“When you find yourself cocooned in isolation and you cannot find your way out of darkness…
Remember this is similar to the place where caterpillars go to grow their wings”
One fine morning, we noticed the hordes of butterflies migrating. For some reason, I had never paid attention to this phenomenon but these slow months under enforced lockdown has made me more aware of the surroundings and this sort of migration was new to me. A friend, also a crazy butterfly enthusiast, told us stories behind it. His eyes lit up talking about these delicately beautiful creatures and his birthday happened to be around the corner. So what better gift than something to do with these winged wonders.
For a few months now, I have been thinking of working on a concertina, only thing missing was the subject for it. And here I had few butterflies to draw. Both put together became a butterfly concertina. My apprehensions of using any kind of colour has been dominant as ever but what fun would be butterflies without colours. In the process of research for what species to draw, a whole new section of the natural world opened up for me.
Needless to say, most of us are going through a tough phase in life dealing with the pandemic and the roadblocks that come along. All of us cocooned in our houses trying to stay safe yet that doesn’t mean the confines of the walls doesn’t affect us mentally. Nature comes to rescue again! Cocooned for a while until we emerge out of it with wings.
“Swar hi Eashwar hai”, said the maestro first thing that evening. That literally translates to sound is God. Because sound is omnipresent and it’s the most honest form of expression. And we choose to call it music. His music speaks of the life long surrender to God and understanding of music.
He laments the present generation of musicians and the youngsters who pick up an instrument only so that they can perform and chase fame. They fail to understand music but use it as a means to an end. As Ustad says a lifetime is not enough to understand and grasp the seven notes of music.
An evening with Ustad Amjad Ali Khan transports you deep into the world of music. It feels like one is floating through the surreal sub atomic world where time and gravity are non-existent. The evening was a rush of memories of all the Indian classical concerts I had attended since the age of 5. Art in the form of dance and music has been there through every up and down in my life. And same was true for this evening with the maestro during one of the toughest and darkest phases of life.
When I first set my eyes on the reference picture, I wanted to draw it for mom. I hadn’t decided on the medium or the style. One fine day I started drawing the outlines and moved onto picking up the pen for it. Few days of not being able to sleep and living by the high of completed portions, I managed to stipple my way through the giant of a mother and the tiny wrinkled baby. Here’s to all the mothers for their unconditional love.
The sketch was done on an A3 sheet using a 0.10mm Rotring pen and took about 30 hours to finish. This is my first attempt at making something at such a large scale. I have stuck to drawing in A6 or A5 pieces. The high from the sight of the completed piece has stuck and makes me go back to stippling. Helps me focus on the details like no other medium and keeps me grounded. More stippled pieces in the coming weeks.
For the sights one craves… Equipped with a pen, I drew as if the bird will come alive out of the paper. The great hornbill is one of the birds that I have always wanted to see and a trip to the northeast part of India around the hornbill festival reinforced that desire. Success stories from the conservation world related to hornbills had been the highlight of the conference I attended at Nagaland. But I didn’t see any of these majestic birds.
I have been told that one gets to see the great Indian hornbill in parts of southern India also. I hope to see this bird in the wild soon.
I am sure I am not the only one who loves birds. My way of imprinting the sight of these birds deep into my memory is by drawing them. And ever since my first stippling piece (when I didn’t even know that putting together these dots had a term for itself), I have stuck to this way of drawing.
When I was asked to make a card for a friend’s birthday, my first thought was a bird in stippling. I love colourful birds but with the restriction of specific inks that one finds for these super fine nibs, I narrowed down to one which is easily recognisable and not very colourful.
My pick was a lesser golden backed woodpecker sitting on the ground and looking up instead of its usual place on a tree trunk.