Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Finding Your Self

I participated in my first group show this year at Lalit Kala Akademi. I was nervous and excited. It is understandable. I am not a professional artist with a degree in Fine Arts, but an artist by spirit whose hobby became a passion; but only after a long battle of battling my insecurities as an artist. When your works become public, you never know which way the votes will swing. 

I was lucky in that sense. 

My teacher and my fellow artists were of immense support. The senior artists who are also professionals, were encouraging and the opportunity to showcase my work alongside their beautiful paintings was a wonderful privilege. It was a lot of hardwork and a race against time. I had taken a ten-day break to go for the Hampta Pass trek in Himachal Pradesh right in the middle of all the prep work. It was a good call , though till the last minute I was torn about going for the trek with the exhibition coming up around the corner. 

Sometimes, you need to listen to yourself, your inner voice and just flow with it.

I cannot resist the call of the mountains. It was a fantastic trek and I came back tired, but absolutely refreshed. I picked up from where I left and put a stop to my guitar classes, so I could focus on my paintings. 

In the end, everything turned out well. My work enjoyed positive reviews and I also had the opportunity to interact with a variety of people and accomplished artists who gave their insights. I have taken their feedback and revisited some of my paintings. 

The journey was important. The experience changed me as an aspiring artist. When I look back, I realized it was a combination of hard work, trusting your gut, and taking chances.

Painting: Watercolor, wet-on-wet, Fallen Leaf by SNatz, copyrighted.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Red Whiskered Bulbul

The Red Whiskered Bulbul finally came home. I thought she was another bird, among millions of other species out there. When I posted my preliminary version on Instagram, one of my friends commented that she is the Red Whiskered Bulbul. I fell in love with her. 

My joy is reflected in my art. The most rewarding compliment my teacher gave was the smile of joy when he saw the bulbul. She looks fresh, almost singing to you or maybe calling out to the others. 

This is an oil on canvas painting. We had cropped my original picture. The bird in reality is small made. The twig on which she is seated in reality was actually cable wires running across poles.

One of the most important lessons my teacher taught me is respecting and nurturing my subjects. I submitted myself to art and to my beautiful red whiskered bulbul. I called out to her asking for guidance. As we built a silent conversation, she emerged in all her splendor and richness.

When art leads you, the spirit is enriched forever.

Make good art.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Art of Buying Brushes

During my causal after-class conversations with my art teacher, we were discussing the risks of online transactions and ordering products online with no real idea about the quality of the product. Books he had ordered from Flipkart in the past looked very old and used when it was delivered. So he is completely against the notion of online shopping.

"Especially while buying art materials, it is important that only an artist buys the materials since they know what they are looking for", he said.

I responded,  "But Sir, I have just bought brushes without checking them. I don't know what to look for and I was not even aware I should check them before the purchase".

"S, you must dip the brushes in water and check for the smooth strokes and how well the brush holds the water, as if it were paint. 
Rub the bristles against your finger to check the tension. It should not be too stiff or too soft. It should have just the right flexibility.
Check the ferrule, which is the metal casing holding the bristles. It should not be bent or distended. Further the bristles should also be even and hold shape. 

Finally, even when you buy paint tubes, gently press the ends to check for the paint".

A learnt a valuable lesson today.

Persevere. Make Good Art.

Just Listen, Really Listen

With cyclone Vardah pulling down trees and bringing life to a standstill, it added to my miserable state of self-doubt. I dropped by my artist-mathematician friend's house to vent my state of mind. She encouraged me to take a break from work and in the meanwhile, really listen to what our art teacher was trying to tell us. 

She showed me her painting, which she stood for two hours and worked. It was beautiful.

I took a break from the painting to look at other aspects of my foundation and review my work done so far. I felt more confident.

I resumed my oil painting. I have been working on the autumn foliage for sometime.
It has come out better simply because I worked on it with a better understanding of the composition. I also decided to stand and paint, with the hope it would give me a better perspective. It certainly helped.

The company we keep is important. At the same time, we must also review and strive to improve our work as much as possible. 

I look forward to enjoying another session of painting tomorrow.

Persevere. Struggle.
Make good art.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Better Days

In my earlier classes, my teacher put me through vigorous sketching sessions to help me build a foundation. While trying to fish out some of my photographs, I chanced upon my sketches. 

One of the most time-consuming aspect of the shading exercise  in this picture, was the thick bushes capturing light in some areas and darkness in others. What we see in photographs is a world of difference from what we render on paper. 

Always shade on the smoother side and keep your arm movement fluid.

In this sketching and shading session, the proportion of the coconut trees in the foreground and background was tough. After a series of erasing and redrawing until the paper was thin, I nailed it.

Looking back, I realise I need to give myself more credit for my work. We should never undervalue our own worth. My teacher brought out the best in me. 

My works tell me that I have known better days, but not before a long struggle. This is how it will be. It's all good.

The end result is so fulfilling. We would not have had this experience if we were not willing to push ourselves to give it our all. I should heed my teacher's advise, follow his instructions and internalize it throughout my work.

Make Good Art.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Sketching, Shading and Practice

I keep going through my period of highs and lows like any other normal human being. I have been trying to get the foliage right in my Autumn oil painting. I had been sketching and doing a little pen work on the side. But it did not seem it was enough and neither were the subjects right. I was frustrated when my teacher told me that I am not putting in as much time as I should. He tells me in dismay all the time that students jump the gun because they are impatient to learn and get the foundation right. He often lets them off on their path so they can realise for themselves where they are. I was so dejected I skipped two classes. 

I was tired mentally, but went back to class after my editor friend chided me for not being thick-skinned, and encouraged me to see the positive side of things. I can never measure up to my teacher's level of perfection. The man is a genius. What I can do however, is to practice whatever he instructs me as a discipline and learn as much as possible.

I told him I wanted to get my foundation right in shading and not paint. Instead he asked me to do a quick sketch under 2-3 minutes, and he gave me a portrait, something I have never done. He was hesitant that this will frustrate me, but I decided to give it a shot. I started off on the wrong foot or arm.

I always make the mistake of getting into details rather than learning to look at the sketch as a whole. So do many novices like me. The mind blows up these details and you end up running out of paper. The more paper you get, it will never be enough. 

Second, when doing portraits, there are two important aspects to consider: angles and proportions. As a practice, it is good habit to try and do a quick sketch under 2-3 minutes. Then go for successive rounds to correct the angles. Atleast by the third round, the lines should be in place. Then you go for shading.

I did this sketch of a lady under 3 minutes. My teacher was plesantly surprised. He said I have done a decent job with the angle and proportions. He suspected that the problem I really had to deal with is putting in just 30 minutes everyday. 

I need to be disciplined. Stay focused.

Make Good Art.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Practice and Craftsmanship

The last one week had been absolutely crazy with the Navratri celebrations  and balancing a full time day job. It took me completely away from Guitar practice and my shading exercises. I had to skip class last weekend since I was volunteering for my run group for our first year anniversary event.

But here is what I tried out the week earlier. I love trying my hand at sketching human forms that are looking away or doing some activity, but not staring right at us. I  love that element of unknown, keeping the viewer guessing. I have been using Vasudeo Kamath's book on Sketching and Drawing as my practice exercise. Once I finished my pencil work, I went over the sketch with pen again for another round of practice with a different medium.

My teacher rightly pointed out that though I had the overall proportions right, the beauty of anatomy is understanding each part and its intricacies, the function they perform and then developing that muscle with its appropriate shape. 

With practice and patience, the craftsmanship will become unmistakable.

Make Good Art.