More Than Words | More Than Pictures


The creative process behind advertising, graphic design, art and photography is the focus of this blog. That doesn’t mean that every aspect of creative process is discussed. I may air my opinion on whatever I choose from a random selection that needs creative scrutiny. It goes for film, photography and illustration as well.


BLOG BY MATHEW


MORE THAN PICTURES

Medium: Acrylic  |  Canvas: Gallery Wrapped
Colors: Atelier Interactive  |   Size: 48″x30″  |  SOLD

INTO THE STORM

Monsoon storms have rarely stopped a Kerala fisherman from taking his boat into the sea especially when there’s plenty of fish to catch. Waiting for the storm to clear is never an option. Though it may appear to be a risky venture, for a seasoned fisherman it’s an opportunity that comes knocking not many times. 

Successful people never wait for the perfect opportunity. They make use of whatever opportunity they have and make it working to their advantage.


A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS!

The more you think about it, nothing beats food as the most captivating of all worldly things. You have already come to like it for its mesmerizing power. But then, it is a different story altogether when food gets in the pages of magazines or in commercials. It takes a lot to make food look equally mesmerizing on a printed page or on a digital screen for it to captivate you like the real thing. That’s where the artistry of staging, lighting, composition and common sense come into play. The resulting picture can either make or break a product.

Lemon Pickle | One look at it and you are already salivating!
Carrot Cake by My Mother’s Kitchen

No matter what vehicle you drive, things can go wrong unexpectedly

On a cold January night a flat tire forced Dan Williams to stop his BMW X5 on Black Canyon Freeway (I-17) just an hour away from his destination, Phoenix, Arizona. His incessant calls for help to 911 and AAA didn’t bring any. He was left with a disabled car and a dead cellphone. He got hopelessly worried about the car running out on him. 

The only way to save him from certain death from the freezing winter was to get help from drivers that drove by. But no one took pity on him. 

Then as if sent by God himself, a good samaritan appeared in a beat up van and offered Dan a ride to the nearby town where he could find help and lodging. The offer was too tempting for Dan to ignore considering the bad situation he was in. 

The snow-covered hills and dark countryside painted an eerie picture under the moonless sky. Dan soon dozed off in the warm comfort of the van. 

Then the van came to an abrupt stop. Dan found himself sitting alone in the vehicle
in a place that looked like an abandoned stone quarry. 

“Why did he bring me here?” Dan wondered! 

A tap on the side door made Dan look out. Standing outside was the van driver.
He waved Dan to exit the vehicle. Once out, Dan was asked to hand over his car key.
The sudden turn of events was already expected and Dan was prepared for such a situation. With a Glock G19 tucked securely in the back of his jeans, Dan waited for
the right moment. 

“I have to leave you here,” the van driver muttered. “If you are smart enough,
you will find your way out. Never trust a stranger.” 

“Never trusted one,” Dan quipped. “That includes you!” 

Dan whipped out his gun and fired rapidly at the van driver. The sound of shots echoed inside the quarry but didn’t escape its granite walls. The limp body of the stranger rolled over the edge into a watery grave in the deep quarry. 

Dan got into the van and drove away. 


WHY GRAPHIC NOVELS?

Comics/graphic novels have become very popular after many of them were made into blockbuster movies. Superman, Batman, Frank Miller’s Sin City and 300 are just a few examples. Why Pixelbrew is into graphic novels, one might ask. It has a lot to do with art and storytelling.

Stories and graphic design somehow got into me from a very early age. My art education didn’t begin with Crayola but with graphite slate and pencils as early as I can remember. Tracing Mandrake the Magician from newspapers using homemade tracing paper was one of my favorite activities while in school. My ability to draw got attention from teachers as well and some of them wanted me to draw Jesus, the pope, and someone else for them.

Homegrown ghost stories were the staple of many a conversation when village folks assembled. Local rivers, tall trees, giant rocks, desolate hilltops etc., found permanent
seats in such stories. Nightmares have been a regular interlude for those children who took a liking for such stories!

Most graphic novels begin with a preliminary sketch and and a story to go with it

My interest in art took me to the mother of all art schools in India: the venerable JJ School of Art (read Applied Art) in Bombay (Yes, not Mumbai then). Sequential art even found place in a few adverts I created while working in an ad agency. Comics and graphic novels in those days didn’t go beyond folklore and mythology.

A story I wrote in a Malayalam journal a decade ago demanded another reading.
As I read it over and over, I saw its potential for a graphic novel and named it Beyond Normal. Because it is.


