Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Power of Choice

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. 

24 comments:

thiliMy said...

This is beautiful! What a great rescue. I really like how it ended up. Funny, by the way, Denali sent me that "prestige" quote too ... :)

Meera Rao said...

Thank you, thiliMy :) I am really happy you like it. Funny indeed that Dinali sent you the same quote. 'Brainpickings' post on it is very interesting!

Crystal Cook said...

This piece is powerful Meera. Reading your story of how it came about and then looking at it as well conveys such a message of strength. I really love it. Well done!

padmaja said...

It was a great and wise moment when you decided to restore an older piece because you could step back and analyze your thoughts.Half the battle is won there!I think it was not serendipity but synchronicity that you found the message for validation :-)

jyothisethu said...

hi meera,

the painting is very beautiful and the information you share is very much useful. i have visited brain pickings and warli soul. these sites are new to me. thanks...

Meera Rao said...

Crystal, thank you :) I realized that letting go is all what I needed to - and not worry so much!

Meera Rao said...

Thanks Padmaja! Here is a Jung quote that I like: "Synchronicity reveals the meaningful connection between the subjective and objective world.". A while ago I read two books -one on synchronicity and other on serendipity. I would like to think the two concepts in a way fuel of creativity helping mash intension and inspiration giving a new meaning to coincidence?

Meera Rao said...

Jyothisetu, Thank you :) I am very glad that you found the information useful too -that really touched me. Hope you will enjoy brainpickings and warli soul too.

Carol Blackburn said...

Meera, that is perseverence....to finish a painting that you started so long ago and beautifully at that. Congratulations!

Meera Rao said...

Thank you Carol :) I guess I did learn a few things in those intervening years and that makes me feel good!

Lisa Graham Art said...

Meera! Meera!

This is fantastic to look at! Every single detail is exotic and wonderful! Fifteen years, huh? Better go ahead and get out all of your unfinished projects and finish them. Then have a show. : )

Heera said...

Isn't it fun to take a piece out from a long time ago and work on it again? It is like you go back in time and be that young(er) artist and show love to yourself and your art.
I love your Garuda. I am very interested in the position of his hands. I like how you have painted those hands.

Meera Rao said...

Lisa, thank you!! you made my day :) yes fifteen + years ! and yes I have a few more too! I guess somethings just have to incubate!!!!

Meera Rao said...

I agree with you fully -- saw what you did with your beautiful quilt too :) Funny thing this being in zone/flow --I don't even remember painting the hands -he he :)

Fernando Santos (Chana) said...

Belo trabalho...Espectacular....
Cumprimentos

Meera Rao said...

Obrigado Fernando :)

Kathy Staicer said...

What a wonderful post. You described the rebirth of your painting and how it brought you through you frustrations. EVERY ARTIST GETS REJECTIONS. It is all part of this journey that we are on. Consider yourself amoung some of the best artists in all fields who have stories of negative remarks made about their work! By the way great painting.

Meera Rao said...

Thank you Kathy for such wonderful support - I really really appreciate it :) I am grateful that I keep going to my paints and brushes regularly ! What would we all do without our passions :)

Hema P. said...

I'm glad you didn't discard this painting all those years ago. It turned out so intricate and expressive! And congratulations on your well-deserved award!

I'm glad I made good on my whim to go back to browsing some of my favorite haunts after all this time :).

Krishna said...

beautifully painted...

Meera Rao said...

Hema, Thank you! I too am so glad to hear from you --had been missing your posts -are you back to blogging?

Meera Rao said...

Krishna, Thank you! I appreciate your comments.

sm said...

beautiful
like the narration

Meera Rao said...

Thank you, sm :) I am really happy liked it all!

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