Our trip to Chindi, Mashobra and Shimla, in Himachal Pradesh, has worked wonders for all of us. I’m all charged up and motivated to give a fresh try to pending projects and then start some new ones.
The sweltering Delhi summer can drain physically, may be. (Well, yes, there’s no escaping the heat and humidity.) But the spirit cannot be vanquished – not for some time at least. When the thresh-hold arrives, we’ll figure out another trip to the Himalayas! Ha!
In my last post, I shared some leaf printing that we did when in Chindi.
Today, I have another leaf project – simple but beautiful and immensely satisfying. Leaf rubbings with Crayons. And, some endearing stories and pictures from the Himalayas (Chindi).
Pari and I keep going back to leaf rubbing art from time to time but haven’t shared here except for this – more than two years back.
Today’s leaf rubbings are special for the fact that we did these in an environment right in the middle of nature.
Also, the time and moments when we collected the leaves are steeped in stories – of women folk, children, trees, encounters, birds, reflections, rains, observations!
As you can understand, I’m really tempted to share not just our leaf crayon rubbing art but also those stories and pictures. For once, I’ll give in to my temptation…! I hope you don’t mind… :-)
So, leaf rubbings are really the simplest to set up. I love the fact that we can do this right in the middle of nature walks – immediately as you pick up a leaf! All you need are some drawing sheets, a flat surface (bench etc) and wax crayons. In fact we have done this way, too.
That whole afternoon, Pari and I collected leaves, did photography and loitered around in the woods right behind our hotel room. The HPTDC guest house in Chindi is a joy.
At INR 1100 per night, plus delicious yet reasonably-priced food, and friendly people, it’s almost like a home away from home.
We used A4 sheets and instead of sticking the leaves onto the surface under the paper, we simply slipped one leaf at a time under the sheet and went about rubbing. We kept moving and adjusting the leaf to cover the entire paper.
In some places we rubbed either just the tip of the leaf or just one half of the leaf – vertically or side-ways. Doing this actually made it more beautiful – as if a painting or a deliberate work of art.
I made this in the colours of the Indian flag. We’ll do more such for upcoming Independence day. (You might want to see this Life-sized Self Portrait in the colours of our flag – that Pari made last year.)
And this one – in the colours of the American flag. (well, have I ever mentioned here – I LOVE America and the spirit of this country and her people!)
The next day before we did some more of this art (keep reading to see), we went on another nature walk, which turned out really interesting for the people we met, the conversations we had, and the kind of leaves and other finds we picked up…
As we went down this trek, we meet this local ‘Himachali’ woman collecting feed for her cattle (they call ‘dungar’). She was eyeing us curiously. I asked her if I could take a picture of her and she smiled. After a couple of shots she asks, “so you like this place”. “Oh, we’re loving it. Delhi is nothing like this place”. “What, you don’t have your own land there?” “Yeah, no. No land. Just a house with walls”, I say. In the same tone, she questions – “no dungar (cattle), either.” We laugh and she left shaking her head in disbelief….
As we go further down the trek (it leads to a small village) we spot this milky white horse. I think it belonged to the woman above.
And another breath-taking view! This little water hole. Pari threw pebbles and cones and wood chunks to see what sank and what floated.
We’d taken this trek via the PWD guest house campus, which is sprawling green. This man takes care of the PWD guest house.
He shared some snippets about the guest house reserved mostly for the politicians who visit the nearby Shimla town for conferences. He also mentioned the gorgeous Chinar Tree (Himalayan Maple) that’s found primarily in the Kashmir valley but happens to be here as a ‘Fauji’ (soldier) visiting from Kashmir planted it in that place.
I fell in love with the Chinar tree. We sat under it for a while. These log chairs were too cute to not sit and relax a bit…
He served us tea drinking which we were puzzled why anyone would want to add salt to tea! Seriously – it WAS salty. But, it’s okay!
Pari got busy digging and doing pretend-farming. She gave me mock tomatoes from her farm to make chutney. Oh, and some ginger and garlic to flavour up the chutney…
A few minutes later, we saw a group of young girls, in school uniforms, passing that way toward the village trek. They were all a bundle of joy! I wanted to click. Asked them if I can. And what a memorable picture I got!
The carvings on this Pine tree evoked much awe and wonder.
When we got closer we figured that this is how they tap and collect the sap, which is super sticky.
Reading up more about the uses of Pine sap, I was awestruck to know that Pine sap can be used as natural fuel (no need to rely on oil for camp fuel!), to make chewing gum, water sealant and more! Check out this really useful video that shows how to tap and collect Pine sap and how different mixtures have varied uses.
When we got back to our guest house, I knew I had to right away do some crayon rubbings with the Chinar leaves.
And here they are. I used more than one colour one single leaf.
The details are breath-taking! Aren’t they?
As you can see, I filled every bit of the paper with one or other part of the leaf…
We could have coated these with a thin layer of water colour, but decided against it. Just the effect of leaf impressions peeping through the crayon was amazing in itself.
You know what, this is pure therapy!
This is simple, easy, affordable. You don’t need a special skill to do. All you need is some curiosity, enthusiasm and love for nature. What you get at the end is pure bliss, calm and a sense of tranquil.
Oh and if you had any headache, it’ll disappear like it was never there!
So, go ahead, indulge in this art therapy. :-) Or this one – Zentangling!
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