Local Author Showcase: Krish Krishnan

Local Author Showcase spotlights Skokie-area writers and their work. This month, we talked with Krish Krishnan. He'll be here on Monday, September 21, 2015 to discuss his art/travel book Rambles into Sacred Realms, which combines a travelogue style with more than 113 pieces of the author's artwork executed during his travels of nearly three decades across 12 countries.

When did you start writing and what inspired you?

I used to write regularly to the Letters to the Editor column of several newspapers since I was in high school on issues that I felt very strongly about, but I remember being truly excited when I found my first op-ed printed in a prestigious Indian national newspaper--The Times of India--when I was 21. I took that to be an accomplishment for someone far removed from journalism. It was a 450-word piece on funny naming conventions across world cultures and it drew some attention then. It still remains one of my favorites to date.

Tell us a little about your book Rambles into Sacred Realms.

As I have crisscrossed the globe for business and pleasure, places of divine power have always intrigued me. From the mighty red rocks of Petra, Jordan, to the fury of the Hawaiian volcanoes, to the religious fervor of Varanasi, India, I have long been compelled to explore and portray such awe-inspiring divinity through writing and artwork. Rambles into Sacred Realms is an eclectic collection of 12 places of peace and power in the world, distilled from my artwork, travel writings and moments of personal insight that I have documented during my travels to these hallowed spots over a period of 30 years. Each chapter includes an essay about a particular site and several pieces of my artwork executed in a variety of mediums including watercolor, scratchboard, acrylics, pencil, and pastel. Each piece of artwork is accompanied by a caption highlighting the essence of the moment that inspired the drawing. The book idea came about in a strange way. Around three years ago my wife asked me if I ever wanted to publish the travel journals and artwork I had been writing and painting over the past 30 years. I then began thinking about some of my life adventures--suddenly being surrounded by a pack of feral dogs while sketching a temple in Thailand; not knowing how to swim and wading in chin-deep waters of an underground cave in Belize where Maya called to their gods through human sacrifices; and having a venomous cobra slither across my feet as I sat and sketched a shrine in Cambodia--and I immediately decided that I wanted to share my adventures in these lands. In that wonderful moment, a book was born!

Do you see a natural relationship between travel, writing, and art?

To me all these flow naturally, together when I get inspired in one of those great places. There’s something deeply personal and immensely rewarding in what I do during the hours I spend freezing that exhilaratingly precious moment on canvas and scribbling thoughts in my notebook. With each deliberate brushstroke or scratch of the scalpel, I’m keenly tuned into the very moment I am recreating, losing myself in the profound joy of the subject before me. And when that subject is something divinely awe-inspiring—like lava gushing untrammeled out of a volcano deified as a goddess, or the timeless columns of a hallowed Grecian temple against the backdrop of verdant olive groves, or the vibrant throb of devotion in a city of ancient cultures—this act becomes one of spontaneous submission to the sublime.

You use many different artistic techniques and tools in your work, how do you decide which one to utilize in a particular situation?

It depends both on my mood and subject. While scratchboard is excellent for rendering fur textures of some of the animals depicted in my book, it doesn’t lend itself to all landscapes easily. For example, ancient temples and the texture of stone is best captured in scratchboard, however if you are looking for the interplay for mist and sunlight, use acrylic or watercolors. I find scratchboard extremely technical and limiting. Sometimes I begin a sketch on site using watercolor pencils, and I stick with these to completion. Charcoal is best suited for rocky terrain and sculpture--at least that’s what I have used these for. Having said all this, it all depends on my state of mind at that particular moment!

Do you have a dream travel destination?

Yes, two weeks in exotic Madagascar.