April 30, 2008

Postcard #2

Continuing with the postcards, here is yet another very colorful bird, done in the same style of a watercolor underpainting followed by colored pencils. I am drawn towards anything blue, and this one was no exception. I am no good at bird watching and do not even know the names of most of these. There is an artist in WetCanvas who gives such jaw dropping bird images for references. Each and every single snap of is a wonder, and all these birds are done from his photos only.

Electric - watercolor pencil underpainting

Electric Blue - colored pencil on paper, 4*6 inches
Private collection.

Among other things, my website is also getting updated with images of these cards. You can locate them under 'Miniatures'. And I guess you would have already noticed the change in my blog layout and color scheme. A reader had suggested long back that I could have a painting as a backdrop, and I felt I could have it only in the header. Finally got around to doing it only now. Let me hear your feedback on the new color scheme, if it is pleasing to the eye.

Postcard #1

I am doing a series of postcards for a Postcard exchange project that I signed up in WetCanvas. A postcard is typically 4*6 in size. Just like the last year's exchange, we are about 25 participants. Each of us will paint 24 postcards and mail it to the others. I have already got about half a dozen postcards and I am a late starter this time.

Postcard #1 - Yellow bird & Cactus plants
Underpainting in Watercolor pencils

I am getting back to colored pencils after a while, and the best way to get back in touch is to work small. Since colored pencil is a medium I was investing so much on even before doing anything worthwhile, I have too many sets of pencils, most of them watercolor pencils. It took me a while to actually realize that people generally don't work with the watercolor pencils to get the pure CP effect. Now I possess a set of pure CPs also, but my watercolor pencils will remain idle if I don't use them, so I use them to do underpaintings. And it works wonders, I should say.
Postcard #1 - Completed
Colored Pencils on paper, 4 * 6 inches

The method is simple - I first do a cross hatching with watercolor pencils which is very rough and the strokes will be haphazard. This is okay, because they will be evened out when I do a wash with a wet brush. It will give a lovely smooth look to the background, especially useful when the background lacks detail and all the focus is on the object in the foreground. After washing with the brush, the color would brighten up a lot too. I then complete the painting with the normal colored pencils on top of the watercolor pencils.

Ideally I should not be posting this in public before my recipient gets the card, but I don't think any of the participants even know about my blog, so it is okay :-)

April 29, 2008

Monet's gardens at Giverny

This is a painting I started and posted as a WIP 6 months ago, but it never took off coz what I had in mind was simply not getting translated onto the canvas. I was getting frustrated to the core! I would touch the painting every now and then, correct something that I felt was not okay, but as a whole it never looked right. The lighting was all screwed up and it lacked any kind of atmosphere.

Now I have got back to the painting, and I gave up on acrylics as my skills were very limited, and decided to proceed with oils. I must say its been more of a relief than anything else. Relief because of two reasons - one is I am able to see some redemption for this painting, which I so dearly loved. I love the image that I have in my mind and I am striving to get it down, and I am relieved that I don't have to ditch it. Secondly, my oil painting abilities are as good as they were and I am absolutely at ease with them even though I am getting back to oils after almost 5 years! Its almost like a love affair, I could just take off where I left. I hope to strike a balance between oil and acrylics henceforth and not totally concentrate on one forgetting the other. I love oils for its flexibility and ease of painting. And I like acrylics for their quickness. And I would like to do a bit of both, going forward.

Untitled as yet.
Mixed media on Canvas, 20 * 24 inches.

So coming back to my painting. Here is how it is now. So what have I done since the last time is I have changed the dress color of the woman, coz I felt it was an overdoze of cool colors. I wanted the woman to stand out in the painting. Most of Monet's paintings of Giverny do not have any human figures in them. They are beautiful depictions of nature and light, but I wanted the human figure here and decided to go ahead with it even though I wasn't sure initially.

My focal point is the lady, coz this painting is very 'personal' in a lot of ways. Monet being one of my all time favorites, this painting is how I would feel if I were at his gardens. It is like cumulative inspiration, one from the gardens themselves, and even more from the art that was generated from the gardens. And what inspires more, Nature or the Art! The woman obviously represents me, though I don't look like that :-) I have got some great suggestions from WetCanvas to take this forward, and I hope to bring this to completion soon.

April 28, 2008

Pierre Auguste Renoir - an Old Masters study

Studying Old Masters and their ways of working are generally of immense help to artists. Though I haven’t done a streamlined study of even one master, I can see why it is sure to help artists. It helps us learn by seeing how various compositions work, how some of them work even though they don’t conform to the “rules”, how various masters painted Light, etc. While such a study is going to benefit anyone, I am sure it will be all the more interesting if a group of us do this, and that’s what I have started doing now.

In the Acrylics forum of WetCanvas, a new Old Masters Study project has been initiated, where we would study the works of an old master for a month or two, and then produce our piece of art based on that. It could be a replica of one of his works, or a new painting based on his techniques. The technique and style is more important than the actual content. And the first old master that we have taken up is Pierre Auguste Renoir, one of the famous impressionist painters. I am very happy to take this up because I am a big fan of Impressionism as a movement. I love the distinct brush strokes that characterize impressionist paintings.

Auguste Renoir painted a lot of figures, mostly women. He had women is picturesque surroundings, even his nudes were mostly in idyllic settings. They had very interesting light colored flesh tones that made them very charming. My observation is he did not use too much of darks to bring contrast into his works. They did not have the striking light and dark contrasts as say the Dutch painters’ works have. There is a dominance of cool shades; even the backdrops of his figure paintings feature ochre, greens and blues a lot. The shadows have a lot of violet and blues in them.

