Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Silk Weaver, Kancheepuram

On a recent visit to Kancheepuram we visited a silk weavers' co-operative, where I made this very quick sketch in my pocket sketchbook in ink, and then coloured it later at home. Although I have made it look light and airy the weaver was actually working in a dark confined space and I had difficulty making out many of the details. The weaver had a light attached to the bottom of one of the crosspieces of the loom to light the sari that he was weaving, and he and the loom were mainly in silhouette.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Poignant Memorial Plaques

I had gone to the Madras War Cemetery with my wife Nithya and several friends to sketch on a Sunday morning. Nithya was very much captivated by the quality of the engraving on the plaques and while she was busy noting some of the details, I made a very quick pen and ink thumbnail sketch of the scene. Some days later I made this 10" x 7" (approx. 26cm x 18cm) watercolour painting based on the thumbnail. 

Monday, 16 June 2014

Madras War Cemetery

Although I have lived in Chennai for almost five decades I visited the Madras War Cemetery located at Nandambakkam, Chennai for the first time only weeks ago when my sketching group decided to meet here. This place is a memorial to the lives of commonwealth soldiers lost in the two world wars. It has over 800 plaques and many more names engraved on a memorial wall. No bodies are buried here. 

I made a quick pen and ink thumbnail sketch of this scene on location and then painted the scene at home using the thumbnail as reference.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Playing With Colour

I went along with the rest of the Chennai Weekend Artists to the Madras War Cemetery a couple of Sundays ago. This time I decided to do pen and ink thumbnails on location and then do a watercolour at home based on the thumbnail sketch. This was the last of the thumbnails that I did that day, but the first of my watercolour  work following that. 

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Barn & Farmhouse

This is my first effort after attending Dhruba Mazumder's watercolour workshop. It is based on a reference photograph of the same name by Irv made available on WetCanvas to participants in the Monthly Pen & Ink Project - May 2014.

I used a Khyati watercolour A4 pad for this. This was the first time that I was using this paper and I found it very different to what I had used during the later stages of the workshop. I found the difference very disconcerting but managed to complete the painting.  

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Dhruba Mazumder's Watercolour Workshop

Towards the end of April 2014 I attended a two day watercolour workshop conducted by Dhruba Mazumder, a very talented and accomplished watercolourist based in Bangalore. The workshop was very well conducted, useful and interesting. Dhruba taught through demos and one-on-one interaction with the attendees while we tried to do what had just been demonstrated to us. These are some of the exercises that we tried out:
This was an exercise in monocolour layering.

An exercise in layering, and value management using several colours.

An exercise in combining layering, and graded washes.

An exercise in brushstrokes.

Putting them all together.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Thappattam Dancers at Lalit Kala Akademi

Recently the Chandra Ilango Art Foundation had arranged for a traditional drummer group to perform at Lalit Kala Akademi, Chennai and had invited many artists to come and make an artwork on location based on this performance.  The event was very well attended and a huge success.

I had gone to the event only to watch and learn and with no intention of sketching. But once I was there, and after seeing so many artists sketching and painting, I too was tempted. Fortunately I had my pocket sketchbook on me and, although I was overwhelmed by the movement and the spectacle, I managed a small static sketch with my gel pen. I then added the colours at home.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

The Hero of the Park

This is a sketch of a very lovely tree that dominates the Nageswara Rao Park at Luz, in Mylapore, Chennai. I sketched this with a black ink gel pen on location and added the watercolour washes at home.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Portrait Sketching at Nageswara Rao Park

My friends and I decided to meet at Nageswara Rao Park, in Mylapore, Chennai to sketch at an open air morning concert in the park. But we were disappointed to learn that the event was not on that morning. My friends decided to do portrait sketches of some of the park regulars and persuaded some of the to sit for them. I decided to do a sketch of this activity and made an initial sketch in ink and then added the watercolours at home.

Friday, 9 May 2014


A narrow bridge was built in 1967 to connect two fishing communities on either side of the Adyar River in Chennai. The bridge collapsed in 1977 and was never re-built. It is referred to as the Broken Bridge. On a recent visit to this location I noticed this boat dry docked under the bridge. I made a quick sketch in ink in my pocket sketchbook and added the colour at home.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Mandapam Within Chitrakulam

Mylapore, in Chennai, is a very ancient settlement. The old and the new jostle for space here. Chitrakulam is a small temple tank adjacent to the more famous Kapaleeswarar Temple and my sketch shows a mandapam or small pavilion within this tank. Under ideal conditions this tank would be brimming with water and the mandapam would stand like an island in the centre. But the rains have failed so far and the tank is dry. I sketched this with a gel pen in my pocket sketchbook and added the watercolour at home.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Old Red Truck

This is based on a photograph of the same name by Gap, very kindly made available as reference to participants in the Monthly Pen and Ink Project--March 2014 on Wet Canvas. I sketched this with a ball point pen and then added the watercolour washes.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Besant Nagar Beach, Chennai

I went to Besant Nagar Beach to meet a friend but he was not on time. Waiting would have been a pain if I had not been carrying my Brahma Book (an Indian version of a moleskin) in my pocket. I made this quick sketch of the view in front of me with a gel pen and added the colours at home.

