I love to draw

I love to paint, I love color, I love telling stories in words and pictures. At the core of it all is what I love best: to draw. Why? I think Edgar Degas put it well when he said” “Drawing is not what one sees but what one can make others see.”┬áBut sometimes, I think it’s not even that. It’s that I don’t truly see some things until I draw them.

Some days though, it’s not even about seeing. Those days I’m drawing just for the joy of smooshing pencil on paper, or dragging a juicy pen nib across the page, making a ragged line.

And then, I’ll draw anything. Like these “People I’ll never know. The page started with tighter line on the portrait on the left but quickly moved to the jumping, bouncy, continuous line I love on the bearded face.

Mostly though, I like to draw the people I know. This spread is in what I call “almost continuous, not quite blind contour”. My pen stays on the page more than it lifts, and I look up more than I look down, but there are no strict rules about it. Working like this just lets me work fast-ish and loose-ish.

Another kind of drawing-only page in my sketchbook is like this one below : a page of notes and observations made on a naturalist-led boat trip at Everglades National Park. Drawing and writing means I retain and remember better, and it isn’t important to me to make a nice-looking page.

Of course, I add color to a lot of my drawings. Pieces like the ones below are done quickly and color certainly adds to the piece, but its done very quickly, usually just a single wash or a second coat added in before the first one dries.

We just discovered the very fun and surprisingly boistrous game, Klask.
Cat and my mess
Making Mashed Potatoes. My Thanksgiving sketching didn’t get further than this quick little drawing

And now I’ve sort of lost the point of where I was going with this piece. But maybe it was just that I love to draw.

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A little bit of Florida: Part 5

I didn’t do a lot of sketching or visiting places that are on a tourist’s must-see list in Miami. But one place I went to each morning for my coffee was the Cuban Bakery, Versailles. It opened at 8am and all three days that I was in Miami, I was there for my morning cup.

This picture? I’m posting it because it made me happy to be wearing flip flops in December: it just seemed right.

Here’s what I learnt: If you go early, there’s no queue. Tourists box their breakfast munchies, locals get it on a plate. Tourists get a big coffee, but the one in the little styrofoam no logo cup is the best. And the empanadas? Order them fried not baked. Ham&cheese and spinach are both yum!

The lady in the maroon shirt at the center of the sketch below? I saw her yesterday too. The staff said she’s there every morning and sits at the same table, ordering the exact same thing.

Back again on day 3 for my cafe con leche evaporada and flan. I loved the flan it was the creamiest I’ve ever tasted.

And a note to self: gotta get back to Duolingo and learn some Spanish. I had so many things I’d have loved to chat with the staff about and it would have been so much more fun to chat even if I spoke a pidgin version of the language.

Here are previous posts in this series of sketches from Florida. Part 1: Sanibel Island, Part 2: Palm Trees, Part 3: Fishing Boats, and Part 4: The Everglades
And for a fun comparison, here’s a post of my sketches from Florida from 12 years ago.

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A little bit of Florida: Part 4

Lots of hiking and not so much sketching on the next part of my trip: to the Everglades.

I was fascinated by these Cypress knees, knobby structures sticking out of the swamp that I sketched from a boardwalk with airplants, figs, cypress, turtles, egrets, ibis and alligators appearing on the scene and then quickly disappearing while I sketched.

Alligators were everywhere, about as common as rats in the New York subway. These are sketched from a safe distance above them, on a boardwalk that goes over a canal where they all congregated one afternoon. Being on a boardwalk and observing them is one thing. Hiking a narrow trail and only noticing the grey and glistening animal next to me at the last minute was a totally different experience.

This sketch is on the super-popular Anhinga Trail. There was an alligator in the background as always. But by this point in my trip, the water plants were the new and unusual thing I wanted to sketch, the alligators, I’d been spotting everywhere for a few days.

