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Buddha Charita – The Life of Buddha

“It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.”

The Buddha introduced into the world a philosophy which helped mankind navigate through his suffering. The life he led and the experiences that made him confront suffering also guided him to his final destination – the attainment of enlightenment. Buddha symbolizes a path to liberation and detachment from the triviality of the material world.

The most well-known historical account about the Buddha is the story of his life. It is this divine narrative that has become the inspiration for my latest artwork titled “Buddha Charita”, which is also the culmination of my new series – “Buddha Sutra”. Here’s an image of the artwork I have created:

Buddha Charita

Link to a video clipping of the painting – https://www.instagram.com/p/CdSddp6JL2k/

This watercolor artwork is a visual narrative linking several events in the life of the Buddha from his days as Prince Siddhartha Gautama, his confrontation with suffering, his quest for a path towards the cessation of this suffering and his final liberation in the form of his “awakening”.

The first embodiment of the Buddha as the royal Prince Siddhartha has been represented in the right-hand corner of the artwork by an image of him, resplendent with royalty. This is followed by the next stage in his life, where he comes across the sight of a decrepit old man, a sick man, and a corpse which have all been portrayed one below the other in the artwork. These sights changed the perspective of the prince and opened his eyes to all the suffering that accompanies life. Also depicted in the painting, is the image of an ascetic that Gautama encountered, who had learned to seek out spiritual solace in the midst of these worldly miseries and sorrows. Determined to find the same enlightenment, Gautama turned towards the path of renunciation.

After exploring asceticism, or restraint from all physical needs and desires, he discovered meditation and used the practice as a path toward enlightenment. This led to the third stage in the life of Siddhartha, which is displayed in the artwork as the central image of the Buddha, “the awakened one”. The tree on the extreme left of the painting represents the sacred Bodhi tree or the fig tree (Ficus religiosa) under which the Buddha meditated and finally reached the highest state of enlightenment or “nirvana,” which simply means “awakening”.

In addition to the figurative representation of the Buddha himself, his teachings have also been represented in the artwork through iconographic symbols of the likes of the Lotus flower and the Dharma Wheel. Other icons displayed in the artwork include various Buddhist monuments like pagodas and stupas, specifically the Sanchi Stupa, which is considered to be the most sacred monument of Buddhism, as it represents and displays various Buddhist ideals.  

Through this artwork, I wish to honour Buddha’s life, for it is a reminder of the basic Buddhist principles that form the stepping stones to a higher spiritual level.  It is these principles that serve as a source of strength in the grief-stricken world. It is my attempt to convey the philosophy of Buddha by reflecting on his life’s experiences and pledging to practice inward reflection to overcome sorrows, just as he did.  

My first Solo Art Exhibit

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Hey guys!!

I know I have been off the radar for a long time but I have a valid reason for that! The last few months have been extremely busy and exhilarating ones for me and I am super excited to share with you all that I recently had the pleasure of holding my very first solo art exhibition!

It was an incredibly challenging yet invigorating experience for me and nothing I have ever done before can match the thrill of seeing a gallery full of my work. Seeing my pieces on display in a radiant, well-lit space gave me a feeling of elation like none other. I never imagined it would feel so out of the world!

My artworks were on display at Dys Art Gallery, Siripuram Junction in Visakhapatnam from 15 April to 21 April 2022. The exhibit titled “Dragons and Beyond” was launched on the 15th of April 2022 and showcased a collection of 26 original works in all, which have been inspired by various muses, including my all-time favorite, the dragon.

Many of the artworks on display are works from earlier years while others are more recent as I wanted to put up a good mix from the past as well as the present. Most of my works belong to the genre of conceptual art and constitute my way of expressing not just what I feel and believe in, but also sharing the joy and pleasure I get from painting.

As mentioned earlier, the exhibit featured 26 original works for display as well as sale, ranging from small-scale paintings to medium sized ones. I had showcased three different series, namely the Dragon Series, the Navrasas series and the Lockdown Saga series.

