Sorry for the wait…

Hi everyone,

Ideally, I would have had a blog post up by now. Unfortunately, I was taken unawares by a sudden bout of sickness that left me out of action for the last week.

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While it has been a frustrating experience, being bedridden came with its fair share of perks, namely, a lot of reading, and brainstorming (I was physically out of it, but for some reason, my mental faculties were whizzing as usual).

Now that I have recovered to a good measure, I will have the first of a three-part series of posts discussing “Climate Change” online by next weekend. I intend to use this format such that I may be able to cover a wide spectrum of issues, concerning the topic, within the scientific, political, and socio-economic regimes. The goal is to provide for well-deserved communication, and education on a highly controversial subject that is inherently a simple, but significant, circumstance of our interaction with nature.

I will also post a book review on Luc Ferry’s, A Brief History of Thought, which I finished reading recently. Coupled with my efforts to finish my second book, I’m looking forward to a busy week of writing. I intend to move towards pre-production beginning with the necessary illustrations for the book. The goal is to have it published by the end of this summer (at the latest, fingers crossed).

Meanwhile, I shall continue to fight the good fight as I juggle my temporary term of unemployment with my academic endeavors, and my writing. It is quite difficult to keep a regular working schedule, especially when I’m spread thin over various fronts, but hey that is life! As excited as I am now to publish my second book, I can’t wait to get started on the subsequent writing projects I have in store. Similarly, there is a lot to look forward to in the near future, not to mention “evolving” another year  in two weeks’ time. This post was to just inform all of you that I’m still here. Once again, I apologize for the delay!

I will see you all again next weekend!

Adventures in Drawing – A New Beginning

Previously on “Adventures in Drawing,” I discussed several matters of art. I specifically placed emphasis on the three valuable lessons of learning to actively see thingsthe value of repetition, and drawing what one sees, not what one knows.

The second half of the drawing course followed the application of said rules with a series of projects. I had the wonderful opportunity to test my skills with various mediums from charcoal, graphite, and conté sticks. Along for the ride came an assortment of healthy drawing techniques I had learned earlier involving the use of guidelines, the ability to delineate depth and active perception in objects, as well as blind contour drawing etc. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to test my skills with the various media (Figures 1-2).

Figure 1. Man’s best friend (using charcoal, and graphite). 

 

Having completed the course, I can certainly say that my knowledge, and library of resources pertaining to drawing has grown exponentially. If there is a takeaway message from my experiences so far, it would be the following: simply put, anyone can be an artist. All you need is an HB pencil, a sketchbook, and a little bit of incentive. Most importantly, practice makes perfect.

In my opinion, I view drawing, and art, in general, as a personal interpretation of one’s environment, and imagination; a realm of infinite possibilities. The uniqueness factor of one’s works is dictated not through the judgment of external critics but rather one’s own individuality. Thus, you have nothing to fear in the criticism of your own doodles. We are all artists in our own measure. As Mason Cooley put it, “Art begins with imitation, and ends in innovation.”

Figure 2. Unfinished swimmer (using conté sticks)

With every passing day, I get closer to achieving the same with my artwork. Once again, I’ve learned that practice makes perfect. (On a side note, it also helps to have an encouraging partner, especially one who goes out of their way to buy you a legit Japanese manga kit but I digress.) If I could briefly summarize the steps that I have taken so far in my journey in drawing, and that I wish to share to my fellow aspiring artists, they would be:

(1) Start with doodles, and doodle frequently. Sketch whatever you wish to sketch. Freedom of imagination, and action is important in drawing.

(2) Get a few guide books on the side, or even better, just parse through the overwhelming history of artists, and their works that we can readily find information about on the WWW (world-wide-web).

(3) Trying a short, and supplementary course is highly beneficial too. Learning drawing also involves the communication of ideas, and techniques. (Check out the arts center in your city. If you don’t have one, Udemy is a wonderful online resource for awesome, and cheap courses. And if that doesn’t work, then it’s even more simple, learn from nature, and become your own artist. There’s no limit to human creativity, and imagination.)

(4) Aggregate the lessons you learn in infinitesimal steps, and integrate them toward a full learning experience.

Moving on from here, I intend to eagerly pursue my dream of becoming a mangaka in the future. For those among my readers who are avid comic fans, and are particularly interested in making their own comics, I highly suggest the constructive anatomy, and figure drawing books written by Burne Hogarth, and George Bridgman (shown below) to get you started.

But after all is said, and done, remember to relax, and just have fun with it!

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Transitions

Life is all about transitions. One moment, we find ourselves latched on to something, and the next instant there is something new around the corner that catches our attention. I have had to deal with my fair share of minute, but influential transitions owing to my absence over the last few weeks; ranging from decisions I have had to make on my academic career in pursuit of a PhD (which has incidentally become a wild-goose chase for funding opportunities), to my exodus in obtaining a driver’s license, and all the way to alighting upon the final stages of content editing my second book (Agent X)!

All of which brings me here today, back to my pensive reverie, during a stormy overcast in Edmonton that beckons me to take up the “keyboard” again, and get back to the blog posts I have been planning for a while. So without further ado, this is what we have to look forward to in the coming days!

