Lucky me! I’m currently visiting my home country of Mauritius. I drew this before arriving; not as a landscape that directly resembles features of the geography, but as an ode. As I’m sitting in the car on drives around the island, these are the impressions I get: green mountains, bodies of water, the curves of the landscape.
Now that I am here, I am too entranced by this place to draw! But my feelings of awe are side by side with sadness. We humans truly do not deserve this beautiful land. We never have. Since we arrived hundreds of years ago, we plundered the Dodo and many more of nature’s gifts. I fear that soon, these drawings and whatever is stored in our minds may be all that is left.
Here’s a little sci-fi for you! I felt like I was channeling a part of me that’s always wanted to draw comics. I don’t have a specific story I’m trying to tell, which I love. It’s just a little cryptic snapshot I came up with when I put the pen to paper.
Many Mauritians practice Indian classical dance (Kathak) forms, although I was never one of them. That wasn’t important in my family. However, you are influenced by it if you are what is known as “Indo-Mauritian” (ethnically from India, ancestors brought over during British colonialism). It’s a part of the larger culture.
While drawing, I considered the way the rhythm, melody, and dancer’s body must become one in any one of the complex dance forms. They’re considered to be very difficult to learn, and there is a constant struggle to make everything look flawless. I’ve heard “dance is worship” in dozens of Bollywood movies – I get it, I really do. Dance requires your absolute devotion and focus.
With such a link to the divine, I thought it fitting to represent the top of the dancer using a light bulb.
Many films I watched as a kid featured kites. I’ve never actually flown one myself; choosing to watch others instead. Unless you’ve seen the sea of wild floating shapes yourself, you can’t know what it’s like.
Apparently, human beings have always wanted to fly. I’m one of those who can see the appeal, surely. But I have to admit that being able to see the kites flap against the sun and sky makes me feel strongly grateful to be on the ground. It’s incredible.
While I can spot some errors in my pencil lines, I’m proud of this one.
Every once in a while, nothing beats black ink and musings about trees and nature and life. No matter how much I wish things would look “better” I know that each doodle is a step towards being “better” —
whatever “better” is–
and well, I’m starting to think that whatever feelings I have don’t matter. What matters sometimes is that I do it. You’ve heard me write that before; it bears repeating.
Islamic art has been a part of my life since I was a baby and I crawled around my mom’s prayer mat. It continued when I visited the Kaabah in Makkah as a child, and continues now whenever I gaze at the characters in a Qur’an peppered with floral motifs.
Art is a big part of my spiritual practice. Below is a drawing I made when I felt inspired by the majestic carpets I’ve seen all my life – from Turkey, India, Pakistan, Kashmir, Eastern Europe (Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, etc), Iran, etc.
Recently (a couple of months ago) I got to visit an exquisite exhibit on carpets and motifs present in them over the centuries. I realised that, unconsciously, I had truly been referencing a lot of shapes and patterns from carpets.
My heritage is showing! Without even knowing it, I am passing down the meaningful shapes of those who came before me.
When I’m feeling ill, like I am today, I get nostalgic. Nostalgia is a powerful force! It can start up my inspiration.
I was reminded today that I used to draw mehendi-inspired designs all over the place when I was a pre-teen and teenager in Mauritius. I had already seen some of the beautiful motifs of the Indian subcontinent after living as a child for a few years in Oman. But it was when I hit double digits hit that I truly began to draw!
The motifs come up unconsciously when I doodle. Here I am using the inspiration consciously. It came with ease.