Here are previous posts in this series of sketches from Florida. Part 1: Sanibel Island, Part 2: Palm Trees, Part 3: Fishing Boats.
And for a fun comparison, here’s a post of my sketches from Florida from 12 years ago.

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A little bit of Florida: Part 3

My favorite sketching session on this trip had to be when Shari took me out to paint the shrimp boats on San Carlos Island. You’ve seen this and other pieces she’s done over her time in Florida at that spot. And what a spot it is.! There’s action, boats, turkey vultures, and shrimp, all in one place.

If I’d had my phone with me, I might have captured some of the audio that went with this scene: the clanging, banging, and hammering that accompanied this repair on the mast of a boat.

Here is a second piece I did after the men were gone and quiet returned to the scene.

I could have stayed and sketched at that dock all morning. Maybe the shrimp boats are why I’ll just have to go back to Sanibel in the near future. We left Sanibel the next morning and headed out to the Everglades. Those sketches are coming up next.

Here are previous posts in this series of sketches from Florida. Part 1: Sanibel Island, Part2: Palm Trees
And for a fun comparison, here’s a post of my sketches from Florida from 12 years ago.

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A little bit of Florida: Part 2

If you are going to draw anywhere in Florida, you’re going to be drawing palm trees, they’re everywhere. Florida has 12 native palm varieties and lots more that happily grow there.

Here’s one of the first palm sketches in my travel sketchbook. In brush pen and crayon.

This next piece was done slowly as I stayed indoors during a tornado watch. While the trees by the coast (photos below) were going crazy in the wind, the wall of palms outside my window served as a windbreak and stayed relatively calm.

I had time to kill while I stayed indoors, so I got some shots of my very wet working process.

Here’s one more palm tree and yet another turquoise building, sketched as the sun went down.

If you missed the first post in this series of sketches from Florida, it’s here. Lots more coming up soon.

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A little bit of Florida: Part 1

Happy 2022! I’m back and starting the year off with sketches from a recent family vacation. Our vacation started in a little corner of paradise where time slows down: Sanibel Island.

And if that weren’t fantastic enough that I was in this beautiful place, I got to hang out and paint with Shari Blaukopf, which made my time in Sanibel doubly special. This is what we sketched that first day. More chatting than sketching for me, I fiddled with this for an hour or so. A really nice gentleman asked me why I was sketching in a book. (as opposed to painting at an easel, I think, but he didn’t specify). Over my visit, I saw this turquoise color everywhere and came to think of it as the color of the island.

Later that afternoon I bicycled to the lighthouse and did a quick sketch while the kids collected shells in this little cove. It was a really bad idea to sit where I did without wearing bug spray. I have this sketch to show for my bites.

Lots more sketches coming up in the next few posts, But before I forget, here’s a post of my sketches from Florida (including Sanibel) from 12 years ago. I had a 2 and a 4-year-old with me then, which might account for how little I sketched on that trip. Still, it’s great for me to have these to look at and a good reminder that even the littlest sketch is better than none.

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Looking back a little, and a lot.

Not quite the end of the year, but I’m taking my end-of-year break from blogging, wrapping up work for a week or two, and looking back a wee bit.

If we have only met like this, on zoom, I hope we get to meet in person in 2022. I loved online teaching through the pandemic and will continue to, but I’m looking forward to in-person teaching again. If you’re signed up for my newsletter you’ll see those workshops announced first. Not signed up yet? Here’s the link.

This was a year to do new stuff. One of the most challenging things I did was write pieces for WIRED magazine as part of my residency with them. There are so many fantastic things I learnt, I’ll have to just write a blogpost about them all, but one of the best parts was the challenge of doing something new. Of having the freedom to be a beginner at something. In fact, I loved that so much, I’ve decided to take up an old love and learn it again, like a beginner.

I loved a pair of hand-me-down red roller skates I had when I was a little kid. And I skated a lot. Yes, even on the super bumpy roads and footpaths (they were never called sidewalks!) in Bombay. So, I bought myself a gorgeous pair of roller skates recently and have discovered that I will need to relearn how to skate. Which sounds a little more daunting than it did when I was seven. But I like the idea. Here are those beautiful skates.

