My Sketches

I’m born in an artistic family. Such artistic companionship brings two things: on one hand, it inspires our own creativity. On the other hand, it hopelessly destroys any artistic creativity we may have. Because whatever we do, it is nothing compared to what we see being created in front of our own eyes.

Nevertheless, the inspiration did work some times, in my younger days. When school teachers and college professors were rambling, I used to scribble, doodle, and sometimes sketch. So here is a sampling of some of these diversions.

Note: None of the photographs of the sketches have been digitally altered in any way.


This was from a color advertisement in a glossy magazine. I was inspired by the challenge of capturing the creases of the clothes in pencil. (That’s why the faces, a low priority, are so bad).


This is not a reproduction of anything, just my imagination. The caption below in Marathi states: “What does a giant tree know about the many travelers who seek solace under its cool shade? – Mahendra: 18th March 90”. This sketch was inspired by a quote in a character study called “Sakharam Gatne” by the famous Marathi humorist P. L. Deshpande, fondly known as “Pu La”.

Woman Face

This is from an advertisement for Neko germicidal soap. This soap is no longer available in India. The ad was from a very old newspaper, probably from the 1960s. I was fascinated by the countenance and the expression in her eyes.

Woman in Sari

This is from a very old, black and white photograph of my mother. Again, from around 1960. The creases and wrinkles of the sari and blouse were my inspiration. Most people who see this sketch ask me, why did I leave the face out? I don’t know. I have many explanations and reasons. But as an artist, I choose not to express them and let my sketch do the talking.

For me, the highlight of this sketch is what is not sketched – the upper line of her arm. You see it, but its not there at all.

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33 thoughts on “My Sketches

  1. My turn to ask. What in the world are you doing in the software business? That first sketch, especially the clothing part, was brilliant. I do a bit of pencil sketching myself and I have a fair sense of how good an artist is. Those clothes were something else. Seriously.

  2. I must agree with krishashok, you are talented beyond words. *Aikaterine being silent, because she cannot find the words to accurately express how good these are*

  3. FYI – My favorite one is your mother. You did not need to draw her face to portray her emotion. Without the face, it still comes across. You are that good.

  4. Mahendra,
    When you see the my avatar, please notice that my hat is off! Your mother’s sketch is so evocative!
    Great stuff, but last century (antique value=priceless). What about some modern masterpieces, with your emerging philosophical consciousness?

  5. Holy Christ Rambodoc, you and I agree on something. Mahendra brings the world together yet again. I raise my glass of pinot noir to you all in celebration.

  6. Rambodoc: This is a skill I’ve lost now. My philosophical consciousness is not emerging, but has waned. In my heyday, I was so philosophical that I ended up isolating myself! πŸ™‚

    Ashok: When growing up, I gave my parents a very hard time. First, I made them hope I would be a chess champion, then a musician, then a roller skater, and so on. I just used my skills to spend my parents’ money on everything under the sun…:-)

    Yes, if you sketch yourself, you would better understand what goes on behind this. Thanks so much for your kind words.

    Cheers to all of you! I was a bit apprehensive when posting these, but you’ve made my day!

  7. Rambodoc –

    As much as you would like to, you cannot deny our agreement – it is forever sealed in Mahendra’s virtual world. This is just the beginning. I will slowly and without your knowledge brainwash you into a pinot noir drinking virtue theory espousing tree hugging chocolate eating feminist.


  8. ” I will slowly and without your knowledge brainwash you into a pinot noir drinking virtue theory espousing tree hugging chocolate eating feminist.


    Expecto patronum!
    (silvery wisp of jackass floats out from his wand tip and dies at the feet of the fast-gliding Dementor)
    Cacchiolata submergus
    Dementor drowns in chocolate syrup……

  9. I thought this blog and its comments were supposed to be in English! πŸ™‚

    BTW, I just told my mom that I’ve put my sketch of her old photograph on the net, and that it’s getting nice comments – you should’ve seen the look on her face. Thanks for making us so happy.

  10. I love your sketches! Pencil is my favorite medium and your work is excellent. Thank you so much for posting these!

    My father was an artist, Mahendrap, but all I inherited from him was his taste for art, rather than his talent for it. I once tried to remedy that by suing him for my fair share of his genes, but the case was thrown out of court. There is no justice in this world.

  11. Ah thats impressive Mahendra! When you talk about being born in a battering artistic environment, I sure know what you mean. Ditto about spending money on everything possible! hahaha! Loved your mother’s sketch, but more than that I went silent for a while after hearing the tree speak.

  12. Hi Mahendra,

    I had just logged in to tell you how beautiful your sketches were: the first one with those clothes and your mothers. When I clicked your comments section to write, I found several others already echoing me. I have nothing new to add, only my homest appreciation of your artistry.

    Keep that going!