Beginning with another recap of my “Adventures in Drawing” I will come full-circle as I complete my Drawing 101 course, and present a few more tricks I have learned over the past month.

Following this, we will shift gears, and in lieu with the current political “climate” (particularly with reference to the recent proceedings at the Paris Accords), I will provide a report on climate change, approaching the topic from a scientific, political, and socio-economic perspective.

I will also add another chapter to my review of Carl Sagan’s “Dragons of Eden,” as we explore the mechanisms of the human brain including the R-complex, the Limbic System, and the Neocortex.

Lastly, following up on a request from a reader, I will provide a learner’s review of Bitcoins, a crypto-currency, and modern digital payment system!

So, all in all, look forward to a good number of updates on the blog, and some healthy reading over the coming days everyone!

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Adventures in Drawing!

Making good progress on my dreams to be a mangaka in the future, I’ve spent the past two months attending a basic drawing class, and so far, I’m having a blast. This post is dedicated to my fellow amateur artists, or anyone interested in drawing; I thought it would be a worthwhile effort to provide a summary of what I have learned so far, and share my efforts with all my readers.

Art, in general, is a highly subjective field. At the first session, it was a relief to hear my instructor recite the philosophy, “Anybody can learn how to draw,” mentioning that one’s drawing ability isn’t measured by how gifted they are, but is rather a reflection of their perseverance, and efforts to hone their skills.

Though I’m only halfway through the course (four sessions out of eight in total), I’ve learned a lot. Much of this learning has involved the transcription of my observations, and perspectives of a random subject onto a paper, following three fundamental principles of drawing.

Techniques aside,  drawing is the ability to closely observe your subject. It is an exercise in learning to actively see things, and deduce differences.

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Figure 1 – My first work, a shoe!

 Lesson 1 – Learn to actively see things. Figures 1-2 describe this principle. Both figures were drawn within the same period of time, with Figure 1 drawn initially, prior to instruction, and Figure 2, after learning to remediate my ability to observe, and focus on the details of the shoe.  

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Figure 2 – The same shoe, after really learning to observe my subject.

Rather than have a passive approach, I was instructed to use continuous lines, which provided a sense of structure, and certainty to my artwork. Now, drawing a straight line in itself is difficult, continuous lines even more so, and it is here I found the value of repetition.

Lesson  2 The value of repetition. It is imperative that you repeat the exercises you learn in drawing. Figure 3 presents simple exercises in “doodling,” such as drawing circles of varying sizes, and figure eights, using continuous curves (without lifting the pen). Such activities helped with hand-eye coordination, particularly with blind contour drawings. 

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Figure 3 – Part of aggregating your skills in drawing is to practice, repeatedly. 

I spent many an hour practicing my hand/eye coordination by simply doodling around on a piece of paper. This also helped big time in learning to draw with my arm rather than my wrist which is essential when one wishes to draw continuous lines.

Lastly, I was encouraged to draw what I plainly see in my subject, and not give in to the natural urge of presupposing what I believe the subject should be from prior knowledge.

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Figure 4 – The botched pepper.

Lesson 3 – Draw what you see, not what you know. This makes a big difference. Figure 4 presents the infamous drawing of a pepper from memory (looks more like a pumpkin). Figure 5 presents a pepper drawn from observation.

Now, does this make a difference when it comes to drawing from imagination. I think it does, but we have to realize that our imagination is in many ways an exaggeration or extrapolation of what we observe in our reality. Learning to draw what I see in reality helped nurture my imagination.

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Figure 5 – Pepper from observation. Seeing versus knowing makes a difference in drawings!

These three principles have formed the foundation of my progress in the class so far. Supplemented by lessons in individualizing one’s artwork, and finding a measure of focus, and shape consciousness (which calls for basic interaction with your subject) my drawings have come a long way (Figures 6-7).

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Figure 6 – A half-finished portrait of Natalie Portman using graphite pencils, cheese cloth, and blending stumps.

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Figure 7 – Another exercise in graphite. A portrait of Marcus Aurelius. I’ve still got a long way to go!  

In this review, I wished to provide a generalization of the primary lessons that were essential to getting me started in drawing. Of course, there is always more to learn especially when it comes to the various techniques that can supplement your skills such as the use of guidelines, sighting angles, drawing upside down etc. But ultimately, practice makes perfect.

In my case, drawing has served as an extension to my imagination, as well as an entertaining activity in interpreting the world around me. As an art, it stresses our abilities to interact with the environment using our physical, and mental faculties, providing a medium through which one can express his/her individuality.  Most of  all, it is a lot of fun!

On a conclusive note, for those among my readers who live in Edmonton, I attend my drawing classes at the Edmonton City Arts Center.

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The course is 8 sessions long, and is well worth the money. The City Arts Center boasts a variety of programs for adults, and children alike. If you’re interested in polishing your basics for drawing, certainly give the Drawing 1 & 2 course a try.

And for my readers who occupy various other corners of the world, but are aspiring artists, I would highly suggest Bert Dodson’s Keys to Drawing.

