Monday, April 30, 2012


Parts of a Mahogany tree
The inside of a pod where the seeds are attached, part of the seed pod cover, the seeds themselves and a leaf from the tree.

Friday, April 27, 2012


The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures. It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.
                                                              ~ Rabindranath Tagore, Stream Of Life 

There is a Latin saying: Ars longa vita brevis. Art is long, life is short. But the true and beautiful thing is that nothing lasts. Everything changes and passes. The creative process is just that. Not a means to an end, but a continuing engagement with being alive. Breathe in, and begin.

Beautiful Things

I want to tell what the forests were like
I will have to speak in a forgotten language.

~W.S. Merwin, from The Rain in the Trees, 1988

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sold - for a price

I’m so happy that this picture is going to hang on the wall of a person who appreciates it enough to have saved his money over several months to buy it from me.

Sometimes in my career, I have had paintings demanded for free in the name of ‘friendship’- that word within which so many rewarding exchanges are experienced and yet so much is taken for granted so that all norms of basic decency, courtesy and good manners are flouted. I have happily given work away free more often than not, but when you ask/demand my work for free what is it that you are trying to tell me; that my work is good enough to hang on your wall but not good enough to pay for? I quote another illustrator on this point: These are the same people who will pay hundreds of dollars to hang a plasma TV screen on the wall which then spews complete rubbish at them day and night. I couldn’t agree more.

To give something as a gift (for free) is the prerogative of the giver. But asking a painting for free simply shows a lack of dignity as well as an arrogance towards the relationship with the artist. And yet, just before I begin to despair, I come across friends out there who want my work so much, they save to buy it. I cannot tell you how much this gesture of appreciation warms my heart.

When on this subject, I would also like to make a point to amateur painters who sell or give away their work to friends. Many are diffident to put a price tag on their work even if asked to do so.
One of the members at Penciljam worked really hard in improving his drawing and painting skills. He would spend 45 minutes every single morning to draw before going to work. Such dedication is commendable and unsurprisingly his drawings and paintings improved a great deal. One day he excitedly mailed some of us other jammers and told us that a friend of his from abroad, from Singapore, had offered to buy one of his works. He said he had sold his painting to her for one Singapore dollar.

Prosenjit Roy, an artist and Pencil jammer from Kolkata, wrote a reply to this which I reproduce here since I think it will be useful to both amateur and professional artists alike to read this when releasing their works in the name of friendship. It is a beautifully written letter with much food for thought:

" @ International artist - you deserve the honor richly! It is not just the surface output, the material that is, but a part of your wisdom and personality that the collectors are acquiring, when they buy/collect your works. 
However, I have a slightly different opinion regarding selling. If you're selling, do not under-sell re: your example of 1 SD. Give it away as a gift if you're so inclined. You may also put a price on the painting and then do so, although that reads a tad hypocritical. You are special, and so is your art, and its beauty is the outcome of years of hard work. Therefore, the person (like your colleague in Singapore) receiving it ought to be truly deserving it - and I'm sure he did!

And if you're selling, do not compromise on the price. Fix it wisely, but do not lower it to accommodate the buyer (unless you want to give away for free). I was once asked to quote my price in sq. ft of canvas! I was so aghast I didn't know what to say :D. Then again, a friend of mine had once commissioned a large painting to me... I showed him a detailed preparatory sketch, which took me about a month to work out since there were many inter-woven elements in it. It took me another couple of months to paint it, but I had assumed that he'd anticipate the price of such a large and original piece. This was in the early part of the last decade, and I was just beginning to learn about 'the trade'. I had not quoted the price after showing him the preliminary sketch, which was my mistake. He didn't want to buy the finished painting at that price, and wanted it lowered. The deal fell through, I refused to sell, and the relationship lost its warmth. It was repaired only last month :), after so many years! The painting was eventually collected by someone else, at a price compensating for the delay, after staying with me for 5-6 years.

So I've learned to be upfront about my intentions, and my expectations from the collector.. if it is a gift, it is a gift, if it is a sale, the price is what I've quoted. Of course this is just in my humble opinion, and opinions are a dime a dozen. Thank you for sharing this."


Let me end on a positive note while on this subject - To those friends I’ve met through my blog who have done so much to appreciate my work by buying it at the price I’ve asked for, commissioning work from me and promoting my illustrations on their blogs and on Facebook, I raise my mug of tea. I am glad there are people like you around who encourage, appreciate and buy art. Cheers to you all! :)

Picture from Facebook where it is being passed around.

Friday, April 13, 2012


Since several bloggers have asked me about this pretty plant on my desk, I thought I'd indulge you all with a few pictures. It is a Violet plant that I bought at the flower show in Lalbagh. It needs careful handling and care, therefore it is on my desk rather than out in my garden. My studio window does not face the garden so it is nice to look up and have this pot of violets keeping me company with their quiet beauty.
The other beauty has defiantly found herself a different place where she can sleep undisturbed since there was always a tussle for space between both of us at my desk. There is no sight more beautiful than the serenity of a cat asleep :)

My old sketchbook has come to an end. Here are the last few pages -

And here is a new sketchbook, freshly bound with customized cover from a school chart bought on the streets of Avenue Road.

And this is what my desk looks like right now :)

I learned… that inspiration does not come like a bolt, nor is it kinetic, energetic, striving, but it comes to us slowly and quietly and all the time, though we must regularly and every day give it a little chance to start flowing, prime it with a little solitude and idleness.

                                           ~ Brenda Ueland (via ArtPropelled)

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Some time ago, a very nice magazine asked if I would illustrate an editorial article regarding the environment. While the subject interested me greatly, the fees did not and as sometimes happens in the professional life of an illustrator, the interesting article did not get illustrated for the magazine. However, I did wonder about the article and how I would have conceptualized it. From what I remember, the article was about excessive noise in cities and how it affects the fragile ever diminishing nature around us including the pitch of bird calls. 

I am using this picture for a portfolio piece. I've depicted noise as a monster here and a vulnerable bird representing nature overwhelmed within it. A good illustration does not mimic the text, rather it compliments the writing with an interpretation. That is what I have attempted here. The design text in this particular visual is unrelated and has been placed just to give an idea of how it will look within the pages of a magazine. I'll work on it further later on. I've used graphite for this illustration. To get some idea of its true impact please click on the picture.

Alan E. Cober, one of the giants of illustration. Pure beautiful drawings done entirely by hand and pulsating with life. 

Monday, April 2, 2012


I have heard the soft language of figs into which her teeth have left marks.
                                          ~ extract from a poem by M. Lunqvist