Unfinished business

ashu wip 2

This month has been very busy with a flu bug, birthday, visiting friends and now I’m leaving town for ten days.   All that makes this join my stock pile of wip’s.  I wasn’t planning on working on this sketch for much more.  Just a few darks to define jawline better and of course a few highlights.   Still, I do like it enough as it is to want to post it. : )


You can’t hurry love


And just in case you’re wondering what the scribble has to do with the song – nothing!  It’s what I found myself humming lately when I thought it’s taking me too long to get back to painting.  The last year and half was meant to be spent acquiring skills that I knew I was lacking but in the end I didnt.   Now it’s a new year and there are new resolutions. I picked up A Painter’s Guide to Design and Composition a couple of days back to make a dent on acquiring one such skill.  I wasn’t expecting much and was pleasantly surprised to find it very useful and simple to follow unlike some others that I have come across on the subject. It’s all very well to draw a cross and say use it as a structure and another to show by words and painted examples clearly what is meant by that.

Taking shape


I’m looking forward to 2011.   One of the things that I missed since we moved from Dhaka are the art groups that I was a part of.   Having said that on not finding one here, I did little to start one of my own.  Recently when I heard of a group starting up with plans of meeting for Life Drawing sessions, I jumped right in.  We’ve met a few times already to sketch and chat and I hope we continue in the new year.

The sketch above was made at the Barefoot Café from a brass bust and the one below is from a photograph that I plan to use as a reference for a painting.  As always I was reminded of the fact that it takes just a few weeks to get rusty as far as sketching/drawing from Life is concerned.

I also attended one of the Pencil Jammer events at Lalbagh in Bangalore.  Was so excited to meet up with like minded folks that I forgot to sketch!!

Happy New Year!


Portrait Party over at Flickr

Julia Kay’s hosted a Portrait Party over at Flickr and my painting has come to a halt : )  I have done a few portrait swaps in the past, for Rama Hughes blog, The Portrait Party , the annual Portrait swap at WetCanvas and more recently the ones organized by Karin Jurick.  But in terms of sheer number of people participating with one another, none were in the league of the current party that I’ve jumped in to.

24 steve huison

I’d first read about them on Rama Hughes blog where he had written about how his family used to throw Portrait Parties and draw each other.   He’d suggested others organise their own.  For me it seemed out of the question as I couldn’t imagine being able to round up a party worth of guests who’d be willing to spend an evening drawing portraits or posing for each other : )

11 Giorgio Bordin

And then along came Julia Kay with this brilliant idea to throw one on Flickr.

18 art informel

There are 260 members at a party which will continue for as long as you want it to.   I’ve made 24 portraits so far and have had 16 of made of me.  Have a look at the wonderful portraits being exchanged on flickr by this group.

Flickr Portrait Party

Sketching at the Galle Fort

horse taking a breather between rides

Sketching is so much more fun when you have company.   I’d got so rusty even with drawing as paint is a much more forgiving medium and you can keep going over something till you fix it. Sketching is even tougher having to capture a scene quickly or you have to tackle perspective!!!  I’m shaky on both but some of it is coming back….. slowly!!  And I had lots of fun.

We had a friend visiting who keeps a record of his travels through sketches in small and mid-sized journals.  They’re usually of buildings, seascapes or landscapes.  With me, he is willing to take a break from his usual subjects and occasionally try some of mine.  When he’d last visited us we were based in Dhaka.  We chose the local wholesale market on the banks of the Buri Ganga to sketch and almost created a riot there among the curious street urchins.  This visit we went to the Galle Fort and while people were curious we didn’t draw a crowd which was nice as we could get on with the sketching.

dutch church

All 3 sketches were made while sightseeing at the Galle Fort.   The horse or is it a pony (??)  was being given a break in between rides and was busy chomping down on grass.  We plonked ourselves down beside him to sketch.  He left quickly or so it seemed to find his next ride and we moved on to find ourselves something that would hold a pose a while longer.  The Dutch Church seemed like a good subject as it was beautiful and wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon.  I found it difficult to work on values with the pen and the perspective is wonky.   The last is a sketch of a cow though it appears to be a mother and child pose : )   The cow moved it’s head when i was half way for the first one and I felt more confident after the first attempt to try a quick second sketch at the back.   And that heart shape was there on her head though it looks a bit foolish in my sketch.