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It is an excellent resource to learn the principles of drawing, and is a great complementary reference for any basic drawing course.

Cages

A few months ago, I had visited my family at Bangalore, India. Returning to my homeland was a nostalgic experience. During this period, my family, and I took a trip to a biological park.

While I enjoyed my time at the park, the excursion accompanied a fair share of contemplation on my part particularly with regards to the treatment of the world’s wildlife, and environment.

As much as I enjoyed observing the various species of animals that the park hosted, I felt a certain measure of guilt, remorse, and even anger at the state of said animals within their caged amenities.

I felt distraught that the freedom of said beasts, so majestic, was dampened within these structures, structures that were all too human; built around our ego, and will for dominance that have left us blind to the truth that we all depend on the measured balance of the ecosystem for survival.

While we pride upon our intellect to differentiate, and set us apart from the beasts, it grieved me to think, that in this modern day, and age humankind continues to  digress to a base notion of primacy in its interaction with other species on this planet, and the environment.

Ruminating on these thoughts, I passed by a message upon our departure from the park. Carved along the head of a rock, the message read, (as I recall, it was a quote by the founder of the institution)

 The survival of man is dependent on the survival of animal, and plant life.

Providing poetic irony to my reflections, the message inspired me to write the poem below, a brief meditation on the Cages that imprison human nature.


Cages

Decrepit,
Those shadows stare,
The blackened soot of their vacant eyes,
Clamoring against the leering smiles,
Forcing open the void from whence,
Comes that onerous resonance,
Tarnished ivories gaping amid the sputum,
Coagulating in the filth of their stature,
Wrinkled by the posture of their pride,
Dictating their steps,
Upon the earth they tread,
Mutely claiming what they desire,
Declaring their supremacy,
In these rusted chains,
So to rest,
Behind these bars,
Where this existence caged,
In limbo dwells,
Awaiting the spell,
That falls to the ground,
Submitting to the prejudice of vanity,
In ignorance of an action,
That remains,
Human, all too human…

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“They’re animals, all right. But why are you so goddamn sure that makes us human beings?” – The Long Walk, Stephen King

 

A Walk In The Spring Rain

With winter’s departure at my doorstep, I alight upon the memory of a day in a rainfall that caressed me with the soothing warmth of your touch.

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Falling upon the blankets of water that condensed from the gray skies, I clung to you, slipping amid the warmth of your skin.

Time awaits no one, and in a moment that carried me away in the bliss of a cool breeze, you walked by my side.

Ripples in the ponds of life stemmed forth in our every step together, your smile, a reflection amid the mirrors that coalesced at every turn.

Observing our progress along the white of clouds that brushed our feet, gently ascending, leading us to where the stars lay hidden, and our spirits flew free.

In a story that is to be told, your eyes reflected the words of my heart, our laughter resonating amid the silent melodies of the world.

A beautiful blossom, you remained, weathering the winds of time that passed our wake, embracing me into the petals of your life.

Into a stillness that resounded in the minute strikes of my heart, my eyes met yours, the cold moisture of the crystals giving way to the warmth of your lips.4b9b99b1_o

Serenaded by the orchestral pitter-patter of the rainfall surrounding our feet, I indulged in the moment, falling and rising about your heartbeat.

Carried by the whims of nature, our shadows basking in the gentle ray of sunshine that awakens the distant horizon, in an adventure to continue, with the coming of spring.

Happy Birthday Sis!

Having a younger sibling isn’t always easy. One moment you find yourself the center of attention, and then all of a sudden, your thunder seems stolen when all everyone talks about is the newest member of the family. At least, that’s how it seemed to me when you entered my life. Little did I know it would be the beginning of a wonderful, and life-long journey of friendship to follow.

I can never forget the day when I first met you. You were the most beautiful baby I had ever seen in my life (you still are, for me). Approaching on my tip-toes, I had come to your side, looking down with great intrigue as you lay fast asleep, your deep breaths coming with the gentle rise, and fall of your full-sized tummy.

You eventually opened your eyes, closing them almost immediately into a narrow slit. The light must have hurt you, but you didn’t give up, as you opened your eyes a bit wider, struggling before they tuned in to focus on my own. It was then you pulled back your lips, your face radiant with a fleeting smile that left me speechless, and overwhelmed. There was no doubt whatsoever. I knew then that this was my baby sister smiling at me, and in  a moment that tied me to you forever, I was utterly, and irrevocably smitten.

You would soon become my best-friend, and my greatest nemesis. You would have my back whenever I needed it the most, and also turned out to be the best partner in crime I could ever ask for. You brought the best in me, and still do so to this very day. Over the twenty-years of our journey together, there is not a moment that I would want to change. While our dreams, and ambitions may take us to different destinations, I can never forget our beginning,  a moment that will always bring us together.

Happy Birthday Annie. On this day, I want you to know, I love you, and will do so forever. Nothing will ever change that. To me, you are and will always be the light in our family, a vibrant flame I wish to protect, and hold dear for all my life.

HappyBDay