Saturday, June 25, 2011

Artistic Impulse

A Day in The Life   page 12 color pencils

As an artist you are always told to develop your own style. Well, I just watched a TED talk by Shea Hembrey  -- he became 100 artists with hundred different styles for his own 'International Biennial Show!'  He made up artists from different counties, invented bios, wrote one hundred different artist statements and created different styles, forms of art in all different sizes too - paintings, sculptures, performance arts, installations, movies/documentaries. He was even his own curator, Gallery director --but of course, you know by now that he came up with names and positions and bios for them too.

There is a huge debate going on in TED site about what all this means.  I am impressed with his audacity, creativity and sense of humor. It tickled me that he has hundred different artists in him and now I feel comfortable to carry on with my varied styles and  choice of mediums without feeling compelled to choose one or the other. Does this mean I may end up not mastering any one style or medium? Probably so but I may never grow as an artist if I don't keep experimenting and pushing my limits. When it comes to creativity, I think it is a fine line between being focused and spreading yourself thin! Check out the hilarious and creative talk and a sample of his hundred of artists in the TED-video. Please leave a comment and let me know your opinion about it. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Perfect Patience

Perfect Patience  digital photography

We often think that it is impossible
to develop perfect patience; however
 if we know our nature and our qualities,
and if we train ourselves in them,
it is completely possible to do it.
-Bokar Rinpoche

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Spectacular Images

A Day In the Life..Full of Surprises  page11 color pencils

I am waiting for The Art House Co Op to finish revamping their website and for my project A Day in the Life -in Blue Jeans With Gold Embroidery  to be added to their digital library. I am also hoping their scanned online versions are better than mine :).  

Even as I am pleased to have completed writing and illustrating  a small book for the Fiction Project, I am fascinated by what I read and see on their site about how some artists challenged themselves to take their art to new level by changing the paper in the moleskine journals or turning it into an accordion book etc., transforming the materials they were given. I just watched a TED talk by artist Janet Echelman on 'Taking Imagination Seriously.' I am in awe of her creativity and drive to pursue her unbelievably big imagination! I also really like how she combines science and art in her work. Having just returned from Chicago last month, where Anish Kapoor has his sculpture the Bean/cloud, I wonder how does one come up with work of art that scale and magnitude that boggles the mind? Is it a different level of risk taking, resourcefulness, determination, tenacity  combined with  the serendipity of being in the right place at the right time and to know to seize upon the opportunity presented?  And does it have to be  really spectacular or it is not imagination taken to the edge?  

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sixteen Rules to Forget

Koi  (final) watercolor on Yupo 11x14

A month and a half ago when I was getting ready to frame the paintings for my show at the library, I had to stop and go back over my earlier version of  the Koi painting, further deepening the shadows (the photograph unfortunately still doesn't capture the darks well enough) and adding some more details to the fish and the water.  I like this newer more vibrant version :). Under glass with  'museum white' double mat really gives the painting a wonderful 'finished' look. I can never  get over how matting and framing dresses up a painting!!! 

I must admit I have been washing, painting, rewashing and painting again on regular paper for a few years  but  its easier on Yupo.  Yupo paper  has helped me be bolder with trying out various options for a painting --especially going darker, then coming back and saving the whites. It has helped me take chances and  try out different solutions on the same painting till I am satisfied. I play with shapes, values, colors or other elements with abandon. Recently I reread Arne Westerman's book "Painting Watercolors Filled with Life and Energy." and it reaffirmed for me the method in my madness. At the end of the book he has  a chapter on Six Things to Remember and Sixteen Rules to Forget (my favorite)! I am sharing shortened versions of both below (and that will also help me remember better .)

Remember these: 
1. Paint only those things you feel connected to.
2.  Consider the uniqueness of your idea.
3.  See your work as a rectangle -not a person or a thing in the middle of a rectangle.
4.  Simplify.
5.  Use light like a film director.
6.  Use color with boldness. 

Forget These Rules: Rules (in italics) and my summarized version of his  refreshingly candid comments/explanation (not in italics) 
1.  Be careful to avoid "ouzles" in your painting. -Don't worry-its one of the exclusive qualities of watercolor.
2.  Design is simply a matter of picking the right formula. Not really. Just keep it simple. 
3. Watercolor is an unforgiving medium. Nonsense. You can paint, wash it off, restate and wash again.
4.  Expensive brushes are better and last longer. Not necessarily.  Experiment and find brushes just right for you.
5.  Paper must be stretched before painting. Not true.
6.  Don't use opaque white paint. Thats cheating.  A silly rule aimed to prove how difficult it is to paint 'transparent color.' The Old Masters used white paint. Cerulean blue, red & orange cadmiums, and yellow ochre are as opaque as white. 
7.  Always erase your pencil lines.  Not necessary.  It adds interest and texture.
8.  Be careful with the paper's surface.  Good watercolor paper takes a lot of abuse and its the results that count.
9.  Be neat and tidy.  Wrong.
10. Don't waste film, paint, paper and other supplies. Better to waste than lose a great opportunity.
11. Don't paint from photographs. Paint on the scene or work from photographs. Go either way without guilt.
12. Always work light to dark.  Not true. Develop as you go. 
13. Make every brushstroke count. No. You will play it safe and go nuts.
14.  Watercolor requires tremendous control. Not true. If you don't like it wash it off.
15.  Don't paint a vertical subject in a vertical format. Not necessarily.
16. Always stay inside the lines.  The term "crossing the line" suggests adventure. 

I close with these words from Arne Westerman: "You are an artist. Go to work." 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Beauty, Shadow and Reflection

Beauty, Shadow and Reflection  watercolor 9x12

I saw this tiny colorful beauty drinking from a puddle on a cold January morning when I was out on a walk.  I stopped to admire. I am  also drawn to shadows and reflections and  I was immediately attracted by the three shapes that intersected as the bird cautiously watched my movements.  I, as cautiously and slowly, took out my camera and managed to capture the moment as he/she continued to survey the scene.  Finally this week I painted this as a reminder of that wonderful encounter.  I used my favorite Canson Montval cold press watercolor paper, a small brush along with lots of patience to complete the painting :)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Shadow Play

A Day in the Life   page 10 color pencils

At the rate I am posting the sketchbook pages from my book A Day In The Life  for The Fiction Project, I will have fodder for my blog for a couple months :)  As with the reflections, shadows also intrigue me.  A Conrad Hall quote says it eloquently: There are infinite shadings of light and shadows and colors... it's an extraordinarily subtle language. Figuring out how to speak that language is a lifetime job. 

I came across some beautiful shadows that were artistically created by manipulating various objects and light.  The creativity behind these shadows is mindbogging! These are a long way from the wall shadows my brother and I did as  children with flashlight and fingers on our hands on rainy mansoon nights when  there was no electricity and we were looking for entertainment! 
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