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

My Favorite Artist

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“The human mind works in a peculiar way: we tend to cling to the past and be overcritical about the present. That’s why modern art often comes under attack. We compare new creations with classic masterpieces and seek out the smallest flaws. Perhaps the grass used to be greener a few centuries but it doesn’t mean that talented people stopped being born in our lifetime! Here is a living illustration.” Leonid Afremov.

I might have mentioned the name Leonid Afremov before in several of my earlier posts. Not only is he my all time favorite artist, but also my source of inspiration. I more or less idealize him when it comes to art several of my works are influenced by his style and technique. In today’s post, I will talk about what it is that got me hooked on to his work and how I have attempted to incorporate his iconic style in my own art.

Leonid Afremov was a Russian–Israeli modern impressionistic artist who worked with palette knives and oils to produce some bright and cheerful art. Over the last 25 years, he developed his own personal style and technique which differentiated him from other artists. He mainly painted landscapes, city scenes, vintage cars, seascapes, cats playing jazz and flowers. He formed distinctive pieces with bold knife cuts and color contrasts that conveyed a wide range of jubilant emotions.

Afremov generally worked with photographs taken from his world travels, which he used as a reference point for most of his paintings.  His work reflected a personal memory or emotion, focusing on a feeling rather than a story. He skillfully combined the palette knife with bright colors to produce a positive reflection of his surroundings, thus making each artwork as attractive as the next. This unusual yet unique technique of painting where he uses only oils, canvas, and the palette-knife appealed to anyone and everyone, regardless of their age, social or ethnic background. The elegant play of the vibrant colors in Afremov’s paintings gives art lovers a nostalgic feel of luxurious autumnal cities. His pictures seem to slow down time, letting us enjoy the precious details of these brisk and luminous landscapes.

Leonid Afremov was one of the greatest and best-known modern art impressionists of our time. He was and still is highly respected among art critics and collectors. His beautiful paintings have made their way to private houses and galleries in the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Israel, France, Spain, and many other countries. This is even more admirable knowing that the artist was self-representing and all of his promoting and selling processes were only held on the Internet with very few exhibitions and very little involvement of dealers and galleries. His self-developed technique and style is unmistakable and cannot be confused with other artists. Most of his work is considered very politically neutral.

Afremov was born on 12 July 1955 in Vitebsk, Belarus and passed away on 19 August 2019 at Playa Del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico due to cardiac arrest. Before the advancement of online sales and eBay, Afremov was a struggling artist. He lived in Vitebsk, Belarus until 1990. Between 1990 and 2002 he lived in Israel and from 2002 to 2010 in Boca Raton, Florida. 

Afremov was born to Jewish parents Bella Afremova and Arkadiy Afremov. His father was a shoe designer and shoemaker. His mother worked in a metal factory in Vitebsk. He was born in the same town as Marc Chagall, who later became a significant role model to Afremov.

In 1973 Leonid Afremov graduated with honors from his high school in Vitebsk and was admitted to the Vitebsk Education Institute where he studied in the arts and graphics department. During his years in college, Afremov was introduced to the work of Marc Chagall, Picasso, Dali, Modigliani and the 19th century French Impressionism. His early artistic work was greatly influenced by Chagall and Modigliani. During his years in college, Afremov participated in various school exhibitions and even sold some paintings. In 1978 Afremov graduated from the Vitebsk Art School as one of their elite members. After that he took private lessons from local famous artist Barowski who was teaching art when Marc Chagall was still living in Vitebsk.

Life and career in Soviet Russia from 1976 to 1990

After graduating from college, Afremov worked as a label designer in a local beer and liquor factory. Then he briefly worked in a local theater as a set designer.

In the early 1980’s he started doing freelance work for communal farms and schools, designing and making various propaganda posters, themed rooms and walls for certain communist events and holidays. He was also doing template sculptures of Lenin from plaster. He had a very good reputation in that field and was invited back by many farms and schools. This type of work was available only during the summer and spring.

