My Sketches

I’m born in an artis­tic fam­i­ly. Such artis­tic com­pan­ion­ship brings two things: on one hand, it inspires our own cre­ativ­i­ty. On the oth­er hand, it hope­less­ly destroys any artis­tic cre­ativ­i­ty we may have. Because what­ev­er we do, it is noth­ing com­pared to what we see being cre­at­ed in front of our own eyes.

Nev­er­the­less, the inspi­ra­tion did work some times, in my younger days. When school teach­ers and col­lege pro­fes­sors were ram­bling, I used to scrib­ble, doo­dle, and some­times sketch. So here is a sam­pling of some of these diver­sions.

Note: None of the pho­tographs of the sketch­es have been dig­i­tal­ly altered in any way.


This was from a col­or adver­tise­ment in a glossy mag­a­zine. I was inspired by the chal­lenge of cap­tur­ing the creas­es of the clothes in pen­cil. (That’s why the faces, a low pri­or­i­ty, are so bad).


This is not a repro­duc­tion of any­thing, just my imag­i­na­tion. The cap­tion below in Marathi states: “What does a giant tree know about the many trav­el­ers who seek solace under its cool shade? — Mahen­dra: 18th March 90”. This sketch was inspired by a quote in a char­ac­ter study called “Sakharam Gatne” by the famous Marathi humorist P. L. Desh­pande, fond­ly known as “Pu La”.

Woman Face

This is from an adver­tise­ment for Neko ger­mi­ci­dal soap. This soap is no longer avail­able in India. The ad was from a very old news­pa­per, prob­a­bly from the 1960s. I was fas­ci­nat­ed by the coun­te­nance and the expres­sion in her eyes.

Woman in Sari

This is from a very old, black and white pho­to­graph of my moth­er. Again, from around 1960. The creas­es and wrin­kles of the sari and blouse were my inspi­ra­tion. Most peo­ple who see this sketch ask me, why did I leave the face out? I don’t know. I have many expla­na­tions and rea­sons. But as an artist, I choose not to express them and let my sketch do the talk­ing.

For me, the high­light of this sketch is what is not sketched — the upper line of her arm. You see it, but its not there at all.

Tech­no­rati Tags: , , ,
This entry was posted in My Art, Personal. Bookmark the permalink.
  • My turn to ask. What in the world are you doing in the soft­ware busi­ness? That first sketch, espe­cial­ly the cloth­ing part, was bril­liant. I do a bit of pen­cil sketch­ing myself and I have a fair sense of how good an artist is. Those clothes were some­thing else. Seri­ous­ly.

  • I must agree with krishashok, you are tal­ent­ed beyond words. *Aika­ter­ine being silent, because she can­not find the words to accu­rate­ly express how good these are*

  • FYI — My favorite one is your moth­er. You did not need to draw her face to por­tray her emo­tion. With­out the face, it still comes across. You are that good.

  • Mahen­dra,
    When you see the my avatar, please notice that my hat is off! Your mother’s sketch is so evoca­tive!
    Great stuff, but last cen­tu­ry (antique value=priceless). What about some mod­ern mas­ter­pieces, with your emerg­ing philo­soph­i­cal con­scious­ness?

  • Holy Christ Ram­bodoc, you and I agree on some­thing. Mahen­dra brings the world togeth­er yet again. I raise my glass of pinot noir to you all in cel­e­bra­tion.

  • Ram­bodoc: This is a skill I’ve lost now. My philo­soph­i­cal con­scious­ness is not emerg­ing, but has waned. In my hey­day, I was so philo­soph­i­cal that I end­ed up iso­lat­ing myself! 🙂

    Ashok: When grow­ing up, I gave my par­ents a very hard time. First, I made them hope I would be a chess cham­pi­on, then a musi­cian, then a roller skater, and so on. I just used my skills to spend my par­ents’ mon­ey on every­thing under the sun…:-)

    Yes, if you sketch your­self, you would bet­ter under­stand what goes on behind this. Thanks so much for your kind words.

    Cheers to all of you! I was a bit appre­hen­sive when post­ing these, but you’ve made my day!

  • Alkater­ine,
    Pinot Noir is so passé! So now that we dis­agree, let us get back to busi­ness!

  • Ram­bodoc -

    As much as you would like to, you can­not deny our agree­ment — it is for­ev­er sealed in Mahendra’s vir­tu­al world. This is just the begin­ning. I will slow­ly and with­out your knowl­edge brain­wash you into a pinot noir drink­ing virtue the­o­ry espous­ing tree hug­ging choco­late eat­ing fem­i­nist.