Each piece in the collection has its own story to tell and a message to convey. It is my sincere endeavor and attempt not only to emote through my work, but also to send out a social message through my art. I hope my viewers can feel through my paintings what I feel and comprehend the deeper meaning behind each and every piece every time they look at one.

I also had the honor and privilege of being featured in the newspaper, The Hindu, along with my work. Sharing an image of the article and a few snapshots of the collection as well as the show.

The last few months leading up to this solo show have been a roller coaster ride, one full of mixed emotions and ups and downs, but in all, it has been a fabulous learning experience in terms of fine-tuning my creative process and growing as an artist.  This was a life-time opportunity for me, a golden one at that and has been a long time coming. In fact, it’s been a life-long dream, and to see my dream becoming a reality is absolutely thrilling! I am grateful to the gallerists, Ms. Gladys Rathi and Mr. Krishna Rathi for providing me with this opportunity and special thanks to my dear husband for discovering this place..couldn’t have done it without you!

Thanks for stopping by and see you next time!

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Magazine Cover Art

Hey folks! Here I am again with my next post about yet another magazine cover artwork that I have had the distinct pleasure and honor of creating. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

The artwork I am sharing today is based on the theme “Honoring the Past, Treasuring the Present and Shaping the Future.” Conceptualizing an artwork around this thought has been quite a challenge for me as not only is this subject extremely profound, but is also a challenging one in itself.

Here are a few snapshots of the original artwork that I created in accordance with the above theme as well as the magazine’s cover page showcasing it. Also including a small write up explaining the concept, that was published in the magazine.

The original artwork
The cover page
The write up

When I started working on this concept, I was in quite a fix and it seemed like a herculean task to be able to justify a theme as complex as this one. It was my good fortune when I came across this quote – “Past is experience, Present is Experiment and Future is Expectation. Use your experience in your experiments to achieve your expectations.” This motivational mantra became the basis of my artwork and helped me in conceiving the idea behind it.

It is my belief that the past is a treasure trove of wisdom and experience that has been left behind by our ancestors and elders. I have tried to reaffirm this through the silhouette of the old woman, thereby symbolizing our ancestry. I have illustrated the legacy that they have bestowed upon us in the form of their age-old ways of simplistic and holistic living. It is this past heritage that we need to honor by imbibing it in our present-day lifestyle.

 The present that we live in today is work in progress and a reservoir of everything from the past. It is this reservoir that I have portrayed in the artwork as an amalgamation of our values, customs, traditions as well as our environment and ecosystem. I have also personified the present through a younger woman’s silhouette who is seen nestling the future – our world – in her arms, at the same time honoring her forebearers by seeking their blessings. The baby in her arms symbolizes our future world which will be shaped by our coming generations.

So this is how I have approached the theme and tried to express it as best as I could through my artwork. I believe that what we have today is what we need to cherish and conserve as it is as valuable as our past. For it is this past and the present working hand in hand that will mold the future for the world to come.

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“Moksha” – The Moral Compass

Hey all! I know I have been MIA for quite some time but I’m back now with a new post about my most recent artwork. This too has been long overdue, as I allowed procrastination to get the better of me, but finally, I have succeeded in completing it!

In one of my previous posts, I had talked about how a book can become the source of inspiration for my art, in particular the third book of the Ram Chandra Series – Raavan: Enemy of Aryavarta, by the Indian author Amish Tripathi. This work of fiction chronicles the life of Ravan and portrays him as an artist among other things. One of the excerpts from the book describes a painting made by him that is not only a character sketch of himself but also a logically befitting description of the concept of “dharma” or the “righteous path”. (Click on the following link to read this post – https://theartdungeon.blog/2021/06/06/inspiration-calling/).

The beautiful artwork created by Ravan and described in this excerpt was not just a vivid description of Ravan’s psyche, but also a profound portrayal of his struggle to attain the right direction through the “moral compass” called dharma.

