My recent work using coloured inks was the Brown Fish Owl and the finished artwork gave me the confidence to use them to paint birds. Not all bird sketches may look appealing in monochrome.
The first bird that came into mind to experiment further with coloured inks: a Toucan. Colorful birds with colourful beaks! While looking for pictures on instagram and google, I looked out of the window and spotted a bright orange bird on a tree outside the house. An extremely skittish bird, the orange minivet was flying and hopping around branches. In an instant, the far away toucans from a different continent and hemisphere took a back seat, and came home the Orange Minivet.
Living in the jungle has its ups and downs. Jungle is equivalent to wildlife in my case. And that includes the feathered ones apart from the gentle giants visiting us on and off. A stream right outside the gate rises to life in the monsoons. There is a steady flow through the year but it reaches the life-disrupting levels when the god of rains shower the blessings too much on us. Unlike the previous years, this monsoon has been overwhelming for us as well as the water levels in the stream. The rains bring along a whole new ecosystem to our doorstep. The area around stream is teeming with fishes and frogs and algae and snakes and everything else one can imagine associated with a wet ecosystem. Our winged resident is found stationed on one of the tree branches around the stream where direct access to the preys in water is available. The Brown fish owl is a permanent resident around the property but the flowing stream gets the big bird out into our sight.
Rotring pens with the limited coloured inks don’t make it a smooth run for any art piece but I did manage to get the colours that I desired. On a 5.5 X 8.5 inches sheet, this piece took me about 12 hours to finish.
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.
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.
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.
When I first set my eyes on the reference picture, I wanted to draw it for mom. I hadn’t decided on the medium or the style. One fine day I started drawing the outlines and moved onto picking up the pen for it. Few days of not being able to sleep and living by the high of completed portions, I managed to stipple my way through the giant of a mother and the tiny wrinkled baby. Here’s to all the mothers for their unconditional love.
The sketch was done on an A3 sheet using a 0.10mm Rotring pen and took about 30 hours to finish. This is my first attempt at making something at such a large scale. I have stuck to drawing in A6 or A5 pieces. The high from the sight of the completed piece has stuck and makes me go back to stippling. Helps me focus on the details like no other medium and keeps me grounded. More stippled pieces in the coming weeks.
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.