In the hopes of seeing the greatness of the Great Indian Hornbill, I took to pen and paper to sketch it out. The elusive great bird is a sight I am yet to witness. I have had the pleasure of the company of the duller cousin, Malabar Grey Hornbill. Watching it from close quarters, I dive into the imaginary lands of how the Great Indian Hornbill would be to see with naked eyes.
Also known as “kochilakhai” bird in the eastern state where I come from, it was hunted for its flesh which is said to have medicinal properties. In the northeastern states, it was hunted for its crown until the bird reached near extinction. To think that the GIH might go extinct if the conservation efforts are not seriously enforced, gives me the chill. Hope to see it sometime soon.
Weddings are the most confusing yet overwhelming times in any and every Indian family. And when you are not the bride/groom, the gifting business becomes more of a burden than a pleasure. We have moved away from the traditional gifts of clothes, jewellery and household items but cast away onto an island of uncertainty when it comes to modern day wedding gifts. As individuals, we have grown so apart that except immediate family, one doesn’t know what the bride or the groom would like. So I chose the straight forward approach to this kind of a situation which is ask the recipient. Knowing well that I was in that situation a little over a year ago, and somebody asking you point blank about a wedding gift is not an easy question to answer. To make my cousin’s life easier I gave her multiple choices followed by the question. She picked few and I narrowed down on the most convenient one.
Few months later, at the wedding, I met the groom. I was very proud of my little sister for being so right about the choice of gift. The groom seemed to be swooning over macaws more than his bride. Two days after the wedding, he was busy exhibiting his love for the colourful birds of the South American rainforests than his bird. So I thought if I gave a sketch of a macaw to them, may be he will continue his head-over-heels business with both the colourful birds.
The Macaw took 40 hours to come alive at 12 X 16 (inches). Rotring pens are not always the easiest or the kindest tools to handle but they have stood by me all along. The results have mostly been better than what I expected. I hope the macaw brightens up the newly wedded couple’s home 🙂
Accessories that my father gifted when I was 7 years old and ever since I haven’t been able to thank him enough. For a few years, it was entering the ring with him right behind encouraging me. My adulthood saw us far apart from each other. I didn’t understand the real reason of the gloves until much later. It was always him telling me that life will punch you down millions of times, find a way to get up and punch back.
“We have to get the wedding card done. We liked what you did for the logo of the company. So we would want you to do the wedding card.” Aunty said it all in a single breath. I had no idea whether to say yes or no. With a huge project and tight deadline, I wasn’t sure if I could start another one and finish it in a short period. And one couldn’t work on a wedding card without knowing the story behind the bride and groom getting hitched. So I started pushing aunty to spill some of her ideas. With subsequent iterations over a period of few weeks, this is what I ended up making.
Few months ago, I was on a full fledged drive to work on improving my colour senses. What better subjects to choose than birds. A friend had come back from Costa Rica and I jumped at the chance of drawing a Toucan from his pile of photographs. Bright colours and the unusual beaks make them unique. With limited colour inks available, I got on with it. There are places where colours didn’t come out as expected but I was still close to it.
Needless to say, my favourite medium has been pen and ink. Almost five years ago, that whimsical morning led to a handmade paper and a fountain pen. And I have been trying to experiment with various styles- few successfully and others not. One of the first was this hatching and cross hatching rendered still life study. I didn’t do it from real life but from a photo reference in a book that I was referring at that point to learn the basics of drawing. Clearly, I have a long way to go.
A couple of years gone by and I started attending an illustration course during which I again gravitated towards pen and ink. I started looking up reference images and came across an artist’s work that I thought I could copy and learn the basics from. And I did learn a lot about finer detailing by copying her style and her work.
This drawing of a boat was done on one of the days when I was over stressed with work and an upcoming conference and pretty much sleep deprived. I woke up few hours earlier than my usual time and ended up drawing this. Lines, hatching, crosshatching and scribbles…. I experimented pretty much everything in this piece.
After lines and scribbles, the obvious one to try was dots and that led to stippling. I started the weaver bird with lines and finished it with dots. Weaver bird because they take me back to my childhood. At my grandparents’ house, there were enough of them building nests and breeding in the garden. Surprisingly I never thought of drawing anything then despite the variety of birds visiting the house but now – 20 years later I want to ink all of them.
Hoping to go back to pen and ink for more and more drawings and exploring more styles than just stippling.
Elephants are known for their intelligence, their comfortable gait and their lovely tusks. There is one unusual elephant image that caught my eye. One with the tusks so long and curved that it crossed in front. And that made for a very good reference image for a 13+ hours stippling work.
Done on A4 size bristol 180gsm sheet with rotring 0.1mm isograph and 0.03mm copic multiliner pen.
The link between mammals and birds are the only flying mammals, Bats. Not the usual choice for a subject to sketch but the combination of the black sketchbook and a crazy friend doing PhD on bat evolution helped in choosing this subject.
I realised there is no dearth of things to draw or write about. It’s the motivation that fails us at keeping up with the new year resolutions until they become habits. I have finished more pieces in the last four months than I have done in the last two years dominated by work and travel. One of the travel destinations was Rajasthan and my first stop was Ranthambore national park. Known for its tigers, we witnessed one lying on the tracks, lazing on a warm October morning. This adorable image of an otherwise ferocious predator stuck to my mind.
I started working on it early in the evening while the sun was still around. As it got darker, the distant rumbling skies threatened to rain. The unpredictable summer evening showers always lead to power issues in the jungle. The pitter patter on the roof eventually started and I prayed desperately to any and every electricity god not to throw us into darkness now. As the hours passed by, my sleepy state crawled into my consciousness nudging it to call it a day and I kept delaying it. I was almost done with this piece and finishing touches were due. As I wrapped up this sketch, I could hear the tiger roar in the distance in the dead of the night.