Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith

Keri Smith was my favourite illustrator, back when I used to know enough illustrators to have a favourite. Her blog, The Wish Jar, is one of the most interesting things on the internet. Tall claim, but trust me. Keri Smith has written a number of activity books for adults. Wreck This Journal, published way back in 2007, is an attempt to get the journal-er to embrace chaos and messiness. Each page has an innovative instruction to effectively wreck the journal – spill coffee! drag it across the floor! colour outside the lines! use makeshift brushes! – exercises to unleash the inner child. 
So far, my singular aim has been to not let any page set the tone for the rest of the journal. Many of the Youtube videos of completed Wreck This Journals have pages and pages completed in a style peculiar to that journal-writer. And while the result is often beautiful, it’s not chaotic enough. I want to surprise and myself every time. And so some pages of my journal end up quite lackluster while others are more vivid than ever.
Here are four favourites pages, each very different from each other. The first is inspired from Buddhist mandalas, though I am not sure I possess the skill required for the intricate detailing they demand. The second, apart from a base wash of green, is made entirely using toothpicks dipped in flowy and thick poster colour. The third design is borrowed from my favourite pair of chappals – the prompt was to cover the page in circles – and required a great deal of patience too. The fourth required me to connect the black circles from memory – I originally meant to draw sun flowers but these happened. 
I have been keeping a tortoisey pace – slow and steady – about twelve pages in three months. Nevertheless, the activities are incredibly relaxing, more so after a difficult day at work. Keri Smith is not wrong, there is something specially liberating about colouring outside the lines, about spilling things, tearing up paper, cracking spines and dog-earing pages. I am quite finicky about the way one handles books. But over the past month I have found myself appreciating a good coffee stain, a pageful of notes in the margin, that sort of thing. And with fifty prompts continually whirling around in my head, I feel I have started noticing things better, all around me – patterns, colours, ideas. 
The journal is a very personal thing, and this is hardly a review. But I am sharing it here because in the past a certain amount of accountability has done me a lot of good. I also made an Instagram page (whatever they are called) to share my progress with the Wreck This Journal. It turns out the Insta-world is filled with other Wreckers and it’s a treasure to interact. I do hope you check out the page and buy yourself a Wreck This Journal as well. Meanwhile, any recommendations on books about creativity or exercises to keep the creative self alive will be greatly appreciated. 

A Creative Bit

After getting what can only be described as one incredibly awesomely creative gift yesterday – well, two – I went into a bit of a creative mode myself!

As a kid, I used to absolutely love making bookmarks, specially for my father. Well, these are for me. A few days ago, I came across this post on homemade bookmarks. They are so wonderful!!

Which is why, when I was cleaning my closet for the umpteenth time, and I came across these pieces of cloth just sitting there waiting to be cut up – I knew just what I wanted to do with them!!

After spending three days of my four-day-holiday doing absolutely nothing, I finally did something productive (and… entirely out of scrap!!)

Aren’t they adorable?

As for the gifts, well – my (favourite… duh!) sister gave me this left-handers’ mug that reads “I may be left handed, but I am always right”, and has a teenie hole on the right side, so, as you see, it can only be used by left handers! I am sipping coffee from it, as we speak.

And the left handers’ pair of scissors was a real help (while making these cute bookmarks) because, for once, I managed to cut something up without almost crushing half of my hand!

What a day…!

Dhobi Ghat – Mumbai Diaries

I don’t watch many movies; I mean, I do, but not in the theaters! The last Bollywood movie I saw at the theaters was 3 Idiots and I was totally shocked today when I realized that was in 2009!! So today, after a long time I went and saw Dhobi Ghat – Mumbai Diaries.

The funny thing is I went without a clue about the movie. I hadn’t even heard of it till my friend asked me if I wanted to go, a week ago. We’re not exactly die-hard Bollywood fans anymore, my family, I mean. But if someone had warned me about the artsy-ness of the movie, I wouldn’t have paid to watch it! But I’m glad I did. It was not the typical Bollywood movie, which was great! Of course, it wasn’t exactly ‘brilliant’, but it wasn’t all that bad, either!

I am not a big fan of movies with no particular plot as such, and I can’t appreciate a movie just because the filming and effects are good; but the characters of this movie somehow made it interesting! There was sort of a mysterious air to the movie, never letting the audience know more than was absolutely necessary. There was just the right amount of drama – the right amount of romance – the right amount of humour and the right amount of boring! I have to admit though, those video tapes got a tad bit irritating after a while. For me, it was the little things that made the movie special. My personal highlights were the painting(duh! it was awesome), Munna’s cat(aw) and every time he got really shy I just had to laugh!

The characters were good and the actors as well. Not only did Prateik totally steal the show, but I also thought Aamir did a great job of letting Prateik steal the show! It could have easily been a movie revolving around the superstar, like most Bollywood movies are.

I’m not going to claim I “understood” all of the messages that the movie offered, but it sure kept me involved the whole time(inspite of my friend periodically commenting that she was bored, and not to mention, the crazy comments!!). That’s more than I can say about most Hindi movies. Like, I just read that apparently the old lady that just stares blankly at people, silently watching, is a symbol for Mumbai! Thinking back, that kind of makes sense! Gave us a whole load of laughs, though, that woman!!

“A doodle. I do doodle. You, too. You do doodle, too.”

I love to doodle. Every second of every minute of every day!

I love painting as well. But I guess it’s just too much effort for someone like me, specially when I could get just as much satisfaction from a pen and a piece of paper! And I can also avoid a scolding from my mom for accidentally painting the floor(oops!)

