Garuda Puppet watermedia 22x30
So how long does it take me to complete a painting? - I started Garuda fifteen some years ago at the very first workshop I had signed up for. We went to an antique shop and I sketched an Indonesian puppet in pen on a full sheet of Arches watercolor paper! Each participant then picked three colors from a basket to use as underpainting. I ended up with Opera, Phthalo(more like acid)green and Aureolin yellow :) Too meek to protest or cheat with tamer colors, I tried to do my best by really diluting the paints but still ended up with a very garish start. I remember very well trying to save the whites around the face of the puppet! But I never even attempted to complete the piece. Over the years, I could not discard it --the paper was too expensive, and I did not want to admit defeat!
Yesterday I pulled out the piece. All my reference photos were lost somewhere in my studio. I decided to plunge by boldly covering the space and underpainting behind the puppet with opaque blue gouache. Things already looked better! Except for the face, the arm, and the hands, I glazed the background designs with a thin wash of ultramarine blue --that subdued the colors and pushed it back. I then defined some of the shapes with indigo violet, some with yellow ochre, remembering the batik textile designs from the Indonesian island of Bali. Feeling a bit adventurous, I defined the eyebrow and the beak with a mix of opera and phthalo green. I finished by glazing the arm with yellow ochre and one last thin glaze of ultramarine blue on everything but the face and arms. I am pretty pleased with the rescue - mainly because I learnt so much in the process! Funny thing is that, all this took about 4 hours! And I really wish I had a 'before' photograph.
This painting session was the exact boost I needed desperately yesterday. During the past month I had received one too many rejection notices for shows and someone from the artworld even questioned my commitment as an artist. As I thought through my experiences, I suddenly realized how far I had come in the fifteen years and how much I enjoy what I do. And talk about serendipity, I came across the wise words about 'social validation and false merit metric of prestige' at Brainpickings :What you should not do, I think, is worry about the opinion of anyone beyond your friends. You shouldn’t worry about prestige. Prestige is the opinion of the rest of the world.[…]Prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you’d like to like. - (Paul Graham on How to do what You Love). Tucked in the same site, TED talk by Alain de Botton about 'ideological fallacies of success.' was also just what I needed :)
So, I would like to really thank all of you who visit my blog and validate what I do here! I also especially want to thank Aparna from Warli Soul for the 'Liebester Award' she gave me. Liebster is German for dearest, beloved or favorite. This award is bestowed on blogs with less than 200 followers but deserve more attention (-Serendipity again!) In my next post, I shall pass this along :) Meanwhile, do check out her beautiful 'Warli' art.