I’m Looking Through You

I’m looking through you,
where did you go?
I thought I knew you,
what did I know?
You don’t look different,
but you have changed
I’m looking through you,
you’re not the same.

KMP 23/100
self portrait – oil sketch.

KMP’s are skill building exercises advised by Kevin Macpherson in his book Fill Your Oil Paintings with Light & Color. I started these in 2007 and am continuing with it in 2010. If you want to know more about this set of exercises click here.

An oil sketch

I haven’t painted for a few days but hope to make it up this week. This sketch is from about 10 days back when I was taking a break from the KMP’s. There are many errors that I can see but no attempt has been made to fix them coz then it would no longer be a sketch : )  One bit that I like is the nose which has form, something I’m always hoping to achieve.  It would nice of course if I could get that for all of the face instead of just one feature.


A pen & ink sketch from even earlier using the same ref.

pen & ink sketch

Update : Forgot to mark this as a KMP. This becomes no. 25.

KMP’s are skill building exercises advised by Kevin Macpherson in his book Fill Your Oil Paintings with Light & Color. I started these in 2007 and am continuing with it in 2010. If you want to know more about this set of exercises click here.


I subscribe to About.com’s Painting newsletter run by Marion Boddy-Evans.  Today it led me to a post on What Hurtful Things Have People Said When Commenting on a Painting? I read a few and discovered that while I didn’t have the same experiences I had shared some of the same feelings.

When I started out six years ago I wanted everyone (!) I came across to comment on my work. It was new to me, I was finding my way and thought that family, friends, acquaintances and online friends were all in a position to help. Sometimes it was frustrating because no one wanted to put me down or be harsh to a newbie. Sometimes they liked the very things that I didn’t.  I also learnt to my dismay that positive comments affected me too.  I’d get stuck, too timid to add anything more in case I messed it up!
netra - another attempt

Netra – another attempt – pen & ink – based on a beautiful photograph taken by Sudarshan used with permission.   An earlier attempt made in 2005 using the same reference.

But that was then.  I still love to hear from people but what I take from it now and how it affects me is different.  It’s more about whether they like the piece and not what they find right or wrong with it.   When I see a painting or a movie or a dress I form an opinion about it.  We all have opinions.  And sometimes mine don’t match with the way others around me think.  It doesn’t upset them or me that our views are different.  And with that in mind  I hear what people have to say about my work as their opinion.  Sometimes, good or bad, it matches mine and sometimes it doesn’t.

pen & ink

pen & ink –  earlier sketches and a painting made last year – Lost in though

Extracting a line drawing using Photoshop

Preparing for a short trip away from home, I decided to carry a sketchbook. While selecting the pens I would carry, I tried a couple out on the cover. Very quick. Very loose. and for me Very nice (It must be the Egon Schiele kind of feel that it gave me : ) I had a look at some of his drawings while making this post for a link but it’s not even close to his kind of work but that’s what this reminded me of. Maybe it was the sad expression?? emaciated look? ) but then there was the background of the sketchbook which was coming in the way.

sketch sketch extract

I’m sure there are plenty of ways to do it but I used “how to select a colour” from e-how to get the finished result. At first I selected the blue and cut it out but that led to cutouts of the missing letter across the face.  Undo’s back to the beginning.  I then repeated the colour selection and replaced it with the grey of the background colour using an ink dropper to select it.  A couple of trial and error steps and liberal use of the eraser I was left with the image on the right.  Would’ve been much easier had I brought along the wacom tablet!

Ideally, I’d have liked to retain the texture of the paper and the weight of the lines but that’s another experiment for another day!

Opinion : Illustration Friday


In my opinion there’s a bit of George Bush, Alfred E Newman and traces of a beard in this sketch.  All not wanted and unintentional.


Check out many more interpretations on