Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Plumage- Acrylic on Canvas

This was a quick morning painting done in less than an hour, on A4 size. I gifted this to one of my friends, who I have become quite close to, in the past year. I want her to put it in her cabin, as I believe flowers are always mood lifters! I had to steal my daughter's acrylic paints as I was in a hurry to gift it and wanted to finish it immediately. This is a copy however, and it is definately not for sale.
The reward I got for this was the smile on her face!

Here's the latest song that I'm hooked on to from my daughter's collection:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tulip fillip- oil on canvas sheet

Got inspired to do this for two reasons. One, I recently bought a few tubes of paint from a brand called Pebeo and was dying to use those colours.These colours are different from the usual Camel brand I use.

Secondly, my daughter came back from her art class very excited with a half done acrylic of tulips and was begging me to let her do some oils. So we had some mother- daughter painting session on oils. I made this with my knives , taking an idea from her tulip painting and I let her paint a landscape from a card with oils.

I was a bit distracted during this , as we shared the same palette , though she did brushwork ( and me-Palette- knives), but ultimately finished it.

Pebeo colours are bright and they have a wide trange, but I have actually started using more of a limited palette which is getting smaller in range by the day and all these colours actually do not make sense at the end of the day!

So at the end of this session what I had was this painting and what my daughter had was an evening where did what she loved (painting) and thus avoided what she disliked ( studying :- )).  !!!

P. S. I am editing this post by posting this latest sensation in music. It's a Tamil ( I think so) song that has gone viral over the net and it is really catchy. i do not understand the meaning, but it has caught on into my head!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Alla Prima- Learnings from a Workshop

I recently attended a portraiture & figurative workshop conducted by an International artist.

Some notes:

Objective of the workshop: To learn how to make portraits and figurative paintings from live models.

Technique: Alla Prima.

Methodology: Live Demo by artist followed by experiential learning sessions by students (painting from a live model, using same technique as taught by the artist).

Definition: Alla Prima is a technique which means 'at once ' in Italian . In this method, instead of  painting in layers, paint is applied wet-on-wet , and the painting is finished within hours , instead of days.

Some things I learnt :

1) Reduce the subject of painting to shapes and planes. ( Don't think of a nose as a nose, but as a breakdown of planes)

2) Squint your eyes and look at the subject.

3) Look for shapes, value, colour and edges, in a chronological manner, while squinting.

4) Draw lines with brush to suggest sharp cntours and demarcating lines and tangents (e. g.upturn of a face, defining line of a garment, tilt of the postrure, eyebrow level, nose level etc. ).

Pre - painting:

5)  Very important part of this technique is the value gradation of colors.

 Create a value chart for the basic colours that you would be using for a subject.

 There should be 3 values in light and 2 values in shade for a particular range. For. e.g. for flesh colour, we  could have a very dark with burnt sienna and cobalt blue and a bit of ivory black and progress through the next 4 values by adding more of white and less of darker colours. Once you have your value scales , on your palette, you are ready to attack the canvas. Make sure your brushes are spiky clean and your palette is wiped clean of all previous colours. This is a very important stepto retain freshness of the painting in Alla Prima.

When mixing, try one dominant colour and mix other colours in little bits to go up and down the value scale.

During painting:

6) Squint and  look for shapes and values. Block the shapes that you see with corresponding values in relation to each other. Block the darkest shapes that you see with the darkest value on your palette. As you move from shape to shape, ask yourself, cooler or warmer? Lighter or darker? Accordingly block the basic shapes that you see. Break down the whole face into shapes and planes.

7) Be careful while moving from value to value. Do not jump values, as the work will look patchy and there won't be transition between values.

8) Use bristles to block the initial shapes and then use sable brushes as you apply lighter values, or work between the shapes.

9) Have an alert on warm/ cool combinations throughout the work, as you paint.

10) Remember cool light- warm shadow and vice versa and accordingly apply the colours and the values thereof.

11) Try to focus on some parts where you want to sharpen and converge more definitively. e. g. eye.

12) Keep your shadows transparent and lights opaque.

13) Keep defining lines impasto, so as to indicate direction and shape.

14) Clean brushes and palette on and off. Try using different brushes for different colours and values, so there is no confounding of colours and values.

15) Look at cooler or warmer in respect to each other.Comparative notes.

16) Squint only for value and shapes, never for colour.

17) If you feel you have jumped values or have confounded shapes, or angles, take a palette knife and scrape out the paint. You can re-paint that part.

 Post painting:

1) Be careful with the painting as it is fresh and wet and is done within the span of a few hours or a day. Any accident which causes you toredo later may take away from the freshness of the painting, which will negate from the benefits of this technique.

Points to remember:

1) keep a clean palette. If there is dried paint, scrape it away with a palette knife and apply some spirit to rub it off.

