Notes from an illustrated life

A wandering soul meets water colours in artist Prashant Miranda’s book of sketches, ‘Journey, Sojourn, Journal’

Last year Prashant Miranda, artist, illustrator and compulsive sketcher took a trip across the length of India, all the way from Kashmir to the Andamans and in moments where most people would have fished out their phones and taken conveniently geotagged photographs to fittingly document their experiences, Prashant opened a book, turned to a page and painted. This irony, however, is lost on Prashant for whom keeping a visual journal is a natural extension of a normal day.

The three journals that kept Prashant company on the trip have been compiled into a book titled Journey, Sojourn, Journal , the launch of which brought Prashant to Hyderabad last week. Filled with scans of full pages of his watercolours, one can find everything from the artist’s observations of people and places to more “whimsical madness” he attributes to his career in animation, in the book, as do recipes carefully collected from family, friends and travel companions. The journals themselves have interesting stories. One was bound especially for Prashant by a book binder in Goa. Another was picked up in Rajasthan and contains fading inscriptions belonging to a different time. “I just painted over them,” says Prashant. The third was a gift from a friend.

“I have been keeping visual journals since 1994,” says Prashant, who ascribes some of this habit to the reading of Anne Franks Diary (which also juxtaposes text with image) at the age of 12. “Keeping a journal helps me reflect on my day; on the new sights I see and the people I meet. It’s important for me to note down first impressions of people and places,” says the prolific Prashant who observations and ideas fill about 150-200 sketchbooks. “I have been doing this for over 20 years now; I have a book for when I visited Paris, another one for Cuba and another for Tai pei and so on. They’ve become like my best friends that go everywhere with me,” he says referring to his books and watercolour kit.

“I have a very old school notion of water colours and journals. I admired those travellers who would visit new places and do landscapes to take back to their home countries as a way of exhibiting another world. I think some aspect of that admiration translates into the work I do,” he says . Prashant spends his summers in India and winters in Canada. After studying animation in NID, he migrated to Canada to begin a career in animation film. Four years in, he got tired of the job and started to paint for a living and has since held several exhibitions and illustrated seven children’s books. This time around he will be stopping for shows in Bangalore and Mumbai. His most recent children’s book What can you do with red, yellow and blue? will be launched this week in Bangalore.

Prashant’s body of work also consists of Koramangala Curries , a limited edition cookbook with family recipes, interspersed with pages from his sketchbook of Home he did back in 1997. ‘Harper and Madeleine’, an ongoing correspondence between Harper Leaf and Madeleine Weathers is something that began in many years ago with a friend and college mate Kalpana Sumbramanian. “It began between Kalpana and another friend but then I came in and took on this alter ego of Harper Leaf and somewhere along the way we began to write in verse,” explains Prashant. The correspondences exchanged by Harper (Prashant) and Madeleine (Kalpana) can be viewed on Limited editions of Journey Sojourn Journal can be picked up at Plantation House.

I admired those travellers who would visit new places and do landscapes to take back to their home countries as a way of exhibiting another world.

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