“I developed this series Windows to my World to put the spotlight on birds found in India,” says Mumbai-based artist Neha Arte. One of her newest illustrations is the white-rumped shama. “I saw the shama, also called the nightingale of the Western Ghats, around Bhagwan Mahavir Sanctuary in Goa. Their habitat is under threat now because of development projects there.”
Neha, who can be an environmental architect and works with sustainable designs and inexperienced buildings, began her Instagram web page to unfold the ‘love for birds’ and ‘keep the conversation going on biodiversity’. “We recently ran an email signature campaign to express protest against the Etalin hydroelectric project in Arunachal Pradesh, which if cleared might lead to the felling of 2.8 lakh trees. Old growth forests, like the ones in the Etalin project area, have evolved over millions of years and support a diverse species. We have to exercise our rights and make our voices heard. I have chosen art and digital illustrations to do that.”
Agrees Gaurav Patil, a marine biologist and an artist, who’s a part of this rising tribe of environmentalist artists. “Illustrations communicate better”, he says. His Instagram web page @seasawarts is teeming with photos of sharks, dolphins, whales, starfish, and turtles.
“People don’t treat marine life as wildlife,” he rues. “The biodiversity of intertidal zones also matter. My illustrations drive home the point. Species like seahorse and giant groupers face threat from hunters, for meat and other superstitions. Besides pollution and plastic, the marine life also faces trouble from ghost nets that fishermen discard in the sea. A digital route is the best way to reach out.”
For artist and copywriter Tanishka D’lyma (@hues_and_words), Nature is calming. One of her current works is a digital picture of pied kingfisher.
“The image now graces a book cover,” she provides. She recollects a Nature stroll, a ship experience in Mumbai, to watch the flamingos. “It was a sea of pink and white. In one of the trips, I was fascinated to watch the shrikes…drawing birds helps to etch the anatomy in my mind,”explains Tanishka who has illustrated over 50 birds together with the flamingos and barn owls. While recreating birds digitally, the artists say they change into immediately conscious of points like habitat loss and put the highlight on conservation.
“Birds are always a first choice in digital work,” says Neha who began a sequence on the sholas that she describes as an extremely numerous ecosystem. “I came across a National Geographic article on them and was inspired to create the series. The shola grasslands is a unique habitat of stunted evergreen forest found in the Western Ghats and has to be protected.”
The sequence options the critically endangered ashambu laughingthrush that has a really restricted vary and might be discovered solely within the shola grasslands. There can be the Indian scimitar babbler, a fowl with a definite banana-yellow invoice and vibrant white eyebrows that’s hardly ever noticed. It is commonly heard within the forests singing antiphonal duets with a accomplice!
Once you recognize the great thing about Nature, you change into a spokesperson of it, says artist Silvia Mukherjee (@sillytulip) who has illustrated a sequence of owls. One of them is a shocking picture of an owl staring out of the balcony. “I digitally edited it, made the beak sharper and then posted it on my Instagram page. I am not vocal about conservation, but my art work of birds, be it bee-eaters, egrets or sunbirds, do talk about habitat loss.”
Most of those artists draw digitally on iPad, or use paint brushes and color palette of the Instagram app, and different apps like Adobe illustrator or Photoshop.
Says Neha “I use the Procreate App with my iPad. Digital illustrations can take anywhere between four to 10 hours for a single bird. I pay attention to express the beauty of the bird, highlight the colours or capture an expression. In a digital medium, you have flexibility. If you use multiple layers and want to change one, it can be easily done. The background can be changed in the same way.”
Her subsequent sequence she hopes shall be on local weather change. “We have heard of the term. But the impact of climate change and what we can do about it is not very clear. I want the series of illustrations to promote climate literacy, especially among our younger students.”