Friday, March 21, 2014

Learning Art

I do not intend to suggest that I am a good artist, only that I have come a long way.
Anyone can do it with bit of patience.

I was ridiculed at school for incomplete drawings and my art was at pits. Later I was envied by my batchmates as I got a "white collar" trade as "Mechanical Draftsman".
There were better "artists" who felt that the trade required basic good sketching and enviable handwriting, and I was not good at either.
The Instructor was not friendly either. I was the black sheep of all the darftsmen he had trained.

To me, a draftsman needs better understanding of Design, develop and design good ideas (in those days good at Trigonometry.)
My Instructor felt otherwise. Good Writing was must. The Engineering drawing sheet should look like a Printout from the press, equal line thickness, dark as ink.
My colleagues completed 250 drawing sheets. Many of mine were turned down during submissions, I drew 500 + drawing sheets.

When you live in a hostel, and are coveted, you get used lashed at by people who feel they are better in various ways, but less opportunate than you. 
You take it every now and then and TILL 
Till the point; YOU REBEL.

You got to show people their worth. Shut their mouths for once and all!
This is the first stage of development. Development by Pure 'Khunnus'. If you can do it so can I. (This kicks at Teenage.)

The FIRST Stage reaction was driven by Anger and then Determination.Not by Ambition or passion.

I took a dame from some advertisement. Sketched her in HB pencil. I had to use grid to make the copy perfect. This dame got me some acclaim.
Few more pencil sketches and then at one weekend, I borrowed some old oilcolors and painted my first oil. It was the face of Kim Novak. This time I increased the size of the grid, to make it challenging.
(It looked good but nowhere like Kim. But who knew Kim at hostel.)
It was the last year at the hostel and I churned out few more Grid copies of simple photographs turned to Oil paintings of A3 size.
Any task when repeated creates a finer craftsman and at the end the 'black sheep' ranked top in Pune. Anyone who gets treated like shit should know that the worse he gets treated, the better he shall become.
True almost everywhere in life. You learn (only) through failures. 

Oh..I intended to talk about art and I drifted to self glorification.I am not THAT good and I truly appreciate and covet better designs and art. 

The SECOND stage: Can you be equally good?
No one taught me art. I did not have art materials. Every thing cost and I had limited resources.
I invested in 36" wide Canvas and Oil colours. There was no choice. The painting had to be perfect.
True that no one from hostel would see it but It had to be good enough to please me. The subject was Velazqueze's nude Venus.
I was 24 years old and still a bit shy to approach the subject. I mentioned it to my dad who can draw quite well.
He told me about the challenges in drawing Humans but asked me to give it a try.

This time I divided the large canvas in very large grid. 4 Squares horizontal 3 squares vertical.
I sketched with an HB pencil. Then gave toned washes. I used to work on it after coming back from work.
The Painting was ready at end of the month. 
I exhibited the nude at Balgandharwa Gallery. When I visited the gallery, my Painting had won me Third Place.
The prize distribution ceremony was held at the Hostel. (I remembered the days I was ridiculed for my art.)
None of my colleagues were there to cheer me. I could not show off my prize and I did not care.
A famous critic from Mumbai was presenting the awards. At the age of 24, I walked to the stage and got my first award as an Artist.
The paintings were displayed on one side of the wall. I was watching the spectators.
As soon as they moved in front of the nude, they would shy away their eyes and jump to the next one.
It was only then that I realised how BOLD my subject was. Most of the people did not talk to me. A young girl approached. 
She was probably learning art and she mentioned, "Congrats. Your painting is terrific."
I thanked her but I was so engulfed in triumph that I forgot to ask her about her Entree.
I kept copying and copying. I copied Monalisa,Lady Macbeth and Turners and Ruisdaels. I finally felt sick as all of the paintings used the old colour shades that the Realists stuck to. (Never did I realise that they had tough time Creating Paints from Dyes.)
Later I was influenced by Renoir's impressionism. Monet never appealed me apart from the Flag day Painting. Towards the end of this stage I had moved away from Grid based copying.

The THIRD stage: Leap of Faith
In 8 years of painting, I had scrapped almost all my watercolors. I painted them too dark. They were patchy. Not Bold enough. They lacked Character.

I moved from Oil painting to Watercolors mostly influenced by Milind Mulik's book.
BUT, I felt the watercolors were too bright and dark for my appeal. I loved the faint British watercolors and I could never come close to any of them.
For the first time in my life I went to Empress garden to do On the spot sketches. I was alone and People would occasionally walk over to glance at my progress.
The result was great. It was much easier to paint by self and it was so difficult to copy other paintings. The spot paintings gave me a new confidence.

I quoted to someone what I felt after the changeover. 
"Oil Painting is for Politicians, Watercolors are for adventurers (Entrepreneurs)." (Copyright is solely mine.) 

Nothing can ever go wrong with Oils or Acrylics as they can be patched with another opaque layer of paint.
In watercolors almost anything can go wrong at any point. We need courage to take corrective steps, use the accident to avoid a mishap.

The FOURTH step: Courage 
Courage to accept criticism what matters to you. Give a damn about rest (But it could be a buyers viewpoint that has monetary value?) 
As an artist, I should feel good about your approach. Only "I" matter.

Tread and experiment as never before. Use seemingly ridiculous medium.
The art may sell or may not. Its your art. Selling is a different aspect. Think as an artist and not as a businessman, to be a better "artist".
Feel good about your creation that is unique.

Use Photographs/ paintings only to get a good color value or posture. (You will not get Models) Drape the figures and change the faces and the mood, Light and shadow, perspectives, avoid copyright. Acknowledge if you copied something by naming the artist.

The FIFTH step:- Appreciate and learn other art forms. Develop them and you shall develop as a complete artist.

I am a struggling 5th grade student of Art in Adult education program.