Pears in October

I love drawing pears. They’re a simple shape, but not so simple they’re boring. And a forgiving form too: you can mess around with a pear shape quite a bit and it still look like a pear.

I thought I’d sit down and do a ‘quick 5 minute’ #inktober sketch, but I just kept going for an hour. Here is all of it, the ones that worked and the ones that didn’t. These weren’t made with any particular aim to try different approaches, or change up how I worked, I just drew one, turned the page, drew another and kept going…











I love how Noodlers Bulletproof Ink (used for the brushed-on washes) granulates. The linework is mostly with a Carbon Platinum Pen and sometimes a Sailor Bent Nib.I started working on the linework before the  ink washes dried. I like the idea of only controlling so much of my work, and then letting the wet-in-wet thing make it’s own sometimes-mess-sometimes-magic. Looking back, I wish I’d left some of those sketches as just washes with no line. But they were fun to do they way I did them, no thinking involved, just do one, turn the page, do another, and then do it all over again. Still, I do se how they evolved and got simpler as I went along.

I’m liking this Inktober thing. Join in, it’s never too late and it’s fun.

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Oops. Don’t know how I filled non-waterproof ink in my pens instead of my usual Platinum Carbon Waterproof ink. Sometimes mistakes like that make for surprising results.

Like this ‘Winchester Western Wear’ store sketch: I was originally attracted to the big red boot near the doorway, but ended up enjoying drawing the super-tall trees, the woodtype-style lettering and the car.


Or this sketch I made one evening, waiting for the blood moon to rise.

And then there’s this sketch of a construction crew at work. Drawn with my Lamy Safari, which deposits a lot of ink on the page (and drawn super-fast, which means the ink is still very wet when I come in with my watercolor).  So I get lots of bleeding with a non-waterproof ink.  Kinda fun, once I decided to go with the flow.

For contrast, here’s an equally quick sketch, made with waterproof ink. Even though I’m coloring seconds after my line is drawn, the line doesn’t smear. I sketched this milk delivery guy with his cans of milk in Chennai, India.

My favorite artist who works with non-waterproof inks is Norberto Dorantes. I love that he can draw a very precise line and then let it go and allow for it to smudge and run and do it’s magic when he goes in with his watercolors.

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Last Bits and Pieces from Chennai

Anywhere in Chennai you see golden statues of the politician MGR. On the banner behind him is the Jayalalitha.  It’s a bit eerie, they’re everywhere.


On a more normal note, here’s a sugarcane juice seller on a street corner.


And a little corner shop that sold tiny packets of almost anything, but seemed to do all its business from selling cigarettes.


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Coffee in Chennai

When in Chennai, drink filter coffee. And if you can help it, make sure you grab some at a tiny corner shop that pours your coffee just right. (wish I’d captured that pour in a sketch: here’s an instructables step-by-step on how to do it right) Or, drink (and eat) at Saravana Bhavan. Super-quick sketches because the food is so good. And because I was at the stand-up version of the restaurant where everyone eats standing up at small, communal round tables.





It must be good if all the cops stop by for their morning tiffin, right?

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Wedding Music

Traditional music at a South Indian wedding is led by an instrument called a nadaswaram accompanied by thavil drums. You can listen to it here. It plays almost continuously at a South Indian wedding. To a trained ear, I’m sure it means more than the earworm it is to me. But I do enjoy watching the musicians play it. wedding_music_1

It’s easier to see how large those nadaswarams when the musicians are standing up.

Other music at the wedding? There was Bombay Jayashri, a famous Carnatic vocalist, best known outside South India for a song she wrote and performed for ‘Life of Pi’. She sang at the wedding reception as thousands of people streamed by to wish the bride and groom.


My favorite musician to sketch, though, was the violinist Karthick Iyer who plays fusion on the Indian violin. I love that he jumps around and bends and sways to the music: he literally becomes his violin and the music it plays.


If you missed my earlier posts of sketches from the wedding they’re here:
Sketches from the Mehendi Ceremony and Other sketches from the wedding.

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More wedding moments

Bits and pieces from an Indian wedding. Day 1 included the mehendi ceremony. Here are more sketches from different events.

As you entered the wedding hall everyday there’s always a lineup of beautifully dressed women handing out strings of jasmine (and conveniently, bobby pins) to put in your hair. The woman who is second from the right holds an attar dispenser that she lightly sprays you with as you walk by. Hanging from the ceiling are lotus blooms and in the doorway is a banana tree: leaves, flower and fruit.

Here are some quick drawings of women with the flower garlands in their hair.

What I was struck by was how many priests there were at every ceremony. This  little ensemble was perhaps a third of the priests who performed a ceremony: No bride and groom involved in this bit, it was the gods being married. The ceremonies involved a lot of chanting, ghee and flowers. The head priest (seated by the fire, facing front) was the only one in a colored veshti . The rest of the priests wore white silk veshtis. Everyone of them wore a sacred thread across their bare chests.

More priests from a different ceremony. Both the boys and the girls family had their own retinue of priests performing parallel (but slightly different) ceremonies. This is a part of the lineup I could see from where I stood during a long ceremony. The bright inverted paper cones contain offerings of sweets.

And this last sketch is actually after the wedding, but the only one in which I captured the bride and groom. This is a part of a smallish ceremony performed when the married couple first come home. After 4 days of  non-stop ceremonies and literally thousands of people to meet and greet, I was amazed that the bride still smiled through it all.

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Small moments from a big wedding: The Mehendi ceremony

I was recently at a family wedding. A very big family wedding. My sketches don’t capture the huge festivities, the pomp and splendor, the crowds of hundreds and sometimes thousands of people who attended the four days of festivities. What I have instead are little vignettes, mostly of smaller gatherings and celebrations, and of little asides, the stuff I enjoyed best.

These sketches are from the mehendi ceremony, a pre-wedding ceremony when henna artists draw intricate patterns over the hands and feet of the bride, the women in her family, and friends. The most intricate patterns that took multiple artists over 5 hours to create were saved for the bride. Everyone else got to choose what they wanted: detailed, intricate stuff, or smaller, simpler designs.

wedding_mehendi4 wedding_mehendi3 wedding_mehendi2 wedding_mehendi1

This was one of those times I wish I sketched faster. This is my daughter, with two artists working on her hands. I took that first photograph and got down to sketching. Fast. It couldn’t have been more than a couple of minutes, and she was done! I guess that’s how fast you have to be to draw patterns on the arms and legs of hundreds of people in a single evening.

More wedding vignettes coming soon.

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