I don’t normally post incomplete work here but I’m away on a longish holiday (back in Sep) starting today. Posts here might be irregular. Wanted to put up something that I’m excited about in case it is a longer break in between posts than usual. Hoping to finish this and do a few more in this series when I return. Will write more about “Running with the Bulls” with the post on the finished piece.
36″ X 30″ acrylic on canvas. This is based on one of the inspiring photo refs taken by Oochappan. Used with permission.
Update: Image updated with finished piece.
The teasing, taunting and sometimes worse that women have to endure while on the roads is a reality in quite a few cities in our world today. Many are the excuses that are given as if to say that in the saying it makes it alright. That she was dressed inappropriately, that she walked suggestively, she looked too pretty, she shouldn’t be walking alone , that men are hunters etc. etc. Makes my blood boil.
While, like this woman, you might feel like taking a stand, it would make better sense to ignore and move on. I blame cinema and violence for this increase of harassment in our country. Cinema because most of them show that a girl while initially resisting actually enjoys and falls in love with the youth who chose to accost her. And violence, as in the past, if a situation on the road went a bit out of hand you would have passers-by willing to help you. Now they too fear retaliation and violence from these goons.
The thought that ran through my mind while I was painting this was predators. In reality the lady was turning back to reply to her companions who were right behind her. They were taunting / teasing her too but it was as you would with friends and not strangers.
I have a great selection of references to work with from that one afternoon in Ashulia thanks to Anil‘s photography skills and generosity. And having been there, seen these people, interacted with some of them has made it interesting to capture them with paint. This is the 4th completed painting in the Ashulia series which is being renamed “On the road to Ashulia”.
18″ X 30″ Mixed Media (acrylic + oil) on stretched canvas.
Brian, a fellow EDMer, had the following to say and it matches how I feel. I was sure I would not be able to express it as well and so I asked him If I could quote him here.
We’re all victims of Hollywood’s romantic way of portraying things. Artists in the movies always seem so confident, like they know exactly what they are doing, what they want, how to achieve it and so on and so forth, in between passionate rolls in the hay with the female lead. In fact, in the movies you seldom see anyone actually working. It’s all glamour and passionate inspiration, and no cursing and throwing of drawing implements.
In real life, we’re caught in a neat little Catch-22. We are never entirely
satisfied with any particular drawing, leading to frustration. But this
dissatisfaction is also the thing that keeps us going, because we keep on
thinking that the perfect drawing is just around the corner. Tantalizingly,
it remains just out of reach.
I think if we ever became perfectly satisfied with our work, it would there
and cease to hold our interest. The frustration would be gone, and so would the incentive to keep at it. So you are either a frustrated artist, or the frustration ends, but with it the art as well.
Brian van der Spuy
Pen & ink in my little sketchbook.
And now my “series” has a name! An afternoon in Ashulia. This makes it all of three pieces in my newly named series.
The Ashulia Lady was accompanied by a gentleman and came down the road along with the garment factory workers. The two held themselves a little aloof from the others but stopped by to see what we were up to and to inquire as to why? No, we told them we were not journalists. I don’t know if our reply disappointed all the people who asked us. When Anil asked her permission she looked at her companion and seeing that he was okay with it she gave us the go ahead. In the short time it took Anil to focus his camera, I think she felt all the attention suddenly focussed on her and was overcome with shyness! I hope some of that comes through.
Oil on a 10″ X 12″ canvas board. Photo reference copyright Anil Advani used with permission.
I first noticed him standing across the road, arms akimbo, watching us take photographs. After a while he came over unasked and posed confidently for Anil. He had this glint in his eyes, a wide open smile showing teeth stained with betel nut juice and a look suggesting we were bananas taking photographs of people passing by. And when I saw the photographs I was thrilled as Anil had captured him beautifully on film.
This piece gets its name from an old hindi song called “Paan Khaye Saiyan Hamaro” since it was on my mind when I was painting. There’s been a long tradition of eating Paans ( betel nuts, anis and other mouth fresheners rolled into a betel nut leaf ) in South Asian culture. There are mentions of paan as early as the 3rd century in the Kamasutra. It is supposed to be a digestive and a mouth freshener but is an acquired taste. Those who indulge swear by it. My husband is a big fan. A few Paan related clicks for those who’re interested in finding out more.
