Category Archives: sketchbook
Looking back to Januaries past
This is the year, some of us old timers are counting their blog ages. inktales was started by me in May 2006, and in 2007 I moved over from Blogger to WordPress. I often think, that at 17 years of blogging on inktales, it’s one of my longest relationships – second only to the brown boy.
Today I was looking back over Januaries past, and while some Januaries have been super prolific (hello, 2009!) most years I don’t blog in January! Here are some of my favorites when I have roused my fingers out of Delhi’s icy winter to draw and type:
Design for foreign cultures
Here I am being inspired by Dr BV Doshi, who passed away yesterday. My Masters class was doing a project with immigrant children in Malmö at the time, I was finding it so difficult to empathize or get the nuances of their experiences. Language was a factor, since most of the children knew Swedish and their mother tongue, and not English, and my folkshögskola Swedish was nowhere near conversational. And then I read this interview in Blueprint Magazine.
Other favorites from 2009:
Revenge of the hairdresser
From a series on food in NID, La Bella, our favorite eatery from NID days
My first attempt at storytelling of our life, such innocence and still so true…
And these two lovely ones from 2019, another prolific January
A weekend with Lekha
A new year
Filled with food and love
A year of drawing Orin
One of the things of being a parent is that you have to spend time with your kids. Lucky for you if they are entertaining. As in years past, our tornado still takes forever to eat a meal so I use the time to draw. It’s great to have a living breathing human being at close quarters to draw from! Between mouthfuls, we chat.
Sometime in August I was making notes for my DesignUp talk, and thinking about “belonging” when Orin chimed in:
“You belong to your parents, but you live with us!”
“Do you know centipedes lived in the time of dinosaurs?”
“Do you know what a sundial is?”
I don’t know what he thinks of us…
Here they are watching the FIFA World Cup, and the brown boy thinks this is the best drawing of him that I’ve done since 2003. That drawing is actually hanging on my MIL’s fridge I think.
Here we were discussing our best movies/TV shows of 2022. The brown boy chose Better Call Saul, while mine was Dune, and the tornado chose Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
At least one of you drew me!
We’ve created a monster, I say…
Books of 2022
In 2022 I didn’t read as many but I read widely.
If I had to choose themes –
- Career & Business – The 7 habits of Highly effective people*, Wolfpack*
- Design – Design Justice*, Hello World
^, The Brand Gap
^, Paul Rand Conversations with Students, Drawing on Courage*, Super Normal*
- Film, Art & Creativity – Art Matters, Creativity, The Creativity Leap, Wes Anderson
- Fiction – Pixel
^, Tell me How to be, Carrie Soto is Back
^, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, The Christie Affair, Bright Lines, অগ্নিসম্ভব and অগ্নিকুসুম*
- Graphic Novels – Pablo
^, Esther’s notebooks, The Best we could do, I was their American dream, The Butchery
- History – A little history of the world, Broad Band, The Equivalents, At Home in the World*, Man’s Search for Meaning*
- Physics – When we cease to understand the world
- Poetry – Very close to pleasure there’s a sick cat
^, I hope this finds you well
- Travel – Dark Star Safari
- Uncategorized – Visual Thinking*, The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction*, In the Shelter*, The Right to Sex
^, The Book of Hope
*These books were life-changing – impacting the way I thought about myself, the world, how I live and work, what I choose to do
^These books were excellent. Some of them I gave as gifts to others, and I would probably re-read later in life.
Spend time making things for no known reason
A book that has given me immense joy is Making Comics by Lynda Barry. While she herself is a big inspiration, her books are inimitable and exceptional. Ms. Barry teaches drawing and comics to young children and this book is a set of those exercises and her unique insights around drawing, imagining, and teaching. I’ve often done some of the exercises with our little tornado and his friends when they needed to be calmed down, and soon we are all giggling at each other’s drawings.
Typeface copied: Astronef Super
Here’s an exercise where she asked us to imagine ourselves as Batman, and draw what we did the day before. I had gone to the Aadhaar Centre nearby, worked from home, and went for a walk with a friend.
Ms. Barry also believes that anyone can draw, and so do I. My drawing wasn’t anywhere near the best in design school, and in the animation studio where I interned, our boss had despaired over my unfit-for animation drawings. He used to challenge me to do 20 iterations of bird flight cycles, or 50 iterations of floating balloons, and I persevered. All by hand, of course.
What happens through repetition and practice is that you get better by training your hand to follow your eye or your mind’s eye, as closely as possible, without any gen loss. The repetition also allows your conscious rational mind and your ego, to quieten, and you’re in flow until there are just the forms on the page…
“There’s the drawing you are trying to make and the drawing that’s actually being made – and you can’t see it until you forget what you were trying to do.”Lynda Barry, Notes from an accidental professor
If you think you don’t know how to draw, this book is for you. Ms. Barry starts with basic stick figures to help you start envisioning. She also says,
It’s not your job to judge whether your drawing is good or bad, your job is to keep drawing.Lynda Barry on Design Matters podcast
This insight itself has set me free.
Title from Picture This
Just a day
Balancing introvert needs with the work that needs to be done is a common challenge in some of our lives…
A busy, bustling, still repeated dream
What life is, a minute’s pause, a moment’s thought, and I am grateful every day to have this practice of journaling.
Here are some recent pages from my sketchbook, unedited, unpolished, straight from my mind to the paper, drawn in usually less than fifteen minutes.
This was the podcast episode I made notes of, though it’s not my favorite episode. And surprisingly, I have been reading more about spirituality all of a sudden, but coming in through poetry, like this wonderful, magical book In the Shelter: Finding Home in the World by poet and theologian Pádraig Ó Tuama, who also hosts the podcast Poetry Unbound. In the book, Padraig has an amazing chapter on prayer “Hello to the imagination” which changed my perspective of it as an opaque ritual that was not for me.
Un Verdor Terrible
A few months ago I finished the book When we cease to understand the world by Benjamín Labatut. It’s an interesting non-fiction novel, the first of its kind that I had read.
Mr. Labatut says, “I love the way that physics deals with fundamental questions. It asks itself certain questions, and it gives concrete answers most of the time, but not all of the time. I’ve always been fascinated by fundamental questions, and science is, to my mind, the only part of human awareness that is still asking those questions.”
The title of the book, literally translated from Spanish, means, “a terrible greening” and was inspired by a painting by Hieronymus Bosch, “The Extraction of the Stone of Madness (The Cure of Folly)“.
I really enjoyed the book, because fiction sometimes gives you the power to go beyond what we know, “the strangeness of everyday physics”, to what we don’t know, an idea I first encountered through the stories of Richard Feynman, who held uncertainty at the center of his intellectual and creative life.
Read the book review here.
Welcome to middle age
Middle age! Time to get serious about life.
But me, I worry about my short arms and the brown boy wants to grow his hair.
Notes from a podcast
You may be aware of my constant endeavours toward becoming a more kind and compassionate person. When I was younger I used to dream about a divine collision, later on, Pema’s books have guided me on this quest. These notes are from the On Being podcast Remembering Thich Nhat Hanh, Brother Thay.
“Look into the heart of your anger and see where it comes from…the seeds of compassion in the mind need to be watered. When you have compassion you suffer much less. Look at fellow human beings with compassion in your heart.”