Sunday, November 26, 2017

Imagination: Changing things on the fly to seek a balance

Letter to an architecture student seeking info on "Imagination ... *** 
Here goes!

In figure art, the posture is most important. Anatomy has to be correct. So the only imagination scope left is light and shadow, balance of warm and cold colors, perspective and choice of background that Creates a story.
My wife takes photographs when we drive. This is my raw material. Here , I get the natural postures. How to Drape the subject is left to me.
I do not plan ahead! I Drape according to what occurs to my mind, when I am drawing.
It is the decision at spur of the moment. If it does not appeal, I re-drape.
Unfortunately in watercolour, there is no undo, in oil it's easy. I am enclosing few photos with a story.

Two women reading a Book!

I googled for statues of Rodin. Two separate statues that could make a story. Both were nudes.
After I placed them on my 3x6 canvas, I draped one girl ready for party. The other more engrossed in reading . The standing woman is slightly interested in the book as well. Her initial notion of hurrying her friend to the party and her initial annoyance, has disappeared as what she reads over the shoulder seems interesting.
The lamp (again a googled image) was added to a dark background to put a glow on the face. The left side of the painting looked empty. I decided to hang a violin that I have at my home. It as an afterthought that balances the artistic temperament of the seated girl.
You see! Nothing is planned ahead. The painting is an assembly of googled images. Putting flesh and making a angelic marble statue, human. I don't plan ahead apart from the postures and placement. Imagination happens when I feel, what next to balance. What can lead to a story.

The painter on ladder.

My initial plan was to paint a life-size girl so that, I partly paint the canvas with the same colour of my hall , leave everything else whitewashed. create an Unfinished painting.
There was an image, that I found suitable upon googling. I have tried many hairstyles for the girl.mostly tousled hair.
But all of them looked wrong, for the painter with a roller in her hand. The painting looked flat. 
Then, I decided to change everything. I changed the t- shirt to a double top. Changed the grey jeans to blue denims, that I personally like. The background of flat wall color changed to a Deeper universe. The roller in her hand then changed to a brush . The wall painter is now an artist. Nothing went as planned. The  result is better than my plan. It unravels, when the thought occurs something can be better. Why the universe? The girl could pick apples in a orchard.! Why not.! The universe portrays my belief in negligiblity of a human, as compared to the vast universe. Imagination relates to values that each artist carries. The feeling of right or wrong is tied to values. Another artist, who is stuck to earth would prefer apples! I feel it would be too ordinary, when I watch the painting for long long time..The universe has a deeper appeal (to me). It is something that I would not want to whitewash in future. It could be my Monalisa, that I keep working upon for 4 more years.

The girl on katta

A picture by my Wife of a road side girl.. my model is a beggar!
I re-did the colors and attire to a traditionally Dressed common girl. The katta and wall done late decided on spur of the moment. The wall has earlier art to depict traditional values. The backdrop has party city girls in a late evening. They just came out from another old watercolour sketch of Mine , but now in silhouette. 
The conflict for the sitting girl is to stick with traditional values or join a binge! The deciding factor is money. Money and simplicity keeps her rooted to tradition. Her values are suited to the purse she caries.
Now. .All this, I try to portray is my story. I try living as a minimalist. I don't go to parties anymore. It's my values that I show. A person with different values may see it as a negative painting?
Imp for you.. imagination drives such paintings that are Created over a span of many days.

Thoughts come and Change .
What is drawn may be changed..Whitewashed.
 What appeals to an artist is easy to make out from his/her painting. Travel is necessary to imagine more. Taking pictures that will help future paintings. After which, it's up to the mind.

You should understand a basic difference between Architecture which is mix of engineering and artist and just pure art.
I have been a mechanical designer where aesthetics comes into play. car Body for example. I know what is a better class surface when I see it. Underneath the skin surface I see lot of hard work.
There is a saying: What does not look good may not work.

