Saturday, October 18, 2008

The 'Hatching'

A4 size; Black pen on paper; Using a technique of ‘hatching’ and ‘cross-hatching’ for the King hatchlings ! This technique is done by drawing closely spaced parallel lines to create tonal or shading effects.

After having glued myself to Bangalore for a few months, immersed in painting, I finally got a chance to take off to the Western Ghats, where (my brother, Sandesh) and the filming crew were shooting a documentary for National Geographic about King Cobras! The crew, along with Gowri Shankar and the many volunteers at ARRS (Agumbe Rainforest Research Station) had put in many weeks of radio tracking the King, observing and recording its behavior and filming the nest building in the wild. Now, it was time for the baby kings to break open their shells and come out into their whole new wild world. And I was lucky enough to land up at Agumbe right in time for this ! It was early August.

I sat watching the heads pop out, everything in slow motion, taking their own sweet time to absorb their new surroundings and venture out boldly, leaving behind their safe haven. With their heads out, they stood in the same position, sometimes for hours together, as if everything had been paused. Thus giving me ample enough time to sit in front of them and doodle rough sketches in my field-journal. And presented above is the final sketch of the baby kings hatching. Made this after i got back to Bangalore.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Wild flowers from Turahalli

More of my rough -in-the-field- journal sketches !
A few wildflowers from Turahalli. Well, thanks to Ravee (, my interest in wildflowers has slowly bloomed too. Hidden between the grass, are these tiny coloured forms, so *unique* and distinct from one another.... which i would have otherwise walked past without a glance.

With over 500 species of Aristolochia around the world... I was more than priviledged to stumble upon one of its kind at Turahalli. A unique flower structure... couldn't resist but sketch it ! Am amazed by this flower and am eagerly waiting to see them in bloom again ! Its become one amongst my favourite flowers!! :) (No sooner have i said this... the very next day, a peep through my window, i saw the same Aristolochia creeper and to add to my sudden discovery... it was in bloom too!!! Can you beat that!) How i wish, similarly, all my *eagerly waiting* thoughts come true too !
The Ground Star (Curculigo orchidoies) is one amongst the common plants of Turahalli... The star shaped pretty yellow flowers grow at the base of the plant, touching the ground.
Commelina forskalaei is the kidney-shaped petals at the bottom right of the attached page. The petals are bluish.

Peeping through the grass....

Friday, October 03, 2008

Leopards on the prowl

Did these sketches a few months back. Have used the -stippling method- for two of them... its mainly by doing the whole illustration by using fine dots to show the various tones and depth.
I havn't got to see too many leopards in the wild. I got lucky to see my first leopard 3 years back in September 2005 ... two in one day @ Bandipur NP. Will remain as the most unforgetful interesting day for me. Had also got to see my first sloth bear on the same day too! There was no limits to my joy that day! :)
Amongst the many leopard sketches i did... i guess i can pick out just these three that can be kinda -showable- to people. The one below, i used indian ink. However, i did prefer the stipplings better.After doing these leopard sketches, i have realised how difficult it is to sketch the cat family. Especially, all those spots on the leopard !! *sigh* !!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

