Monday, December 30, 2013

Russell Wilson

After Seahawks clinched the NFC West Championship title, I had to sketch Russell Wilson.  This is a pen and pencil sketch.  I initially started with a pen outline and shaded Russell's face and hands with pencil.  Later on, I could not resist but color his jersey, helmet and the ball. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela: 1918 - 2013

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Grand Prismatic Spring

The Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone is the largest hot spring in the US.  It was named for its striking colors, which match the colors of the dispersion of white light as it passes through a prism. 

Here is my humble attempt at capturing the mesmerizing beauty of the prismatic spring.  I tried out chalk pastels and was pleasantly surprised at the range of colors I could produce.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

2013 Green Ganesha

Following the tradition of making my own Ganesha idol every year, I started making this year's Ganesha while watching US Open tennis.  I wanted to try something different this year.  I used a different type of clay - gray water based clay, and I used a different modeling technique - subtractive method. 

Clay modeling is generally done using the Additive technique and stone sculpting is generally done using the Subtractive technique.  Additive technique is where you add material to build your model/structure.  Additive techniques are generally seen in modeling, construction or assemblage.  One of the issues with additive clay modeling over a period of days is that the added clay may not be of the same consistency (moisture content) of the final model which invariably leads to cracking.  Cracking is an issue with water based clay.  Oil based clay does not have this problem, but it cannot be air dried.  Oil based clay sculptures have to be baked or else they stay soft and pliable for a very long time.  

Subtractive technique involves starting with a mass of material larger than the finished work, and removal of material to achieve the desired form.  Stone sculpture is inherently subtractive.  As Michelangelo once said 'Every block of stone has a statue inside it.  It is the sculptor's task to free it'.  I decided to try the subtractive process by adding lumps of clay and then finely sculpting/removing the excess material to get the desired result.  One of the advantages of this method is that the complete mass is consistent and helps in reducing cracking.

Clay modeling is messy work.  Make sure that your fingernails are well trimmed and short.  Before starting, dig into a bar of soap to fill soap behind your fingernails and then, once you are done modeling, washing off the clay from your hands and behind the fingernails becomes easy.  Place lots of old newspapers under the work surface to catch all the clay clippings and fine sand.  A spray bottle filled with water helps in making sure that your clay is moist. 

As you can see from the pictures, I used aluminum sculpting wire to support the cantilevered arms and trunk.  Since this year's idol was bigger than the past ones, I was able to sculpt more details into it.  The bigger the piece, the easier it is to sculpt the details.  Since the idol was big enough, I did not have to use any support for the halo (ring behind the crown) or the ears or the shalya draped over Ganesha's shoulders and hanging off the arms.  All of these were made of rolled thin clay sheets. 

I used a variety of clay modeling tools and a few additional things like an old pen, refill (to make fine circle patterns), makeup brush, etc.

All in all, it was a great experience making this year's Ganesha idol.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Bharatanatyam photo shoot

Over the weekend, I shot some photos of my daughter in her Bharatanatyam attire.  She was getting ready to perform and we didn't have much time for me to prep my studio.  So, I had to set something up quick and finish the shoot.  Thought I will share the setup as well as the technique I used.

Let's look at the results first:

Equipment used:
- Canon T4i with Canon EF16-35mm f/2.8L lens
- Smith Victor PhotoFlood light with 3400K bulb
- Canon Speedlite 430 EX with a diffuser
- Black background cloth


The setup was simple.  A black background covering the back wall and the floor.  I positioned the PhotoFlood light to the right so it threw an orange light (3400K).  I positioned the Speedlite (in slave mode) on the left to throw a white light (5200K).  I don't have a mount for the flash, so, I fashioned a stand by mounting another Canon body on a tripod and attaching the flash onto it.  The camera was used mostly handheld. 

The reason for the above setup was to get an orange glow on the right side of the picture while illuminating the subject with white light from the left.  I tried the classic Rembrandt lighting (but not in its entirety).  The PhotoFlood does not have fine output control and hence I could not dial it down.  I was highly satisfied by the results of this quick setup. 

In reality, all you need is a dark background, an off camera flash and a camera.  Use the off camera flash on the left above the subject, while you shoot straight.  The light on the right can be from a window or a reflector to obtain a similar effect.

Overall, it was a nice experiment with minimal equipment.  

Sunday, April 14, 2013

San Francisco Cable Car

San Francisco is one of my favorite cities in the whole world.  The iconic cable cars of SFO are beautiful and  take you through some of the most beautiful neighborhoods of the city providing some of the most breathtaking views of the city and the bay.  Inspired by those cable cars, I made this mixed media (pen, charcoal and color pencil) drawing.

Saturday, March 30, 2013


A mixed media study.  The saree had a lot of patterns, but I kept it simple due to laziness.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Images of India - II

Auto Rickshaw.  This is a three wheeled people transporter.  It is a glorified scooter with a tiny engine in the back.  It realistically seats 4 including the driver, but I have seen as many as a dozen people (mostly kids) squeeze into one. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Images of India

A few quick sketches of rural India.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

From the archives - 8

A couple of studies of the Apache helicopter using ball point pen and cross hatches.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

From the archives - 7

More sketches from another sketchbook of mine from the 80s (I think).  This one had sketches on human anatomy.  Here are a few sample sketches.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

From the archives - 6

Whenever I found a good sketchbook, I would make meticulous notes.  Here is one example of the study of drawing a female face. 

Can't believe I had so much patience (and time)!

From the archives - 5

War planes from the Commando comic series:

Ships and Submarines:

Sunday, January 6, 2013

From the archives - 4

Another collection of sketches from the Commando series.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

From the archives - 3

Continuation of my Commando sketch series.  This is a sketch of various shooting positions.

Friday, January 4, 2013

From the archives - 2

I love Commando and other war comic books.  I loved the stories as well as the beautiful drawings.  I used to sit and copy the drawings to learn the techniques.  This is a series of sketches I made using a fountain pen.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

From the archives

During my recent visit to India, I dug up a few of my old sketch books.  Here are some of the sketches I had made 20+ years ago.

A quick pastel study:

Another quick graphite sketch:

More to come....