This one-of-a-kind piece of art became my muse purely because of the distinctive way in which it brings out the true essence of Ravan. I was so enamored by his narrative that I couldn’t wait to interpret it in my own way and create my very own version onto my canvas. Finally, I managed to do that and here I present to you, my acrylic painting titled “Moksha”.

In the book, Ravan describes a painting created by him that depicts his struggle to attain enlightenment. I have attempted to depict his mental turmoil and his desperate attempts to scale the wall of the Nine emotions or the Navrasas that hold him down. The ten heads in my artwork correspond to the ten heads of Ravan himself. Out of these, 9 represent the Navrasas, one for each emotion, whereas the tenth head is the state of spiritual awakening that Ravan is striving to achieve.

I have further attempted to add on to the concept by depicting the 7 chakras or the main energy centers that control our body. My endeavor is to reaffirm that one can only transcend the wall of emotions by opening up all the chakras, allowing energy to flow freely, thereby harmonizing the body, mind as well as the spirit.  It is only this equilibrium that can help one attain physical, emotional and spiritual “moksha” – which was not just the “righteous path” being pursued by Ravan, but also the “dharma” attained by the Buddha.

Hope you all like my approach towards Ravan and his “moksha!”

Vibhatsa – The Web of Disgust

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Hello everyone! This post is extremely special as the artwork I am sharing today is the culmination of my Navrasa Series of works. For the uninitiated, Navrasas are the 9 emotions that form the foundation of Indian classical dance and music, theatre, art and literature, essentially the traditional Indian performing arts. These are the basic emotions, moods or sentiments that figure in the daily lives of every human being. (Click on the following link to learn more about these 9 emotions and the concept of Navrasas – https://theartdungeon.blog/2019/09/21/the-art-of-emotions/)

Coming to the emotion I am covering today, that is, Vibhatsa Rasa. The word “Vibhatsa” is a Sanskrit word that means “disgust” and is traditionally represented by the color blue in Indian art and literature. It is a feeling of Disgust or dissatisfaction with oneself and others. Vulgar, uncivilized, and perverted actions, using bad words and manners, and showing bad intentions to others are all manifestations of the Vibhatsa Rasa. All creative arts, dance and theatre to fine arts and literature and poetry are replete with imagery that pertains to Vibhatsa.

In today’s post, I am sharing my depiction of the Vibhatsa rasa through my artwork titled Vibhatsa – The Web of Disgust. This painting is an expression of how much a woman detests being considered as an object of gratification by the society and is disgusted by its countless atrocities. She loathes the unending discrimination and is sickened by the web of deceit and immorality that has been spun around her by the social order. She is so outraged by the incessant delinquency of the world around her that she is absolutely repulsed by it, just like the spindly gossamer of a spider that clings to the skin until it evokes a feeling if disgust. The medium I have used to create this artwork is oil paints and the color palette mainly consists of warm earthy tones of the likes of cream, off-white, browns etc. This of course is a deviation from the traditional color of blue that has been designated to the emotion in question, but I have always been one to break the norm. Here’s an image of the artwork followed by links to a couple of videos displaying the making of the artwork and some behind the scenes snippets:

Vibhatsa – The Web of Disgust

As is visible in the painting, it depicts disgust through the lacy spindles of a spider’s web which portrays within itself the various atrocities and injustices that the feminine gender endures. Apart from this, I have also used symbolism in the form of the eye and the eye ball to represent the objectification of the fairer sex and the claw-like hands to signify the society preying on her.

When it comes to a subject like emotions, their portrayal and in turn their interpretation becomes a matter of perspective, not just for the artist but for the viewers as well. What may seem positive to the artist may be perceived as negative by his audience or vice versa. Moreover, it also depends on the mindset of the person, hence emotions in art are a totally subjective prospect.