"Growl",the T-shirt

The finest of my T-shirt paintings till date ! I sure did have a lot of enthusiasm to do it.
Makes a more special T-shirt for this was my very first air-brushed work !
With a thousand questions in my mind, if i should air-brush it or stick to my usual paint brush.... i decided to go with the air-brush after a lot of talking and convincing my own mind. It was supposed to be a birthday gift so i absolutely didn't want to spoil it no matter what. So, however, i thought i will start with the air-brush and just in case i spoil it, i will switch over to my more comfortable paintbrush ! But well, by the end of it, i have been more happier than ever.
I first worked on the front image of the tiger in the bottom corner of the T-shirt , later did the profile face of the growler !
I use an Iwata HP C+ Airbrush and an Iwata Sprint Jet Air-compressor. Now... (For the ones who are curious to know more...) What is an Airbrush ??!
Its like a miniature Spray gun. Its a small pen-like tool which sprays a fine mist of paint with a constant air pressure from the compressor. As i use the double action airbrush technique, it gives more control over the air pressure and paint flow. It did take quite a bit of practice and sheets of newsprints doodled with short and long lines going in all directions, thin and thick; circles and curves, to get a better control of the new tool. It will only get better and better with more practice am sure. Have been enjoying this tool the best oflate. The main drawback is that its a bit expensive and has to be totally cared for. After every use it needs to be cleaned throughly, if not, its absolutely not worth investing in. Just as i thought i was getting a better hang of the airbrush, a tiny part as small as 3 mm, has got damaged :( . I believe its one of the parts that gets worn out every now and then. Its been 2 months now and am still waiting for the spare part. Need to get in touch with someone who is coming to India asap and its only available in the US of A.
Hoping to get a better hand on this instrument very soon ! I so need that spare part, right now!!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Ruby-throated Hummingbird & Trumpet Vine

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) and Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans)

This painting got auctioned in the US just last month!

Its been a year since i made this painting. And i must say, i spent sooo much time on this one. I was trying to get a different background effect, only later, to learn that the effect is possible with an Airbrush!

This painting was a donation to the Ocelot Festival, as they were raising funds for the conservation of Ocelots. However, am excited coz it's the first auction of my painting !! :) I believe they got it framed and it was looking pretty !! Now, i sit here and wonder on which wall it is hanging!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Eravikulam National Park... my journal pages

25th - 31st December, 2007

I was quite fortunate enough to tag along with my brother to Eravikulam National Park. Sure enough, i had seen pictures, video clippings and heard about all the words of praise about this place i was going to visit. But i can say -nothing,absolutely nothing- can come close to *just being there* and seeing the beauty that stands in front of you! The Landscape only got better and better... mountains and valleys that run along till as faaaaar as your eyes can see; and nestled in between some of the valleys are dense Sholas or mini-rainforests, if you can call it! Being the month of December, the grassland was ochreish-greenish-brown. So untouched, so pristine! I so consider myself one of the luckiest!
I hiked deeper into the national park with Sandesh, Mandi, Sara and 15 other porters, who were carrying all the filming equipment and ration for the week.Not to mention,i would be the first person to start the hike and no sooner all the porters carrying much heavier baggage than me would run along next to me, leaving me trotting behind at the end of the trail!! I sure did make it to the hut with a smile though! You don't tend to know the meaning of a 'frown' in that landscape. Also, i must confess, except for the beginning uphill, the later part of the hike is not too bad (thankfully) ! :)

I was so mesmerised by the place that i was smiling throughout and soon sat to do a quick pen & ink sketch of the landscape in front of me in my journal. This is the view from the Eravikulam hut which faces a stream and the 'kathu-malai' mountain in front of us. To the left is a quick pencil sketch of the skull of a Sambar deer.

The next day early morning, went up to see the morning light and the spell of shadows as the sun came up, on the mighty Anaimudi and its valleys around. It was beautiful! Anaimudi is known to be the highest mountain peak in the south of the Himalayas.. about 2695 meters! The name 'Anaimudi', refers to 'the Elephant's head'. Sadly, i could not make time to sketch this.

Above, is a quick sketch of the 'Eravikulam hut', where we stayed. Below, just a quick landscape sketch of the mountains, valleys, sholas and the swifts i saw flying about the place! Next to these sketches are the birds i got to see during my stay!

The bird highlights for me on this trip were the Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Pacific swallow, White-bellied Shortwing, Nilgiri Pipit, Indian Schimitar Babbler, Black eagle and with all probability a Fork-tailed Swift! To add to this... allll these birds,except for the Black eagle, were my lifers (seeing them for the first time!)
I have come back now,but have left many things undone. I still need to see those lush green grasslands in the monsoons,need to hike up to the top of Anaimudi, explore more of the sholas and see more of its wildlife. One cannot ask for a better landscape to learn how to sketch and paint. I so wish i get to go back!