During the cold Russian winter, Afremov stayed at home painting. He was not allowed to participate in government exhibitions because of his Jewish roots and was not allowed to be a member of the local art associations. His early work was sold privately via family and friends and was not seen by many people. A lot of his work in the 1980’s was just given away for free. He did not keep records of his work then and not much of it survived.

In 1986 the Chernobyl disaster happened. Vitebsk was only a few hundred kilometers from Chernobyl, close enough for radiation to travel with the wind and rain. The ecological situation in the area worsened, with the local crops and water becoming contaminated with radioactive fallout. Small children were affected severely, including Afremov’s two year old son. At the same time Leonid Afremov was experiencing serious discrimination for his Jewish heritage. The liberal politics of Mikhail Gorbachev allowed Jewish soviet citizens to migrate to Israel in the late 1980s. Fed up with anti-semitism and problems caused by radiation, Leonid decided to move to Israel without hesitation as soon as the doors were opened.

Life and career in Israel from 1990 to 2002

A few weeks after moving to Israel, Leonid Afremov found a job in an advertisement agency making signs and posters. After working in an advertisement agency, he worked in a gallery shop where he learned to make frames, being introduced to the palette knife for the first time.

Being a recent Russian immigrant, his work was not considered to be of great value by the locals. Galleries took paintings for 50 shekels (15USD) and were reselling them for 500 to 5000 shekels. The galleries refused to sell his work for percentage commissions just because he was a Russian immigrant. He was only given the option of a pittance for each painting which took a day to make. Afremov felt exploited and discriminated by the galleries and the Israeli society just like he was by the Soviet Government. He attempted to sell his art at street fairs and exhibitions in local social clubs. However, it was difficult because of the social stigma of Russian immigrants.

During the early 1990s, Leonid Afremov was mainly working with watercolors and acrylic. He was experimenting very little with usage of the palette knife. He painted what people were buying, with very little artistic freedom. In 1994, out of extreme desperation, his 16-year-old son Dmitry tried to sell Leonid’s paintings door to door around the neighborhood, This practice proved itself very effective, and Afremov suddenly started selling many pieces he painted and was getting slightly better prices than from selling directly to galleries. Dmitry proved himself to be a good door-to-door salesman. He was selling Leonid’s paintings in the new neighborhoods where recent Russian Immigrants were living.

 In 1995, Leonid acquired enough funds to open his own gallery and frame shop in Ashdod. The gallery was not popular among local Israelis; it was mainly visited by fellow Russian immigrants. The gallery was vandalized and broken into on several occasions. The local Israeli newspapers were refusing to publish advertisements for Afremov’s Gallery, and he was mainly advertising via Russian immigrant press and radio station. However, artistic freedom could not be achieved completely.

Around 1999, Leonid became friends with Russian-speaking Israeli jazz musician Leonid Ptashka, who inspired Afremov to paint a collection of portraits of popular jazz musicians and helped him secure a successful exhibition in the International Jazz Festival in Ashdod. Since then, Leonid Afremov has painted dozens of his favorite musicians.

In March 2001, Afremov’s gallery was completely vandalized. Dozens of paintings were destroyed, the artistic equipment stolen and the facility turned into rubble. Then Leonid decided it was time to move somewhere else where he would be treated with respect, eventually moving to the USA in January 2002.

Life and career in USA from 2002 to 2010

Leonid Afremov prepared for his move to USA very carefully. For several months he did not sell any paintings and sent everything he painted to his sister in Brooklyn. When he arrived in the US in January 2002, he had more than one hundred paintings at his disposal. Along with his son, he visited several galleries in New York. Some of these liked and purchased his paintings, however they only picked up Judaic themes and musician portraits. This forced Afremov to paint only limited themes and subjects in order to make a living.

Leonid had good opportunities in New York but the cold climate affected his health. He was constantly struggling with arthritis and muscular pain caused by drastic temperature changes. Thus he moved to Fort Lauderdale in April 2002. In Florida, Afremov faced the same changeless like in New York, selling only certain themes and subjects that the galleries wanted and were able to sell.

