Stop Instagramming, start sketching your journeys to make them more memorable

Posted by-Kalki Team

At a time when people Instagram their journeys, artist Allen Shaw talks about why sketches are the best way to preserve memories for posterity

When we speak to Berlin-based Indian artist and illustrator Allen Shaw (43), he is sitting in a tent in a remote village in Goa. Shaw is a self-confessed nomad and travels extensively. And over the last two decades, he has maintained 250 sketchbooks.

Born in Munger, Bihar, he studied at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. In 2008, he moved to Germany and today, he roams the globe and maintains visual diaries.

This weekend, he is giving a talk and teaching participants the art of sketching as a means to record, places, people and their stories using ink and watercolour. He is also exhibiting sketches of his travels in Germany and Austria at Artisans (February 23 to 28) in Kala Ghoda.

During the talk, he will be sharing anecdotes about his sketches. Shaw recalls how he once painted a girl singing at a railway station in Germany and forgot about it. Three years later, he saw her again and showed her the sketch. “We ended up collaborating and I got to sketch her performing live at a concert,” he says.

At a time when people can instantly upload photographs of places, why would one want to go the old-fashioned way? “Painting your journey helps you invest in the experience. When you are sketching, you spend time with the subject. You chat with people and soak in the sights and sounds. Every time you see a painting, you recall the layers of information associated with it,” he says.

Watercolours are a good medium, Shaw feels, as they are easy to carry around (unlike oil colours) and reveal the beauty of a place. “Watercolours can also be unpredictable, like a naughty child and misbehave. It mixes at various temperatures differently leading to different shades,” he says.

Shaw draws an analogy equating painting with fishing: “You have to keep doing it every day. Sometimes you will catch a big fish, or a small one or even come home empty-handed. But one day, you might land a prized catch.”

I Am The Sketchbook, and You Are My Song - 20 Years of The Sketchbook by Allen Shaw will be held from February 23 to March 28

At Artisans, Dr VB Gandhi Road, Kala Ghoda.

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