  • ” I will slow­ly and with­out your knowl­edge brain­wash you into a pinot noir drink­ing virtue the­o­ry espous­ing tree hug­ging choco­late eat­ing fem­i­nist.


    Expec­to patron­um!
    (sil­very wisp of jack­ass floats out from his wand tip and dies at the feet of the fast-glid­ing Demen­tor)
    Cac­chi­o­la­ta sub­mer­gus
    Demen­tor drowns in choco­late syrup.…..

  • I thought this blog and its com­ments were sup­posed to be in Eng­lish! 🙂

    BTW, I just told my mom that I’ve put my sketch of her old pho­to­graph on the net, and that it’s get­ting nice com­ments — you should’ve seen the look on her face. Thanks for mak­ing us so hap­py.

  • I love your sketch­es! Pen­cil is my favorite medi­um and your work is excel­lent. Thank you so much for post­ing these!

    My father was an artist, Mahen­drap, but all I inher­it­ed from him was his taste for art, rather than his tal­ent for it. I once tried to rem­e­dy that by suing him for my fair share of his genes, but the case was thrown out of court. There is no jus­tice in this world.

  • Paul: You make me laugh…thanks for the com­pli­ments and a nice hearty laugh!

  • Ah, latin and choco­late mmm­m­m­mm.….

    Throw in some shoes and that is one sweet sweet death.

  • Ah thats impres­sive Mahen­dra! When you talk about being born in a bat­ter­ing artis­tic envi­ron­ment, I sure know what you mean. Dit­to about spend­ing mon­ey on every­thing pos­si­ble! haha­ha! Loved your mother’s sketch, but more than that I went silent for a while after hear­ing the tree speak.

  • Hi Mahen­dra,

    I had just logged in to tell you how beau­ti­ful your sketch­es were: the first one with those clothes and your moth­ers. When I clicked your com­ments sec­tion to write, I found sev­er­al oth­ers already echo­ing me. I have noth­ing new to add, only my home­st appre­ci­a­tion of your artistry.

    Keep that going!

  • SHREK: For your infor­ma­tion, there’s a lot more to ogres than peo­ple think.
    DONKEY: Exam­ple?
    SHREK: Exam­ple? Okay, um, ogres are like onions.
    DONKEY: [Sniffs] They stink?
    SHREK: Yes. No!
    DONKEY: They make you cry?
    SHREK: No!
    DONKEY: You leave them out in the sun, they get all brown, start sprout­ing’ lit­tle white hairs.
    SHREK: No! Lay­ers! Onions have lay­ers! Ogres have lay­ers! Onions have lay­ers.
    You get it? We both have lay­ers. [Sighs]

    - Well, you almost fit the onion descrip­tion!! Every­time I brush against you, a won­der­ful new lay­er shows up. Few days back, I had to col­lect my jaw from the ground when I read your prose. Now, I have to roll in my eyes after see­ing your sketch­es. Again, nev­er real­ized before today that you had a mono­chrome itch to your­self too.

    Your under­stand­ing of anatom­i­cal details is superb. I love your drapes, but IMHO it can do with more prac­tise. I had strug­gled with drapes for quite some time and I know how tricky it can get. Ridges on the drapes are the trick­i­est — I can see the same strug­gles that I went through in Grandparent’s delight ( and Mother’s pride (

    I just have one more com­ment, you need to let go.. there is so much of con­straint vis­i­ble in the lines and shades.. try to move to dark­er hues and rich­er vari­a­tion of shades and open up the strokes, let them flow in larg­er curves and not be con­strained.

    PS: You should have been a techie, WTF are you doing in man­age­ment??


  • Priyank: thanks! Looks like we’ve a lot in com­mon as well 🙂 You must prob­a­bly have read Sakharam Gatne, so you can under­stand where the sketch is com­ing from…

    Poon­am: thanks for your appre­ci­a­tion. Like you men­tioned on your blog, it is the appre­cia­tive com­ments that keep one going at it!

    Sandy: thanks for the enlight­ened cri­tique! Thanks so much for shar­ing your knowl­edge and exper­tise. I ful­ly agree about the prac­tise thing. I was nev­er con­sis­tent in any of my exper­i­men­tal endeav­ors, and thus remained a Jack at all of them!

