A lot of people (family and friends) that have had their birthdays during these lockdown months have wished this year away. But the husband is one of the rare individuals who has found his love for nature once again, in different aspects of nature, apart from wildlife during this period of isolation – the skies – clouds, stars, moon, storms are a few of them. In between the sunrises and sunsets before the stars shine brighter in the sky, the animal diversity gets some attention. I attempted a timeline of his day, during the lockdown era, as a birthday card for him.
The Mexicans celebrate Dia de Muertos sometime in November to remember their dead. Loved ones lost. A few years ago, the movie Coco, was based on this Day of remembrance. In our traditions, I am not aware of any such specific day assigned to remember the lost family members but we definitely delve into our memories deeper on the day we lost them, year after year.
It is understandable when you have lost somebody and you miss them. But I hadn’t ever heard wishing the presence of someone who they have never met. I somehow, fall into that category. After I had completed my earthly presence for three decades, I married into this family. Father-in-law was long gone. Almost a decade by then. Any and every member of the extended family and friends, that I was introduced to, told me the same thing – ‘that man would have pampered you to bits’, ‘The daughter he never had’, ‘you missed meeting a good man’ and many more that I chose to ignore beyond a point. Because each time I heard something on those lines, there was a sense of deep regret, as if I should have met this man way before he was gone. As if I delayed in getting here. Survived by his wife and sons, and millions of friends, there wasn’t a person who spoke any other way but fondly of him. Evenings were full of his stories and how he added life to the room full of people. Everybody’s eyes lit up when he was mentioned and there were always more stories to be shared.
As months passed by, I started seeing the void that his absence had left in the family. I wished more and more that I had gotten a chance to meet him. As I went through the old family pictures, I started forming an image of the kind of person he might have been. With all the stories that I have heard about him from specific corners of the house- what his favorite spot was in the living room, how he loved spending the evening in the bar, his early morning cooking endeavors, his routine through the day- for a long time those particular parts of the house made his holographic self show up to me. It was haunting but in a good way. As if he would start a conversation with me right away. And I would lament away the evening in more regret of not knowing my Father-in-law. I miss never having met him.
If his holographic image in my head had suddenly communicated with me, I am not sure how I would have reacted. If I should introduce myself or does he know that I exist in the family already. I don’t know and I will never know.
A fine gentleman I indeed, missed, meeting!! So I did what I do best. A sketch of him shall do unless I am allowed to be ferried to the Land of the Dead for a day. Until then, may he live long in the hearts and memories of his near and dear ones.
As eye catching these male antelopes are, they can be difficult to put down in dots. I loved the final effect of the dotwork for this antelope despite my reservations against handling such a beautiful subject in stippling.
Here comes the last lot of drawing from this year’s Inktober series.
Prompts – Ride, Injured, Ripe, Catch
I am amazed at myself on completing this series or any challenge, for that matter. I venture into a lot of projects and challenges, only to walk away from them after a while. Reaching the end is always the toughest part. And here I am, successfully wrapped up 31 days of Inktober following the official prompts.
I will not lie about strong thoughts of quitting in between or just letting it be. Nobody cares whether I skipped one day or didn’t do any after a week or ten days of the month. I am not answerable to anyone for the supposed commitment I thought I made to Inktober. And that if I have so much difficulty in sticking to 30days of daily drawings, why do I think I can ever take up art as a profession. Of course, the stupidest reason being, it’s my birthday month. I can skip few days because I don’t want to bother myself with drawing for an hour.
All those days the demons of every human mind hovered in the forefront until I coaxed and cajoled myself to go back to the day’s prompt and deal with it. More than 25% of the drawing were complete failures in conveying the message and I hated them yet for the sake of a habit building process, I ended up posting everyone of them on Instagram. By the time, I reached the 20th day, I was comfortable with the idea of sharing yet the guilt that the piece is not good enough bothered me. Here I am. All 31 days of Inktober done. Not proud of all the sketches yet proud of having met the daily drawing habit and the commitment to Inktober.
With every sketch I finish for Inktober, it surprises me to look back and see how far I have managed to come. Showing up daily for something consistently for a whole month is an intimidating thought and I have made it two thirds of the way.
Prompts for this week- Legend, Wild, Ornament, Misfit, Sling, Tread, Treasure
For some reason, self preservation becomes my first response to any kind of uncomfortable situation. Life in the city after a full year in the Jungle became too difficult to handle. Unaware of how deep I had sunk in, one fine day I reached close to the breaking point. It seemed easier to banish every societal facade and take time off to recover from the emotional damage I had done to myself unknowingly. A week far away from the chaos of the city within the shell of my hermitage, I had recovered the energy and the zeal to go back and face everything that I ran away from. That’s when I thought of the hermit crab, a member of the living world who looks for a shell appropriate for its size and need to protect itself and go on living.
The toughest subjects for me have been human faces. After so many animals and birds in stippling, I have developed a comfort level with wildlife portraits but human portraits intimidate me to an extent that my hands freeze before moving onto the next line. There are certain images though that I find compelling enough to pick up the pencil/pen and draw. The following is one of them which I bumped into while scrolling down my Facebook wall one of the days. A friend of mine had put up this pic from his trip to Manali and that loving look on the face just made me pick up the pencil to draw the face. The series of rings in her ear and the gentle smile with the wrinkles of experience was irresistible.
There are many such reference portrait photos that I have collected over the last decade that I would like to draw but haven’t yet gotten to it. Sometime I will get over the fear of human faces and get to it.
Couple of years ago, a friend suggested I take up the Inktober challenge. I had no idea what that was and I went looking for anything that had a #inktober on Instagram. That looked like a super cool challenge and I decided to take it up. But three days into the month, I ran out of steam because I had no idea what I could do with those prompts and if I want to go by my own prompts, I should have planned it well. Bottom line – I didn’t think I had the creativity nor the motivation to take up such a commitment.
Inktober is about 50 days away. Irrespective of what the prompt list looks like, I want to complete the challenge this year. So as a practice I started making ink sketches of scenes all around me or some from memories.
These scenes somehow get etched in mind the moment one decides to sketch them but doing them all on a black and white and shaded style gives you a different feel.
All this while, I have used marker pens with consistent flow of ink. And my dip pen with all the different nibs sat in the drawer all these years patiently waiting for me to pick it up and admire the value of it. So here it is. The rediscovery of the dip pen.
The uneven lines, the inconsistent flow of the ink and the imperfections of inking a memory or a view on paper is exciting at a different level. I hope the dip pen doesn’t have to go back to its box for another couple of years without being used.
More to come later…
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.