I’ve heard that doodling is one of the best ways to get your creativity flowing. I couldn’t agree more. Doodling helps me relax. I’ve gotten over the worst of “writers’ blocks” by doodling! One of my teachers had told me that doodling is like a warm up exercise before you draw anything. He always made us draw random patterns before moving on to the actual drawing; whenever we did that, our strokes ended up looking more gentle and natural!

Doodling has also kept me from falling asleep in lectures – all my school and college books are filled with doodles along the margins and on the last few pages! In fact, according to psychologist Jackie Andrade, doodling stops you from daydreaming, without affecting your performance on the main task. But that should be your last resort to improve concentration, mind you!

The best thing about it is there is no such thing as a “bad” doodle. Or a “wrong” one either. You don’t have to be artsy do be able to doodle! No one is going to tell you that the lines aren’t straight or the perspective isn’t right. To each his own.

As I’d mentioned before, in this post, I would love to be a professional doodler. Yep, that’s an actual occupation (Google this guy; Jon Burgerman). To doodle and get paid for it; who wouldn’t love that!?

(The title is a dialogue by Alyson Hannigan’s character in Buffy; a shy girl who rambles on nonsensical stuff when she’s caught unawares; kind of like me!!)

“Mort” – Just a random crazy post!

It’s getting colder every minute, and the winter has dried up my brains along with the entire city. Not to mention the cold, the fever and the fact that even climbing the stairs upto my room seems tiring now.

My last post was kind of uninspired, so I ended up deleting it (though I’d like to tell my future self not to do delete any more or I’ll end up deleting the whole blog, considering how paranoid I am!)
The past two-three weeks have probably been the least creative times of my life. Frequent holidays, with nothing particular to do, can be terribly boring. I just want to fast forward to next year, so I can be super-busy again!

A couple of minutes back I was reading an interview by Keri Smith; exactly the kind of person who can help you get over a creativity block. I came across a sort of a challenge: “Create an “instant sculpture” using whatever you have in front of you right now. (You only have two minutes, GO!) Take a photo of it.”

The two minute time limit didn’t give me, well, time, to wonder about whether I should do it or not and I just went right ahead. And there you go, in little less than the assigned two minutes, I came up with this crazy little ‘sculpture’. It’s a good thing my room is so messy, there was a lot of useful stuff in front of me (there was no cheating involved, mind you).

So it consists of- a bottle of water color and I’ve no idea why it was lying on my desk. That smiley-faced ball is ‘physiotherapy’ for my fractured hand, so I always carry it around with me. The two bottles of water and the big brown jar are from my stash of afternoon snacks (guilty!) and the newspaper that I hardly ever read also came in handy (yes, pun intended)! I’ve decided to name him Mort, since I was reading that book from the Discworld series right before I came across this and because I’m too tired to come up with something else.

Now, the fact that I actually did that challenge is kind of amusing and dorky. But hey, it got me to open my blog after ages; and now, there’s another nice little post that I’ve been meaning to write sitting in my drafts waiting to be edited and published! All thanks to Mort, here. Seeing how this has worked, I might as well start a journal like Keri Smith suggests (she’s awesome, if you’re as artsy as I am, you might want to check her out!!)


I have always been obsessed with all the awesome graffiti people draw on that Graffiti application on Facebook. Mine never really managed to look that cool – today, I finally got the hang of it (yay!) So here’s one of my favourite pet kittens!

Incomprehensible for the sake of Incomprehensible.

I have always wondered whether it is too ‘immature’ of me to think that a blob of paint on a blank canvas is nothing more than a blob of paint on a blank canvas. It most certainly doesn’t seem like ART. What happened to perspective? Proportion? TALENT?
“The world today doesn’t make sense, so why should I paint pictures that do?” -Pablo Picasso
I guess, Picasso should be held guilty. Modern art, however, is what can only be called – Incomprehensible for the sake of it! The less you understand something, the better it is supposed to be. It reminds me of Hans Anderson’s fairy tale – The Emperor’s New Clothes! All the people ooh-ed and aah-ed over the Emperor’s “clothes” till the little kid shouted, “Hey, he isn’t wearing any clothes!”! Every time I look at an abstract MF Hussain painting, I feel like shouting, “Hey, he doesn’t have any talent!”.
Check out this painting, for example :
The Yellow Curtain – Henri Matisse
I have to agree, it does look like a curtain from a certain angle, if you keep looking at it long enough; and it does have quite a bit of yellow colour in it. So it may not be completely nonsensical. Yet, is it only me, or does it look like a 4-year-old’s not-so-successful attempt at drawing a yellow curtain?
Art is looking beyond the brush strokes, and expanding your horizons, and letting your imagination flow; or something like that, they say. I don’t completely agree with that. For me, art has always been like a work of fiction: a picture that tells a story. Have you ever read something, and felt that the words paint a picture in your mind? Actually painting that picture, that should be art. Painting something exactly like it looks, painting reality, making it believable, making it look real; that requires real talent, and hard work and time. What’s more wonderful : looking at some random strokes and wondering if it looks like something, at all, OR looking at a wonderful painting that is so realistic, and so correct that you feel like the thing/place in the picture is actually right in front of you. For me, modern art just seems empty. Behind the “ooh-aah” aesthetic thing that’s going on, there’s really nothing there. Why is it so ridiculous that I have seen a couple of elephants in Thailand paint pictures that can pass off as modern art?
Of course, my opinion does not carry any weight whatsoever: “I can’t possibly know what I’m talking about -I have not had any formal training.”! Any argument that supports the fact that some of the works out there are just plain rubbish gets rebuffed as “ultra simplistic views made by people who can’t grasp the process”. So, think for yourself- What’s more artistic? What’s more beautiful? What’s more meaningful?
This random, chaotic.. mess?
(A painting by Julie Mehretu)
or this : a painting that makes you wonder if it is a painting or a photograph?
(“New Moon” – by Maxfield Parrish)