In 2004, after graduating from high school, Leonid’s son Boris was introduced to eBay by his friends. They tried to auction some of Leonid’s paintings with positive results. Paintings were sold for hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars and everything sold without exception. For the first time Afremov was given the opportunity to paint what he really wanted. This was when his real artistic journey began. He started painting what he really wanted from his personal inspirations and was finally able to explore his artistic vision and abilities all the way.

The exposure on eBay gave him opportunities for commission orders and access to different galleries. However, because of past bitter experiences with galleries, Leonid preferred to sell directly to the collector. Thanks to the internet exposure, Afremov participated in various local TV shows around the USA.

In 2007 with the help of his sons Leonid launched his own personal site where he began selling giclees, prints and original painting, eventually moving all the business and attention to his personal site. Two years later Leonid underwent heart bypass procedures. The doctors recommended Leonid to stay away from managing a business, keep a calm lifestyle and ultimately retire. It was then that his sons Boris and Dmitry started handling his sales, customer service and shipping.

Recent life and career in Mexico

In 2005 Leonid Afremov vacationed in Playa del Carmen and Cancun for the first time. Thereafter he visited the Mexican Caribbean 2 to 3 times in a year and completely fell in love with the place. Eventually in March 2010 Leonid decided to take on early retirement recommended by his doctors and moved to Playa del Carmen, a popular resort town near Cancun. By now his children were so involved in his business that they had to move to Mexico as well and managed his virtual gallery and shipping office in Playa del Carmen. The Afremovs also have locations in Cancun and Cozumel where they sell art during the busy tourist season in the winter. Leonid found Caribbean Mexico very relaxing and stress free. In 2011 Leonid sponsored the construction of his own personal ranch near Puerto Morelos where he spent much of his time.

Afremov’s Artistic Philosophy

Leonid Afremov kept majority of his art politically neutral. His paintings are not offensive to anyone nor send any hidden messages. They usually reflect certain personal memories and emotions. Afremov tried to draw the viewer’s attention towards a certain feeling rather than tell a story through his painting. He wanted his viewers to see the world through his eyes. The neutral attributes of Afremov’s art make the paintings appealing to almost all strata of society. He travelled quite extensively and took many photographs of different scenes that he later painted. Almost every painting he painted has a very personal inspiration. His art can be reflected as very positive through the bright colors he used. In fact, it was declared very relaxing and calming by notable psychologists and psychiatrists who make use of his painting in various psychological and psychiatric therapy procedures. Afremov’s paintings were published not only in art magazines but also in various medical and health magazines as examples of stress reducing paintings.

Afremov loved cats and other animals, hence painted many with cats, dogs, horses, tigers and even giraffes. The only political paintings he did were of bull-fighting, where he tried to show the viewer the cruel nature of the sport and discourage people from liking it. 

 After reading Leonid Afremov’s bio, one can understand how he attained success. Struggling for his individuality and artistic freedom, he managed to create his own style based on the experiences of the most outstanding artists. While Afremov’s early works were influenced by the masterpieces of older painters, his later artworks are very unique and recognizable.

According to Mr. Afremov, art is not something elite, understandable for a small circle of intellectuals only. He didn’t want to put any complicated hidden messages into his work – on the contrary, he wants his paintings to be intuitively close to everyone. When one looks at those autumn parks, lantern-lit alleys and vibrant cityscapes, the idea is rather clear. The artist invites his viewers to the world of simple beauty all around, but we are all too busy to stop for a moment and enjoy it. If an artist can open his viewers’ eyes to that, then his creations are not in vain.

Afremov proved that elegance and delicacy are elements of art that are still alive. While many artists try to shock the public with something slangy, this painter respected traditions. He didn’t follow them automatically but took the best from every style.  Modern art need not be incomprehensible. It can be meaningful and clear – that’s the idea behind his paintings.

