Sunday, 25 September 2011

Discovering Vasant Vihar

Uma and I had fixed to meet up at the KFI on greenways road on saturday afternoon. She was familiar with the place having been a frequent visitor of their library. I, on the other hand, knew where it was but surprisingly had never gone in before. I arrived at three in the afternoon and walked in through a winding tree lined mud track and as I walked the traffic noises fell away with each step. Suddenly this beautiful white building came into view through the trees. It was fronted by a lush green lawn - such a rarity in my city.

On the lawn sat Uma, sketching away already. Although the building looked inviting, we had to wait half an hour for them to open after their lunch break, and the lawn was cool with plenty of shade so I sat down and spread out my things too. As it happens, we never went in. We just sat there and sketched. The sunny weather and the huge trees all around and that lawn was just a great place to be.

Vasanta Vihar, which is the name of this building, was the house in which J. Krishnamurti stayed when in Chennai. It now houses an archive and library and is open to the public. The grounds are large and have guest houses, a book shop and a lot of green space which is such a needed lung in the heart of the city. What struck me most that evening was how peaceful it was. Visitors came and went, but maintained a respectful silence, a few glanced at us sketching, but no one bothered us. The usual Indian curiosity wasn't there in the people.

The black and white sketch of the building is what I did there, and the colours and some details were added later. The sketch of Uma is a very quick one. Light was fading by then and there was a beautiful orange-ish glow on the building and lawns from the setting sun. You can check out more pictures of this here. Once again I really enjoyed sketching in company and we have lots of ideas of where to go next. 

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Saturday sketchcrawl in Mylapore

No, I don't mean last saturday. This was actually 3 weeks ago and since then I've sunk into a bloggers black hole. Work and travel. But 3 saturdays ago I did something very exciting. I was approached through my blog by Uma, who is a fellow urban sketcher right here in Madras. We fixed up to meet at three in the evening and we were blessed with a cloudy day. 

Now all outdoor sketchers from other parts of the world will go huh?!! at this point but if it had been sunny we wouldn't have lasted half an hour at 3 pm. As it was, the shadows weren't crisp but we lasted 4 hours walking around Mylapore temple lugging our sketchbooks and paints around. We had fixed up to meet at the eastern entrance to the temple. The main doors were shut and would only open at 4 so we walked around the area and then realised that our first rendezvous point had a shady spot on the front steps of someone's house.

While waiting for the temple to open, the flower sellers were setting up their baskets and stalls, worshippers parked and went off to deposit their footwear in the booth and the owner of the house started washing her front steps making me jump sideways and mess up the perspective of the car.
Then the temple opened and in we went Again we made a beeline to a shady spot. The flagstones were hot even on a cloudy day and I did these two sketches from the same spot. By six thirty we were both thirsty and tired from the heat. Uma had the stamina for one more sketch sowe walked across to the other side of the enclosure and I just chatted with her while she captured the long dance hall on the southern side. Sketching with another person was so much fun and we hope to do more saturdays soon. I wish Madras had weather like Bangalore.