Medium: Watercolor  |  Paper: Arches 140lb. cold press
Colors: Winsor & Newton Artists’ Water Colour   |   Size: 28″x22″

KOVALAM

This watercolor illustration of Kovalam Beach shown above with its iconic lighthouse after a thunderstorm is based on my 1995 photograph. The evening sky is cloudy and another storm is already brewing in the horizon. You may find the once pristine and secluded beach where fishermen hauled their catch and repaired their nets in stark contrast to today’s Kovalam, a picture of clutter, disarray and unchecked growth. Let’s hope Kovalam will remain a place of serene natural beauty that would not only welcome everyone but also inspire and enrich them.


A fallen pine tree by a stream in the West Kill Mountains, NY.
Medium: Watercolor | Paper: Arches Cold Press | Size: 22″ x 30″

THE FALLEN TREE

The stream ends up in the West Kill River. The West Kill flows for 11 miles before entering Schoharie Creek just below the village of Lexington. Wild trout are found throughout the stream, but they are most abundant in the upper 8 miles. Wild brown trout can be found in all sections of the stream, but rainbow trout are found mostly in the lower reaches, and brook trout numbers increase as one heads upstream.


Medium: Watercolor  |  Paper: Arches Aquarelle | Cold Pressed
Colors: Winsor Newton Professional  | Size: 22″x 30″   

BOUGAINVILLEA

Bougainvillea, a watercolor painting originated from a photograph that I took while living in Bangalore has a little history behind it. Starting its life as a lowly courtyard resident at a two story house, this Brazilian beauty assumed its rightful place as the most spectacular and beautiful climber east of Mumbai. It was also the most attractive bougainvillea ever to grace the face of a bungalow in Bangalore.

But alas! its life was short lived. My precocious landlord was more concerned about the railings on his balcony, on which the lovely bougainvillea prospered, than the attractive vine. One fine morning bougainvillea disappeared from 10 Murphy Road without any fanfare.

Now “Bougainvillea” lives only in my thoughts and on the walls of my home in Baltimore. Here it’s for all those who would care to share my labor of love.

A little more about bougainvillea: In 1768 when Admiral Louis de Bougainvillea began his long journey to the Pacific Ocean and discovered the vine that now bears his name, it was a botanical highlight of the voyage. Through the ensuing years, this spectacular and beautiful Brazilian native has become one of the most popular tropical plants.


BROOD X PERIODICAL CICADAS

Now that cicadas have attained celebrity status on social media and elsewhere I need not write more about them: what they are or what they do for a living or what they do during the day or night.

My first encounter with cicadas was in June 2004. They were something out of this world for me and for many Marylanders. Trillions of periodical cicadas were tunneling out from their underground homes for the first time in 17 years to make love and perish in about a month.

It’s now June 2021 and they are back. From all that is going on, it appears that they are really living their short life in sheer abandon. They are everywhere: flying and falling dead in droves. Soon they will disappear until a new generation emerges in the year 2038! So much would have happened from now and then in our world just like what has happened since their last appearance in 2004.

Year 2038: Perhaps people will be teleporting from place to place in a matter of minutes if not seconds! I am not ruling out such a possibility considering the progress we have already made since 2004!


The balancing act behind the escape from a fatal fall

MORE THAN A MIRACLE

What baffled those who were at the accident scene was not how lucky the occupants were to survive the crash without even a scratch, but how did they manage to land the vehicle on that fallen tree! I still wonder how that happened.

February 6, 2014, was a cold sunny day. The roads were dry and there was no snow or ice anywhere on the route. Though the posted speed was 35 mph, the car was cruising at a steady 25 mph. The curve ahead seemed clear and dry and the speedometer dipped to about 20 mph as I took the right turn. Suddenly the car skidded all over the road and I lost control of it. In a split second, the vehicle jumped the curb and sped down a hillock towards a stream 20 feet below. I have no recollection of what was going through my mind. Nothing was on the path to break the fall. And it all happened in a jiffy.

Then the unimaginable happened. The car stopped abruptly. I came to my senses and found myself still in the seat and without any bodily injury. I sat there dumbfounded. Slowly it dawned on me that I was not alone. And not out of danger yet. I looked at my wife who was still in her seat but equally dumbfounded and without any bodily harm! Without much difficulty, we got out of the car via the driver-side door.

The rescue crew from the Baltimore County Fire Department arrived soon after had only one word for us: “Someone up there is looking after you!” Thank God for that someone whoever it was.


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