Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Sketches make a place look better!

Over the years I've noticed that while sketching on location the eye and the hand conspire in their own way, omitting certain details and more often than not... dirt.  Garbage which is often strewn allover the foreground of many of my subjects don't get into my sketches. Like this one for instance is a group of fishing boats - trawlers - at Kasimedu harbour. The water is slick with oil.

And this one...
Done two weeks ago. Looks like the sleepy Gaulish village of Asterix and Obelix (well, except for the minaret). In truth, this sketch was done on the banks of the Cooum. The stench was not too bad that morning but the river was a dark stagnant grey. Basically sludge. The huts are hovels, patched together with whatever people have. The foreground and the edge where the water meets the land is not really earth but built up rubbish debris!  Its quite crazy how my hand refuses to draw the refuse!

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Father's Day




This morning I sat  on the pavement outside the North gate of the Madras High Court and decided to sketch Anderson Church. I've passed by it so many times and never sat down to do a sketch until now. I love the proportion of it's spire.

The really interesting thing is this Church sits bang on Broadway and is crowded in on all sides by hectic business activity jostling for space. Although it was a Sunday morning I wanted to try and bring that in somehow.

Some of the other sketchers in our group were attending a heritage walk inside that I had been to and sketched over a year ago. My father decided to sketch the same church too and we found ourselves side by side on the pavement. Me on the ground and him on a stool.

It was really amazing that for over an hour an endless stream of people, mostly the security guards of the high court, would come up and talk to me and look at the work, ask questions. But no one disturbed my father at all!!

As I finished up my sketch I realised its father's day! I don't as a rule follow valentines and father's and mother's day. Can't wrap my head around assigning days to random things, but found the coincidence surprising. So I wrapped up with a quick sketch of my dad to remember the day better.


His sketch turned out really well too!

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Quick trip to Kodaikanal



This week I had to go to Kodaikanal on work. I considered myself lucky. Its not everyday that you get to legitimately leave 42 degrees C and climb into the hills. Kodai was a lovely 19 and my work was done with a couple of hours to go for sunset.

Although for most tourists the highlight of a trip to Kodai would be a boat ride on the lake, I myself prefer walking along the quieter non-touristy parts of the hill-station. This is a view of the boat houses from across the lake. In an attempt to keep the water clean the municipality have fenced off the lake from the pavement. I snuck in through a small opening and sat on a low wall. My feet hung down over some reeds and dense plants. 
Halfway through I was juggling my staedtler 0.7 liner into my bag and trying to get my watercolours out and down went the 0.7! Boo hoo, not only did I lose a pen but I also polluted the poor lake!

Another highlight for me when I visit Kodai in summer is the fruits! We all rave about the mangoes (and they truly are the world's best fruit) but summer in Madras also means plums and peaches from the hills. I took a walk to the fruit stalls to buy some plums and realised there are a whole range of summer fruits up on offer!

Plums, tree tomatoes, egg fruits (so called because the soft sweet flesh is the colour of a golden yolk) grapefruit, passion fruit, star fruit, avocado, pears, fresh badam, chikoo, and of course banana pineapple and apple. I first bought some plums from the shop on the right. He made me taste a half-dozen other fruit and I promised to be back the next day to buy more stuff. Then I walked across to the pavement opposite the shops and started my sketch.


Halfway through my sketch a passer-by alerted the shopkeeper that he was featuring in my drawing. He came and looked at it and was very pleased. Soon the next door shop guy came out to take a look. Then others were summoned. Finally the shop owners wife was called out. Someone shouted "Come and see how she's drawn your husband!"A smiling shy muslim lady came bustling out of the shop, took the book from me and exclaimed in surprise. Then she smiled and ran back inside. Someone else joked that I had passed the test.

The next day I only managed a quick watercolour of John enjoying his morning coffee and book. We were very lucky with the weather. It stayed clear throughout the time that we were out.
Just before leaving I went as promised back to the fruit shop to buy more fruit to take back to Madras. The wife recognised me and gave me a really good deal! Three cheers to sketching!

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Not quite Demonte Colony


Last Sunday I joined the CWA group to sketch at Demonte colony. Due to litigation the two residential streets have been abandoned for may years and wears a somewhat haunted, deserted look. We thought we would see plenty of old crumbling buildings and abandoned vehicles, but unfortunately our luck was out.

Recently there was a movie released by the same name, a horror flick, and some scenes were shot here. Droves of tourists have apparently been stopping by and neighbours have complained resulting in the place being sealed off.

We were only allowed into a corporation park next to which stood an abandoned jeep. Further down the pavement was a lady selling idlis in a make-shift food stall. I managed to try out my water soluble graphite pencils a little more in both these sketches. After that I switched to my trusty Pigma graphic-1. A quick capture of a sleeping man on a park bench.


After that the group converged at the park and started doing portrait studies. They got a young boy to pose and several sketchers attempted to capture him. I tried to capture the sketchers.
Young boys playing cricket kept drifting in and out of my frame. They ended up looking ghostly in my sketches.
Francis sketched away rapidly with the sketchbook propped up against his waist. And finally it was time to lay down all our sketchbooks on the paved pathway but not before getting in a last impression of the group huddling together.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Exposed on the roof


This is the terrace at the top of my office building. It's funny how we architects try our level best to conceal the vital innards of our buildings. The water supply pipes, the rain water drains, the electrical, telephone and TV cables but finally up on the terrace all these things burst forth and cry "Here we are!!"

Sometimes you try to go that extra mile to be extra neat even up on the roof but then your neighbour's cable TV line will somehow snake past your terrace to the next building.

This sketch is also my first try with water soluble graphite pencils. Earlier this week I went into my favourite art supply store to by a gift for someone else and ended up as usual like a kid in a candy store! Can't wait to try these out some more this weekend.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Children's Garden School


The Children's Garden School is just a short hop from my house. It was started in 1937 by Mr V.N Sharma and his wife Ellen, with just seven children as students. It was one of the early schools that tried to change regular mainstream education from a classroom format to a play-and-learn kindergarten format.

Over the years, just like everything else it has grown . There are over 3000 students now, its a girls' school with a separate creche, a junior school and a senior school. All available land has been built over to make space for more classrooms and facilities but this old building where the Prinicipal lives is the original building. It reads "1919-20"  at the very top.

In the early fifties my mother too went to this school, to the junior section. I've heard many stories from her  reminiscing about the classes under the trees and in this building.

I sat on the pavement opposite the main gate on Sunday evening and not a soul passed me by as I did this sketch. It was the last sunday before the end of summer vacation. This morning, as I left home for office the entire street was transformed with hundreds of kids, cycles, parents and general mayhem.


Monday, 18 May 2015

A little less wisdom


I had a quiet weekend indoors thanks to the fact that J needed to have two of his wisdom teeth extracted. He was advised not to drive after the procedure so I went along to bring him back. The Dentist's clinic is attached to his house. After a full day consulting outside he comes home and sees some patients at night. Since it wasn't a formal set-up I got to go all the way in and sit there on the side while the dentist got to work.

Compared to my own experience many years ago, this was a fairly quick and smooth extraction. Two wisdom teeth came out in just ten minutes. Barely enough time to do the sketch. No stitches needed and surprisingly no swelling either!