Vibhatsa being a negative emotion in itself ideally comes across negatively in art but it has been my sincere attempt to bring it out as positively as possible through this painting. I intend it to be thought provoking and serve as an eye opener to the society with an aim to bring in the winds of change. I hope that this message emanates loud and clear through this artwork and is interpreted positively rather than negatively.

DISCLAIMER – All the information, data and imagery in this blog post is for informational and educational purpose only. Some images and data may have been taken from the links included below and I give full credit to these websites/pages, thereby in no way claiming them to be my own. Other data is based on my personal experiences and opinions.

Sources and Credits

https://www.leela-yoga.org/rasa_sadhana_disgust_vibhatsya.html

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Inspiration Calling!

Inspiration Calling!

Ever got inspired by a book you have recently read to create art? I am sure we all have, but ever felt inspired enough by art mentioned in the same book?

Read on if you want to know more!

We all wonder where artists get all their inspiration from. Well, as is true for all creative fields, when it comes to finding inspiration, sky is the limit. One good source of inspiration though for most artists is books. I firmly believe that it’s very important for every artist to delve into books as not only do they light up that creative spark in them, but also help keep it burning. The key to making good art consistently lies in extracting the right amount of inspiration from the literary sources at hand. So don’t just read books, let them spur your imagination and awaken the artistic streak!

Being an avid reader myself, I am on a constant mission for artistic revelation in whatever I read. It doesn’t matter what genre it belongs to, as long as it creates ripples in my imagination and brews up a creative storm, it works for me.

As an artist, there are times when I hit a dead end and it is in such periods of creative drought that I turn to books to jump start my imagination. Moreover, books help me evolve and develop my artistic skills in new and different ways. Books are like that breath of fresh air that helps me tide over my creative hypoxia. Besides, reading is my second most favorite activity next to art!

It was during one such recent literary sojourns that I came across inspiration for my artistic endeavors.  I have just finished reading the third book in the fast-selling Ram Chandra Series by the Indian author Amish Tripathi – Raavan: Enemy of Aryavarta. This book is part of an ongoing mythological-fiction series about the life of Lord Ram, Lady Sita, and Ravan and the third book chronicles the life of Ravan in particular.

Through this book, the author has not only presented Ravan as the darkest villain in Indian literature by reinventing his evil, but has also put forth deep-rooted philosophies through his portrayal as an artist. One such excerpt from the book describes a painting made by Ravan that is not only a character sketch of himself but also a logically befitting portrayal of the concept of “dharma” or the “righteous path”. Here’s the excerpt I am talking about:

What inspired me the most in this excerpt was the beautiful artwork created by Ravan. I felt it was the most innovative and intelligent description of Ravan as the ten headed demon, encompassing all his greys and whites in the form of the nine emotions (navrasas), which also symbolize the emotions that control us during various phases of our lives. It is also a profound portrayal of our struggle to attain the right direction through the “moral compass” called dharma.

The artwork has been so beautifully described by the author that I can literally picturize it in my mind. I am so inspired by this imagery that I have added it to my wish list and I can’t wait to create my own version of this beautifully explained philosophy onto my canvas! Will share the final outcome here whenever I get down to doing it so, watch out for it!

Disclaimer – All the information, data and imagery in this blog post is for informational purpose only. Though the images included in this post have been quoted from the book title provided below, I give full credit to the original author, Amish Tripathi for this creation in its entirety, thereby in no way claiming it to be my own. Other data is based solely on my personal experience and opinions.

Sources and Credits –

Raavan: Enemy of Aryavarta (Book 3 of the Ram Chandra Series by Amish Tripathi).

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Adbhuta – The Emotion of Wonderous Amazement

Hey folks! After a really long hiatus, I’m back with another post. Apologies for being M.I.A! Will try not to disappear for too long in future!!

