Drawing: Visual & Spatial Representation 

July 2020

The first hour of everyday was to be dedicated to drawing, mostly from direct observation of the subject in presence. This exercise has a threefold objective: 

1. Centring the body & mind, building hand & eye coordination and beginning the day in quietude
2. Building patience & perseverance in addition to developing visual & spatial representation skills
3. Developing a nuanced understanding of the inhabitants and protagonists of spaces

Clockwise from top-left: Ketki’s drawings of Dhunuchi Dancers, Mugdha’s Lavni Dancers, Charvi’s Lavni Dancers 
images: courtesy participants

Each of the four weeks of the first phase had a distinct subject for studying through drawing. Week-1 was for drawing performers which each participant had selected to study for being unique to their region or community. Although the drawings are essentially to be made in the presence of the subject, considering limitations in accessing live performances and present performers, participants were allowed to refer to photographs as visual reference. The reason for insisting on live subjects is that while drawing we have to also learn to stabilise the visual frame. Referring to static images takes away the possibility of developing this skill. Almost all four participants struggled with these drawings since drawing people is a rather difficult task and next to impossible if not practised regularly. As seen above, Ketki, Mugdha and Charvi’s drawings carry playfulness, intensity and sensuality respectively.

Drawings of Cohabitants by (clockwise from top-left): Ketki, Charvi, Prachi & Mugdha 
images: courtesy participants

Week-2 was for studying one’s cohabitants in their daily chores or relaxing. One can begin to see the growth in the participants’ skills in drawing human figures. Ketki’s people acquire a surreal buoyancy and her line quality improved considerably from the hesitant back & forth strokes to gentler lines that compliment the lazy figures. Prachi’s lines have a magical wavy quality and the figures are sensuous and alive in relaxed postures. She remarked that after a point the garments were an interference. Which is a significant observation as it discloses the fact that she was perhaps beginning to become one with the subject and drawing the folds of the clothing was perhaps coming as a mental distraction since it’s very cumbersome to draw it the way it actually is. Beyond a point the mind extracts the pattern of the folds and replicates it without actually recording what is out there. 

(Top two) Mugdha’s studies of form and texture of vegetation; (bottom left) Ketki’s study in kitta and Prachi’s attempt in watercolour
images: courtesy participants

Week-3 was for studying vegetation, preferably from the site of one’s intervention. Mugdha’s sketches are vibrant with diverse textures, forms and mediums. She in fact noticed a sense of liberation when she put aside a presumed medium and explored another mid-drawing. Charvi too has made some remarkable drawings of plants using kitta very skillfully. 

In one of Ketki’s drawings of a palm tree from her site two contrasting qualities of mental interference can be observed. Her active engagement in creating the texture of the trunk is palpable in its beautiful rendering. It is obvious that beyond a point the mind repeats abstractions of the texture rather than drawing the trunk as it actually exists. However, these are meaningful abstractions and Ketki is invested in drawing a convincing image of the trunk, just as in the case of folds with Prachi. The leaves of the palm, on the other hand, are disinterested abstractions and it is evident that Ketki was distracted, perhaps even bored or in a hurry to finish the task.

drawings with wonderful detailing but a misplaced sense of completion: Charvi (left) & Ketki
images: courtesy participants

profiles of vegetation & performers: Ketki (top) & Mugdha
images: courtesy participants

Week-4 was to create profiles of the drawings which have already been created over the first three weeks. If the earlier drawings are already an abstract representation of people and vegetation through lines and shading, the profiles are further extractions of the essence of these abstractions. So, through a progression of extraction one tries to arrive at what are the bare minimum qualities that define the identity of the subject. Interestingly, most of the profiles are drawn in the negative, the forms are created by assembling parts. This lends mass to the figures. However, it also opens up the possibility of numerous studies involving permutations of mass, voids and lines to comprehensively define the identity of a subject. A bulk of these studies, however, are short on both exploration and clarity.