Talk To Them​ ・ Shirish DeshpandeBelgaum, India 

by O. Lebron   originally posted November 4, 2016   READ FULL ARTICLE with more artwork 


In earlier works circa 2014Deshpande took us straight to the countryside, depicting views of fields, fishermen, autumn leaves and blinding sunsets which seemed like drive-by glimpses from a passenger seat. With his subsequent work we stopped in the towns along the way, taking veritable walking tours of streets Deshpande, himself, may be found walking; dusty main street markets, passing laundry hung out to dry on sunbaked backstreets lined by weathered structures. Those blinding sunsets and sunbaked backstreets are, of course, all rendered with everyones' favorite medium: ballpoint pen; as unlikely a method of attaining such expressive illumination as one can imagine, even to those acquainted with the medium's capabilities and/or supposed limitations. But Deshpande is good at it, and, as is evident in this fresh batch of work, he also happens to be getting better. 
     In the past, photographs taken by friends were among Deshpande's reference material—mostly in situations when he was depicting places he had not personally visited—but he has never turned to the internet for photo reference. Now, however, he snaps all of his own photographs to use as the basis for his drawings, combining elements from various photos of the same scene and ignoring elements which he deems unnecessary or visually distracting. ''My aim is to make the best out of what I have in the reference photo," he explains. ''Nowadays I am taking more freedom to remove any object and make the scene simpler. I am well prepared before touching the tip of the pen on the surface of the paper. I think this requires a lot of confidence in oneself.'' Deshpande's skills with a ballpoint pen instill that kind of confidence and allow him that kind of freedom.  
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The Ballpointer  introduced the ballpoint pen work of Shirish Deshpande  to the world as a PENNAME   feature at the start of 2015. He was featured again in  2016, and specific works are regularly showcased on the PICKS  page. Here we've condensed excerpts from those articles as part of our 5-year anniversary FLASHBACK  series, with a selection of recent ballpoint works and some thoughts from the master ballpointer himself.​ 

​​​​​​​​​​​​''Since being featured on  The Ballpointer  in 2015, a lot of ink has flowed through the pen onto the paper and it is time to share a few thingsWhile recalling the events of the last five years, the first thing that comes to mind is the 'Great Lockdown' due to the 

Covid-19  pandemic. The lockdown has changed everything for everyone, the way we live our daily lives. It was difficult to find peace in the initial two phases of the lockdown.

In the third phase I decided to move away from TV news and challenged myself to make one artwork everyday, complete in every respect. By positively engaging in art, I overcame the feeling of shock and of being tied down at home unable to meet anyone personally, with no social engagementTo my astonishment, I could really do it by working in a smaller format and by simplifying the content. This period of the lockdown really came to me as a blessing in disguise. That's why the series is titled  Lockdown 3.0 with numbers that denote the day of the lockdown (several pictured). I made more than twenty artworks in those days. The average completion time for each was just two hours

''During this period I also built my new art studio (pictured). As artists we certainly need a space where we have the privacy, the freedom and our own undisturbed space to create, play and enjoy the artistic mess. I have designed the studio in such a way that the north and south walls are all glass, naturally lighting the interiors evenly throughout the day. One of the other plain walls reaches a height of 12 feet, allowing me to mount bigger canvases for painting. The remaining wall is reserved for the display of my artwork. The making of the studio was a dream for many years but with the help of my family I now have a big enough space to engage in art activities on a larger scale, working on many different art projects at the same time. I also look forward to conducting workshops for art enthusiasts after the current difficult social situation is over''

​In 2016 Deshpande also began a portrait series of prominent people, ''Famous, socially important personalities, like scientists, heads of nations, artists, etcetera,'' toward exhibition sometime in the future. In portraits such as that of Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam (1931-2015; 11th President of India 2002-2007, see it in the unedited article), Deshpande reaches perfection in using available ballpoint colors to sculpt dimension onto paper. ''The most challenging part of making a portrait drawing with ballpoint pens is that of achieving the skin tone,'' he relates. ''Skin is a translucent material and it also has a shining surface. So while having its own color, it also shows the colors from beneath the surface and reflects colors from its surrounding.'' While Deshpande reproduces his street scenes freehand, he pencils grid lines to map out his subjects, then erases. ''As anyone would agree, likeness is of paramount importance,'' he summarizes. 