And one of the biggest surprises for me last year continues to be a surprise this year. Last year, Paul Wang and I created a virtual space called Sketching PlayLab as a playground for sketchers, a place where we could orchestrate play sessions in art, based on concepts that are tedious and sometimes too structured when taught in traditional ways. This experiment and its audience kept growing and it’s continued to surprise us. Thousands of individuals have signed up for our sessions through 2020 and 2021, many of them have some to twenty or thirty sessions over time. To say thank you to our Sketching PlayLab family, we held a free online party where we all ate and sketched our food together.

Here’s my breakfast sketch from our party: sabudana khichadi, chai and Parle G biscuits to dip in my chai. The persimmon? It just added a touch of color. I love drawing, but not eating the fruit.

And that wraps up another year of blogging and sharing with you. Thank you for coming along on the ride. Here’s wishing you a happy New Year and I’ll be back posting sketches soon!

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Bits

This is a meandering-bits-and-pieces post, a collection of sketches and happenings that don’t quite hold together but all happened over the last couple of weeks.

Our mulberry tree got shorn. I’m always sad when that happens but Ben comes with his shears every other year and he says it’s best for the tree. He knows better than me, but I still love the mop of messy branches the tree wears when it’s not shorn.

I took a few inches off my hair this week. Which is worth recording because haircuts have now become a rare thing for me. When I know I have very little time, I go straight to ink, do all my drawing and then figure if there’s time for color.

And here’s a sketch of boats in the dock at Bodega Bay, the only sketch from our drive back from Sea Ranch. I didn’t think much of it then, but looking back at it, it’s hard for me to sketch this loosely if I haven’t been drawing a fair amount every day. I enjoyed letting the wateriness of the scene seep into letting color flow on the page.

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Last of the Persimmons for 2021

Persimmon season is always too short for me to get in all the experimenting I want to do. Here’s a post from the last persimmon experiments of the year. With these three pieces I’m saying goodbye to my start-of-winter muse until 2022.

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An Absolutely Awesome Day at Sea Ranch

This is a long post. But then, it was a long and pretty amazing day spent at Sea Ranch, with my buddies Nina and Srivani.

Starting the day on the cliffs, with these two piece done back to back, looking at the same view. I;l do this sometimes to try and capture something differently. Version 1 started out with a blue sky and then the day got grey and foggy and I wanted to capture that fog, so a much quicker Take 2 happened…

The homes at Sea Ranch are beautiful; Each is completely unique, but they all share an aesthetic that blends so beautifully with the landscape. They just sit there quietly, showcasing the beauty around them. I did a bunch of quick sketches of some of the homes from our second stop that morning.

Next, we moved down to the beach, but I was still focused on the view up on the cliffs.

It wasn’t until this next one that I even started to look at the cold, sandy beach we sat on. The fog and mist was what I was looking at a lot.

I finally looked down at the treasures Nina had collected b my feet. Seaweed and crabshell lay among the pieces of driftwood and sand on the beach. It takes an overcast day to really appreciate how much color there is in greyness.

Back up on the cliffs, later that afternoon, I ignored the seals swimming in the ocean behind me and got back to the Sea Ranch homes, starting out this time with watersoluble oil paint laid on paper with a palette knife.

Next, we headed to a fascinating tree tunnel, probably the hardest setting I attempted to capture on paper that day.

Done with that sketch, we headed back to the trail. I made a little unplanned detour where I had to go rescue my supplies that fell into a stream.

Our final stop that day was the quirky Sea Ranch Chapel. We got there just as the sun was setting, for one last sketch before the light was gone.

This set of sketches and photos doesn’t come clase to capturing that day. There is something magical about the quiet (well, only while we draw) companionship of fellow sketchers, all in synch, working all day. Can’t wait until we do this again.

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