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Out of Stock?!

In the current unprecedented times of quarantine and isolation, artists all over the world are practicing art voraciously. People who would have never imagined putting a brush to paper have also taken advantage of lockdown and resorted to artistic endeavors in order to lift their spirits. Art is proving to be the silver lining to the dark, gloomy corona virus cloud. 

But what do you do when you are running out of canvas and paper during the lockdown? How do you replenish them when all but essential shopping has been forbidden? Many of us may be finding ourselves skimming through our dwindling art supplies, frantically hunting for ways and means to keep our art practice going, but little do we realize that what we need to engage with our creativity is probably tucked away somewhere in our home itself. 

I’m sure many of us are sailing in the same boat so here’s a quick guide that can perhaps help replace that rapidly depleting stock of art supplies and keep the creative process going. I have compiled some tips and tricks, mostly conceived by fellow artists who deserve a special mention in this post. Thank you all for your innovative inspirations! So go ahead, browse through, pick your favorite options and innovate!!  

  1. Paints – If you think you are the only ones running out of oil or watercolor paints, join the gang! Don’t sweat….your regular house paints can serve as a good option. But don’t forget to check whether they’re oil or water based before using them.
  2. Drawing material – Take stock of all your pencils, pens, markers, pastels, color pencils and other dry mediums that may be lying around in a state of neglect in your house. Every small bit of charcoal and chalk counts.
  3. Paper and Canvas – If you are anticipating a shortage of drawing and painting surfaces, make do with whatever is available at that time. It doesn’t matter if it’s small pieces of paper, a tiny sketch book or discarded canvases. Expressing your creative instincts is of prime importance.

Here are some options that some of my fellow artists have come up with to nourish and nurture their creative faculties:

  • Unsold or discarded paintings that are nothing but dead stock can be gessoed over and reused to create brand new artworks.
  • Different types of ornately printed paper, gift wrapping paper or even wall paper have great potential for collage and mixed media effects.
  • Newspaper and magazine pages are an awesome replacement for plain old boring paper. The fine print can add an extra element of interest to the subject sketched or painted on top if it complements the theme of the artwork. Picasso used to add his own characters on magazine photos.
  • Don’t get rid of all those grocery bills, corrugated packing sheets, brown paper, crinkled craft sheets, etc. They can prove to be valuable drawing and painting surfaces.
Aditi’s artwork on brown paper
  • Leftover pieces and planks of wood from your carpentry projects for home improvement can serve as a good replacement for canvas.
Swati’s ingenious recycling of a waste plank of wood
  • Dried leaves when painted on with acrylic paints can be transformed into beautiful works of art.

Stones and pebbles can be used as miniature canvases and painted over with acrylic paints or markers.

A word of caution…sometimes the materials you choose may not live up to your expectations and you may not achieve the desired results. Don’t fret too much at this point. It’s all about trial and error. After all, art is an enriching and learning experience and every mistake can become a precursor to a great masterpiece.  All you need to do is work your way around it and try something else. Another upside to using leftover material is that it can help open up new channels of creativity.

The key to innovative progress right now is to carefully consider what you have at the present moment and how it can be put to good use. Now’s the time to tests the limits of your creativity. Who knows? Maybe you’ll come up with something stunning with all those scraps of paper lying around in your house!

Acknowledgements and Credits –

As I had mentioned earlier, several of these ideas are the creative genius of my fellow artists. All the images featured in this post belong to these immensely talented “innovators” and I do not claim any of them as mine in any way. They deserve to be applauded for their resourcefulness and brilliance. I hereby acknowledge their skills and give them full credit for their contributions towards the enrichment of art. Thanks a ton Sheetal, Anannya, Swati and Aditi for your innovative improvisations. Cheers to your ingenuity!

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Lockdown Art – Light at the End of the Tunnel

“Sometimes life seems a dark tunnel with no light at the end, but if you just keep moving forward, you will end up in a better place.”