Wikipedia entry on Paan
Muchhad Paan – sells paan online!!
Watch a paan being made.
Hear the Bollywood song “Paan Khaye Saiyan Hamaro“
Oil on a 10″ X 12″ canvas board. Photo reference copyright Anil Advani used with permission.
I’ve made several sketches of my father-in-law from life but those haven’t been posted (as yet). He’s a real sport and will hold a pose patiently. He’s good at drawing too and great at encouraging. And he doesn’t mind if his nose is drawn a bit too long or chin too wide. I have to say that my Dad is the same. My first attempt at drawing him using a reference was digital and you can see it here.
During my last to last visit to Chennai he had acquired one of those extra zoom digital cameras and I got to test it by taking portraits of the family. I’m sure he’ll admit to the fact that they all heaved a collective sigh of relief when I was ready to hand it back. I got quite a few decent ones though. Those of my husband and his brother have been used already. This is the 3rd from that set.
Here he was watching me read the manual (yes, i’m a bit nerdy :D) and take photos at different settings. In this piece, his left eye still needs fixing and I will attend to it soon. The initial drawing took about half an hour but then I spent a couple of days making minor changes and it still isnt finished!!
Charcoal on 10″ x 12″ handmade paper.
Recently, a friend told me that my charcoal pieces looked good. That was all the encouragement I needed to use the medium again. This portrait of Manish is one more for my College of Art Portraits series. I’ve inadvertently made his eyes look a bit like Sylvester Stallone’s and I hope he wont mind.
Charcoal on 12″ X 10″ off-white handmade paper.
I’ve been back from my exciting and terrific holiday for over a week now and given myself a 101 reasons for why I wasnt painting as yet.
2 nights ago, armed with all the equipment I’d collected, I decided to take a proof of the Linocut that I’d been working on a while ago. This is one of several that I pulled that night. It still doesnt have the darkness i’m looking for. I tried wetting the paper in my 4th attempt but as I hadnt blotted it well enough it turned out quite messy!
I cant think of what I can do to simplify it further so I’m leaving the linocut as is. One of the things that I am considering is to fix the eye on the right. All suggestions are very welcome. I’ll be taking a few more prints to try and get the print on darker.
Update: July 19, 2007: I like the linocut more than the prints! I think I’ll frame it instead
Update: June 23, 2008 : Got another print using a press. A lot more ink on the print this time but still a bit messed up! Have to say though that I do love the embossed effect
Full of enthusiasm after this mornings session at Kuhu’s, I got back home and tried another portrait, from Life, using Sudha crayons ( Indian equivalent for Conte Crayons ). Its overworked but if i dont do some of these how will I learn? I’m thinking of making the background darker hoping that it will help the face come up a bit.
Aaliya – 12″ X 18″ approx – sudha crayons on cream coloured light weight paper
The one below is the one I liked most in this mornings session. Made with different kinds of charcoal sticks with brown drawing ink. Both have been made on a slightly creamish light weight paper.
Most people are self-conscious when being photographed. I too feel the same especially if the photographer takes time to compose and take his shot. I do however like looking at pictures and would like to see some that include me. This is incentive enough to put up with the process cheerfully.
Some photographers are able to make you comfortable. This often happens when the camera is used often. After a while, people stop feeling conscious, and everyone starts to enjoy the process. Feeling the way I do I try to keep it in mind while photographing people, my favourite subjects.
I have been pretty persistent with my efforts to take pictures, and my family is getting more and more used to it. This picture of Shankar was taken just as he turned around. He held this devilish expression just for a moment before bursting into laughter. I loved the result and immediately put it into my “to paint” folder.
This is my second watercolour portrait. I’m beginning to enjoy adding layers. It had sounded like an awful lot of trouble when I first read about it but it isnt. A lot more time was spent on the initial drawing based on reading WC threads on the Wetcanvas forums. This was different from the process I’ve followed so far with the other mediums. I think it made all the difference for this piece.
“Shankar” is pretty small. 6″ X 8″ watercolour on Barbizon Canson paper. My earlier efforts have been with Poster Colours and Goauche. I do like this paper.