Monday, 20 February 2012

From Graphite & Charcoal to Pen & Ink

I enjoy drawing and painting.

No, I think I should modify and also explain that statement. I draw quite often, though not as often or as much as I would really like to. And, I enjoy drawing. I usually sit down to it after dinner. There have been many occasions when I have been totally bushed at the time of starting. But once I start drawing  I lose all track of time and sometimes find that I have been at it much longer than I planned to. Invariably I feel very refreshed after such a session.

On the other hand, I would very much like to paint, but I paint infrequently. This is partly because I am still very much a beginner at it. Of course, I realise that I will always stay a beginner unless I paint. But the problem is that painting requires more of a setting up than drawing does. If it is watercolour, one needs paints, brushes, a palette or plate or dishes, a water container and so on. And at the end of the day's painting session these have to be cleaned and put away.

As a result, at least so far, whenever I have mentally tossed a coin to decide whether to paint or draw, the coin has invariably landed in favour of drawing.

When I took up drawing as a serious hobby about ten years ago I started with graphite and charcoal. My wife Nithi enrolled me in a two week portrait drawing course as a gift. The medium was charcoal & graphite. I attended the classes every evening after work, and stayed up late into the night to complete the assigments. At the end of the two weeks I was hooked and I have stayed hooked.
At the portrait drawing course - 1
At the portrait drawing course - 2

Three Pears - vine charcoal

But as I started drawing regularly I found even the degree of setting up that a graphite or charcoal drawing requires to be an inhibiting factor for me. I struggled to get the darks that I wanted with graphite. And, protecting the paper and the finished drawing were also issues. As a result I have switched to pen and ink.

These are a few of my early pen & ink drawings from around 2003 to 2007. They were mainly quick sketches using just one or two pens. During this period graphite was still my main medium, followed by charcoal. I think that it was around 2007 or 2008 that I decided to make pen & ink my main medium.

The sketch that you see of Mont St. Michael is a study copy of a drawing by Peter Caldwell. I found his book on pen & ink drawing very inspiring.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Mysore, A City Of Tree Lovers

Living conditions have deteriorated badly in most cities in India. Air and noise pollution levels have risen tremendously, as has the volume of traffic. Simultaneously these cities have also become extremely pedestrian unfriendly. In this respect some of the cities that come to mind are Chennai, where I live, and Bangalore, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Coimbatore, and Hyderabad, all cities that I am very familiar with. And, I understand from my friends who are as familiar with other cities in India as I am with these, that it is the same sad story with most cities in India.

Mysore is however one city that seems to have retained its charm. I have been visiting it, though not frequently, over the last fifty plus years. Of course it too has grown and changed during this time, but unlike other cities it has not yet become an unbearably noisy and  crowded concrete jungle. Though traffic has increased, many parts of the city are still very walkable, and the pollution level is definitely very much lower than that of other cities. And, although many old buildings have been replaced by bland new ones, this city still retains many fine old garden houses that give Mysore its special character. My wife Nithi and I therefore were very happy  to spend a lot of time wandering around on foot. 
The people of Mysore seem to hold parks and plant life in special regard. There were several parks close to the hotel where we were staying. One of these parks had a very interesting gateway. On the last day of our stay I decided to go and photograph it so that I could sketch it later. I then noticed several groups of people gathered together within the park, performing rituals near various plants and trees. I continued walking past this particular park and everywhere that I went, in all the parks in  that area, there were people of all ages coming in to pay their respects to the trees and plants. I had not seen this happen before in any of the other cities. Maybe this is something unique to the people of Mysore and that perhaps explains why Mysore alone, among all Indian cities, is bucking the trend and preserving some of its charm.