Deshpande works on his drawings between four and six hours per day until completion. Some may require only a couple of days, others a couple of weeks. He speaks of one piece he worked on for 25 days, ''about 100 hours,'' but was unable to complete. ''So I set it aside and came back to it after about a year and then it let me work on it to the finish.'' Deshpande's casual work pace allows time for what he considers a 'dialogue' to form between he and his drawing. ''I talk and listen to the drawing, in a way. I discuss various possibilities with it,all this without any word. I take all the time in the world to communicate with my drawing.'' He works on only one drawing at a time. Working on more than one piece at a time, he explains, ''Is like talking to more than one person at a time; if I do so, I would get confused as to who is saying what.'' Deshpande maintains a similar level of distinction between his life and his artwork. ''When I am away from the drawing board, I have the broader subject of life in-general on my mind. When I'm drawing, only my drawing and I remain.''

PENNAME FLASHBACK  posted September 6, 2020

STARTING POINTS  The Ballpointer  2015 



After years in the commercial art sector, including a design and screen printing business of his own, the need to fulfill ''creative urges inside'' overcame Deshpande; ''to do something of my own,'' as he describes it. He followed the traditional approaches of paint and brush for which he'd already gained education and experience, creating abstract works quite unlike his current pen work, until the fertile prospects of ballpoints surfaced by happenstance in 2008. Deshpande can pinpoint the fateful moment: ''The 3rd or 4th of March.'' Ballpoints soon became his favored medium, local and international brands, allowing him the most ''freedom of expression''. Nearly 50 at the time, ballpoints were a game-changer.
     Deshpande was already an accomplished landscapist, even without ballpoints, but use of the pens introduced that-certain-something which often makes the difference between art and 'ART '. His ballpoint landscapes, which often offer glimpses of the locals at work or play, take shape through hairline pen strokes — Deshpande attests to the ''millions of lines'' necessary to create them — using random, stream of conscious cross-hatching or cleverly manipulated line-work. Alternating patchworks of parallel lines sometimes form multi-faceted patterns and give the surfaces a chiseled appearance. in some areas the images seem formed of one continuous squiggly line blending from color to color. Drawn from his own photographs or occasionally those of friends, imagery more implied than overly-rendered offers proof that capturing realism does not require reproducing every detail clearly. Indeed, less is more in Deshpande's depictions, the impressionistic results adding an atmospheric quality that technical perfection cannot often match.

''I like rustic scenery, the rocks, brickwork, trees, streets, stones, utensils, clothes lying around, the unfinished and disorderly state of affairs showing human existence attracts me.''  Shirish Deshpande  January, 2015 

The glimpses Deshpande provides, of bucolic towns such as Badami and landscapes portrayed in The Fields (both  2014pictured), reflect a relaxed maturity evident in the artist himself, lending credence to the oft-reported meditative effects of repetitive strokes when using mediums such as ballpoint pen. By opting-out of representing pop culture or the concerns of our space-age world, a refreshing timelessness is also conveyed. Without succumbing to the dollars-&-cents aspects of art world economics, Deshpande's artwork also fulfills that most basic measure of success: providing not only a living for the artist but spiritual fulfillment, as well. Feed the soul while feeding the family. Deshpande shows pride in the fact that people are buying his artwork based on visual appeal, not merely for perceived investment value or ballpoint 'wow' factor.
    Deshpande also shows genuine pleasure in sharing his work and spreading what many consider a different kind of "wealth". Not only is he putting the pens to good use in his own artwork, but he displays their artistic potential formally in ballpoint workshops and art fairs throughout his homeland, where he's gained the admiration and support of his compatriots. Solo and group exhibitions occur several times a year but, aside from a 2011 group exhibition of Indian artists in NiceFrance, Deshpande has yet to exhibit outside of India. 

Artwork, from top :  Lakkundi Houses 2  2016, 20 x 14'' (50.8 x 35.5cm)  & its source photo.

Belowdrawings which became the  Lockdown 3.0  series  2020, all  5 x 5'' (12.7 x 12.7cm).

Bottom the new  Studio Deshpande, 2020.  All artwork ballpoint pen on handmade paper   

© Shirish Deshpande.  Follow Shirish Deshpande on facebook 

ARCHIVEDFEATURES    more links on the ARCHIVE page​​

​​TITLE Artist・Location   

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Link to the full article in the Ballpointer  ARCHIVES...

