Monday, January 21, 2013



Few days ago I did a painting. Why it is important to me is that after a long time I was able to break the shackles and reignite what was once my passion. What was it that prompted me or you can say goaded me into doing this was the response I received from my friends especially on Facebook when I posted some of the paintings I had done years ago. I liked it all, the appreciation, at the same time I wanted to rediscover myself and not rest on what I could once do. The painting was a view of Notre Dame across the river Seine in Paris. Of course it was from a photograph I had with me. I could not get the actual colours in the photograph and since I was doing the painting in water colours, there was no question of corrections. But I liked the process as in the course of my experimentation I found that the view which was much brighter in the photo slowly change its character and ultimately I found that I had ended up with the colours of the late evening and one can make out from the actual colours on the painting that this should be the Fall season. That is the beauty of water colours the more you apply water and wash the painting with a broad brush you get some exciting effects. Of course there are more water colour paintings that have been torn off because you cannot do anything else if you are not satisfied. You can always correct an oil painting for you can remove the colours and repaint. In this painting I also experimented with water soluble crayons to get some sharper effects. Why have I described all this? This is because as I do the painting I see the images change in my mind and do not stick to the original , may be that is the impression that impinges on my mind. I can understand how Monet  painted his ‘Impressions- Sunrise’ in varying shades and the effect it had on him – it was how he saw it. I possess neither the technical expertise nor the imagination of a true artist but I like it when I put the colours on the paper. It is like a journey to me and I take my time as it grows on the paper. I derive an inner satisfaction and that’s how it has been over the years and I have been happy with it. But friends have asked me on and off why I have not done any paintings for a long time and the answer was that I shall start sometime.

My wife says I am a master at leaving things half done and here she does not mean helping her with the house work. She has seen me not completing or restarting things which I love to do. To be frank, I should admit that I have been plagued by self doubts. I just did not find the push I required, maybe I was too involved with the job that I kept postponing doing what I wanted to do. My younger daughter paints very well with pastels and her paintings are surrealistic and originals, but you can have an exhibition of all the unfinished paintings of hers rather than of the completed ones. I do not know whether the genes are to blame. I am including here a collage of five of her paintings to give an idea.

I remember that I started drawing pencil portraits and being an engineer and a good draughtsman I could more or less reproduce from a photograph, so much so I ended up drawing the portraits of the parents of some of my colleagues and they seemed happy with it and that made me happy. A portrait is very tricky, if you do not get the eyes right you change the whole personality of the subject. It was the eyes, that I always did first, may be that is against the norms. Once I got it right the form fell into place. For the first time I ventured to do a colour portrait in pastels of my favourite artist Van Gogh and I got it more or less ok. But it is the black and white pencil portraits that pleased me a lot. You ask any photographer his satisfaction has always been with his black and white photos. That is because the depth and the shadows you achieve enhances the character of the subject. I still remember Satyajit Ray’s movies especially ‘Pather Panchali’. The effectiveness of the movie lay in its black and white shades, pathos cannot be conveyed more effectively.

When children paint they do so with gay abandon, they are not bothered whether anyone is watching them do it. I remember the time when I was one of the judges at a children’s art competition in Ahmedabad. It was sheer joy watching them paint especially the younger ones. They were translating there own way of looking at things surrounding them. I can only remember and understand what Matisse said ‘When you paint you have to look at the world through the eyes of a child’. In the process of growing up we are subjected to so many influences and our perception of the world around us keeps on changing. Everyone needs adulation or appreciation as a motivating factor to achieve greater heights. Only when we let these corrupt our way of looking at things in an effort to become more saleable do we cease to be genuine. Thanks to all my friends.