    The con­straint aspect is a new learn­ing for me. I nev­er real­ized it before. I won­der if let­ting go comes with the con­fi­dence, which comes with prac­tise?

    What has sketch­ing got to do with being techie?

    The onion bit was enter­tain­ing! Being an intro­vert, I don’t open up eas­i­ly. And I nev­er had the courage to talk about sketch­ing with you after see­ing yours! 🙂

    As you can see, these are 17 year old sketch­es. There is a black ‘n white, close-up, large size por­trait pho­to­graph of my moth­er from the same col­lec­tion. It is the most amaz­ing pho­to­graph I’ve ever seen in my life. I have made numer­ous failed attempts to sketch it. My trained cousin artist tried to offer expert advice — start­ing with the basics of the human skull. After that, I real­ized my anatom­i­cal under­stand­ing is most­ly kinder­garten.

    There is a hid­den ambi­tion, a dream, some­where inside me, that one day I am going to sketch that por­trait. But my con­fi­dence lev­el is zero, after all these years…

  • mahen­dra — I can only come up with one word — WOW!

  • Pingback: Boiled Bean Town « Doing Jalsa and Showing Jilpa()

  • Wow… excel­lent. Your blog is gain­ing beau­ty day by day!
    Details to the dress fold­ings giv­en by you are stun­ning!

    Enjoyed the com­ment sec­tion too… Aika­ter­ine, Ram­bodoc… and their lat­inum lol­lanum

  • Wow, how did I miss this… sor­ry for com­ing here so late (after 20 com­ments).… work is killing nowa­days… any­way, back to this post, I love the moth­er one the best. Its, well, kind of dif­fer­ent from the oth­ers. Even though you can’t see her face, you can eas­i­ly imag­ine the expres­sion that can be on that blank face. Prob­a­bly that has what attract­ed me the most in this pic — every­one can think of the expres­sion the way he/she wants it to be with­out being wrong about it. Keep brush­ing… you re good 🙂

  • Arun, Thiru, Oemar: Thank you! I don’t know how to respond to all the kind com­ments…

  • Mahen­dra,

    I hope that everyone’s com­pli­ments pro­vide a bit of a nudge to tack­le that por­trait of your moth­er. It is easy to let what you do not know over­whelm your con­fi­dence. But I think every­one here is mak­ing it clear that what you do know is prop­er­ly your focus.

    You are incred­i­bly gift­ed, not just in tech­nique, but also (and I would say more impor­tant­ly) in an innate appre­ci­a­tion for the sub­tle way in which great artists draw out emo­tion in the peo­ple who admire their art­work. This is evi­dent in the pic­ture of your moth­er. It is one thing to be able to draw a per­fect ren­di­tion of a pic­ture. It is anoth­er, rar­er, thing to under­stand that by alter­ing the image (by mak­ing the face invis­i­ble) you can cre­ate emo­tion in the observ­er. And then to cre­ate the ‘miss­ing’ upper arm, that so clear­ly appears to be there (which is a per­fect com­pli­ment to the form and func­tion of the face). Well, that is artis­tic genius.

    You have the innate abil­i­ty to trans­late an image, to mold it into something…indescribable. I am not the only one who fell into silence at one of your pieces.

    Why did I say all of that? Oh yeah, draw the por­trait of your moth­er one day. Your innate bril­liance is still there, even after all these years. I imag­ine that brush­ing up on and improv­ing your tech­nique will be sur­pris­ing­ly easy.

  • Aika­ter­ine: you start­ed out silent, and then you said it all! 🙂 I can’t tell you how glad I am that you did. Rather than let my sketch do the talk­ing, I should’ve said let my affec­tion­ate blog read­ers do the talk­ing!

    Thanks for the inspi­ra­tion. I’m try­ing to build it up inside myself. Let’s see…

  • Amaz­ing art work. Stun­ning tal­ent !!! Keep them com­ing !

  • Beau­ti­ful sketches.My favourite is your moth­ers sktetch.

  • Tru­ly beau­ti­ful work, I am hum­bled by my own attempts…But in all seri­ous­ness, you have a remark­able eye and a gift­ed hand!

  • Sowmya, Pre­rna, Enre­al: thank you from the bot­tom of my heart for vis­it­ing and com­ment­ing!

  • Pingback: Photo Tagging « An Unquiet Mind()

  • Wow !
    won­der­ful detail !

  • evoca­tive­ly vivid. how does it feel to feel con­nect­ed to a part of a self that you once were?

    p.s: thank you for drop­ping by my blog.