Many of us lead busy lives in metros or cities and most of our time is spent commuting from one place to another for work. We rarely have time to look at landscapes to paint. We may not even have scenic places to paint in a city. A way out or ‘hack’ is to sketch on the go or capture the interesting scenes in and around a city. Cafes, museums, malls and airports are full of interesting stories.
Most artists who love to sketch urban scenes carry sketchbooks and pencils in their bags which they can fish out quickly to capture a scene. There is a Facebook group called Urban Sketchers which draws together people from cities all over the world and lets them post their work there. I connected with a group of Urban Sketchers a few years ago which led me to many interesting spots in the city.
I especially love cafes and the buzz of people sitting round and talking or working, sipping coffee and eating.
The sketch here is of the café in Prithvi Theater – the iconic theatre in Mumbai which stages quality plays. This café is famous for its celebrity clientele and Irish coffee. The Sulemani tea is one of my favourites. This sketch absorbed two Sulmani Teas, half a chocolate pastry and a chicken pan sandwich! The morning hours at Prithvi on Sunday are great. Many celebrities bring their kids for the morning children’s show and the rest of the crowd comprises classy people with chic dressing. Prithvi is the place to bump into singers, actors, flautists and artists hanging around discussing projects or just sipping coffee thinking about the next production! Quite often, you also run into members of the Kapoor clan of Bollywood, who own this theatre. When I sketched this, the food counters were still empty as the morning food batches weren’t delivered.This is one of the most interesting places in Mumbai which I have sketched. Over the years, I have learnt immensely through my urban sketching - both about drawing and about the place.
2016 is about to end and Kochi Biennale, the big art show in India is on. Art festivals and exhibitions are being staged. It is a happening time and a good time for art. Many of you are buying Christmas gifts for your loved ones. Why not gift a sketchbook and set of pencils to someone? Who knows it may be a good start to the New Year!