If I create a cad model for a desired outcome, If I attempt to build it in ten different ways, to serve the same solution. Maybe, I will create 5 concepts. Merge two or three to get to a design.It is the same as art. Create different sketches. Merge them to create a large painting. (What fits well. That is imagination and creativity working together)

For Imagination to happen, there is a lot of raw work that needs to be done first and it need not be perfect. Then look at all the concepts you sketched out and pick what work together to give best solution.

Thought evaporates before it is put on paper? Why?
When we think.. we dream ; we do not face reality during the dream. So everything is always perfect as you want in that dream
When you wake up and put on paper, Reality hits us. We become aware of constraints and what was the dream begins to seem unreal to practice.
There are very few dreamers who can live their dreams and make them true. They also have ability to dream wide awake. They are very determined people. When they fail they try again. They try to live up to their image of themselves..not dictated by what the world thinks. Their idea may be discarded as silly and foolish. Yet they struggle. Strong pursuit to make things the way they feel about it.
What was imagined MUST become real to them. They are strong drivers of their desire. For the weaker ones, the thing just never get to the paper. They get disturbed or get lazy. Lazyness must be avoided at all times. Its just work and sleep. No TV shows to distract!
 Imaginative people are not very social. They will always get lost in their dream. They will disconnect from conversations. Society limits them. They cannot stand too many rules as rules puncture imagination. Rules trim the flight of a free bird.
 The people who are social, care about their image are easier to get distracted from their dream. They care about the reaction that every action will fetch. 
It is almost a meditative state that I would seek to imagine beyond myself.
Beatles were 4 guys.. I recall that they would contribute together to build a song each line by a different person. (Which means you need equally creative friends. No one lesser than you. ALL equally crazy people!)
 The best hour to imagine and write down, when there are no distractive thoughts in the mind.
Mind like water. No distraction!
When you are most creative, you forget about food. 
The work is more important and it no longer feels like work.
One example:
I dream about living in a castle above the clouds..
If I apply it in real sense.. The cloud cannot hold the weight of my castle. The dream immediately fades away.
Then.. I might dream to build it on a hill in lower foothlls in Himalayas, where I see the clouds underneath in the valley. For few, this is quite satisfactory solution.
Then I question myself. What do I really want. The feeling to be above the cloud. The castle is just a cover.
 I need supremacy. Taller than the world. Clouds make me feel high. Alone!? means taking care of myself.
So I climb to a very high mountain in himalayas. Put a tent there.. I am higher than the high altitude clouds. I open the tent flap and clouds roll in.
I feel supreme as I am the only one. King of my terrain. I dared to live my dream to make it true.  It is better than building a castle in air and again live inside stone walls.
When satisfied, I return for another dream.
A nightmare can trim my ability to dream. Some mishap which does not allow me to go back  on climb again. Som shaken confidence that is hard to repair.
Society asks me to pay attention to family and with my handicap I decide to listen to most of them and not my Mountaineer friends.
 You see.. There is a lot within us that "obeys" to what others want us to do. Similarly, others may try to argue to weaken your thought.
Its finally up to us to decide to imagine and execute.
Repetition to obtain finesse ; elimination of un-necessary.
These Look like "imagination". It is just hard work and continuous pursuit to get better! 
Only the core things that cannot be changed, remain the same. Background changes to suit the mood.

The prevailing mood changes the nature of the painting. It is hard to control mood. So , in art, the yield is more different than engineering which requires some planning and a  design freeze!

I live with my painting for few years or months. Each time I look at it, there is no satisfaction. I imagine if the painting looks right or can be bettered.
Imagination is also controlled by mood that prevails any artist. OR the desire to make the art piece better.
I know all above is not a perfect anwer. But really.. what's perfect is to be sought by self. Imagine that?
Best regards,

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

AHM 2017: To a modest lifestyle

Piket Kendriya Vidyalaya (Secunderabad) 1st Std 1st day. A rainy one. 
My first day in primary school, I did not know a word of Hindi or English. I was taught Marathi in my K.G. Half of my class was busy weeping. I felt like a ‘kati patang’ after my father left me.

