Wednesday, 30 April 2014

It's nice to be a student again

This last weekend I attended a watercolour workshop by Dhruba Mazumder which I had been looking forward to for weeks and it more than lived up to my expectations. Over the last few years, most of my sketches have been pen and watercolour washes but somehow, while attempting a "pure"watercolour, I found my courage failed me at the end and I added pen strokes to get my desired effect.
The workshop was in a conference room of a hotel and the management very sweetly changed all the bulbs in the lights as we didnt want yellow lights. You can see the white new filaments sticking out and it made a huge difference. Watercolour is all about light!
Dhruba took us step by step, doing small demos and then making us do them ourselves. By the end of the first day I ended up with this.
It's also the first time I'm using any brush other than my travel brush. This one above was done completely with a one and half inch wide flat brush. I had no idea that such big brushes could give such sharp lines. The workshop was very strong on technique and well structured.
By the end of the second day I ended up with this. By then we had covered various types of washes, brush strokes, colour mixing and special effect techniques. More than anything it was so great to be a student and learn something new. Dhruba is a great teacher and I hope I get better with watercolours with practice.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

India Votes

We are electing our representatives for the central government today. Who we vote for will determine the Prime minister. The choices are not great but the event itself is quite a spectacle. The 2014 Lok Sabha elections is happening in 9 phases spread over a month and we in Chennai fall into phase 6 today. I come under the South Chennai constituency and within that there are various sub-sub-sub parts that determine where I queue up. Considering South Chennai has 3.5 million voters and the country has 81,45,00,000 people on its electoral roll its quite a management miracle.
I went with my grandmother who is 85 years old and determined to exercise her right. Our polling booth was in a corporation school and 10 residential areas have to come here to vote. The open quadrangle had ten different queues snaking around under the shamiyanas. I had thought I would have plenty of time to dash off many sketches but thanks to my grandmother I was given red carpet treatment. A security guard ushered us in and we were out in five minutes! Actually all the queues were moving pretty fast.

Earlier in the morning I sketched another line of folks waiting to vote in Mylapore just outside my house. This was around 8 in the morning and the line was very very long. Generally the lines are much longer before office starts. All the schools and colleges have to shut as they become polling booths and counting centres. 

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Fresh as always

This veggie shop sits at the corner of Chitrakulam and further down you have fruit shops and seasonal carts. The whole area South east of the main Mylapore temple is abuzz with fresh produce and is a great place to sketch. As I walked past this one, the display called out to me. Neat pyramids of tomatoes, potatoes and onions, cascading piles of snake gourd (podalanga), stacks of banana stem (thandu) raw mango, ridge gourd (peerkanga) and bundles of very very green drumsticks.
It was around five in the evening, and the shop next door was not open. There was a table and a bench where the owner would probably arrange his vegetables but he wasn't there so I took the oppurtunity to perch comfortably and get a good view of the inside and the outside of this shop.
Five minutes into the sketch (of course!) the shop owner turned up. But as I sighed inwardly he started watching me sketch and then actually asked me to take my time and finish. He waited till I was done to open his shop!

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Delving deeper into Mylapore

I live in Mylapore. My office is in Mylapore. If you take a look at the tags on my blog post, the label "Mylapore" is very recurrent. And the reason is that there is just so much to see. So much stuff that is sketch-worthy. It's the oldest area of the city and in some small pockets within it, time seems to have passed slower.
Take for instance this cycle-rikshaw that I saw at the corner of Chitrakulam. We rarely see these in the centre of the city. Cyclists are so totally sidelined on our roads and a three-wheeler cycle is all but extinct. I remember when, as a school kid I would travel by bus. The last bus stop was two kilometres from our house and if you felt like splurging you could treat yourself to a rikshaw ride - one of these. The drivers were mostly elderly men with sinewy calf muscles. We even had horse-pulled carts but I'm pretty sure I won't be able to find one of those anymore - not even in Mylapore. No, I am not that old. It's just amazing how in barely three decades this city has transformed so rapidly.

Chitrakulam itself is an area within Mylapore. Past the main huge temple complex and the big tank there is a smaller pond called Chitrakulam and some smaller temples. Adi Kesava Perumal Temple, Srinivasa Perumal temple, Vedanta Desikar Temple. I didnt get the time to go into any of them because I finished the first sketch and was enthralled by a very narrow street that I wanted to capture.
This is Chitrakulam south street. Going further in the streets get narrower and I will need to go back another day, delving deeper to sketch those....