Today’s post is a continuation of my Navrasa series of paintings, where I am depicting each of the “rasas” (i.e., emotions or sentiments) through my art. Just to recap, in Indian philosophy, there are nine rasas, hence the title Navrasa, where “nav” means nine. Till now, I have depicted 7 of these emotions – “Shringar” (beauty), “Shanta” (peace), “Hasya” (happiness), “Veer” (bravery), “Karuna” (compassion), “Raudra” (anger) and “Bhayanaka” (fear).

The emotion portrayed in the artwork featured here today is the “Adbhuta rasa” or the emotion of curiosity, astonishment and wonder. To understand this sentiment better, let’s delve a little deeper into it.

Adbhuta rasa deals with wonder. It is the sentiment of mystery, astonishment and curiosity. The feeling of wonder comes when one recognizes one’s own ignorance. Since Adbhuta rasa depicts the feeling of wonder, it is also referred to as the “marvelous sentiment”. The predominant color of Adbhuta rasa is yellow which also evokes the same emotion of the human mind. According to Indian philosophy, the element of wonder or astonishment is aroused when one experiences the unimaginable or the unexplainable like seeing heavenly beings, gaining one’s desired object, or seeing a flying chariot or a magic show, etc.

Coming to my artwork. I call this one Adbhuta – The Tree of Life. As is evident from the title, this painting depicts the aesthetics of the feeling of amazement and wonder about the most miraculous aspect of life – the creation of life itself. Here’s an image of my artwork along with a small video of its making:

Adbhuta – The Tree of Life
The evolution of the portrait of evolution….

From the dawn of civilization, human beings have tried to understand everything about the birth of life. It’s this element of mystery surrounding the miracle of life that arouses our curiosity and consequently evokes a feeling of amazement. It makes us wonder and ask ourselves the most basic questions – Where do we come from and Where are we going?

Life has come a long way from miniscule single cells to the human frame. Isn’t it simply amazing how diverse it is, from the tiny microscopic organisms to the fungi and algae, plants, insects, birds, marine life, reptiles, amphibians, animals and finally the most advanced form – us, the humans? Most of us wonder how it all happened. Was there really a big bang that gave birth to life or was it divine intervention? Hence the first question – Where do we come from? No matter what one believes in, be it God or the theory of evolution, both are equally amazing and wonderous.

That brings us to the next question – Where are we going? What’s next in this amazing chain of existence? With so must advancement in science and technology, what is it that the future holds for the human race and more importantly life itself? Are we going to see an amalgamation of artificial intelligence with organic intelligence and end up with a new species? Super humans, androids or will it be a hybrid of both – humanoids?  Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

I have made use of the most basic unit or building block of organic life – the DNA double helix to represent the tree of life. It is this seed of life that has germinated and established its roots on the surface of our planet, eventually developing into the tree of life.

I have attempted to symbolically depict each stage in this story of the evolution of life with the help of basic imagery for each respective stage. For instance, I have rendered the algae and fungi in the form of mushrooms, insect life as butterfly wings whereas aquatic life is a collage of skin textures and patterns of the likes of a snake, crocodile, frog, turtle, lizard, fish, etc. Similarly, animal life is symbolized by tiger and zebra stripes, leopard and cheetah spots, giraffe spots, etc. A human fetus was my obvious choice for representing us homo sapiens.

The background of the painting displays the vast universe towards the lower part and the digital world in the form of the circuitry on a motherboard in the upper part of the painting. Both seem to be merging into each other, hence my attempt to depict the gradually fading boundaries between the material world and the virtual one.  

I felt that just the use of the conventional color designated to the emotion of wonder, i.e., yellow, does not do justice to a concept as diverse as life . So, I have extended my color palette to various other hues of the color spectrum.

The primary medium I have employed for the painting is acrylic paints, blending it with modelling paste wherever required in order to impart a 3D effect, specifically the wood-like texture for the DNA double helix tree, the roots spreading out on planet earth and the circuit board. Apart from this, I have also used alcohol markers, micro tip pens and gel pens for the finer details of the painting.

