April 25, 2009

Different Strokes - Diana's companion

I love looking at sculptures. I enjoyed the sculptures in the Louvre as much as I did the paintings. It is such a terrific art to be able to bring something alive from stone. I have so many favorites at the Louvre, the Hermaphrodite quickly comes to mind. I absolutely love it. Whoa! While I love Indian sculptures for their intricacy and craftsmanship, the western ones have a unique appeal too. Like this one of Diana's companion. What a beautiful figure, I loved the dress, her skirt and the folds in it. Among my extremely limited travel experience in India, my favorite spot for sculptures is the Somanathapura temple near Mysore. I was there last year and it was worth all the trouble of traversing through the pathetic roads. The figures just blew me away! Totally worth a visit.

Diana's Companions
Graphite on paper, 9 * 12 inches
Copyright Nithya Swaminathan

This is my entry for the ongoing challenge at Karin's Different Strokes blog. Its been ages since I painted a sculpture. Long long ago, about 12 years back to be precise, I did a sculpture in graphite, of one of the figures in Halebid. Though I lived in Bangalore for so long, I never got to visit Halebid which is quite close. So after 12 long years, this was my first attempt at doing a sculpture. I have a lot of photos of sculptures, from the Louvre and from Rome. I am inspired to go paint some of them. We'll see.

Karin had requested the figure to be painted as a whole, without cropping. I have flipped the reference image horizontally though. I wanted to do this as a monochrome initially, with various shades of brown. But when I started sketching itself it screamed graphite, hence the choice of medium :) All the entries for this challenge can be seen here. Most of them aremind blowing, absolutely mindblowing. Have a look.

April 24, 2009

April Virtual Sketch Date - Rhododendron bud

I suck at florals, and would not venture into one even if threatened at gun point! :) Not that I am not inspired by them. When the daffodils were all around everywhere, I was so regretting I am so pathetic with flowers. Maybe some day, I might do some. Currently, I feel my style of using strong contrasts and generally visible hard edges is not quite suited for the softness that's needed to render a flower. I have a long way to go in terms of softening my edges before I can render delicate darlings.

Rhododendron bud
Colored pencil on paper, 9 * 9 inches
Copyright Nithya Swaminathan

However, since the blog events are all about getting out of your comfort zone, I decided to do this one as well. It has such lovely colors, and I have gone in for colored pencil. Thanks to Jeanette for a great image, I had a lot of fun.

This month's entries can be seen here in the Flickr pool, and go here to check the various blog links.

April 23, 2009

Let your hair down

Continuing with my series, this is my 3rd painting of belly dancers. There is one more to go as of now. All these paintings have been done based on the photos of Flickr photographer Adelita Choffi. While I was searching for pictures of dancers, I came across her treasure trove of snaps, all of beautiful belly dancers. She was generous enough to allow me to use them as references for paintings. I have favourited several more of her snaps, and will probably get to them after a while.

I might even extend this kind of a series to paint the various different forms of dance. There are too many exciting possibilities and I need to think before I jump in.

Let your hair down
16 * 20, Acrylics on Gallery wrapped canvas
Copyright Nithya Swaminathan

I wonder if you have noticed that instead of giving creative titles like dancer 1,2.. n, I have titled them separately. This was a learning when I submitted an entry for the Richeson competition. On my blog the apples were numbered one to eight, and I had a tough time coming up with titles just around the deadline. Huh! I dare not do this 1..n numbering once again. :)

April 22, 2009


I love dance as an art form to bits, and not knowing to dance is one of my biggest regrets in life. I did not pursue it despite having had an opportunity to learn. This series of mine essentially aims to celebrate the beauty of the art form, and also the grace of the female form. I wanted the paintings to ooze passion, and that’s the basis for my color choices. I have gone in for a lot of oranges and reds in the background, as I believe it denotes a surge of passion. I aim to capture movement, with emphasis on the body language and not on facial expression. I wanted the whole figure to convey a sense of passion, true to the words “Dance like no one’s watching”.

