Photos or Life – which do you prefer and why?

self portrait self portrait

I prefer using photographs for my work as they capture moments and locales which are not easy to replicate in a studio setting or using a model. I do believe it to be very important to learn to draw from Life but would not like to limit myself to just that for my paintings. Take the examples above. If I were to do my self portraits only for life (top right) I would scare the pants of everybody! I find the second one has a more reasonable expression.

Would love to hear how you feel about it. Do leave me a comment if you have a moment.

Self Portrait : charcoal from life, pen & ink from photo ref


3 recent pen & inks and some thoughts

Self PortraitYakubPen 'n Ink

Recently saw the work of an Indian printmaker, Anupam Sud. Her figurative etchings are very inspiring. It also opened up the possibility of trying out my drawings in a different medium. I’m now looking at finding ways to get hold of some plates to try an intaglio (?) I’ve done it once before in college but that as you can see below was very basic. The wide range of possibilities had not sunk in. Mostly due to a lack of studying or research, on my part, before the classes started. Also I had not settled into this style of drawing then.

Kali Ma
“Kali Ma” my first etching not numbered or signed as I still hoped to do more work on the plate. The goddess Kali symbolizes birth, life, death and the seeds of creation. The complete cycle.

Experimented once with Lino too but couldn’t get the fineness i was looking for and also used the wrong paper to take a print!

If you’re interested in printmaking check out Amie Roman‘s exceptional resource list on squidoo and you can see her wonderful work on her blog. Source : Who’s made a mark this week?. Amie also posts her step-by-steps making it easier for you to understand the printmaking process. There is also an active forum of printmakers on WetCanvas!

Unusual Birthday Party and the Portrait once more

Unusual Birthday Party

An unusual birthday party where we all left with goodie bags that we might have taken home when we were ten or less. We all donned our crazy hats, blew the whistles, wore cardboard sunglasses and got pictures taken. Luckily we were in a private room at the restaurant as we were bringing the house down. It was a wonderful idea and everyone enjoyed regressing a bit.

A day which began with me singing a few lines of a song from Jungle Book … It’s a doobie dee do, it’s a doobie dee day. I think Baloo sings it when he’s having a happy carefree day. Morning in a book shop. A wonderful Birthday Party in the afternoon with an exciting Korean meal. Fried Pakodas for dinner.

All this had me wanting to the give that photo ref another shot. I got a bit carried away and used the copic marker that I had recently acquried and Rotring with brown ink. I even tried erasing some lines using a knife. It got messed up a bit but I like it better than yesterdays effort.

Self Portrait

The Borat DVD has been sitting at home for months and has been slotted for tonight. I hope it isnt awful as I enjoyed watching Kurosawa’s the “The Seven Samurai” last night.

Portrait in a hurry

Self Portrait

Today I was determined to put up something that I had made. Originally I had planned to post the paintings that I have submitted for an exhibition but realised later that I wanted that on my main blog. This one was done in a hurry to meet the midnight deadline of nablopomo. For once I’m really happy that I signed up as I might otherwise have just decided to call it a day.

It’s been a tiring day. Mostly because I had to do a bit of running around for the exhibition to meet todays deadline.  First was to write out my resume. I had a friend pitching in to polish it up. Surprisingly it wasnt as tough as I’d anticipated. I then had to take photographs of my paintings, send them out for printing, deposit all the information with the gallery and hand over the paintings to my framer. Phew!

Since I had the photographs for the post I felt I could relax for a few hours.  Started watching The Seven Samurai.  Halfway through realisation made me scuttle to my desk to draw and write these posts. Did do a cup of tea in between 😀

Made with pen & ink, from a photo reference, in my tiny pocket sized sketchbook.  I had wanted to add in colour but ran out of time.

Wedding : Illustration Friday

Monotypes from a photograph of me on my wedding day. I revamped the plate for the second print. Basically moved the eye up a bit. Mostly added more colour 😀

I prefer the first one. Which of the two do you prefer?

Monotype experiment step 4

Monotype experiment - revamped


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My first Monotype

September 12, 2007 : I was quite determined to experiment last night and was eventually up till 3 am! Monotypes have been on my mind ever since I first came across them on Belinda del Pesco’s blog. I have a couple of large glass palettes ( 11″ X 14″ ) for my oil / acrylic paints. I pulled one out, wiped it down and then started painting on the surface with poster colors. The photo reference is one of me taken at my wedding. I did not feel the need to look for likeness for this experiment but boy was i much much thinner then! 😛

Monotype experiment step 1

Knowing that the print would get reversed I flipped the glass plate over and took a photograph. You can see all the poster colour bottles and the small ceramic mixing bowls that I used.

Monotype experiment step 2

Managed to locate some textured ( hatched, 11″ X 15″ ) paper which didn’t seem too thick but couldn’t find a big tray to soak it in. Ran it under the tap for a couple of minutes wiped off the excess water by pressing it between newspaper sheets. Placed it on top of the glass plate, added a newspaper over it to absorb any excess water and then pressed it down with a barren. Kept lifting it to see what was happening and began to realise quickly that the paper was too thick and textured to take the print.

I found out from a comment left for me on flickr that I need to use different paper and also needed to soak it for 10-15 minutes prior to blotting. My first print looks like the ghost (second) print. I’m planning on trying to add a few washes over this one but worried about whether the poster colours which are water soluble will allow me to do so.