  13. SHREK: For your information, there’s a lot more to ogres than people think.
    DONKEY: Example?
    SHREK: Example? Okay, um, ogres are like onions.
    DONKEY: [Sniffs] They stink?
    SHREK: Yes. No!
    DONKEY: They make you cry?
    SHREK: No!
    DONKEY: You leave them out in the sun, they get all brown, start sprouting’ little white hairs.
    SHREK: No! Layers! Onions have layers! Ogres have layers! Onions have layers.
    You get it? We both have layers. [Sighs]

    – Well, you almost fit the onion description!! Everytime I brush against you, a wonderful new layer shows up. Few days back, I had to collect my jaw from the ground when I read your prose. Now, I have to roll in my eyes after seeing your sketches. Again, never realized before today that you had a monochrome itch to yourself too.

    Your understanding of anatomical details is superb. I love your drapes, but IMHO it can do with more practise. I had struggled with drapes for quite some time and I know how tricky it can get. Ridges on the drapes are the trickiest – I can see the same struggles that I went through in Grandparent’s delight ( and Mother’s pride (

    I just have one more comment, you need to let go.. there is so much of constraint visible in the lines and shades.. try to move to darker hues and richer variation of shades and open up the strokes, let them flow in larger curves and not be constrained.

    PS: You should have been a techie, WTF are you doing in management??


  14. Priyank: thanks! Looks like we’ve a lot in common as well πŸ™‚ You must probably have read Sakharam Gatne, so you can understand where the sketch is coming from…

    Poonam: thanks for your appreciation. Like you mentioned on your blog, it is the appreciative comments that keep one going at it!

    Sandy: thanks for the enlightened critique! Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge and expertise. I fully agree about the practise thing. I was never consistent in any of my experimental endeavors, and thus remained a Jack at all of them!

    The constraint aspect is a new learning for me. I never realized it before. I wonder if letting go comes with the confidence, which comes with practise?

    What has sketching got to do with being techie?

    The onion bit was entertaining! Being an introvert, I don’t open up easily. And I never had the courage to talk about sketching with you after seeing yours! πŸ™‚

    As you can see, these are 17 year old sketches. There is a black ‘n white, close-up, large size portrait photograph of my mother from the same collection. It is the most amazing photograph I’ve ever seen in my life. I have made numerous failed attempts to sketch it. My trained cousin artist tried to offer expert advice – starting with the basics of the human skull. After that, I realized my anatomical understanding is mostly kindergarten.

    There is a hidden ambition, a dream, somewhere inside me, that one day I am going to sketch that portrait. But my confidence level is zero, after all these years…

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  16. Wow… excellent. Your blog is gaining beauty day by day!
    Details to the dress foldings given by you are stunning!

    Enjoyed the comment section too… Aikaterine, Rambodoc… and their latinum lollanum

  17. Wow, how did I miss this… sorry for coming here so late (after 20 comments)…. work is killing nowadays… anyway, back to this post, I love the mother one the best. Its, well, kind of different from the others. Even though you can’t see her face, you can easily imagine the expression that can be on that blank face. Probably that has what attracted me the most in this pic – everyone can think of the expression the way he/she wants it to be without being wrong about it. Keep brushing… you re good πŸ™‚

  18. Mahendra,

    I hope that everyone’s compliments provide a bit of a nudge to tackle that portrait of your mother. It is easy to let what you do not know overwhelm your confidence. But I think everyone here is making it clear that what you do know is properly your focus.

    You are incredibly gifted, not just in technique, but also (and I would say more importantly) in an innate appreciation for the subtle way in which great artists draw out emotion in the people who admire their artwork. This is evident in the picture of your mother. It is one thing to be able to draw a perfect rendition of a picture. It is another, rarer, thing to understand that by altering the image (by making the face invisible) you can create emotion in the observer. And then to create the ‘missing’ upper arm, that so clearly appears to be there (which is a perfect compliment to the form and function of the face). Well, that is artistic genius.

    You have the innate ability to translate an image, to mold it into something…indescribable. I am not the only one who fell into silence at one of your pieces.

    Why did I say all of that? Oh yeah, draw the portrait of your mother one day. Your innate brilliance is still there, even after all these years. I imagine that brushing up on and improving your technique will be surprisingly easy.

  19. Aikaterine: you started out silent, and then you said it all! πŸ™‚ I can’t tell you how glad I am that you did. Rather than let my sketch do the talking, I should’ve said let my affectionate blog readers do the talking!

    Thanks for the inspiration. I’m trying to build it up inside myself. Let’s see…

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  21. evocatively vivid. how does it feel to feel connected to a part of a self that you once were?

    p.s: thank you for dropping by my blog.

  22. Poorna, welcome to my blog! In your single comment, you’ve touched upon something none of the above commenters have, and something I didn’t think of sharing on my own. There is a very special intimacy that I cannot describe, when you’re sketching your own mother. It is a strange feeling, giving shape to the form that gave form to you.

    Just like a mother nurtures a child, disciplines him, feeds him – an artist evolves the form of the image, tweaks, prunes and erases the unnecessary parts, and enlivens it with color and contrast! The artist ultimately gives birth to his art form, so there’s an infinite loop created when the art form is the artist’s creator. Much like Escher’s ‘Drawing Hands’.

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