​​​​​​​​​​​Continuing from HEADLINES 1  page ...  ​For comparison, Deshpande provided the source photo for what became  Lakkundi Houses 2  (pictured, slideshow). ''I edit the scene mentally and create my compositionThere are not many big changes required for meas initially the photo itself is taken in such a way because I was in love with the scene.'' Along with other minor alterations to proportion and placement, including a slight shifting of the vanishing point, he points out other 'edits' such as omitting an oil drum and bicycles aligning awkwardly along the right side curb. Removing a distant antenna tower nixies an eyesore and takes the scene back in time; the addition of a hazy cloud line adds atmospheric perspective that did not clearly appear in the photo. 

The colors and linear textures of Deshpande's impressionistic  touch complement the timelessness of subject matter comprising most of his drawings, but the artist doesn't concern himself with such categorizing. Still, hints of Impressionism are apparent. His lines are, after all, his brush strokes, and, as the Impressionists did with their brushwork, Deshpande's ballpoint linework is hidden in plain view as textures and patterns which become as much a part of the scene as the people, places and objects depicted. The canvas-like texture of the thick handmade paper Deshpande uses, the product of craftsmen from a neighboring town, also plays a roll in the outcome. 

Artwork, from top :  The Fields  2014, 10 x 14'' (26 x 36cm). Morning Glow  2014, 12 x 18'' (31 x 47cm).

Slideshow, right :  Badami 1  2014, 10 x 14'' (26 x 36cm).  Badami 2  2016, 20 x 14'' (50.8 x 35.5cm).

Lakkundi Houses 1  2016, 20 x 14'' (50.8 x 35.5cm).  

All artwork ballpoint pen on handmade paper   © Shirish Deshpande.  Follow Deshpande on facebook 

    Since 2014

Click on an image above to read the fully archived article. 

Mr. Deshpande  recently shared withThe Ballpointer  some accomplishments and reflected upon current events, which we thought an appropriate way to summarize this FLASHBACK.

PENNAME FLASHBACK  posted September 6, 2020

STARTING POINTS  The Ballpointer  2015 

Talk To Them​ ・ Shirish DeshpandeBelgaum, India・ 
by O. Lebron   originally posted November 4, 2016​  READ FULL ARTICLE with more artwork

​​​​​​​​India InkShirish Deshpande・Belgaum, India

by R. Bell  originally posted December 15, 2014   READ FULL ARTICLE with more artwork

In a land of over a billion people, rich with artisans and craftspeople of every stripe, it should come as no surprise that ballpoint pen artwork can be found in India, and in the atmospheric landscapes, decorative still lifes and other stylish compositions of  Shirish Deshpande, ballpoint art is also well-represented. 

     Deshpande was raised in Belgaum, a small town from which creative talent in painting, literature and music have emerged, far from city centers or cultural crossroads. Deshpande engaged in art-related activities throughout his youth, then left his quiet hometown at the age of 15 to study art at  Abhinav  Kala  Mahavidyalay  in  Pune, 250 miles away. Five years of studies earned him a GD (Government Diploma) in Applied Arts. Ballpoints had yet to become a creative consideration. 

Original content © The Ballpointer / Mahozawari Unlimited

​​​​​​​​​​​​Deshpande's preferred drawing surface is a drafting table, upon which he is able to spin his artwork to make use of natural hand movements, a beneficial drawing technique employed by those in the know. Starting with very light strokes he slowly develops color values using layers of lines. Past work experience in screen printing informs his current use of color. ''Looking at a hue, I have an idea of what combination would produce the correct result.'' Deshpande then applies the necessary colors of a desired hue separately, layer by layer. In this way, as experienced ballpointers know, colors not available in ballpoint pen can be achieved. ''I give each color and each stroke its time to reveal the effect as it is happening,'' he continues. ''After all the areas of the drawing are covered with as much detail as possible, I observe the drawing from a distance. I repeat this process in different lighting conditions, especially low light. This gives me a better idea of the overall balance of tonal values.'' Unlike most ballpointers, however, Deshpande welcomes the occasional ink blotch here and there. ''They add beauty to the textural quality of the work,'' he explains, ''So most of the time I do not wipe the tip of the pen where ink accumulates over time.''