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Quarantine Art: Namita Sunil's Cochin series

"My relationship with illustration as a craft has had its ups and downs. Only last year, I remember telling a few friends how it had ceased to fascinate me, and wasn't something I would necessarily pursue. Back then, I knew how to digitally illustrate, but only at a very surface level - I had barely begun to explore. Fast forward to 2020, and I now seemingly live to draw. 

Under lockdown, I had decided to explore a bunch of career options - I wrote, designed, and completed a fine arts portfolio (anything other than what concerned my Fashion Design degree). After a while, I had narrowed down to graphic design and illustration, and am now actively learning from scratch. It is a tremendously lonely experience to learn by yourself. No matter how many people you ask for advice, and how many people will encourage you and call you and your work fantastic (all which I am thankful for!) - in the end, tackling a new skill is purely your own battle. I had decided to pick up digital illustration again first, as it seemed like familiar territory. After a lot of struggling and honing, I am now at a place where I can clock my progress. These shiny stories of success really do have the most mundane backstories. It really is about getting up to do something, no matter how small, but everyday. 

As I spend more time in North India, I realise how my life in Cochin was a time to be treasured. I will never forget how I once excitedly clicked pictures of palm trees last year at one of my fashion shoot locations, when it hit me that I have actually spent most of my life growing up with them right in my backyard. It was strange realising that the distance from home was not only physical, but mental as well. The lockdown at the start was a period of utter cluelessness, and drawing home - to reminisce, to miss, to learn, to connect - felt right. 

The illustrations are referenced from pictures I had clicked of my neighbourhood on previous trips back home. I gravitated towards warm, nostalgic evenings with my colour palette. My first illustration in the series was quick, with thick, chunky linework and a careful carelessness - and this progressed to different styles, all in the same series. The church has barely any lines in comparison - it is only bathed in light. Each line of the last piece's palm leaves were calculated, when I had every right to scribble out that mass. It was endlessly fascinating to discover how I would render each and every element of the photograph. As I drew, I would recall memories associated with whichever place I was illustrating at the time. The shopkeeper at Babu Stores is an especially kind man. 

Every time I start a series, I list down what it is that I expect to learn from it. The Cochin series seems to have taught me -

1) colour

2) landscape

3) lighting

4) perspective;

and that I have enough palm trees waiting for me back home."

-Namita Sunil

Follow Namita's art and life on Instagram @vantagold


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