Drawing a Garden with Ishita Jain

"Watching the natural world change outside has opened me up to embracing change within..."

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Let’s get straight to it.

Let’s Draw Gardens!

In this weeks’ DrawTogether class NYC-based illustrator Ishita Jain pays us a visit and teaches us to draw a Garden - specifically the kind she grew up exploring in India! Want to skip the reading and get straight to the drawing? Grab paper, a pen, some colors and press play on the video above.

  • Pencils Up! We start with some drawing stretches

  • 2:30 - Inside Weather Check

  • 4:30 - Calming Spiral

  • 10:30 - Ishita’s Garden Drawing

As always we’d love to see your garden drawings. Take a pic and post them on Instagram and tag @DrawTogether.studio to share them with us and other DT peeps.

Q&A with Illustrator Ishita Jain

Ishita is an illustrator and designer from Delhi, India. Much of Ishita’s work centers on plants, trees and the natural world, and has published in places like the NYT, SPUR and even DrawTogether. She created this wonderful poster for our non-profit DrawTogether Classrooms:

Interested in DT posters for your classroom? Email Kate@DrawTogether.Studio

In this week’s DrawTogether video, Ishita teaches us to draw a garden like the ones she grew up exploring in New Delhi - the natural spaces that continue to inform her artwork and illustrations.

Not 100% sure, but I think this is a tiny Ishita self-portrait

We asked Ishita a few questions about drawing in green spaces, gardens in India, and her ongoing interest in art and nature

100% sure this is Ishita (still from the DT video)

DrawTogether: Ishita! Thanks for chatting with us. What are your earliest garden-memories?

Ishita Jain: I grew up in an industrial area in Delhi, which means that my neighborhood mostly had factories, but I was lucky to have a small garden in our house. I spent hours mixing concoctions with wet and dry mud, hunting for ladybugs, digging the earth looking for gemstones. (I read a book that said that diamonds look like dirty rocks until they are cut and polished, so I would collect random pieces of stone and ask my parents to check if they were, in fact, diamonds.)

DT: What makes gardens and parks in Delhi special and unique from other gardens you’ve seen?

IJ: Delhi has a rich history and many civilizations lived here before it became the city that I grew up in, and fantastic monuments remain here from hundreds of years ago. Some of my favorite public gardens in New Delhi were built around gorgeous Mughal monuments.

Model of the garden around Humayun's Tomb

Humayun was a mughal emperor and this monument was built in 1572! This style of garden in the model above is called “Char-Bagh” (literally, “four gardens”) and is a quadrilateral garden layout based on the four gardens of Paradise mentioned in the Quran.

DT: Do you like to draw in the garden? Will you show us some of your drawings?

IJ: Of course. It's one of my most favourite ways to unwind! Here are some drawings on Gardens in India and in NY.

Tomb of Isa Khan, one of the monuments in the Humayun's Tomb gardens
Hindu temples and monuments in Madore, a place in Rajasthan India
A tree in bloom in Riverside Park, New York, Image from Searching For Sunshine

DT: How does spending time in these green spaces influence your artwork?

IJ: When I enter a nice garden, the sounds of the city fade away. My racing heart and busy mind seem to calm down and it feels easier to slow down. I love to draw trees and shimmering spots of natural light. I like observing the seasonal changes in my environment. This is far more pronounced in NY than in New Delhi. The same tree that is bright and green in the summer, turns to a fiery red in the fall and is barely recognizable in the winter. Watching the natural world change outside has opened me up to embracing change within, and trying new things.

DT: Anything else you want to share with us?

IJ: I have a book coming out soon!! Searching for Sunshine (Princeton Architectural Press, Spring 2023) is a book of illustrated interviews about people’s relationship with plants and the greenspaces that surround them. I interviewed and drew people in the New York City area who work with plants— scientists, florists, foragers, tree pruners—and asked them about their experiences working with the natural world and why it makes them happy. The book features people and plants in places like Green-Wood Cemetery, Washington Square Park, and other unique plant stories from around the city.

From Searching for Sunshine, drawn from life in NY’s Washington Square Park.

Thank you Ishita! Be sure to keep up with Ishita’s work on her Instagram.

That’s it for now, DT-peeps. Subscribers to the Grown-Ups Table , see you Sunday! I have a drawing/learning prompt for us, and I’m writing a little piece about graduate school in art and/or social work, student debt, and how I would do things differently if I knew then what I know now… Pencils UP!

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