Nothing special, just the banal musings of my daily life.
Category Archives: Life
My best books of 2021
Last year I didn’t read as much as I usually do, what with one thing and another, but I ended up with some good ones. Here are the highlights.
Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman: Recommended by pacificleo, it was one of my best books of the year.
Voices of Dissent by Romila Thapar: This essay puts today’s responses to resistance in perspective, by charting out the history and evolution of dissent from the vedic times. A worthwhile read, even though the language was quite academic. (If you buy from Seagull, you can choose your version of the cover, designed by the brilliant sunandinibee.)
Among graphic novels, I read some beauties: Japanese Notebooks: A Journey to the Empire of Signs by Igort, The Winter of the Cartoonists by Paco Roca, Hostage by Guy Delisle, Leonard Cohen: On a Wire by Pilippe Girard and some more that I shared in Graphic novels by women.
Last year I also updated my perspective on feminism with We should all be Feminists by Chimananda Ngozi Adichie and Against White Feminism by Rafia Zakaria.
Some other books that I enjoyed were Funny Weather: Art in an Emergency by Olivia Laing, Daybook by Anne Pruitt and The Pursuit of Art by Martin Gayford.
In fiction The Startup Wife by Tahmina Anam was enjoyable and different, as was Crudo by Olivia Laing and No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood.
Our best pastime was drawing with Making Comics by Lynda Barry that Guto and I used throughout the year.
I thought I hadn’t read much, but now I’m getting tired just looking at this list. Oh well, life is short, and my eyes won’t last.
The path to your artistic voice
Where does your artistic voice comes from? It’s your story – and your story could have anything, from memories, obstacles, truths and morals. It’s important to know yourself and listen to yourself – even though it hurts. And also, hours and hours of craft and expression so the craft becomes part of your body and your expression can break through. the journey to finding your voice comes with a lot of risks and failures – but trusting that you will always find the way to your voice.
These are the resources that I’ve found useful – The Artist’s Way, Find Your Artistic Voice (which I may be quoting above), and doing Lynda Barry’s exercises.
Journaling in the age of social media
A few years ago I was finding it very difficult to be on social media.
I’d always used social media as a kind of journal to some extent, but with different identities crafted for each network, it was no wonder that I was feeling stretched.
I felt a constant struggle of selves, between authenticity, and the carefully crafted brand images everyone seemed to have.
Ultimately I followed Steve Jobs’ strategy when he took over Apple the second time (hahaha) – to cut back and simplify, and focus on the fundamentals.
Curious though – have you felt this way? How did you deal with it?
Days in a week
Random journal entries from last year. Watched Aranyer Din Ratri – one of my favorite Satyajit Ray films – and read a bunch of Emily Dickinson.
Design after all is a process of inquiry…
From The Garden of Life
Whoever buys a book and opens it fifteen years later…and finds it an absolute gem? The Garden of Life is one such discovery I made a few weeks ago.
It’s beautifully illustrated with original miniature paintings made specially for the book.
The page on hibiscus reminded me of the hair oil, Jabakusum, my mother would apply on our hair as children. Though effective, it was pungent, and we hated going to school with such smelly hair…
Looking back now, I don’t know if Jabakusum is still sold, but the packaging was very memorable, with quite an aspirational illustration, you might agree…
A study in skins
I was 8 when I copied my first Cezanne, in the drawing class we used to attend, held every Sunday in the parish hall at the local church. There was no looking back after that. I was mesmerized by the color palettes and the compositions, though I didn’t know all these terms then. I went on to copy the old masters for a decade, running through all of the teacher’s copies of Cezanne, Renoir and Van Gogh prints, and later from my uncle’s fabulous Great Masters’ collection at home. I’m not sure what I learnt, back then, but I became familiar with the artists, their colors and lines and brush strokes.
These onion studies are a far cry from those days. It’s been decades since I attempted any color studies but oh what joy!
Inspired by the this lovely poem by Harryette Mullen:
What we need has always been inside of us
Title borrowed from the poet Lee Herrick
An hour is not a house
Last year I discovered the poetry of Jane Hirshfield. Award-winning poet, essayist and more, she set aside her writing to study Zen Buddhism for many years.
Reading poetry is a deeply personal experience. What resonates with me in her poetry is the minimalism, the spirituality shorn of all excess, and the “moments of insight” that every poem reveals.
Sketches while reading An hour is not a house –
Back to posting after a long hiatus. Here’s a sketch of a Sunday treat from last year.
I’ve been reading/listening to Lynda Barry, and looking at sketches by Satyajit Ray.