Here’s a collection of his paintings that are my personal favorites:

Afremov’s Technique

Using his unique knife painting technique and unmistakable style, Afremov created paintings that seem to explode in millions of bright colors. Focusing primarily on land and seascapes, he formed distinctive pieces with bold knife cuts and colour contrasts that conveyed a range of jubilant emotions. His artistic philosophy rests on the idea that art is not only for elite, but rather something that everyone should have the opportunity to appreciate. His pieces maintain a characteristic ebb and flow, with colours and textures woven together to form an emotive gradient that captures one’s attention, first with bright colours and then with the technique.

Joyful and radiant, Afremov’s animated artwork achieve an emotional connection that personally touches those who respond to his talent. Afremov had the ability to touch a wide audience by focusing on keeping his artwork simple and politically neutral. The artist’s work doesn’t aim to offend anyone or reveal any deeper messages, but seeks to speak for itself by reflecting memories and emotions that are universally relateable.

My Art Inspired by Afremov

Besides being greatly influenced by the distinct and trademark style of Afremov, I was also drawn towards the vibrant color palette that he uses for his paintings. I believe it is these two features about his art that appeal to me the most. It is my constant endeavor to incorporate his technique as well as his exuberant colors and textures into my work. Having said that, I try to cautious not to mimic or clone his style and produce identical replicas of his work. My objective is only to apply the best of his skills to further enhance mine.

Keeping this in mind, I have attempted to add my own little twist to his palette knife technique. Instead of applying paint in thick daubs with a palette knife, I tried doing so with a paint brush, while keeping the thickness of the paint intact. Even though the effects were not the same as those achieved by Afremov with his method, what I got was pretty close, yet different enough. In order to polish up my technique, I first experimented with a couple of Afremov’s paintings themselves as part of a process of their recreation, but in my own unique way.

Quite often I mix my paints with modeling paste or a similar thickening agent in order to attain specific textural effects in my artworks. This is another special touch that I have added to further enhance my version of Afremov’s style of painting, thereby aiming to acquire similar results. It was a learning experience that has paved the path towards developing my individualistic signature style which I applied to several of my paintings later on.

Here are some visuals of the works I did with my favorite artist’s paintings in order to fine tune my process followed by artworks that were inspired by his technique. Hope you all enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoyed painting them!      

DISCLAIMER – All the information, data and imagery in this blog post is for informational and educational purpose only. While there may be copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner, I have only made it available with the sole effort to stimulate creative progress and artistic enrichment. Some images 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. I have also used these links for reference purposes and collection of data; therefore I give full credit to the respective web pages. Most of the data in this post is based on my personal experiences and opinions and I am not responsible for any material that is found in the links at the end of this post.

Sources and Photo Credits –

https://afremov.com/

When an Artist becomes the Muse

As artists, we all look for inspirations and find them in the most unimaginable places. We are like magnets that attract towards us, people or objects that can become our muses.

 Many a times, creations of another artist may also act as a muse. But this is treading on dangerous ground as the line between just getting inspired  and copying the other artist’s work is very thin.  Before we know it, we fall so deeply in love with the work of the ones we idolize, that we start imitating them and end up producing replicas of their work.

It’s one thing to try and learn from another artist’s work and hone our skills, but we should be careful not to get so absorbed in his work that we forget to develop our own signature style. As artists, we have to be honest with ourselves and not get caught in the honey trap of imitating other’s work. If we fail to break out of this trap, we’re neither being fair to ourselves nor to the one we idolize.

I am not saying there’s anything wrong with copying. There are enough artists around who are doing a great job with it and producing some excellent imitations which are accessible to those who can’t afford the original works of the masters. It is also a good way of practicing the finer nuances and technical aspects of a particular art style if you are an apprentice to an established artist or just started taking art lessons.

There are many artists who themselves offer their mentor ship to upcoming and emerging art enthusiasts and permit them to use their own creations as learning guides. The internet has proven to be a huge platform for not just established masters, but also upcoming artists, who want to share their knowledge with the rest of the art world.  All thanks to Google and You tube, it has become so much easier for us to locate and learn from artists whose work we love!

One such muse for me is an artist called Leonid Afremov, who also happens to be my all time favorite. He was a Russian–Israeli modern impressionistic artist who worked mainly with palette knives and oil paints. Using his unique knife painting technique and unmistakable style, Afremov created paintings that seemed to explode into millions of bright colors.