The lessons began. The first chapter said.. John, Mary, Mr Bell Mrs Bell. (Why was the “H” needed in John. Why Mr. instead of mister? These were the takeaways of a more confused mind. 
The school ended early on the first day. My Father did not know and I faintly remembered the way to the MES office from my school. My Classmate and I started the walk, trying to find our way to the MES office, where my father worked as a Draftsman.

I remember the guard room, where my Classmate and I were blocked and detained. I had waited for an Hour. My Classmate was a girl and she made me as uncomfortable, as any other girl. It was raining outside and our faces also rained with tears. The guard was trying an earnest consolation. Finally, father arrived on his Lamberetta and sanity returned.

Hyderabad holds a special place in my heart. The place where I began my kindergarten, was also the place I got lost, first. 
Later in my life it is also the place, where I ran my first Barefoot Marathon in 2012. I ran along Tankbund, via Secunderabad..My KV school and MES area  was reduced to a jogging distance from People’s Plaza.

I have crossed 51 years this July. Hopefully, more wisdom was gained by virtue of the aging process. Money relates to extravagance and I took upon myself to aim for a more modest lifestyle. I have been running for 6 years now, but it has never benefitted Weight loss. After a chat with my friend , Parag Dongre , on  an evening run at racecourse, I started accounting for everything I ate. 
I cut down free sugar, almost completely. All this is not needed, as there is no bad news in my medical reports. It is an experiment, where I try to eliminate, what is not really needed. 
It is a learning, to be able to give up “desire”/ “Yearning”. Maybe, I can understand Master Oogway a little better. I walk away from “Demanding” and “overwhelming” people. Live Free and happy.

The painful part? I have done it before 3 years ago, when I quit smoking, the cold turkey way. So why not Alcohol? I cut down this ‘unnecessary thing’ as well for 2 months. Green Tea 1.2 lt per day. Black coffee. Anything that leaves an aftertaste of sugar is avoided. No Bakery. New addition: Raisins/ nuts/ Plums/ dates/ Dry figs.. I realize, I am all set to reduce. I am still occasionally eat non veg and I have not felt the need of giving this up completely. (yet)

I am glad, when I achieved my BMI limit after many many years. It has been a 5kg loss and I realize, I now reduce even without exercise. But then , I make a mistake. I have stopped workouts and I am engrossed in my Paintings. The mind is not cheerful. The frozen shoulder is back after just 9 km run.

A weekend run of 9 km on Sat Sun is All I do for last 1.5 months. A pathetic shape for any serious marathon. I have not done any 30 km run. Worse, I have not even crossed 12 km for 1.5 months. 
It has been 2 pathetic runs a week! Situation is bad and I decide to pull out of the marathon.

Sujit and Umesh try to talk me out of my shell. I consider. If my mind 'feels good', I may attempt. Since I am not keen on finish, I may go straight with the half marathon crowd and do just 30km.. I don’t need the medal junk anyway.

My intent of this write-up is not to glorify my run. The run is a state of meditation that I have not much to write about. I should jot down things that made my run good.
The day earlier, I had a nice Hyderabad riceplate. The train journey with my friends gave me a positive frame of mind. Bhardwaj had collected all the stuff earlier so we got more time to rest  pre race day. I drank enerzal  two days before race, a packet a day.

During the run, A constant pace of ~ 6:30 was maintained by me till 30 km mark. Electrolyte (couple of glasses whenever I felt) and banana+ salt. Shoulder stretches/ ran with raised arms/ shrugged shoulders etc..I did not have a frozen shoulder through out the run.

The 5 hr bus was ahead of me. I used this to retain constant pace.
Switched on music at km15..full blast.  I was in my own world..The crowd  was just like hinderance traffic and I was on autopilot
Km 30.. The road started biting the barefeet. I focused on music..I realize I like the music company to switch off and be alone. Continuous music helped me. The “buses” came and went but I was distant in my own world. The biting road is ignored, as music heals the wounds.

