November 24, 2013

For the past few months, I've been busy with a picturebook project that has made me work in a slightly different way compared to my usual watercolour. This is the first time I've incorporated collage into my painting, and while I'm still getting the hang of it, I've really enjoyed experimenting!

The project was about an endearing little girl called Nabiya and her journey into the world of stories. Set in the slums of Mumbai in the monsoons, it was a wonderful subject for me to draw.

I really got a chance to look closely at the detail in these surroundings - the closely built houses, narrow alleyways, the tremendous amount of textures, patterns, variety! Though such places are seemingly unclean, dingy and dark, I think they have a lot of unobserved visual beauty. The streaming sunlight, little potted plants, hanging clothes, brick walls are all very pretty.

In fact, having to draw slums really made me see how a bit of cleaning and arranging could change the way these spaces look. It was also a challenge to choose and feature only some of the detail and not overburden the images with too much colour or pattern.

Another thing to achieve was natural gestures for the children. While I love drawing children more than anything, watercolour and pencil lines offer much more movement than cut outs. The best way out was using gentle washes for the background to soften the images.

Of course, when the imaginative, dreamy part comes, my paintbrush is the happiest!

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