Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Little Prince

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery is one of my all time favourites. Such a lovely inspiring story written in such a simple style! Also illustrated By Saint Exupery, each illustration takes you through a sensitive visual exercise. What are you feeling? Why do you want to know more about the little prince? How does he look? Who is the fox? How will the wheat fields look?... There is so much left to the visual imagination of the reader, that one slowly begins to cherish and savour the essence of many relationships. Great Book!

Mr.God! This is Anna!

Mr God This is anna! is a beautiful book and has soul touching illustrations. The four year old Anna and her conversations and innocence open you to new life. The illustrations exude a great trust for life and love flows through the book. A must read for both the words and the visuals. Anna is someone you learn to love and then she teaches you to love life.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Chinese Books - Dotting the Eyes on A Painted Dragon

I picked up this book a few years back at an old book store. This story and its illustrations have filled my imagination since then. There are three stories in the book. This particular story of the dragons explores the role of the artist in infusing life into works of art. What is the essence of any painting? Why do we relate to strokes, forms, eyes and the whims of diverse characters. This book brings out many subtle emotions within the artist and the observer as the artist paints the marvellous dragons and slowly begins to dot the eyes on them.

Very similar to the Indian concept of UNMILANA - (the final step in the creation of Gods and Goddesses by painting their eyes and infusing life into their form), Dotting the eyes on a painted dragon takes us through the pain and passion of the artist and the contrast between the life and lifelessness of a painted work.

The illustrations capture the subtleties and moods and unusual perspectives bring alive the intensity of the story. The text is by Cang Yangqing and the illustrations are by Lu Fusheng.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Russian Books - Yevgeny Charusin and Nikita Charusin

Copyright Raduga Publishers 1984

Russian books have fed my imagination and brought many new perspectives to my visuals. Russian books were available in plenty and I used to wait for each new book when I was a child. The Russian illustrations were more like paintings, some were like tapestries, and some were quick bold strokes creating forms out of nothingness. The folk tales especially brought alive strange worlds and strong and unusual characters. I love Yevgeny Charusin and Nikita Charusin's "My Animal Book" Yevgeny Charusin has penned down the text and Nikita, his son has illustrated. Lightfooted elephants, rhinocerous, smiling hippopotamus, lovely sparrows and many other animals, and birds fill the book. The illustrations evoke great affection for the beings of the earth. The book is published by Raduga publishers. " Not a twig cracks, not a leaf stirs, when the wild elephant steps into the open from the jungle thickets..." I love the poetry of the lines.

Quentin Blake

It would be impossible not to be a fan of Quentin Blake. How can such quick, rough lines be so emotive? How can they be so poetic and so full of expression. One can spend hours looking and wondering and getting into Blake's characters. The 'Clown' is my all time favourite. It is so full of suspense, sorrow, joy, friendship, concern and trust. There are no words and yet, each picture speaks a thousand words.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Favourites from Amar Chitra Katha, Yusuf Lien
Amar Chitra Katha is a comic book series from India Stories from Indian mythology, history, folklore, and culture are narrated in illustrated format. Dad used to get Amar chitra kathas at the sunday market for 25 paise. We have bought most books in second hand since it is affordable and buying at a lower price also meant we could get more books. Amar chitra katha was always the best resort to read hundreds of Indian tales, especially twenty years ago when the Indian children's book scene was just beginning to evolve.

Tansen (Script : Dolly Rizvi) and Mirabai (Script : Kamala Chandrakant) illustrated by Yusuf Lien have moved my sensibilities and understanding of visuals for many years. Flowing forms, intertwining and evolving into spiritual motifs allowed me to feel and move into a greater depth in understanding poetry, music, love and relationships. Yusuf lien's illustrations made me feel very close to Mira and tansen as children and I was able to relate and imagine the story as it unravelled into different dimensions. As a child the wonder created by visuals often moved me to silent ecstatic hours of imagination and solitude. Lien's illustration where Krishna holds Mira on the river bank captures a beautiful moment of love, surrender, acceptance and joy.

Mickey Patel

Mickey Patel is another of my favourite illustrators. Alongwith Mahagiri illustrated by Pulak Biswas, Rupa the elephant by Mickey Patel was one of my favourite books as a child. I love the bright eyed happy children in Mickey Patel's drawings. Quick bold lines and amusing expressions capture unusual moments, feelings and thoughts as they give life to the characters. I especially enjoy his animals and birds, especially the tiny birds which perch on Rupa, on trains and are most often found in unusual locations within the image.
Snake Trouble written by Ruskin Bond and illustrated by Mickey Patel is a remarkable book. The snake gazing and appreciating himself in the mirror is an unusual expression.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Pulak Biswas

I must have started looking at Pulak Biswas' pictures when I was three. Mahagiri , one of the books illustrated by Pulak Biswas was my favourite when I was a kid. More so it was dad's and mom's most loved book. So I kept listening to the story and looking at the pictures. Pulak Biswas continues to be one of my favourite children's book illustrators. He captures subtle emotions through simple strokes and expressive gestures. I love the way he delineates forms. His forms abstract the essence of the characters and bring alive the inner strengths of every character. There is fun and beauty, silence and conversation, excitement and wonder in all his illustrations.

Check out some of his illustrations from an award winning book - Tiger on a tree



Illustrating Children's books

Illustrating children's books is a fascinating visual world. Though the distinction between high art and commercial art continues to plague the art world, to me, a painting in a children's book is an artwork in its own right. The fine lines between the imaginative and the real, the abstraction of forms and characters, the sense of conversation and the intensity of perception that a picture in the children's book is filled with amazes me. The narrative takes on myriad meanings with the transforming visuals in the book. It's a wonder why we don't make more picture books for adults, where abstract ideas and thoughts get illustrated and find their own visual forms.