This one has been a huge challenge for me as it’s not easy depicting an emotion as profound as wonder. It is something that we feel and express on a daily basis and it knows no bounds. Anything and everything can become a cause of wonder for the human mind. So, the question I asked myself while working this one out was what is the greatest wonder for the human race and this is the concept I came up with. I hope it appeals to your element of wonder as well. Looking forward to your inputs and comments!    

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Saluting Womanhood… #ChooseToChallenge

“She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future” – Proverbs 31:25

It’s that special time of the year again – 8th of March! As International Women’s Day (IWD) kicks off globally to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, all of us are gearing to pay tribute to the spirit and elegance of womanhood in our very own personal ways.

Every year IWD serves as a reminder about how women, not just in the world of art, but in all walks of life, are balancing the scales between work and home. With so many pressures on the work as well as home fronts and so much to fit into a limited time frame, this day is a recognition of how well women have stood their ground in this male-dominated world.

Although this year has been no less lacking in recognizing the efforts of “womankind” to overcome the biggest hurdle in their path – gender inequality, what makes it extra special is the theme this time – #ChooseToChallenge. What this means is that in a world predominantly populated by men, women can choose to defy the stereotypes, pledge to challenge the status quo and call out for gender equality.

Women are the largest reservoir of talent in the world and specifically in the art world, IWD is a day not just to acknowledge this talent, but also recognize women who are making a global impact. It is about identifying, nurturing and celebrating talent.

Today’s post is about my artwork titled “Saluting Womanhood… #ChooseTo Challenge” which is my tribute to women’s achievements worldwide, as well as my pledge towards gender equality across the globe. It celebrates the tremendous efforts of women all over the world towards creating a gender equal future, especially in the present day COVID-19 ridden world.

My tribute to Womanhood (Soundtrack Credits – She’s Always A Woman by Billy Joel)
The artwork: Saluting Womanhood… #ChooseToChallenge

Through this artwork, I wish to send out the message that every woman has the right to define her life by the choices she makes, be it the clothes she wears or the stereotypes she breaks. So why not choose a gender equal world? She can choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality and be part of the collective endeavor towards creating an inclusive world.    

I have used a combination of watercolors and acrylics to integrate the classic symbol of the female gender (), the number “8” which represents the day IWD is celebrated and the hand gesture that is symbolic of #ChooseToChallenge along with the silhouettes of a woman’s face in my artwork. The color palette mostly consists of warm tones like yellow, orange and red with a splash of the cooler blues and vibrant pinks for the faces.

I have rendered the female symbol, the number 8 and the hand gesture in black acrylic paint while the faces and the background of the artwork are done using watercolors. What’s special about this artwork is that the hand gesture is not painted on with a brush, but is the actual imprint of my hand. In a way, it asserts my pledge towards #ChooseToChallenge.

I believe that an equal world is an enabled world and in order to achieve this we all must choose to seek out and challenge gender stereotypes. From challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge.

Hoping that my artwork will inspire others like me to #ChooseToChallenge something, be it the workload at the home front or their rightful place at work.  What would you choose to challenge?

Credits –

Soundtrack used for video – She’s Always A Woman by Billy Joel.

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Of Bespoke and Custom-made Art

There’s nothing more thrilling than the idea of having an artwork custom made just for you. Most people like to indulge in it as they feel it makes it that much more special. This process of creating one-of-a-kind and exclusive artworks is what we call Bespoke Art.

Bespoke art is a totally unique concept which may refer to anything commissioned to particular specifications, or tailored to the customs, tastes, and usage of an individual customer. So, what makes it different from “customized” art? Customized art means that an off-the-shelf piece is slightly altered and “personalized” to individual requirements. In other words, bespoke art is completely exclusive and original, whereas customized art is the edited version. Though both terms are better applied to the world of fashion and apparel, but now they are very often being used in the art world as well.