Monotype experiment step 3

I did have some block printing paper ( bleached mulberry 9″ X 12″ 45 g/m2 ) which I did not use at first because it was much smaller in size plus probably something to do with my hoarding tendency – I only have 25 sheets and no easy place to source more from 😀 I ran this under water and it soaked immediately so much so that I was worried it would tear. Mopped up the excess water, placed it on the glass plate and tried to take a print. I spent much more time pushing down with the barren as with each peep I saw that it was accepting ink much better.

Monotype experiment step 4

I was a bit disappointed even with this print as it was soooo much lighter when compared with the original on the glass plate. Also it didnt have a buttery feel like the lithograph print did. I’m planning to put it on a toned surface to see if it brings out the colours better.

There’s still some paint left on the glass plate though not as much as it seems to look here. I’ve put it on a white background before taking the photo. But there’s enough left to make me feel sad about washing it off! I’m wondering if there are ways to revive it for another print!!
Monotype experiment step 5

I’ve read about painting on frosted glass a couple of years ago and this experiment has made me want to try that out too. I’ve learnt that I should use the right kind of paper and soak the paper for the right amount of time. I really did enjoy the experiment and am planning on more as soon as I get the paper.

Update: September 14, 2007 : I wrote to Belinda del Pesco asking her for help. I got a prompt reply and I’ve put excerpts below.

On my question about recycling the leftover image.

“You can absolutely add more pigment to the plate, and print again. And again. It’s never ending, and each one will be a new surprise.”

And so I did… but just one more 😀
Monotype experiment - revamped Monotype experiment

the spontaneity of the first attempt did not come through in this second one and so I’m not feeling bad at all about erasing what is left over. the print did take much better this time. I used the block printing paper again.

some more tips from Belinda

  • Try soaking your paper for 5-7 minutes, instead of running water over the surface.
  • Blot with clean, lint-free bath towels 2-3 minutes before you print.
  • I use BFK Rives Paper and Somerset – both are available online.
  • If the paper starts to mar from rubbing, lay a piece of wax paper over it before using the baren.
  • Since your pigments are water based, to help them release, you can dust the plate with a super *fine* mist of water before you print (rinsed & re-used hair pray bottles work well)
  • Even if the print comes out as light and ghost-like as your first one, it’ll just be begging for more pigments; pastels, paint, colored pencil, charcoal, ink, etc.
  • There’s a great book about monotypes by Julia Ayers, and you can find it used on Ebay frequently.

August WIP’s

August WIP's

The wips from July are still that. Since the easel was occupied, I removed the drawing board from the drafting table and installed yet another incomplete canvas. It was of the larger version of the “Watermelon Seller” that I’d begun work on several months ago. Had another go at it 3-4 days back and many more layers are needed. Till date I prefer the “start” I’d made earlier. It was easier to make when the size was smaller. hmmmm.

Acrylics on 24″ X 30″ stretched canvas.

August WIP's

This afternoon I decided that I had to make something and a self portrait seemed like a good idea as I havent had a go since April. Unfortunately the afternoon was taken up supervising the repair of an a/c at home. Then I had other excuses like surfing, dinner and watching a movie with my husband.

Finally sat and posed for myself at about 10pm. There are full length mirrors on the art supply cupboard doors. I pulled up my chair right up to those doors, propped the canvas board on my knees and started with Raw Sienna, moved on to Burnt Sienna and then brought in white and Payne’s Grey. Filled in the b/g with Pthalo Blue and Permanent Yellow. Took a break to take a step back and hope to work on it some more tomorrow.

Acrylics on 12″ X 14″ canvas board.

Self Portrait set on Flickr. Looking back I can see a tendency to look down at the support and just lift my eyes to look into the mirror. I must use the easel the next time and avoid giving myself a double chin for the umpteenth time!

My Paradise : Illustration Friday

my paradise.jpg

I was playing around with Art Rage waiting for the new topic to be announced and that’s what you see as the painting on the easel. It’s fairly obvious that I did a rush job on adding me painting it 😀

My paradise would be a place where I could paint effortlessly and the work would all turn out to be masterpieces! 😀

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Linocut : my first : WIP

Self Portrait

Update : May 26, 2007: Did a bit more work but Pencil Proofs are no longer enough. I’m impatiently waiting to get hold of supplies (roller and ink) to take my first print and then make further corrections.

Linocut WIP Linocut WIP Linocut WIP

Update: May 23, 2007 : The drawing on the lino confused me and i took this first pencil proof to check on my progress and boy was i surprised! I could make out almost nothing! Went back and added more lines and borders…. and took another pencil proof. This has then been further enhanced digitally to see what it would look like if it were black ink. Lots more work needs to be done. I’ll update this post with the changes.

Linocut WIP Linocut WIP Linocut WIP

Update: June 15, 2007 : Used Speedball water based black ink to take a print. Read more about it on Maya. I have ended up liking the linocut block more than the print and plan to frame that instead!!


Citrus : Illustration Friday


We Indians mostly love a sour flavour but sometimes when it catches you unawares you could end up making the funniest of faces. Here’s one of me imagining that i’ve just had something sour.

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