Thursday, 30 May 2013

Chennai Weekend Clickers

 The Chennai Weekend Clickers (CWC) is a group of photo enthusiasts who meet and go on photo shoots together every Sunday in and around Chennai. I am not sure when this group was formed but for the last three years they have held exhibitions of their members' best photographs of the year. For the year 2013 their exhibition was held at the Lalit Kala Akademi, Chennai early in Dec. It was a very popular exhibition and very well attended.


Muralidharan Alagar, from my sketching group at PencilJammers, is also an avid photographer and a member of CWC. He was therefore able to get us permission to do some spot sketching of photographs that caught our fancy and also permission to post our sketches online on the understanding that we would do only quick sketches and not very detailed ones.

There were around 200 photographs on exhibit by about 40 photographers and we had a wonderful time, first viewing and admiring the work on display and then picking the ones to sketch. We PencilJammers also spent some time chatting, comparing notes with one another and interacting with a number of visitors who found our sketching interesting and wanted to chat us up.
We spent around three hours at the exhibition,but probably only a couple of hours actually sketching. During this time I managed to do nine sketches, directly in ink, and then added some charcoal shading later at home.
Until a couple of months earlier I had done very little sketching in public and on location. I used to sketch at home, mainly using reference photographs, and liked to take my time doing it. But since joining PenciJammers in late-September 2013 I had begun to like sketching in public, on location, and also directly in ink. I had also been attempting, during this time, to sketch quickly and in a somewhat loose style. As a result, I particularly enjoyed this sketching experience immensely.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Semmozhi Poonga

While Bengaluru (Bangalore) has the reputation of being a garden city and is known for its beautiful gardens and trees Chennai, though not known for its tree cover, is also surprisingly green. Many of its roads and streets are lined with trees offering a lot of shade. But unfortunately these trees are not well kept. Chennai is also an extremely pedestrian-unfriendly city and therefore although the streets are shaded, the people out on the streets cannot enjoy a leisurely walk at any time of the day.

Chennai also has between 250 and 350 parks which are supposed to be maintained by Chennai Corporation. In fact many of them are not at all maintained, but this is something that is improving of late. The three largest parks in the city are the Guindy National Park, Semmozhi Poonga, and Tholkappia Poonga. The last two are recent additions to Chennai's park-list although both were already large open lung spaces of the city.

My sketching group from PencilJammers visited Semmozhi Poonga several times in the space of a few months. I was with them on only one of these visits and I found it to be a very pleasant place to visit. But my wife who had been there about a year earlier was very critical of the poor upkeep and felt that the place was being allowed to go to seed. Hopefully the people in charge will realise that they owe it to the public to preserve such spaces in pristine condition.

At Semmozhi Poonga I started my first sketch sitting at a shady spot, but unfortunately I had not taken the sun path into consideration. I soon found myself out of the shade and sitting directly under the hot sun. Fortunately I had already completed the skeleton of the sketch. I therefore packed up and completed that sketch at home. 

Meanwhile the others in my sketching group had selected a spot in the park that offered multiple sketching options and were engaged in a discussion on different approaches to sketching. I joined them and decided to experiment with a loose and quick gestural sketch based on suggestions from my friend Ganapathy Subramaniam (GS). Though new to this way of approaching a sketch I was quite pleased with result.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Figure And Portrait Sketching At Cholamandal Artists Village

Cholamandal Artists Village has become the fall-back venue for our sketching group. Apart from each of us choosing subjects of our choice, which we do on some occasions, the resident (professional) artists at Cholamandal arrange one or more still life compositions for us on each of our visits. They also sketch along with us to demonstrate the many ways in which we could explore each subject.

On a couple of occasions we also had people sitting for us. The first time this happened the model was a friend of one of our group of sketchers. We were told that he would be coming in a little later and therefore I warmed up by sketching the drapery that had been arranged as the backdrop for a still life composition.

Once Sumit (our model) arrived, while most of my friends attempted portrait studies I decided to sketch a full figure. I had sketched people from life only on a couple of occasions before this and was therefore quite pleased with the result. I took this photograph of Sumit after I had finished my sketch.


Some weeks later we had an old man sit for us. This time I tried to draw only his face and I think I did a fair job of it since the old man was very happy with it. That day a reporter from a daily newspaper had come to interview the resident artists at Cholamandal about the Sunday morning sketching sessions that they had been running for a long time and since we PencilJammers happened to be there that day, some of us were also interviewed. I was not interviewed but when the article appeared in the newspaper I was very surprised to find that my sketch had been included in the news report.