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Nehchal Narula

Master of Architecture student from Deakin University, Geelong. Fun facts about me- when I stress I bake; I love sketching and watching food videos. 

My tech detox journey during COVID-19

All of our lives have changed with us staying indoors and quarantined due to COVID-19. To adapt to this new lifestyle, many of us are spending even more of our time with technology, be it to catch up with our classes, social life, work or for our entertainment.

We must remember to take a break from the screen occasionally to enjoy the practical hobbies that allow us to be present in the moment, especially if we have more time for it. I made it happen by picking up my pencil to start sketching for pure pleasure instead of spending more hours on AutoCad, and I was glad I did it.

Balancing technology and life’s simple pleasures

Surely, we can’t exclude technology from our routines, but we can all draw a line, beyond which technology stops interfering in our lives. What this lockdown has done for me is, it has given me an opportunity to strike a balanced relationship with work and technology. And as of 1st of May, I started my journey towards a ‘tech detox’.

I stay on campus and my location gives me plenty of opportunities to get close to nature. Hence, I decided to pursue a short, live sketching session amidst the serene surroundings of my campus.

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Day 1: Back to the fundamentals of sketching

For my first live sketching session, I chose to capture a great landmark of Deakin University - the lake near the library with an ancient bell. The day saw a constant tussle between the sun and the clouds, which is a huge characteristic of the city of Geelong. However, amidst this fight for dominance, I found a comfortable bench for myself to sit and start my reconnaissance.

I observed that as I attempted to fix a frame of reference and capture different details, I ended up with an excess of lines and a few fundamental errors like slight tilts in my perspective. Realizing the need for practice, I decided not to be too harsh on myself, as the aim of the whole exercise is to take a break from technology.

A little help from technology

A good sunny morning was soon taken over by a heavy forecast and it started drizzling. Owing to the unpredictable weather of Geelong, I had no option but to take out my little handy piece of technology and clicking a picture to get the remaining details.

Access to technology has its advantages. However, while sketching the picturesque landscape in front of me, I realised how this activity allowed me to take a good walk and gifted me a few moments away from the glare of my gadgets.

I also realised that I had developed odd tendencies of not exercising my creativity and extracting images from the internet for sketching. After my first sketching session, I realized that when it comes to hobbies like sketching and painting, our natural environment and milieu can offer us a huge range of inspiration.

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Day 2: Trying different mediums with one sketch

As an Architecture student, I always consider doing things in stages, and taking traces is a part of my creative process. This step gave me a clearer overview of what I had captured with my initial draft. After tracing my original sketch on the second day, I decided to scan the trace a few more times.

The first medium that I explored was pen and ink. It was a tricky exploration since I had only ink to express a wide array of textures. Considering that I attempted a live sketch after a long time, I was considerably satisfied with the outcome.

Some other mediums that I usually like to explore include watercolours and pencil colours.

I also thought about trying a different medium for this exercise - I used a set of small highlighters that I got during one of the events in the university and the results certainly came out to be quite different.

Owing to the limited colour range of the highlighters, I was not sure about how to go about completing the sketch. I was in a dilemma with regards to mixing different mediums. Hence I chose to leave the remaining parts in pencil.

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A therapy called “sketching”

I found the whole process towards a creative outcome to be highly therapeutic. The only thing that is required for these activities is time and patience, and I strongly feel that we can spare a few minutes by ditching those gadgets and dusting off those pencils and sketchbooks.

If you felt inspired by this exercise, you must give it a try. We are all in this together and I am sure you can all find different ways to use your own skill sets to discover yourselves, without engaging much with technology as we are prone to do. And while you do so, take care and stay safe.

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