pen and ink drawings

I started pen and ink drawings around 2018. It was just a time in my life when I felt it would be a good idea to take my scribbling to the next level.

I bought a book about stippling and other foundational exercises like shading and pen control. I did that for a few weeks and then started drawing scenes and objects.

The first few were decent compared to squiggly lines I used to make on book corners and last pages. I kept at it and after a few weeks, I produced some of the drawings below.

Pen and ink drawing of a light house
Pen and ink drawing of a light house. I drew this with a Micron 03

I usually found time on weekends and for a few minutes here and there I would work on the shading.

The Lighthouse and the rocks came after many months of working on pen control. Shading the rocks took time but the final outcome was very satisfying. I used the Micron pens and had the regular 5 pen set.

Pen and ink drawing of book shelf with a few books
Pen and ink drawing of some books on a shelf

The set of books was the first proper drawing I made with Micron pens. I still think this was the best drawing I ever made.

No other drawing made me feel like I had crossed a bridge.

A bridge where people with artistic abilities hang out. The kids who could play the guitar. The people who can sing well and paint. The techies who are great at Sales.

I felt multi-dimensional for the first time. I could see that tech work is not all that I had to offer. That I could do things like draw a decent picture that would receive a mundane “cool” or “nice drawing”.

I guess side-projects are like these drawings for a lot of people. A chance to ply your trade as you please. To apply your craft to your whims and fancies.

To create something all by yourself that you can show people and point to it. And say, “here is what I created. what do you think?”

Sometimes a side-project is a chance to pause.

To take in some of the technology landscape you have spent many years navigating.

It is a call to wanderlust.

What would it be like to program a web server? How would it be to build a React app? Should I learn Go? Must be nice to deploy ML models on GPUs!

To explore the undiscovered trails.

The trail that you keep seeing by the side of the road but don’t have the time to check out.

photo of a trail

The poem below captures how I feel about side projects.


WHAT is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?—

No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.