At the ends of long days what a pleasure it is to sit and draw…
Sometimes it’s important to just to get out of the daily grind and recharge my soul by looking at some art. Way back in 2017, this was one of those days.
Just the ability to do this, which I’ve also done while living in Bombay and Malmö, is a pleasure and a blessing.
I read a lot, and these days I also draw about the books I read. In 2017 though, my reading didn’t feature as much in my drawings. Here are 20 from 2017 in no particular order and the drawings.
The Best, not in order
- A year of magical thinking (Joan Didion): sketchbook drawing posted earlier here
- You must change your life: Rainer Maria Rilke and Auguste Rodin (Rachel Corbett): Loved. Saw a different perspective of the Letters to a young poet author.
- Lives of the artists lives of the architects (Hans Ulrich Obrist): I loved this book, and drew (and literally drew) a lot from this book again and again.
- Reclaiming conversation: Sherry Turkle
- M Train (Patti Smith): Sketchbook drawing posted earlier here
- Liminal thinking (Dave Grey): Must read, like his earlier book Gamestorming that I return to again and again.
- Felicity (Mary Oliver)
- A woman looking at men looking at women (Siri Hustvedt): I’ve been a fangirl of SH since I read The Enchantment of Lily Dahl and The Sorrows of an American, and I enjoyed this one more than Living, Thinking, Looking, not least because of the essay she wrote about sculptor Louise Bourgeois, who I was just getting interested in.
Feeling is crucial to understanding a work of art. “Einfuhlung” coined by Robert Vischer in 1873 is “a way of feeling oneself into a work of art,” which ultimately becomes “empathy” in English. The meaning of an object influences the feelings it evokes.
- Re-read Redesigning Leadership (John Maeda): As always I go back to reading John Maeda’s books at crucial times in my life. I was so happy to read this book while struggling with the leadership role. I think what I liked most was another way of approaching leadership – the artistic approach which I really resonated with. This was drawn on a flight layover.
- Make it new: A history of Silicon Valley Design (Barry Katz): One word: Awesome.
- In Other Words (Jhumpa Lahiri)
- Re-read The end of the affair (Graham Greene): Listen to this.
- You and a bike and a road (Eleanor Davies): Inspiring and beautiful. Became one of my all-time favorite books.
- Kiki de montparnasse (Jose-Luis Bocquet and Catel Muller): Fabulous and engrossing.
- Re-read The Emigrants (WG Sebald): sketchbook drawing posted earlier here
And the rest
- Everything I never told you (Celeste Ng)
- The history of love (Nicole Krauss)
- A union of doubts (TL Uglow)
- At the Existential cafe: Freedom, being and apricot cocktails (Sarah Bakewell)
- Living, thinking, looking (Siri Hustvedt)
I read a lot of books in 2017 and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was one of them. I’ve always steered very clear of psychedelic fiction, being the straight-laced person that I am, but when I received the exact same edition on two separate occasions from two very close friends, I had to finally read it.
No, this is not a good town for psychedelic drugs. Reality itself is too twisted.
All the references to the Rolling Stones’ music and The Doors’ music was quite an educational journey for me – [who] steered so clear of all this narcotic-induced visions. This could be one of those “Read a book you hate” challenges!
I remember reading it and feeling quite hot, the language was so evocative of the Las Vegas strip and hot US highways in summer, and didn’t hate it as much as I expected to.
Here are some images from Google:
Ralph Steadman and Hunter S. Thomson had met once and it hadn’t gone too well: “A year later, Steadman was asked if he’d like to illustrate another, much longer, piece of Thompson’s for Rolling Stone magazine – about a drug-crazed trip Thompson had just made to Las Vegas with his Samoan attorney….Despite never having been anywhere near Las Vegas, he set to, and four days later sent off his drawings. “I was quite pleased with them, I remember. I thought I’d managed to complement the style of Hunter’s writing.” When the drawings arrived, Thompson anxiously unrolled them. “Ye gods,” he recalled. “Every one of them was perfect.” Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was a huge hit and the two of them became friends. Under Thompson’s influence, Steadman’s work changed. “My drawing got stronger, less flaccid. He exposed me to the screaming lifestyle of the US.” But it was a friendship that came at quite a cost – to Steadman anyway.”
Have you read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas? Would love to know what you liked about it.
A year or so ago, I used to have a morning ritual of waking up and reading some poetry with coffee. Once in a while I would read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, and during that time, I also read White by Kenya Hara. (It’s such a meditative, beautiful book, and it was rather a spiritual and other worldly experience for me.)
One of those mornings, I read this poem by Denise Levertov. Though it’s about immersing our human consciousness in the natural world, to me the last few lines evoked how we continue to voluntarily lose ourselves in the virtual world.
“No one discovers
just where we’ve been, when we’re caught up again
–but we have changed, a little.”
From the sketchbook called Finding Soo • August 2016.
Back in 2015, I faced a serious identity crisis. Most women sail through these transitional times like swans, I however was more sinking than swimming. Eventually I found a sense of self but it took almost a year.
In those days, I felt cramped by my earlier visual language, and struggled to evolve my usual ink lines into something else.
Friends recommended all sorts of media, but I just couldn’t break out of line.
I explored drawing with brushes, ink and pastels but the cloud wouldn’t budge.
The only benefit after all that, was the brown boy was happy.
“I wish I could be in this Amrita Sher-Gil painting. Everyone is so calm and restful – a calm that I have lost, and would dearly love to get back.
Oh Amrita, your paintings are so much calmer than your own life. Is that a sign that life is always more chaotic than art?
Yours truly, agitated Soo.”
Here’s what she writes about my books (from 2003, 2009 and 2016):
A contrasting experience of honesty can be found in the ironic tone and self-reflexive journals of Sunandini Basu piled up on the centre table of the exhibition. An animation designer for 15 years, she had to sift through 96 journals to make her selection for the show. For Basu, journaling is a process of making life. She shared with us that through these “letters for her future self” she “often remember(s) forgotten wishes and goals or events” that shaped her. It’s delightful to stroll through the worries and victories of her daily life. One can trace the arc of the conversation the young designer has had with herself over the years and feel like a confidential encounter has taken place.
I hope you are all having a very merry christmas (and God Jul to any Swedish visitors), and here are some desktop wallpapers from the best of inktales.