In the current COVID-ridden times, we seem to be stuck in an endless tunnel of lockdowns and curfews. Just when we think the exit is around the corner, it seems to stretch on further at the very next turn. That’s exactly what’s happening presently, what with lockdowns being extended incessantly across the world.

The worldwide lockdown has changed our lives drastically, engulfing us in the darkness of uncertainty as we remain restricted within our four walled fortresses.  People all over the world are experiencing this darkness in varying forms, be it curfew, lockdown, isolation or quarantine.

This Global Lockdown is what I bring to you as an artwork in today’s blog entry, which is inspired by and named after the very phrase – “Light at the End of the Tunnel.” Another rendering in watercolor, it is a symbolic representation of the multiple lockdowns that our world is being subjected to in order to slow down the pandemic. I have used the contour of a keyhole to depict the dark cavernous tunnel of confinement. Each keyhole silhouette represents a lockdown phase and together all the contours collectively form the tunnel that we seem to be traversing through.

Light at the End of the Tunnel

I have used the technique of perspective to illustrate the three dimensional view of a tunnel onto the two dimensional surface of a paper with an attempt to make it as natural and realistic as possible, at the same time creating an illusion of space and depth. The innermost keyhole signifies what lies beyond the tunnel – the light of hope. It’s this light that we need to see beyond the darkness of the seemingly never ending lockdowns, but to do so we have to travel all the way through the dark abyss with the faith that what lies at the end of the tunnel is the much needed relief of the confinements being eased.  This light gives us hope that the end is just around the corner.

The tunnel in my artwork symbolizes our journey through these dark times, which seems as gloomy as the path itself. We find ourselves entrapped in the darkness of this murky cavern unable to navigate our way ahead through the sufferings we encounter on the way. The only way to beat this darkness and get through to the other side is to divert our thoughts towards the light of positivity, thereby asserting our faith in the fact that respite in close at hand. We need to channelize and transform the gloom into our strength and illuminate our resilience to go through with the sojourn. To find the light at the end of the tunnel, advance through the darkness knowing that nothing lasts forever and this too shall pass. 

The light in my artwork also represents the hope-filled signs that this crisis will end soon. These signs include efforts of the likes of social-distancing, testing, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine which at least for now are helping us in controlling the spread, until effective treatments and vaccines can help us put the virus back in it’s box. I opted for a monochromatic grayscale color palette to render the contours of the tunnel as it represents how we view the world during the lockdown – in black and white.

In this global crisis of uncertainty and unpredictability, everything depends on the effectiveness of containment measures which can only attain their full potential when followed stringently. So let us all kindle the spark of positivity and help it guide us through to the end of the tunnel where the light awaits us. For –

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but the way out is through.” — David Allen

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Lockdown Art – One World

A deadly contagion has declared war on our world, afflicting us with illness and fatality. Every corner of the planet feels like a warzone as we make desperate attempts to combat the Corona virus with lockdowns, quarantine and isolation. As social distancing and staying home become the norm, we are slowly learning to acknowledge the importance of these actions in keeping us alive and kicking. 

In the face of this global health crisis we are seeing endless human suffering which is changing people’s lives for the worse. Mankind is traumatized and our social fabric is torn. People are worried and scared. We need to counter this atmosphere of fear and panic by recognizing and accepting the fact that we have only each other to ensure our survival. This is not the time to indulge in skin-deep, color based prejudices and fanaticism but to unite against our common faceless enemy. This human crisis calls for global solidarity and unification.

It is this thought that has inspired me to create a watercolor rendition that I call “One World.” Through this artwork I wish to convey that we are all in the same troubled waters so all the nations of the world need to come together and unify their forces as well as resources in order to successfully tackle COVID-19. I have attempted to express this by depicting all the nations as one single cityscape under the same skyline.

One World

Even though each country is trying its level best to address this worldwide epidemic in its own way, it is too complex a predicament to be handled individually. This demands combined action from the world leaders not just to help their own country but also look out for the less developed and more vulnerable ones. Universal coordination and cooperation are the need of the hour.

