September 26, 2008

Look who is in the news!

My friend Anand Bora, a very talented and gifted Mathematical Artist is in the Economic times today. Hurray to him!
Read the article on Anand here. Have a look at blog and website.
Way to go buddy!

September 25, 2008

Sketching from life

I generally work from photographs, using them as references and most of the time sticking to the photos faithfully. Once in a while I change some stuff in photos, go in for some crops etc. Rarely do I have the urge to work from life. My only sketch from life experience is that of doing a lot of portraits, where my friends pose for me for couple of hours, and I have no issues in getting the resemblance right, I have done a pretty good job of it so far. 

Pomegranate and Peppers                                       colored pencil on paper, 4 * 5 inches.                 (c) Nithya Swaminathan

Other than portraits, I have never attempted sketching from life n a big way. The sketchcrawl was the first time I actually worked from life doing people and places while on the move and I loved it. It was very liberating I should say. I have always wanted to try setting up my own still life and trying to work from it. I was hesitant to give it a shot coz of my lack of knowledge of composition. 

Recently, I have been reading a lot of art blogs, articles, forums etc and want to sincerely avoid working from photographs, especially those taken by others. I want to call my work 100% my own from conception to execution. The first step in that direction was to pick up a good book on composition (review coming up soon), and then start working from life. This is formally my first composition from life, and I am happy for taking that step. 

I don’t have a specified studio space for myself, so I don’t have a space to create an elaborate set up with a light source etc. It sucks that the lighting always seems uniform in my house. It then flashed me that there was a reading bulb in my bed, that I could use! And that was it, I set this up on my bed J 

Some quick learnings for myself –

  • Setting up a simple, bare bones still life isn’t rocket science. This is not a learning as such, it is a reassurance. I picked up the 3 objects and tried some combinations, with a reflector, without one etc, and finally settled on this one. It took me less than 5 minutes! I realized I needed to get used to the paradigm shift of working from life by doing more of these studies, then move on to better and bigger set ups.
Grayscaled Version (c) Nithya Swaminathan
Pomegranate and Peppers

  • It tremendously improves my observation – note the red reflection of the pomegranate on the capsicum? I am sure this would not have been captured in a normal point and shoot camera, which is what I use. The reflection isn’t as intense in color as I have depicted, but I could observe that it is there. And it adds a good punch to the painting on the whole.
  • Working with a limited palette helps to get a better understanding of color theory as such. I have used only one green and one red pencil. Value changes have been depicted only with varying pressure and by building up layers using the complements.
  • I still have a long way to go in mapping color to value! Have a look at the grayscale version of the image, and there are only 2-3 values, not a wide range. In real, the shadow of the pomegranate was the darkest, the shadow of the capsicum in the front was mid tone, and that of the capsicum behind was lighter in value. I thought I had achieved it (if you see the color version they look different), but in the grayscale they all look like a mid tone. I hope this improves with practice. 
Next on my agenda is to create a painting, having only my sketch as a reference, without seeing the actual set up. It will then help me evaluate what all I have missed capturing in my sketch. 

September 10, 2008

A blog award!

The Brilliante Weblog Award’s is given to sites and blogs that are smart and brilliant both in their content and their design. The purpose of the prize is to promote as many blogs as possible in the blogsphere.

My blog was given this blog award by Ano, thanks so much Ano. If not for anything else, it gives me so much pleasure that there is someone who reads my blog after all! Just like any other blogging tag, I am supposed to pass on this on to some of my favorite blogs. 

I am not much into blog hopping and reading these days as I do not have that much free time in my hands. My blog reading is restricted to art blogs, and some food blogs as well, since I am equally passionate about cooking as I am about painting. So here goes, in no particular order, some of my favorite blogs.
  1. Anand Bora - Anand is into mathematical art, something that I do not understand, but find it very intriguing. Having seen him come up with ambigrams for anything and everything (he ambigrammed my name in minutes!), I can say he is amazingly creative. He says he can visualize mathematical functions and the likes, isn't that awesome! His work was recently juried into one of the most prestigious Math-Art exhibitions in Netherlands, and he will soon make it big time. Do check out his blog and his latest ambigram of Google. 
  2. Priyamvada - Hers isn't an art blog, but a favorite nevertheless. I love her posts related to parenting, and I adore her patience/style/whatever in dealing with her sometimes-rebellious-but-mostly-sweet daughter. I hope to have that kind of maturity someday in dealing with people, especially my little one. Most of her parenting posts have been bookmarked by me for future reference :-) 
  3. Ferrari - Even on the days when I am really hard pressed for time and I were to check out only a handful of blogs, his would be on top of my list. Great travelogues with amazing pictures, and general posts with a nice sense of humor make his blog an instant favorite. Its like my morning coffee, hard to miss!
  4. Ano - Ano's blog is another favorite that I love to read, especially the posts about Lil D and the short fictions. I also love her occasional posts about her current favorite ads on TV, which will most of the time match my then favorites too :-)
So that's it! If I start listing all my favorite art blogs, this would turn into a very long post. I strongly recommend to check out the links on my blogroll instead, it would be well worth your time.

September 1, 2008

The Indian woman in my art

While I was digging out some of my old sketches as part of a cleaning mission, I stumbled upon this old portrait of mine, one that I really liked. It is done with only 2-3 pencils on black sanded paper. She is supposedly wearing a black sari with a red border, so I have left the black paper as it is to form the sari. With very less actual work done, this was completed in about half an hour. It is one of my favorites till date, as it was one of the very first colored pencil sketches I did and turned out decently.

An Indian Woman

Colored pencil on paper, 8 * 10 inches

Also, while I was browsing some of my work, it struck me that I have been enamored by the Indian woman in general. I have done at least half a dozen works centered around her. They are direct representations of her like this one, or in other forms like the Indian goddesses. I have a fascination with their traditional jewelry, attires and accessories specific to each state, dusky skin tones etc. These are things I do not use myself, I hate any kind of jewelry on me, but I love to paint them :-) I have a few compositional ideas in my mind/scrap book/sketch book, all of which have an Indian woman as the central figure. I don't know how many of these would get translated into paintings, I hope most of them do.It just struck me that I could almost do a series on these lines, and I am working on that.

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