Meet the Pebble family: Here's how Sushil Bhasin of Doodlewala tells stories on stones
Work seminars, prolonged meetings, not-so-interesting lectures, and never-ending training sessions often make you reach out for a pen or a pencil and before you know it, you start doodling on any available sheet of paper beside you.
While we all have been guilty of doodling our way out of the above scenarios, Sushil Bhasin, the 47-year Marketing Head at Aon, a consulting firm, took off on an alternate journey as his doodles metamorphosed from mere scribbles on paper to art pieces on pebbles.
Where it began
Everything began during a trip to the mountains in the summer of 2005 when some big white pebbles strewn across the riverfront, caught Bhasin’s fancy. On an impulse, he picked up a pebble, took out a pen, and drew a caricature on the surface of the pebble.
The result was stunning and this new medium of expressing art launched Sushil’s life-long affair with these pebbles, which he now calls 'family'.
"Though these pebbles look similar, if you take a closer look them, you are bound to notice their uniqueness, whether in the structure or the shape. I try to use the contours of the pebbles to my advantage and draw a character around it. While one pebble will show you a raised eyebrow, another may flash a crooked smile, and yet another will be just a big head," says Sushil.
As a caricaturist, Delhi-based Sushil was already publishing his toons in newspapers like Pioneer and Economic Times and publishing houses like Penguin Books. But ever since he discovered this entirely new medium, he has never looked back.
"When I started drawing on pebbles in early 2005, the pebbles were not available as easily in the marketplaces and highways as they are now,” Sushil explains. He sought the help of his friends who were embarking on holidays or coming back from business conferences to carry a sack or two of pebbles. “Many thought it was a strange request but obliged," says Sushil.
Launch of Doodlewala
As easy as it looks, it is quite a task to draw on uneven pebbles and the art form can be a real challenge sometimes, but Sushil enjoys working on this medium.
When friends, family, and colleagues noticed Sushil’s unique creations, requests started pouring in for unique personalised gifts and giveaways. He shared his art-on-pebbles with them and then gradually began monetising his work.
As the demand for his art grew, Sushil launched his own brand Doodlewala. His works often bear an element of quirk along with witty messages.
His work with pebbles has been aptly named, ‘Pebble Family’. The collectibles have travelled far and wide as keepsakes, mementoes, and even found pride of place in collectors' treasures.
As more and more people who were inspired by his work, began drawing on pebbles, Sushil decided to diversify his craft.
He launched various lifestyle products such as notebooks, with identifiable quirky characters, and has now graduated to making large composite art installations with pebbles, wood, metals and glass, which are a visual and emotional treat.
While his weekdays are a chock-a-block with meetings, presentations and challenging work environments, weekends are strictly reserved for his pebble people.
"Every weekend, I work out of my studio in Okhla and work towards growing my pebble people family, adding new members, and finding a new muse. I find that drawing on pebbles is an immersive experience which is almost meditative in nature. Even after a hectic week at work, I am able to bring my focus back to the task in hand," shares Sushil, who recently exhibited his works at the Stainless Gallery in Delhi.
Quiz him on his taking his Pebble family forward, and Sushil says, "I feel that for my kind of quirky art, Japan is the place to be. And this year, I had serious plans of taking my art there during the now-postponed Tokyo Olympics. But with the current pandemic, things look uncertain. Nevertheless, I am working at taking my art global.”
In between his hectic schedules, Sushil also manages to conduct workshops. He has conducted workshops for children with cancer in Mumbai as well as for professionals from all walks of life. But he finds working with children most delightful because there is pure unadulterated joy in seeing them express themselves and the fact that they are fast learners.
He particularly enjoys a segment of his workshop where he teaches them how to use Doodles to go from ‘I’m worried’ to the ‘I feel good!’ state in a matter of minutes. “At first, we do the basics of creating characters and situations with doodles. Thereafter, we move on to ironing out worrying situations by imagining them in changed scenarios and then turning them into positive manifestations of the earlier characters as doodles,” says Sushil.
This simple re-imagining of scenarios with positive ones is something that we can all learn to do in these challenging times.
Edited by Asha Chowdary
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)