Entered the university and I saw Umesh.. It meant that I was doing good time. 
The music connection in my phone is mostly hard rock music and few pop songs. This is the only stuff I listen to, when I run. Then, a very strange thing happened. It was 3 km to go and a Bhajan played on my phone.

Imagine a Bhajan after Def Leppard number. So out of place! But I did not fast forward.
It was a Ganapati bhajan. Must have been some Whatsapp forward that got added to the playlist. 
Is it a message from God? Can I use it as a Commandment? Just like the last few warnings I received from Him when I gave up smoking?

I confess: It has been a very rough and tough time in my life. I believe that faith and trust work, but there is always a doubt; What if they do not? What if trust is betrayed? Can you re-trust? Can I be calm and simple and not be prey to politics?
I don’t cling to god, as I plan to remain strong, to believe in myself. If life has been giving me lemons, but it’s up to me to claw and rise again, consume the lemonade. I must believe in myself. 
Tears well in my eyes, I realize my family is with me on my run. I must message them my time, as soon as I complete. The Vighnaharta bhajan paves the path for me to conquer myself. 
A girl overtakes me with increased pace. If she can so can I. I use the positivity of others. I remember all the outstretched hands from the crowd. The small hands that I grazed to grab power they lent. "Touch here for power"..

I enter the stadium. The 5 hr bus is waiting outside.. so I must be well within time.
I hit the stadium mat..Bit of confusion as half marathon and full marathon have a division. I steer to my right and go ahead full steam gallop. A medal around my neck I stop my runkeeper. Its 4:56.
My Personal best.. That too in Hyderabad. I realize that I can easily run 10 more kms with this splendid weather..All this when I thought of a finish time of 5:30- 6 hrs.
Running a 30km is not a prerequisite.. Nor is a 20km.

As a friend says- It is all in the mind.

This event has been very special for me and I have jotted down few habit changes that I made in my life. Wish you all very best. Believe in yourself, when the chips are down.

It has been a long Chautauqua from the Piket Kendriya Vidyalaya to Gachibowli stadium. 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The notion of "Truth" and "Hard facts"

Still confused about the period of Ramayana- Mahabharat while reading Devdutt Patnaik, Buddhism and Jainism started well before?!  I thought Mahabharat as 2000BC. There is an aspect of Time bloating when we search in past + there are no hard facts.

We relish, when we find an older carbon dated specimen. It is like a time travel. The question is are you malleable enough, to accept a radically different thought than you have so far believed (or led to believe) OR you prefer to bury your finding and let the earth be at peace.

I do not believe in a grapevine that suggests the centuries that built The intelligence such as Vedas, could not develop a script to write it down.
I believe that the ancient way of passing knowledge by word of mouth, allowed ambiguity. Perhaps Vedas were passed verbally for a reason? to suggest improvement/addenda  by intellectuals challenge current theories and embrace better ones?
NOT for strict obedience to pass info without error. This is my hypothesis. Lay down rules and you stick to the dictum.
Einsteins, Edisons thrown out of the class for not 'obeying'. Challenging status quo is as good as a rebellion.

Perhaps, Ambiguity is a chalice that holds everyone in awe and confusion, there is a give and take of ideas between different cultures, experimentation, acceptance and develop a truly high potential lifestyle (continuous refinement of what works in current state).

Perhaps Search for originality/ asking for proof of what was earlier, develops cracks. (This is the  Western scientific research that we all have embraced)
Written scriptures that suggest a "different" truth can cause a holocaust, if unearthed,  if the current belief is different.

This article stops here. It is not complete as Sanatan dharma believes in continuity. It suggests that people talk more and adapt, write less  :) ; avoid being judgmental.
I would search for new stories that show different light, not believe on a single one as my religion. There is a lot more that was historically adopted but I still see room for improvement.