Books, Design, Life, sketchbook

Reading “White” by Kenya Hara

Like I posted earlier, I read White last year and loved it. Here’s a drawing I made during that time.

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[WHITE
Every morning I sit and drink my coffee and read a few pages of White in silence and calm, and it’s a beautiful meditative experience reading this book. I feel thankful for life and everything that is still left in this world for me to wonder at.]

Read it for the experience as well as for the content.

From the sketchbook called Captivity (Feb 2017).

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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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gutotales, Life, parenthood, sketchbook

Life after

I went back to work when Orin was four months. Still breastfeeding, still feeding at night, and going to work during the day. So many working mothers go through the same thing, but it’s so exhausting! Every day of Orin’s first year I used to give myself a private award for staying human.

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Though the brown boy was an completely engaged parent, and we had a day time nanny for Orin, there were times when I needed a little break.

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“Hmmph,” says the anteater. “An afternoon of babysitting needs an afternoon of therapy.”

“There goes my potential babysitter,” I think.

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Life, sketchbook, travels

Holiday journal, 2

Like I said, poor Orin had to fall ill within two days of the holiday. Just the usual viral fever. When he was sleeping, I was drawing, reading and moping for the lost holiday.

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Here are some sketchnotes I made while listening to this On Being podcast with Maira Kalman and feeling thankful for small pleasures.

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“To be under a tree with Maira Kalman and her talk on angst and ritual: bliss.”

Brief moments of watching the sea. Nature is such a miracle.

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After Joan Didion, I re-read The Emigrants by WG Sebald. Ever since I discovered them on Rukminee’s bookshelf, I re-read one every year.

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“The seasons and the years came and went…and day by day, hour by hour, with every beat of the pulse one lost more and more of one’s qualities and became less comprehensible to oneself, increasingly abstract.”

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Extended solitude makes me write more: “Drawing is easy and lets me construct my own alternate version of reality. Because doesn’t everyone do that, only I do it in visuals. Sebald apparently started writing his beautiful immersive transporting prose where stories blur the lines between fact and fictions, events and the recounting of them, and the memories of events, because he wasn’t satisfied with academic historical writing or with current biographical prose. Drawing is easy; because like Maira Kalman says,

“Writing is too serious and angst-ridden.”

Like life.

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“Seeing, Hearing, Listening

When we see someone often we only see what we want to see, and what we think should be there. The eye joins the cognitive dots and sends the visual to the brain (??)

But drawing gives us a chance to really look at something, explore it with our eyes, see without bias.

It’s a bit like active listening, being open and then responding. Why do I enjoy drawing from memory? It is after all a reconstruction.”

And did I mention how much I love reading Sebald? His gothic prose saves me from my own melancholy every single time.

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“It seems to me then as if all the moments of our life occupy the same space, as if future events already existed, and were only waiting for us to find our way to them at last.”

So ironic in the context of this holiday.

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Life, sketchbook, travels

Holiday journal, 1

A break from the distant past of 2015 to the last holiday we took a few months ago. We’d gone to Sri Lanka, but as you’ll see from my drawings, events conspired to make the holiday more about the hotel room than the place.

“Here we are, in a neighboring country that looks and feels familiar, but such a different vibe, such a different sense of people.”

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We’d planned to go to all these places that I’d drawn in the map, but I ended up in the hotel at Bentota the whole time, because Orin fell ill and only recovered the day we were leaving for Delhi. These are some drawings done on the road.

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On this trip I started using water-soluble color pencils for the first time, and really enjoyed moving away from lines to shadows. (Forgive the quality of these images, my scanner is broken so there’s a big glare in all the scans.)

These drawings done in Kandy Botanical Gardens were the first ones where I was trying to figure out how to use color pencils.

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Discovered the writing of Joan Didion in The Year of Magical Thinking on this trip.

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“You have to pick the places you don’t walk away from.”

And the same is true of people, I think.

Part 2 coming next.

And by the way, I used a Kaagazi sketchbook and loved it. Will be definitely using more of their books now.

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