When choosing a painting of Renoir to replicate, there were too many good ones to choose from. I went through the entire gallery of paintings and finally zeroed in on 'Woman in a rocking chair'.
Why this interested me is because there is no colored version available. All that is there is only a sketch, and I loved the idea of adding color, and more importantly light to it. It is an outline by Renoir but it will essentially be my original painting. I did not want to be influenced by the existing colors and stick to them, so safely chose a b/w image.

A quick value sketch of Lady on a Rocking Chair

I have just done a rough sketch of the painting, somewhat decided on the background. The painting will be 16 * 24, acrylics on canvas.

Some interesting links that I have come across:
  • A website dedicated to Renoir, full of interesting info and pictures.
  • Pierre Auguste Renoir - A biography
  • A virtual museum of Renoir - link from WetCanvas
  • One of his famous paintings - Umbrellas - the Umbrellas is not entirely an Impressionist work. It is said to span over different styles - part of the painting is impressionistic, and the other half is more realistic. The link provides some really interesting information, have a look. I love how he has used blues so extensively in the painting.
  • My favorite painting of Renoir - The Swing - See the beautiful depiction of light with some dapples of color here and there, in the ground, in her gown etc. I love this painting and hope to do a similar depiction of light in my painting.
  • Woman on a rocking chair -sketch that will be a reference for my painting.
  • Renoir gallery - A lot of paintings listed in alphabetical order.


Not a single human in sight, yeah, not even one. No one to attend to, no one to cook for, no one to question if I ate or not. And no one to really bother about what I did and did not do. That’s exactly my version of bliss and precisely what I did this weekend. So this weekend was essentially no cooking, hardly any eating (I survive on Maggi) and all the time in the world to me only to paint. Till I get tired of it, and I haven’t yet, thankfully. I must agree that I got physically tired though.

Times like these reaffirm to me that this is what I love doing, and this is what I should be doing full time. I love what I do in my job as well, but that’s besides the point. Every time I get to paint extensively, my gut feeling urges me to take it up full time. But then somewhere deep down, there is a little apprehension. If I am forced to do Art and not do it on my own, would it still invoke so much passion from me, I am not sure. And it is too huge a risk to take! Sigh! So many things to ponder!

One great thing that comes out of a weekend like this is ample subject matter to blog about. So even if I did not do a single painting for the next one month, I have stuff to blog every day. Ain’t it cool?! So here we go, before actually looking at any art, a first look at my so called studio. It is amazing when you have no one around that your entire house is your studio to play.

So this is how I exist when I have no one to supervise me. And this is a sneak preview of all the artwork to come in the following days, most of them. I wanted to get some work done on the Postcard exchange project that I started off. I am lagging behind awfully! And also experiment with doing some still lifes, besides getting back in touch with my pencils. Will post some more works over the next couple of days.

April 12, 2008

Some sketches, finally!

Its been two weeks since we went for the Sketchcrawl and I finally found the time to upload the sketches. We were three of us, with me were Rohit and Anand. We started the day at Lal Bagh, and did some sketches of trees and people etc. It was a wonderful experience, as it was very peaceful, lot of place to sit and sketch without any disturbance.

At the entrance of Lal Bagh

Its been a long time since I have worked with my pencils. I love the medium and would love to do more pencil sketches, but I find myself more biased towards color. When the world around us is so full of colors, I don't have the heart to restrict it to just black and white. That's just me! I was feeling absolutely rusty for quite some time, since it was my first sketch from life experience (in public).

A quick sketch of couple engrossed in themselves amidst the rich greenery, and I was almost intruding into their privacy!

It was also the first time I was sitting in a public place, sketching things around me in spite of people staring. Lal Bagh, some people were occasionally staring at us, noticing that we were doing some sketching, and it was fun.

The touring car at Lal Bagh waiting for visitors to get in. This pencil outline doesnt do justice to the myriad hues of green over there, with everything from the car to the shed to the backdrop in some shade of green.

A family sitting in the shade of a tree and chatting among themselves. A quiet family outing on a Sunday.

A very quick, almost 15 seconds sketch of a lady who went by, whose personality I felt was rather interesting.

After a couple of hours at Lal Bagh, we reached City Market at the most inappropriate time. We were there in the scorching heat at around lunch time. There wasn't a place to even stand, let alone sit and sketch! And people who noticed what we were doing gave us such weird looks. Managed to squeeze in couple of sketches though, amidst all the chaos.

A fruit seller selling stuff on his cycle

We then moved to a cafe for a quick grub and then I called it a day from there, coz I realized sketching was far more tiring than I thought it would be and I had no energy to continue! Also, the rains played spoilsport and we had to return.

A vegetable vendor, seen from behind

Another couple in a bench in Lal Bagh. I was sitting in a bench next to them, and they knew I was staring at them and started getting conscious after a while.

Over a lot of sketching, we were discussing a lot of art, favorite art bloggers, favorite media and all things related to Art and art alone! It was awesome. Also gained some intro into Mathematical Art, as Anand does mathematical art and was talking about it. Within seconds he demonstrated some ambigrams, made ambigrams of Rohit's and my names. It was interesting, and all the more fascinating. I strongly recommend checking out Anand's blog and his website.

Most of the sketches here would be converted to paintings, as I have taken some snaps and some notes on the lighting and color. I hope I am able to regularly participate in the sketchcrawls in future, and hope to interact with many more interesting artists around.

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