2) Your brushes MUST be absolutely residue free and washed properly.

3) Do not jump values

4) You can soften edges with a smooth brush once you are done with the whole face ( or other subject0 to retain transition and avoid patchiness.

5) Use the lightest values for highlighting.

6) Let yourself go. fear will not let you express yourself on your canvas. This method requires a lot of patience and concentration. Any oil painter used to the classical approach of layer on layer will take a while to not see a face as a face but as shapes and planes instead!

7) Finally- practice maketh perfect. I plan to use still life to practice this approach. So that means even a tomato wouldnt be a round object but would have to be broken down into shapes and planes and finally dealt with values!  Squint, paint, squint is the mantra!

I learnt a lot from this workshop and finally, after 3 years of active blogging , physical networking and emailing, met oil painters who could share valuable tips with me.

The artist was great and a very patient and focused person. A great mentor , apart from being a great painter and teacher! i did two portraits but got daunted halfway and also exhausted , squinting and painting, squinting and painting!

Best of luck to me.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Task Mask - Oil on Canvas sheet

The face is so fascinating.  It is a mask to our feelings and emotions. We hide some and reveal some.
I am trying to do my own ' Daily painting' project, by making these small paintings. But I am not going to make any more lofty announcements because in the past, whenever I have done so, I have promptly not adhered to my pompous  statements. So let it go with the flow. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Beacon - Oil on Canvas sheet

At times when one feels abandoned, what does one do? It's a black night, everything seems bleak.There is no one and there is no place to go.... but is there some light there? At the far distance, or is it a mirage?
Whatever it is, it seems to be showing some direction. That's the crutch, the destination and the goal.. Keep trudging, keep swimmimg in the dark till you find some light.

This is the plight of many a woman,especially in our country (India). Indian women have to ultimately be their own fortresses, or they wallow till they are swallowed by the gallows of society. When a woman raises her voice, she has to find her own light or face the wrath of society.
Will she find her beacon?

This night painting hardly matches with a morning raaga, but then I want to keep my word from my last post and then, opposites always make for good semantic differentials.
So here is Albela sajan, a song from a movie based on raag Ahir Bhairav.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Revival-oil on canvas sheet 20x25 cms.

An oil painting after ages! It felt so good to be back to the familiar smell of turpentine!Oh! The gloss and grandeur of oils... How could I abandon you for acrylic for such a long time? I had been longing to get back to oils after my fling with acrylic. Acrylic was just a was short, sweet and gave instant pleasure but the depth and happiness as well as the gravity of oils were missing. This morning was so lovely, spent on this bouquet of roses done with my knives! So it was a double revival... of oils and knives.. Back to the pavilion. It often happens that the wanderer experiments but comes back home to familiar grounds. Because I know how the colour flows, how to slide my knife, how much medium will exactly do the trick and what will blend with what and how!

The raaga which goes with this is Ahir Bhairav, a morning raaga. I will upload a song based on this raaga in a later post, as I have to rush now. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Poem and a Song

Since I do not have any artwork to upload, I am cheating with a small poem which I composed on my painting :)

Paint your pain and make a gain,
Paint till you faint,canvas you may taint,
With colours of life, and palettes of strife.

With homage to the late maestro Dr. Bhupen Hazarika, I am uploading one more of his powerful, revolutionary songs in Assamese, which has also been translated into Hindi and Bengali.
This song addresses the mighty Bramhaputra river which flows through the state of Assam, accusing the river of ignoring the fall of integrity in mankind and society and of not doing it's bit for contributing to the upliftment of
society and  quietly flowing through, absorbing all the evils and ills of human civilization.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Of Bags, Biscuits and Bards

This lady was trying to open a biscuit tin on the flight, but she was so busy trying to see who was eyeing her biscuits, that she kept on looking steadily across the aisle. I didn't want to lose this opportunity of sketching her. Of course she regarded me as one of the biscuit watchers!

This guy was sleeping right next to my seat, clutching a camera in a bag, which he had fished out some time during the flight to check out some pix, which I couldn't help prying into! He was a young executive, who had gone to his home town for a break and was flying back to his place of work! 

As I upload this, I also pay tribute to a great maestro of Indian music, Dr. Bhupen Hazarika,who departed for his heavenly abode yesterday . He hailed from the Indian state of Assam and was a writer, composer and singer all rolled into one. We grew up listening to Assamese songs sung by him and I had the great fortune of seeing his live concerts many a times. He also largely contributed to the overall Indian music scene and directed movies and composed music and sang for Hindi films. He was popularly known as the Bard of the Bramhaputra (mighty river from Assam, India).

All in all a literateur , singer, composer, and revolutionary, a rare personna. May his soul rest in peace!

Below is the link to one of his songs in assamese, which was later also converted into Hindi and sung in the film Rudaali.