COVID-19 is the Trojan horse that has insidiously infiltrated the human operating system and is slowly shutting it down. The only antidotes we have against it come in the form of lockdown, quarantine, isolation and precautionary measures of the likes of social distancing, washing hands and wearing of masks. These countermeasures are being adopted globally hence I have highlighted some of them in my artwork.  As of now this is the only “antivirus” we have against the infection.

If our nations become more integrated in this battle full of uncertainties, the human race stands a chance of pulling through this dark time. So let us all come together in our fight against Corona virus even though we are miles apart. In these difficult times, Bob Marley’s legendary lyrics from “One Love” sound just right so signing off for now with a few lines from the song –

One love
One heart
Let’s get together and feel alright

One love
One heart
Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel alright
Let’s get together and feel alright

Let’s get together to fight this Holy Armageddon (one love)
So when the Man come, there will be no no doom (one song)
Have pity on those whose chances grows thinner
There ain’t no hiding place from the Father of creation (sayin’)

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Lock-down Art – Home Safe Home

The world has been invaded by a minute yet potent entity that has ravaged the human race and brought it down to its knees. This unyielding adversary is the killer COVID-19 that has dramatically altered our lives in just a few months. Since the day this deadly pathogen declared war on humanity, we have been living in terror and what makes it worse is the fact that no-one knows when this war will end or who will be the victor or what our world will look like after it does.

The onslaught of this virulent microbe has radically changed the existing status of human civilization universally. Our hustling bustling world now looks empty and desolate. The streets are deserted, restaurants and cafes are closed for business, malls and department stores are shut and the once thriving tourist destinations are out of bounds for humanity.  Countries have closed their national as well as international borders, modes of long distance travel like air and rail have been suspended indefinitely and mandatory curfews or lock-downs have been imposed on any non-essential movement.

As the menacing corona virus infiltrates every street and alley, spreading its reach far and wide, it has turned our world upside down. Countless have succumbed to it and umpteen more continue to fall prey every day. People are dying in masses, health resources are stretched beyond their limits and the very foundation of our existence is under threat. The essence of our freedom is diminishing as we are forced to go into an unnatural hibernation, for this virus seems to know no barriers.  

Even so, humanity has not lost completely for thousands recover and beat the virus every day, so not all hope is lost. In this time of crisis, confinement and isolation are paramount for our wellbeing and eventual survival. ‘Stay Home’, is not just the current mantra, but also the need of the hour and a new way of life in the present day scenario. For how long you ask? For as long as it takes I say.

It is this mantra that inspired me to create this watercolor artwork titled “Home Safe Home”. In the present circumstances it becomes absolutely imperative for each and every one of us to stay indoors and follow all the lock-down rules. In order to defeat this deadly virus, we need to unite not just as a community or a race but as a species and limit ourselves within the protective boundaries of our homes, for these are like impregnable fortresses that the virus cannot penetrate unless we step out and bring it in ourselves.

Our planet has provided us with so much more that her capacity that she almost has nothing more left to give. She has protected us from floods, famines, disaster and disease just like a selfless mother protects her child from all harm. She has always put us first and all we have done is drained her dry. We have used and abused her time and again for our own selfish gains without giving any thought to her well being. Maybe this is her way of mending herself or teaching us a lesson and making us mend our ways. Who knows?

My artwork titled “Home Safe Home”

Through this artwork I wish to convey that now it’s our turn to return her favors. The earth is our home, in fact the only home we have. By staying within the confines of our individual dwelling places, not only do we protect ourselves from the deadly COVID-19, but also protect our planet from us. Right now, we need to be patient and resilient and wait for the day we attain victory over this virus. Once we are liberated from its stronghold, we must remember to wipe the slate clean and make a fresh start. We need to heal our planet and make her a safe haven not just for us but for all the other beautiful living beings that reside on it. Only then will it become “Home Safe Home.”

Let’s hope that this period of confinement and self constraint takes us into the depths of our thoughts and makes us introspect on how we can make ourselves worthy of living in this safe haven.