Known for his individualistic style and unconventional approach to showcasing his work to the public,  Afremov didn’t believe in the concept of art exhibitions, dealers or art galleries. He in fact sold his work online as he liked the notion of it being accessible to all. For this very reason, he regularly posted video lessons on You tube, where he taught art enthusiasts how to paint using his exclusive palette knife style.

I personally have learnt a great deal from Afremov’s lessons and have tried my hand at reproducing his technique in some of my artworks. In order to learn his technique, I picked up a couple of his compositions and worked with them, but with a difference. Instead of using a palette knife, I used flat brushes to reproduce effects similar to those produced by palette knives. In doing so, my objective was to take his technique to the next level and see if it gave my art individuality in terms of style, while retaining the same quality as an Afremov painting.

On completing the paintings, I realized that my work was distinctly different from the original. I decided to stick to the same color scheme as the original piece because I was attempting this style for the first time. The subject was also the same, as I wanted to master the technique thoroughly. Even though the final product was somewhat similar to the original, I managed to achieve an entirely different effect with the brushes as compared to that obtained with a palette knife. Sharing my observations below:

  1. While a palette knife produces thicker strokes, my brush strokes were flatter.
  2. There is more intermixing of colors when a palette knife is used, whereas the colors are individually more defined when using a brush.
  3. The palette knife strokes give a slightly raised effect as they involve the application of thick blobs of paint. On the other hand, a paint brush will result in a more two dimensional effect.

The paintings I chose were – “She Left” and “Winter”. I have shared below, images of the original artworks(the top two) as well as my versions(the bottom two). If you compare them, you will realize that my renditions are not complete replicas of the originals. So, in a way, not only did I manage to explore his signature style, but also invented my own style (or at least I hope I did!) All in all, it was a great learning experience that helped me practice Afremov’s technique until I felt confident enough to apply it to my own art.  I thoroughly enjoyed it!!

Next, I decided to be a little more adventurous with another composition. Since this too was an experiment, I picked up an image of Radha and Krishna for reference. Once again retaining the same color palette and silhouettes, I applied Afremov’s style to the background of the painting. I hope this is visible in the image below on the left, which is my version of the original artwork on the right.

I do hope I managed to impart originality to my work at the cost of being “influenced” by Afremov. Being inspired by artists or being influenced by their style doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to resort to copying. Even if you have not reached the stage of creating original art, there is always scope to brush up your skills and develop your own style. In fact, it is an evolutionary process that happens naturally over time.

But how does one retain originality? The trick lies in carefully studying the work that’s inspiring you and deciding what exactly it is that caught your eye. Was it the color palette, the composition, the concept or the subject matter? This will be a good way to start and will help you realize which aspect you love the most.

Try to incorporate this aspect into your artwork in your own unique style instead of replicating it exactly like it is in the original. This will happen when you have pushed yourself beyond the boundaries of creative thinking until you enter your very own personal domain of innovation.

When you are exploring and experimenting with the various elements that seemingly inspired you, some of them may turn out to be monotonous while others may suddenly ignite your imagination, so, look out for these sparks. Your body and mind will react to these stimuli and give you a sign. These beautifully intuitive cues will pave the path to discovering your muse.

Here are some pointers to help you transform your favorite artist’s inspirational works into your very own signature style, thereby aiding  your evolution and progress:

  1. Experiment and Explore – Love an aspect your favorite artist uses? Try using it in as many different ways as you can think of. Use different painting tools. For instance, Afremov used a palette knife, while I tried out the same technique with flat brushes. Use a different medium – if the original is with oils, try acrylics, mixed media or even collage making. They may enhance your art and make it exclusively yours.
  2. Modify the Color Palette – Google your favorite artist’s works or look them up on Pinterest. Take note of the color palette he or she generally uses and chose your own colors taking inspiration from this.  Use the image as a guideline for the palette and modify the shades.
  3. View the Subject Matter Differently – Sometimes even a subtle alteration of the subject matter goes a long way. The subject should excite you enough to explore further and possess the ability to go through the evolutionary process. Painting it in different color schemes, from different angles or changing the perspective can open doors to infinite new possibilities. This is what will make your work stand out.
  4. But, be prepared for the worst.  Sometimes the most favorable things may turn out to be boring. On the other hand, you may be pleasantly surprised by something you considered mundane. As they say, expect the unexpected!!