I have had the recent good fortune of creating both bespoke as well as customized art, the former as the cover page of a coffee table book and the latter in the form of a personalized rendition of a pre-existing piece.

The coffee table book was titled “Reflections from the Bay of Bengal” and my brief was to create an artwork for the cover page that mirrored exactly these words. I was specifically told to include a lighthouse, dolphins and a mermaid by my client, setting them all against the backdrop of the setting sun. The color palette was also specified, that is, coral hues. Keeping all these in mind, I have created the following artwork with acrylics as the cover page of the coffee table book:

The coffee table book cover created by me

The custom-made piece I have created is an altered rendition of an original creation titled Soulaya Transcending by an Iranian artist called Fariba Farsad, who is now settled in Texas, USA. An interior designer by trade, student and seeker of spirituality, and core shamanism, her Bohemian Gypsy Soul and her love for nature and vibrant colors made there way out of her heart onto the canvas.  

It was one such piece of hers that I was requested to render in a specific manner by a client who found the image extremely empowering. The original image was that of a woman in a yoga pose set against a white background.  But my client wished to enhance her power further by placing her against a black backdrop and adding a radiant glow around her.

What inspired me the most about this piece was the harmonious mix of colors and motifs employed by the original artist. For me, it represented calmness, focus, balance and equilibrium and filled me up with positive vibes the moment I set my eyes on it. I am in total awe of Fariba Farsad for her creative genius and give her full credit for producing such an ingenious piece of art, for it has reaffirmed my belief that every woman needs to tap into her inner “goddess” to realize her true potential.

My version of this divine feminine form, resplendent with her red halo as requested by my client is displayed below. This is my attempt to further emphasize the elegance and confidence that is being exuded by the original creation.  (NOTE – I give full credit to Fariba Farsad for the original artwork that I have only used as a reference for creating a new version as per the requirements of my client. In no way do I claim the original piece to be my own creation.)

My custom-made piece

I hope you found both pieces pleasing to your eyes. Do share your comments and reviews about them below!

Sources and Credits –

https://www.facebook.com/notes/1643707002413500/

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Commission Art

Are people showing interest in your work and keen on customizing some of it to their personal requirements? If yes, then its high time you seriously consider taking up Commissions. Receiving requests to create commission art is the ultimate compliment for any artist.

But what does commission art mean? It is the act of requesting the creation of a piece, often on behalf of another. Artwork may be commissioned by private individuals, by the government, or businesses. Commissions can very often resemble endorsement or sponsorship as well.

If the thought of getting involved with a paid project is giving you cold feet then this post is just what you need. Here are some tips that will help streamline your commission process and help you build up a reputation as a professional artist:

Set a pricing methodology

There are two common methods for pricing art:

  • By the hour – Number of hours worked x hourly rate.

Your hourly rate depends on your experience and          skill level. You can add the cost of the supplies to this later on.

  • By size – Cost per square inch x no. of square inches in painting.

This method requires a set cost per painted square inch, which is determined by the quality of the supplies used as well as the degree of detailing in your work.

A few extra pointers while pricing your work:

  • When commissioning, a piece in specific dimensions, using specific materials and perhaps even specific subject matter, price by the hour.
  • If you are not particularly comfortable or skilled at drawing/painting the subject at hand, consider lowering your price to keep things fair.
  • If the work is urgent and demands long hours or weekends, consider raising your prices.

2. Time management

As a professional artist, time management and good organizational skills become absolutely imperative. As a general rule, I never set a definitive due date just in case I am unable to finish on time. I always tell my clients that the painting is going to take me at least a couple of days longer than the estimated timeline but make it a point to finish before D-day.

