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.
On a bright sunny day, few hours later, we walked out grim. The silence was heavy. Neither of us had a clue about how to start a conversation. We were brimming with shame, empathy, compassion…. No words were going to suffice for what we felt. We covered the 45 mins drive back to the hotel without uttering a word. Thankfully the uber driver had the radio on in the background. I wondered later if the cab drivers are used to the sombre state of passengers boarding after a trip to the Apartheid museum.
After millions of safety warnings from anybody and everybody who has ever heard of Johannesburg, we decided to cut our time there to a single day. That was to be our last day in South Africa. The people, the places, the wildlife, the lifestyle.. name any aspect of the country and we would say we had fallen in love with it. Now what is it that remained to pick on from this country – its history. Hence the place to go was the Apartheid museum at Johannesburg to mark the concluding day of our time in SA.
It all began with the Gold rush. People of all races from all corners of the world landed at SA to make their fortunes. The natives struggled through all of this being displaced by fortune seekers. Before they knew, the social hierarchy had been created based on the colour of the skin. Fairest being at the top and darkest at the bottom which constituted most natives. Many people rose up to the struggle and perished.
A century ago, was born Rohlihlahla Mandela who would eventually lead the country in its final battle against apartheid. Years of perseverance and suffering couldn’t break the man’s will but strengthened it manifold only to realize his dream of earning the dignity and right to a decent life for his countrymen. Almost a century of fighting for a country sans racism, they succeeded in abolishing apartheid, a mere 25 years ago. It isn’t easy for the oppressed sections of the society to wake up one fine day to the abolition of apartheid and forget the sufferings, but the attempts to move on are evident. To bring back the confidence of the people who were badgered for a century, might take more than a lifetime to mend. But the hope and the optimism makes up for the starting point.
A fairly young country, South Africa, is still trying to live in harmony with all races as part of their social structure. The diversity eventually led South Africa to be called as the Rainbow Nation.
The Apartheid museum has been built with a lot of passion keeping in mind the struggle of the common man in South Africa to earn the fundamental right to a decent living. And as a constant reminder to the future generations to respect the treacherous path their forefathers walked to give them the life of dignity.
Started on a whim, my love for stippling work has grown much deeper. I loved the outcome of the first piece (Bob Marley) and gave the tiger a shot. I didn’t understand the most important thing about stippling – patience and concentration. Those days I couldn’t focus on a single thing until the end because I had to multitask. The job demanded it then. But as and when I started working on different pieces, my attention span increased and I was loving the end results. That doesn’t mean I haven’t had moments where I wanted to give up half way through a sketch. And I realised later that if I let a sketch be without completion, I found it difficult to go back to it. I hope someday I finish the half done sketches that are lying on the side.
A trip to the eastern coastal town, Pondicherry, added handmade paper to my stationery hoard. One of the evenings I pulled out my handmade paper stock wanting to do something with it, but wasn’t sure what. Like most evenings, the radio was playing in the background and there came the ‘Redemption song’. That led me to Bob Marley’s picture. I wasn’t sure how pencils or charcoal would behave on such a hard-ridged paper. So I picked up my fountain pen that I use for writing and experimented a stippled piece of art.
Its hard to believe but all of this happened by chance and I fell in love with stippling. By the early hours of the morning, I had Bob Marley looking at me out of a postcard sized handmade paper.