To sum it up, wade through works of art that interest you and invoke your creativity. Don’t play safe and tread water. Experiment, explore and awaken the artist in you. 

DISCLAIMER –The paintings that I have displayed in this post are my personal reproductions of original compositions by Leonid Afremov. I have tried my best to alter them by adopting a different approach in terms of technique so that they do not look like imitations of the original. However, they still resemble the original to some extent as I painted them purely with the aim of teaching myself Afremov’s style, hence I do not claim them to be my original creations.   

Sources and Photo Credits –

https://afremov.com/when-she-left.html

The “Fruits” of my Labor

When it comes to painting still life, the choice of muse is endless. If you want to extend your horizon beyond  flowers, one good choice would be fruits. Fruits have always been one of the classic subjects for still life.  They come in a variety of colors and shapes that are perfect for replicating onto your canvas. Some are best portrayed whole, but when cut, they can provide you with some interesting shapes to customize your work of art. All you need is some fresh produce, or just an image of these juicy wonders, paint, brushes and a canvas to unleash your creativity!

So that’s exactly what I did! Not only did fruits become the subject of my next experiment with art, they also ended up being one among my favorite muses!! Since I was attempting this subject for the first time, I decided to use as reference, an image that displayed a vast variety of fruits. This gave me the opportunity to understand their various forms and colors, as well as the play of light on each one of them.

I also learnt how to paint different textures, as each fruit possesses its own distinctive tactile quality that contributes to its individualistic character. So from the rough skin of a lemon to the smooth and shiny surface of a grape, I did it all! 

The image I chose also proved to be quite challenging for me as it comprised of some complex berries which were a conglomeration of tiny units, thus giving shape to the fruit in totality. I learnt how to paint each and every one of these miniscule yet elaborate building blocks, which are an important feature of the fruit in question when it comes to its detailing. These are what give their subjects a distinctive identity and will enhance the quality of your painting.

Without further adieu, I will share with you some pointers that I picked up while I was learning to paint this fruity composition. So let’s get started!!

  1. Go for interesting shapes – You can use whatever fruits you like, but those with interesting shapes usually offer the maximum options.  Apples, pears, bananas, strawberries, raspberries, oranges, lemons, and limes are some good choices. As you can see, the image I chose as my muse covers just about every shape and type of fruit. Visit your local grocery store or farmer’s market and see which ones appeal to you the most…after all its all about the inspiration!
  2. Pick up a variety of colors – Choose a wide range of fruits that provide you with a larger color palette to work with. This is also visible in my painting. It will add vibrancy to your composition, unless you are looking at monotones or intend to paint only one type of fruit.
  3. Wash and dry all the produce – If you are using fresh fruits, wash them thoroughly with water and pat them dry. If any of the fruits are particularly dirty, use a brush to scrub them clean.  However, if you want to retain the dirt as an extra element of interest or detailing, then don’t wash your fruits.
  4. Cut and slice the produce for more interesting shapes – Cut  the fruit into halves or slices  to add more interesting effects to your artwork. Cut apples, pears, and strawberries in half lengthwise, oranges, lemons and limes in half crosswise. Bananas may be cut lengthwise or crosswise. Raspberries, blueberries and grapes can be used as whole fruits. If you don’t like cutting the fruits,  you can use them whole.
  5. Select a focal point – Once you have arranged your produce on your table or platter, select a strong focal point that you can use as your reference. This is usually the fruit on the top of the pile and helps you start your drawing.
  6. Add props to the composition – The surface on which you place your fruits can serve as an interesting element in your composition. So, ensure that you put them on a table or a saucer that adds on to your artwork. They can provide some very impressive highlights and shadows to your painting, thereby adding to the drama.
  7. Texture – A textural effect arouses the curiosity of the viewer to  learn how it was achieved, hence he moves in closer to see how it was done.  One way to achieve this is to add impasto here and there, especially around your focal object, and very much so in the highlights of that object. As mentioned earlier,  a lemon will possess a totally different texture from a grape.
  8. Pay attention to the shadows and reflections – Deeper areas or shadows add interest to your work and will attract your viewer. Therefore, give special emphasis to the shadows formed by each fruit. It will also give them a 3D effect and make them look more natural. Similarly, look out for those lovely sunlight reflections. They too will make your fruits look more realistic.
  9. Work on a size you are comfortable with – Decide the scale of your artwork based on your comfort level. If you are not confident about painting details in smaller sizes, increase the dimensions of your work, hence your canvas.
  10. Use an image if not the real thing – The problem with painting fruits is that, like flowers,  they are perishable, hence start losing their freshness and luster with time. This will alter your artwork as you progress, so you have to be real quick in finishing it, before the subjects in question start decomposing. I personally prefer using a still photo as my reference for this very reason. Not only are my subjects preserved in posterity but I also have time on my side. So, if you are a slow painter, go for the digital option so that you have total control.

