diluted ink and fill in the hint of form that was created. This seemed to have a beauty of its own.

Some time in August last year, I sat in Brunton Boatyard and sketched the shore opposite. The drawing done in coloured pencils was rather laboured and did not have too much appeal. Now after ink from the adjoining pages seeped through, it lifted the drawing out of the mundane into something much more interesting.

All the drawings here were done in an old Nightingale sketchbook which is about the size of the palm of my hand, but today I grew bolder and decided to tackle one of the more complex images of a couple sleeping, in my large A3 Moleskine. I was surprised at how powerful the results are. 

I am glad to be able to shift to wet media after working with dry for so many decades. These experiments at getting acquainted are fun and remind me of how I enjoyed playing with charcoal years ago.

There are a few more drawings at Hello Every Sunday.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Life Drawing

Thanks to Instagram I got to know of @lifedrawingbangalore which meets every Sunday at Cubbon Park. Unlike the sketch club I used to attend some years ago, these are paid sessions and are therefore much more serious with 3 hours of non-stop intensive drawing of a live model. 

The people who attend are usually professionals from the animation, gaming and illustration industry, already highly skilled at figure drawing and who want to further hone their skills. 

This is great way to start a Sunday morning, it is in a sense a worship in a church. Instead of pillars, walls and arches you have trees and sky,  your interaction with your tools and media become your prayer, the model is the idol or the God, and for me, these sessions of drawing do what a church does not, it elevates my energy.

The model in these photographs is Roy who used to be my personal trainer for a while and gamely decided to pose for us when I told him about these sessions.

I cannot fathom the amount of stamina required to pose consistently for 3 entire hours, first in 1 and 2 minute poses and going on to 15 minute poses with very short breaks in between. Roy being a physical trainer used these poses to test his stamina and incorporate them into his training routine.

I wanted to hang out with men in six packs in my twenties. The powers of the universe have brought them into my energy field some 30 years later, but that is all right.

A visit to Tonique across the street with a friend after, to admire the masterful arrangement and buy some wine, Kaadu Rose in this case and Kahlua.

Some weeks earlier, for the first time ever in my life, I attended a life drawing class. It was wonderful to draw from a live, nude model as opposed to life drawing in art college where the watchman or the sweeper would be made to pose in a dhothi and sit in the same pose for a couple of hours. Here the 6 ft 2 inch tall model who is a professional model and a hypnotherapist to boot, knew not only how to pose but to vary his poses as well. His body language spoke of confidence and there was an aura of calmness about him. The examples below are some of the different styles of the same model done by all the participants. As you can see, all the drawings are very interesting interpretations and all very good.

I once taught drawing at an upmarket art college where an American visiting faculty offered to pose nude for my class of students. The person who ran the college forbade it. We have tried it before, I was told, it does not work. The model, a woman, was asked to wear a bikini. Only my students and I were allowed in the class. Male teachers were barred. When a couple of male lecturers came to do up the space, the tension on their faces was enormous with scowls and set jaws. The model was made to disrobe only after they left. 

In this nude session, the atmosphere was relaxed and fun. Soothing music played in the background. The young professionals who were drawing the model were a very dedicated bunch who drew very well as you can see, a far cry from my days as an art student at the local college where most of the female students in my class would ask the male students to draw for them.

After the session, I asked the model what he thought about when he posed silently for so long. The model Preeth, told me that he was a hypnotherapist so he knew how to train his mind to go blank during these sessions. It was therefore a kind of meditation for him.

Orecchio Acerbo

These are pictures of the cosy setting which constitutes the much respected Italian publisher of children's books called Orecchio Acerbo. My host in Rome and my "ex- close friend" is Author in Residence there; since the publisher is a close friend of his, he spends some months every year living in that building which is how I got to see inside.
You'd think I got to meet the publisher herself too but I was told she "didn't know what to say to me". I was so staggered by the stupidity of the reason, that I didn't pursue it further.

Contrast that with Montreal where my Quebecois  friends would introduce me to their close friends saying, "These are my friends and I hope they will be yours too".
I was once taken to a birthday party in Montreal where the host, a friend of a friend told me in her broken English that she didn't speak English very well, but I was welcome in her home. That was all she might have said to me, but at the party I was never for a moment made to feel alone and that evening will always remain one of my happier memories of Montreal.

When you are a traveller to another country, the kind of memories you take back with you become all important because for the rest of your life they colour your perceptions about the place. A lot of these memories have to do with the kind of people who show you around and how they in turn introduce you to their friends. I am thankful I had my memories of the South of Italy to override the strange coldness of the interactions I experienced in Rome.

In spite of all this, the setting of Orecchio Acerbo is beautiful, therefore it makes its way into my blog. Enjoy the pictures.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Hello Every Sunday

We are still at it.

Uses of a Book

It seems that Is It The Same For You? is being put to good use on Republic Day. Many thanks to Vinitha R. for tagging me with these pictures.
Here is what Vinitha had to say in a comment about the book -
"We keep discussing about how many ways a picture book can be read. This book has so many layers. One reading will ONLY be the reading of the illustration. Because the illustrations (oh the beautiful beautiful, breathtakingly beautiful illustrations) itself bring out so many layers..."

Below, a closeup of the previous picture, where the young girl on the right, wearing a headscarf, looks toward a friend speaking up in the audience. 
She could be the girl in the book.

Is It The Same For You? is available at Seagull Books.

Here is what Vinitha had to say:

The book came in last night. (I'd picked it up from @khalisi_singh and read it at Jodhpur, #Kitaabo while we were waiting to head for the festival). There are books that startle and move you; there are books that make you want to write, there are books where the illustrations and the text are powerfully matched and matchless, there are book that make you think. Is it the Same For You? by Priya Sebastian and Neha Singh is all of this. Beautifully produced by Seagull Books it is something that I've read and re read many times over in less than 24 hours.

Read it first to my 14 year old daughter and 12 year old son. Then read it to around 40 adolescent girls at a public park in Bandra.
Where could the story be set in? The kids figured sugested Kashmir, Delhi and a bunch of other places. What is curfew? They said bandh. So we talked of what curfew could mean.
They connected with the story of a young girl... when we asked how old is the girl in the story they immediately said 13 or 14. When I asked how did they get that... they said "emotional maturity" (... after we re read the story they understood the period stain....) they immediately connected with the page where the mother lays her head on the girls lap... They've had weary parents. We spoke then of how often we do have to parent a parent... They connected with loss and fear ..
We talked of body changes, about times when we've been groped and have had to "let it go". They connected most to mood changes, the laughing, the girl who looked up to the night sky and shared her secrets and how despite squabbling with a sibling how when that sibling is not around they fear and worry.

Print Party

These are some pictures of a very enjoyable Print Party I attended, organized by my friend Joanna. I got to make my first Litho print. More than print making, it was fun to get together with other illustrators and do something given that we are in such an isolating profession. Next time the party will possibly be at my studio :-)

And that's me taking my very first print with Joanna's hands on the ready for assistance on the right.