art, Life

A free day

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.

I took the elevated road past Humayun’s tomb and went to see a show at Vadehra Art Gallery.

Just the ability to do this, which I’ve also done while living in Bombay and Malmö, is a pleasure and a blessing.

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art, Books, Design, List, sketchbook

2017 in Books

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.

SATURDAY A day spent reading about art, design, writing.
And making drawings about them and thinking.


The Best, not in order

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.

And the rest

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art, Books, sketchbook

Read a book you hate

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:

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.

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art, Books, drawing, Life, sketchbook

From Sojourns in the parallel world

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.

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“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.

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art, drawing, Life, parenthood, sketchbook

Chasing a medium

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.

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I explored drawing with brushes, ink and pastels but the cloud wouldn’t budge.

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The only benefit after all that, was the brown boy was happy.

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art, Life, sketchbook

To Amrita

Back in 2014, the brown boy and I used to have this painting by Amrita Sher-Gill hanging in front of our bed and I had just finished reading Amrita Sher-Gil: A Life by Yashodhara Dalmia.

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“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.”

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art, sketchbook

The slow art of bookmaking

If you’re so inclined, here’s a review of Zones of Privacy by Alisha Sett that appeared in the Hindu the other day.

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Photo from The Hindu

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.

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art

Merry Christmas!

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.

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jamalpur 1024*768

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autorickshaw 1280*1024

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art, illustration

Pingola the Grumpy King

This is the cover of The Grumpy King, it has been published by Ladybird. The story – not written by me- is about Pingola a very very grumpy king who was always worried and grumpy. He made too many laws and tried to force everyone in his kingdom to follow the laws – bedtime at 9, everybody must always do their homework, no eating sweets, no parties, etc. The king himself had to check everyone’s report cards to make sure they were all studying hard. The only saving grace was the king’s son, Singola (!!) who tried to make his father understand there can be no life without fun…But in vain.

One day the king woke up in the night to find everyone celebrating. He found out that they were celebrating his death! And try as he might, he could not make them see that eh was not dead. It was a nightmare! Finally when the king actually woke up, he decided to abolish the old rules and make new rules! Like school till 3 in the afternoon only, weekends for fun and parties, etc. The people were happy and they lived happily ever after.

Well I’m not too fond of the story myself, but apparently the book was pretty popular with children (and their parents!) I met a lady who said that her daughter really loved the book, and thought that she was the grumpy king! But alas, the shelf life for these books are very less… by the time I met her daughter, my book was passé, and she was playing video games instead 😦

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