3. Provide information to prospective clients

Share information about your creative process and any terms or conditions connected to how you sell your work. Some important information you should definitely include is:

  • Ask questions and get a clear understanding of what you’re being requested to create. For instance, what art style do they like, what color scheme to use and what area of their house/work place will the piece be adorning.
  • Do you need anything specific from the customer in terms of high-resolution images, etc.?
  • Your mode(s) for accepting payment (bank transfer, card payment, etc.).
  • What percentage/portion of the total cost you will take as advance payment before getting started (this should be non – refundable so that if your clients back out, it pays for your invested time, labor, and art materials.)
  • Whether you undertake shipping (if yes then what will be your shipping terms/costs?)

4. Be prompt in responding

If a prospective client inquires about commissioning a piece, make sure you respond as quickly as possible or you may end up losing the opportunity altogether. Once you have started working on the commission, maintain an open channel of communication throughout in order to keep your client updated about your progress.This will prevent any confusion or misunderstandings.Also, don’t hesitate in turning down prospective clients if you feel that what they’re asking for is against your moral compass or beliefs.

My Commissioning Process

I have had the recent pleasure of successfully finishing a commissioned painting for a new set of clients, a lovely couple. Here’s what I made for them:

Recently commissioned

This project was a challenging venture as not only were the clients my patrons, but also good friends. Sharing the experience of my commissioning process while it’s still fresh in my mind:

  • The concept briefing –

My first meeting with my clients, an impressionable husband and wife duo with a profound interest but limited knowledge in art, was to discuss the subject matter and conceive the entire project. I was commissioned by them to paint a Vietnamese riverscape, taking reference from an image of a similar scene. They showed me a photo of the painting that they wanted me to customize for them and later on shared with me a high-resolution image of the same for reference purposes.

Here are some questions I asked them to understand what they had in mind, along with their answers:

  1. What is it that they want? Do they want an exact replica of the original or a custom-made version? – They wanted more or less the same thing but on a larger scale (a 2ft by 3ft canvas to be exact).
  2. What color scheme would they like? Do they want to retain the same colors as the original or make some changes? – They preferred to stick to the same color palette, only brighter.
  3. What size and surface would they like their painting to be? – As mentioned above, 2ft by 3 ft on a canvas.
  4. What medium would they want me to use? – They left this to my discretion owing to their limited knowledge of art, so I decided to go with oil paints as I felt these would be best for the subject matter in question here.
  • The artistic process –  

The next step was to explain to them about my artistic process. I gave them a rough idea of how I would go about working on the painting, starting from the initial sketch, the painting process and then the final touch up and finishing stage which includes varnishing the final artwork once it was totally dry. I assured them that I would keep sending regular updates in the form of photos on completion of each stage, so that any editing or adjustments could be made as and when required.

  • The framing –

I gave my clients the choice of either taking the canvas unframed or along with a frame. I made it clear to them that in the latter case, the cost of framing would be added to the price of the artwork. Since they were in the same city as me and were picking up the artwork personally, they told me to take care of the framing as well.

  • The costing and terms of payment –

I decided to price this commission by size as not only did it involve increasing the dimensions, but also including the cost of framing. In terms of the payment, I quoted an advance of 1/3 of the total cost of the commission, which would be non-refundable as it would cover the time, labor and materials I would invest into the entire project. Since there wasn’t going to be any shipping involved, I did not include this cost.

  • Estimated time for completion –

As mentioned earlier, when it comes to the timeline, I always give an estimate of a day or two extra from the anticipated time of completion so as to take care of any eventualities. I this case, I had to include not just this, but also the drying time (being an oil painting), varnishing (and drying thereafter) as well as framing time.  

Please Note – Unlike in my case, if you are not well-acquainted with the clients or haven’t worked with them before, I would advise you to put down all of the above points in writing and sign a contract so that there are no misunderstandings later on. If you do decide to go ahead with a formal contract, don’t forget to mention that you as the artist will retain the copyright to all works commissioned by you, including all reproduction rights and no artwork may be reproduced or altered without your written consent.

I hope you found this post helpful and wish you loads of luck in all your artistic endeavors! Do leave me a comment below if you have inputs  or wish to share your own experiences with commissions. Would love to hear about it!