Monday, 14 April 2014

The Cross On Top Of St. Thomas Mount

St. Thomas Mount is a small hill near the Chennai Airport. There is a small church called the Church of Our Lady of Expectations on top of this hill. But it is more popularly known as Mount St. Thomas Church. It was built in 1523 A.D. by the Portuguese over the spot where St. Thomas was believed to have been killed in 72 A. D. My sketch shows a tall pillar with a cross mounted over it which is a relatively recent feature of many South Indian churches. 

Friday, 11 April 2014

Atop St. Thomas Mount

St. Thomas Mount is a small hill close to the Chennai Airport. it takes it's name from St. Thomas who is belived to have been killed on top of the hill in 72 AD (or CE as it is now referred to). A church was built by the Portuguese at that spot in 1523 AD. it is known as the Church of Our Lady of Expectations but is more popularly known as Mount St. Thomas Church. I was there with my sketching group a few weeks ago and sketched this on location with a gel pen and then added the colour at home.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Entrance Steps to the Universal Temple

This is last of the three sketches from my visit to Sri Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore, in Chennai. It shows the entrance steps leading to the Sri Ramakrishna Math/Mutt Universal Temple. I sketched this in my pocket sketchbook with a ball point pen and added the colour washes a week later. The sketch is 5.5" x 7".

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Shrine at Sri Ramakrishna Mutt, Mylapore, Chennai

The Sri Ramakrishna Mutt is a monastic order started in the 19th century by Saint Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. The Chennai (or Madras) branch was started in 1887 and it moved to the present premises in 1907. What I I have sketched is a small shrine honouring the saint. I sketched this very quickly with a ball point pen on location and added the colour washes later at home. The sketch is approximately 5.5" x 7".

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

View From Siva Temple, Senji

This is the last of the five sketches that I did on my recent visit to Senji. The hill in the background is about 800 feet (249 metres) tall with a fort on top. It is known as Rajagiri and is one of the three hill forts that make up the Senji fort complex. I have sketched Rajagiri from within a temple a short distance from the foot of the hill.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Kalyana Mahal, Rajagiri, Senji

I did five sketches on my sketching group's visit to Senji (Gingee) Fort last month (Feb '14).   While on the road to this venue I had made up my mind to move out of my comfort zone (i.e. pen and ink) and do at least a few sketches in colour wielding a brush. But old habits die hard and my first sketch was once again with pen and ink. Before my next sketch I had to remind myself of the resolution I had made and even then I was reluctant to give up my pen. So, although I did use a brush and produce three sketches during this visit in colour, I started each of them with line sketches using a ball point pen.

This one is a sketch of Kalyana Mahal, a several centuries old seven storeyed building within the Rajagiri Precinct of Senji Fort.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Rajagiri, Senji

From this point onwards I shall be posting current work. This one was done a few weeks ago when I visited Senji along with my wife, daughter and many friends from the Chennai Weeknd Artists.
Rajagiri Fort at Senji (also referred to as Gingee) is approached through a roofed stone entranceway, and then through an arched pavilion. Once past the pavilion there is a fairly large area with many interesting buildings and of course, the 800 feet (240 metre) tall Rajagiri hill on which the fort itself is located. My sketch shows the view that you see as you come through the first entranceway. I sketched this in ink and then added some watercolour, both on location.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

A few from 2013

Here are a few that I did in 2013. All of these are small sketches that I did in a small sketchbook called a Brahma Book. This is an Indian version of a Moleskin. It measures 9cm x 14cm (3.5" x 5.5") when shut. I generally open it out and use both pages together to get a 18cm x 14cm sketch (7" x 5.5"). I used a reference photo, which I took, for the first one.  I sketched the other three on location directly in ink and then added the watercolour washes.

Cleaning the Lawn

Egmore Station as seen from Buahari's Hotel

Valluvar Kottam Chariot

Semmozhi Poonga Ticketing Booth

Monday, 3 March 2014

Why a third blog?

For quite some time now I have wanted to paint. But somehow I end up drawing with pen, pencil or charcoal most of the time since I am more comfortable drawing rather than painting. But having retired recently I have more time on my hands for my hobbies. I have therefore finally decided to take the plunge and commit myself to doing at least a few watercolour sketches every week in addition to my dry media sketches. I intend using this blog to maintain a record of my progress. Hopefully I will see improvement and that will motivate me to paint on a regular basis.

I am now posting some of the colour work, in watercolour, watercolour pencils, colourpencils, and ink & colour,that I have done over the last few years, to show where I am at right now. In my next couple of posts I shall share what I have done recently and after that hopefully it will be a few new paintings or colour sketches every week.