16 * 20 inches, Acrylics on Gallery wrapped canvas
Copyright Nithya Swaminathan

While I chose blue in her dress mainly because the complementary colors would work well together, I also chose it keeping the peacock in mind. When I was thinking about dancing without a care in the world, or just dancing to your own heartbeat, the peacock was what popped up in my mind first. Hence I have gone in for a lot of Pthalo Turqiose in the dresses.

The style is different from what I normally do, on quite a few counts. This is the first time I have tried to paint focusing on what I “feel”, rather than what I “see”. This could perhaps be a new direction in my work, but I cannot say that for sure now. The style in which the background is done, is totally new. I painted like a woman possessed, dabbing color randomly. I wanted to have fun and yes I did. A lot.

Even with the dancers, I have given all the detailing only to the face and the hair. The hands have not been done as detailed as I’d usually do them. Since I wanted to focus only on the face and hair, I chose to go a little loose with the hands. The dresses also have intricate mirror work and beads in my references. I have omitted all of those and just briefly indicated some designs. I think it works well, but it remains to be seen if I still like it say after a week. I might get back to it and change something if I don’t like it.

April 21, 2009

Dance like no one's watching - a new series

Whenever I come across very high quality of Art that I greatly admire, it motivates me to work harder at my own art and improve myself. It also happens more often than not, that I get intimidated by awesome artists that I come across. It makes me feel I should strive to be that good, but the realization also dawns that being that good gets tougher with every passing day. I get bogged down that there is a long long way to go, and during every phase of introspection, I invariably feel I have just begun.

A couple of weeks ago, I was in a similar phase of self doubt after I visited an exhibition at a nearby gallery. I was fortunate to see some of the most stunning impressionist landscapes over there, and came back with the feeling that if I had to be even 1% as good, I had to improve by leaps and bounds.

Dance like no one's watching
16 * 20 inches, Acrylics on Gallery wrapped canvas
Copyright Nithya Swaminathan

While I was bogged down by self doubt and a serious loss of confidence, the only way to overcome that was of course to paint something. And for a change I wanted to paint something with reckless abandon, just slap the paint without being bothered about detail. When you lose yourself in the process of painting, the surrounding world hardly matters. And that's the motive behind this new series, a sort of reminder to self, to dance only to your own heartbeat, without a care in the world. There are 4 pieces in all, all of them of beautiful dancers.

I had a tough time getting this face right, due to the different angle. I am very comfortable painting faces that look straight, but these kind of faces give me jitters. And those hands were a nightmare. I thought I had painted them very big, but turned out they were actually much smaller than they should’ve been. I posted WIPs and got some very useful feedback from friends at the Acrylics forum in WetCanvas. One of the artists actually took the time to edit my painting in photoshop to show me how the anatomy wasn’t quite right. And that's why I love WetCanvas. People go out of their way to help and guide others, and you can never really get away with a badly done piece of work :D

April 20, 2009

Richeson 75 Juried Show - Accepted!

I am thrilled to let you know that my painting Apples and Glass is accepted into the Richeson 75 Still life & Floral competition, conducted by the Jack Richeson company. My painting will be displayed next month in Kimberly, WI, in a show that will showcase seventy five best still life and floral pieces. The paintings will also be published in a full color catalog along with other finalists and select pieces. I had sent two of my apple paintings for this juried competition, and this one got selected. Yet another apples and glass was not juried into the show, but has been accepted to be published in the book. The finalists will be displayed on their website too, and I will post an update once that is available. 

April 13, 2009

I am still around

I've been working on too many things at once, as I always do. I have so many WIPs, most of which are not even in a showable stage, hence the silence on this blog for a while now. I think I may not be around for the next week too. See you all in a week, and I promise I'll have LOTS to show when I am back. Keep painting until then, Ciao!

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