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.
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.
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.
I haven’t seen very many owls considering they dwell in the dark. In the last two years, I have probably seen them a total of four times. The love of birds also extends to these night dwellers and seeing them is a rarity. This happens to be a juvenile Spot-bellied Eagle Owl (Forest Eagle Owl) sitting in a heavily shaded tree in the late afternoon waiting for the sun to set before it starts taking plunges into the dark.
Anybody who has ever had to stare at a blank sketchbook wondering how and what to start it with, knows what I am talking about. I was visiting a friend in another city and we decided to go to the art store. Needless to stay, I was broke by the time I left the store.
The recently acquired sketchbook was left untouched as I sat for months dissatisfied with all the proposed beginnings. And one fine day, a picture of this gentle giant heading straight on, gave me the push I needed. Though I messed up this piece using a combination of different nibs with varying thickness, I reached this satisfactory result.
Ten days ago, the world was informed of the sad loss of Sudan, the last male northern white rhino in the wild. The lure of the horn to the poachers has wiped out this species from the wild. The story isn’t very different for the rhinocerous species living in Asia. The greater Indian rhino once spread across the northern half of the Indian subcontinent is now restricted only to the northeastern parts. A trip to the Kaziranga national park in Assam got me up close to these giant herbivores. Thanks to sport hunting, this species was near extinction. The population bounced back eventually, until poachers came into the picture and the numbers dwindled again.
The one horned rhinos are still vulnerable but hopefully they wouldn’t face the same fate as their distant relatives in the African continent.
A friend who got back from her three months long work on turtles in the beaches of Costa Rica, couldn’t stop raving about the beautiful sunrises and sunsets and the colourful wildlife there. Among them were hummingbirds. These tiny birds travel far off in their lifetime and are known to have the fastest metabolism in the animal kingdom. My introduction to Hummingbirds was through an article I read three years ago. It sounded like a species from another world.
The fact that somebody I know has traveled to that part of the world and seen this species, only makes me want to go and see it myself. But for the time being, a sketch of the bird has to satisfy the urge.