An ongoing project by Lokesh Padmashali pays homage to the dexterity and beauty of a single line

Updated: Jan 14, 2018, 11:50 IST | Benita Fernando | Mumbai

An ongoing project by Lokesh Padmashali pays homage to the dexterity and beauty of a single, continuous line

The line of infinite possibilities

Lokesh Padmashali starts with the eyes. His stylus moves swiftly over his Samsung Note, and soon the squiggles take shape. A face forms. All the while, his stylus has been dedicatedly stuck to the screen; he hasn't lifted it even once. In all, it's hardly taken him 30 seconds to make a portrait. "A single line has endless possibilities," says Padmashali, 31. A graphic designer employed at a design firm in Prabhadevi, Padmashali has mastered the technique of making a single line bend to his wishes. It is there for viewers to see. On his Instagram account, @lokeshpadmashali, the artist has a virtual sketchbook, where he has uploaded 145 such sketches.

The line of infinite possibilities

The portraits are of friends and celebrities, and showcase the deft ways in which a line can twist and turn continuously. Among them are singer Selena Gomez, actor Bella Thorne, makeup artist Tomas Moucka and actor Jim Sarbh, who reposted his portrait last month on his Instagram feed. There is also a portrait of Casper, the resident pet dog at the design firm where Padmashali works.

Thane-based Padmashali is a graduate in applied arts from the Sir JJ School of Art, and has followed the footsteps of both his father and grandfather. He says that he has always enjoyed illustrating and sketching, and the new series, called A Single Line, is his search for a more minimalist aesthetic. If you scroll down his Instagram feed to the month of November, you'll find his first sketch, that of a pulse beat wave, which plays as an animation video. Padmashali turned to portraits soon after. "I like to keep the portraits minimal - just black on white - and allow viewers to interpret them. They can add their colour to it," he says.

The line of infinite possibilities

Padmashali admits that his first love will always be putting pen to paper, but the digital medium offers him more freedom. He makes these portraits on his phone wherever he can, while travelling to work or while lingering at a cafe. "It is my way of unwinding, some time away from the hectic schedule of the day," he says. He also gives his creativity a free hand with blind contouring, a technique in which you don't look at the paper you are drawing on.

Lokesh Padmashali
Lokesh Padmashali

These Zen-like portraits, however, don't come without challenges. Some faces, which have a more distinct character, are easier to interpret. Others need some deliberating, but nothing that takes him more than 15 minutes, says Padmashali. If he is making a portrait from life then he turns to Photoshop to trace the outlines of the face. An imaginary face or landscapes don't need the use of the software. And, among his portraits he has no favourites.

"My latest sketch is always my favourite one," he laughs shyly.The use of a single continuous line has been experimented by artists world-over. For instance, there is French illustrator, Christophe Louis Quibe, whose One Line Illustrations, which you can see on Instagram, are hugely popular, even as tattoos and neon signs. Padmashali is finding similar recognition, with people writing to him for tattoos, greeting cards and apparel design. "I like to see how I can bring out emotions through lines," he says.

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