Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Creative Process

A few years ago, when we were still using films in camera, I came across a couple of rolls in our guest room while rearranging the furniture.  Upon developing them, I realized they had been inadvertently forgotten and left behind by a guest who was visiting us on his way back from Europe. This painting is the result of my impression of the old buildings that I came across in photograph after photograph.  I didn't know anything about the places in the pictures and 'Silent Enigma' (watercolor, 11x12") is what stayed in my imagination after I mailed off the pictures.  Eventually I had to paint the haunting image that remained behind with me. 

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Second Chance

The past few days have been devoted to matting and framing some of my recent paintings.  In between cutting mats, rather than start new paintings I have been going through my discarded and abandoned ones and playing with them to see if I can experiment and revive any of them.  'Yellow Roses'  had a part of the painting chopped off and its leaves and background washed off carefully and reworked in entirely different colors and style.  I didn't touch the roses this time around, just worked on the rest of the painting.  Working on old 'failed' paintings like this  gives me a chance to learn from my mistakes and try out new  or different techniques. As I was wondering if only there was a something that will let me know just before I make mistake, I stumbled on this article in latest issue of 'Discover' about 'Brain Scans that Can Predict When You are going to Screw Up.' According to a study, just before the subjects committed an error, brain waves in two regions spiked: alpha wave in the occipital region and mu wave in cortex region.  These results have excited scientists in a lot of different areas of interest from Air traffic controllers to possible improvements in treatments for ADHD. I am torn now since a part of me also feels, in art, quite often mistakes lead to new discoveries.

Yellow Roses watercolor 17x15" 

Monday, March 23, 2009

Winter Beauty

The camellias bloomed all through winter - even when the temperatures dipped quite low lending color to our otherwise bare yard.  The hardy evergreen bush put forth a showy display of red flowers that reminded us of the diversity and magic of life all around.  I used a paper that was tinted with color stains from washing off a forgotten failed attempt at painting something. I didn't have to worry about facing the stark white paper this time and got on with the task of painting.  The result was 'Winter Beauty'  in watercolors - 8x11".  The flowers though bloom whether someone notices or not. 

Speaking of noticing, the March issue of Smithsonian magazine has an article on Jan Lievens,  a friend and rival of Rembrandt van Rijn.  According to the article "Out of Rembrandt's Shadow", both were apprentices under the same master and may have even shared a studio  and models in Leiden early in their careers. They even modeled for each other. In fact, many paintings by Leiven, like ' The Feast of Esther',  were misattributed as early Rembrandts.  Finally there is an exhibit that establishes his reputation as an old master. As to why Leivens didn't shine like Rembrandt, author Matthew Gurewitsch seems to feel that he 'didn't create a brand.'  Really? Somehow I feel its because of the quirks of the art world that his talent went  unrecognized. His talent and beautiful paintings were always there in full view.  Recognizing and honoring talent and genius seems to be hit and miss so often. 

Thursday, March 19, 2009

They Never made it into History Books.

March is 'Women's History Month'  It recognizes and acknowledges amazing accomplishments by women. I decided to post Sarah,  done in color pencils, a portrait of a 'slave' from Colonial times.  Colonial Williamsburg  has actors portraying and reenacting life from that period. I used my photographs as reference and wanted to highlight the spirit of survival and dignity she was exuding.  She is one of the many unsung and unseen heroines of the world.  This year's theme is 'Women taking the lead to save the world.'  Its a tragedy that it is the 21st. century and  women are still treated as slaves in many parts around the world. They bear the brunt of war and violence.  Many never even get a chance to discover and nurture their talents.  Isn't it time we all worked to change that?   

Sarah color pencils 11" x 14"

Monday, March 16, 2009

Promise of Color

Today was a very misty, foggy day. It rained all day and the fog just never cleared. It was a great day to go out and capture the gray world around with my camera. Official first day of spring is only four days away but the plants are  already filled with buds poised to do their thing.  All the promise of color is wrapped tightly in those tiny buds just beyond our sight. I just read an article in the latest Scientific American that we human beings are able to see the full spectrum of colors and hues because of 'trichromacy'. It was a fascinating article on how the color vision in humans evolved.  And it is amazing that I never give a second thought to something that is so unique and special to me as a human!   

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sweet Memory

Bus 26 is painted in watercolors on hot press paper.  I wanted to capture the excitement and adventure of  'the first day of school.'  I have fond memories of that day for both my children and it is especially sweet now since they are both busy adults. Painting this was a sentimental journey for me and I enjoyed it immensely.  

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Less is More

I always want to fill the paper with color and details when I paint.  To leave some of the paper untouched and use negative painting is something I have  to deliberately work at.  There are plenty of studies that show that brain is very good at filling in the gaps of information -- but my brain needs to be reminded of that constantly when I am painting. In 'Birds', I experimented using bubble wrap, cardboard for pattern and texture.  I started the painting in one of the classes I was taking but as usual I  had a difficult time finishing it. I didn't know how to transfer the techniques demonstrated over to my painting. Slowly, over the course of a few weeks I defined and darkened a few shapes, and working hard at keeping the color and details to a minimum. I also learned to paint negatively.  Even when it seems illogical, often less is more. 

Birds watercolor 11x14"

Friday, March 6, 2009

Tangled Web

This past week in between sketching and thinking about my next painting, I came across an old half sketched abstract design and for some reason abandoned project. I even had some paint on it. I was looking for a diversion and needed to just play on something that I wasn't too attached to.  I picked up some masking fluid and merrily made abstract lines/designs with it. Once the masking fluid was dry, I started painting and defining a few shapes  here and there with no particular design in mind. I thoroughly enjoyed the process since I didn't have to worry about messing up the painting! After a few hours I decided it was time to stop. So of course, the painting does not have any up/down orientation :). 

As I was painting, I was listening to a program Art and Evolution  on NPR's "On Point".  Host Tom Ashbrook's guest was Denis Dutton, who has written a  book " The Art Instinct, Beauty, Pleasure and Human Evolution."  It was interesting to listen to Dutton argue that art is what helped humankind evolve from the caves and that art is instinctive. As Ashbrook put it "....cave drawings, natural selection, and Picasso. Mating habits, sexual selection and Pavorotti. Art, he argues, is not sublime. Its intsinct,  from cave to concert hall."  Its something to think about -would we be humans without art? 

Tangled Web watercolor 16 x 13" 

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Surprise Gift

Mother Nature is full of surprises and we were given a gift of a beautiful snow fall couple of days ago.  Snow fall in March is very unusual for our region and it has been a celebration. The newspapers and TV have been showcasing the fun children and adults alike have been having playing in the snow. It has also been so cold that even the somewhat brackish water in the river that flows by our backyard has had a layer of ice on it for the past couple of days.  I am grateful I woke up early today and watched  the sunrise over the frozen waters. The osprey actually was standing on frozen water before it decided to check out the scenery from the pole.
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