Friday, 23 August 2013

The week and year that was

It's been quite a week so far - Madras week - and its also coinciding with the Chennai Weekend Artists (the group I sketch with every sunday ) completing a year! As part of Madras week we were invited to show our sketches as a group and have a discussion/ interaction with the public. During the Q&A session I was asked quite an interesting question by Ms Geeta Doctor - Why is it that we all sketch beautiful buildings and pretty scenes - isn't Madras also full of crowd and dust and isn't it about an interesting mix of cultures too? 

 It was a relevant question and I'm glad it was asked. As a group we have gone around sketching many different things that we consider part and parcel of life in our city. Yet, when we were told we could frame and display some of our prints, the tendency in all of us was to choose "the best" sketches, regardless of whether the variety in topic, style or in number of sketchers in the group was being truly showcased and represented. I think this is partly to do with all our ingrained conditioning of "what is good artwork".
Having brooded over it for a couple of days, I really feel now that location sketching is a completely different ball game. And the strength of going out in a group and doing this lies in the fact that there are so many people producing location sketches covering many styles and topics. I really feel strongly now that the biggest strength of CWA is its variety and not its prettiest pictures. 
I took a look at myself too and realised that several of my location sketches never make it on my own blog! How snobbish of me! So here is a small sampling of a few that are not pretty pictures - they are just quick sketches done in the past year showing Madras, its people, its animals and objects doing what  they do. 

I've also realised that I am so much more comfortable drawing static things that don't move - but its difficult to capture the flavour of a city with such limited skills. The coming year is all about improving my people/ crowd drawing skills. Wish me luck.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Celebrating Madras

It's Madras Week and yesterday I went for an early morning heritage walk inside Fort St. George. The first sketch is a commemorative Cupola named after Cornwallis. Its the first thing you see after you come in through the ramparts. The next sketch is St Mary's Church- the oldest in Madras (Santhome and Luz were re-built I think, otherwise they would be older.

The Fort was established in 1639 and marks the entry of the British into India. Not something to be terribly proud of but history nonetheless. The number of old and significant heritage buildings within this tiny fort are amazing. Unfortunately, the state assembly is within the Fort despite so many efforts to get it out, so it's a high security area - with polititians, public servants, army and Navy presence. We were scanned and frisked and the heritage structures are deserted, visitors are not encouraged.

Our guide for the walk was Vincent D'souza - very animated and full of tongue in cheek jokes. It was not my first time in the fort, I had been there several times during my thesis research but thanks to Vincent, I saw a few corners I hadn't seen before. All these sketches were done extremely fast. We were warned not to fall back from the group as the police may pick on us and throw us out! I had a tiny Brahmabook - 4 inch square. So the sketches are in reality the actual size that you are seeing them at - 4x4.