Did you know?

Here’s some interesting trivia for you!  Giuseppe Arcimboldo  was an Italian painter best known for creating imaginative portrait heads made entirely of objects such as fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish, and books. Arcimboldo’s conventional work, on traditional religious subjects, faded into oblivion, but his portraits of human heads made of vegetables, plants, fruits, sea creatures and tree roots, were greatly admired by his contemporaries and fascinate present day artists as well. At a distance, his portraits looked like normal human portraits. On close observation, one realizes that individual objects were actually overlapped to make the anatomical shape of a human head. They were carefully constructed by his imagination, hence the assembly of the objects was not random. So, if you feel you have mastered the skill of painting conventional pictures of fruits, shake things up a bit with this “bizarre” yet “unique” approach. You never know what innovations take shape!

I hope by now the artist in you is as excited and inspired by these succulent and juicy delicacies of nature as are your drooling taste buds!

Sources and Photo Credits – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giuseppe_Arcimboldo

My First Muse – Flora

For most artists, nature is one of the most common sources of inspiration. Flowers, in particular, have served as a muse to several artists. Since time in memorial, artists have told stories in their artworks through flowers, with an attempt to capture varying moods through symbolism.

Art through the ages has demonstrated that flowers speak a universal language that communicates deeper messages through their color and form. It is this language that is figuratively represented by artists in their work to depict a multitude of emotions and feelings, ranging from love, passion and desire to purity, innocence and even death.

Flowers can convey messages that words cannot, express hidden emotions, portray moods, or articulate a subtle feeling. Legendary artists from Claude Monet and Gustav Klimt to Andy Warhol and Georgia O’Keefe, have used flowers to express the surreal and the sublime, the joy and the sorrow, the beauty and the hurt.

Flowers have a played an important role throughout the history of art. They have been used by the Renaissance artist Botticelli as a subtle representation of religious symbolism and have also been the inspiration behind Matisse’s colorful masterpieces. When it comes to art, flowers do tell a unique story!

 I wanted to explore this hidden meaning of flowers as a symbol of art. As an artist, I wanted to see if  I too could tell a story of my own through blooms and maybe evoke a certain mood or emotion with the help of their colors and shapes. Since this was my very first attempt at painting flora,  I chose a fairly simple composition (or at least I thought so at that moment!), with more emphasis on color than minute detailing. As is evident in my painting, I have concentrated on the light and dark shadows and also attempted to retain the vintage effect of the painting.

My version of a painting of flowers

So there I was, all set and rearing to go with my paints and brushes! I had a picture of a pot of lovely purple blossoms in front of me (As I mentioned in my last post, this was the beginning of my learning experience, hence I used an image for reference). I was all charged up about recreating these beauties on my canvas, which was primed and ready for use. My paint tubes and palette were calling out to me and my brushes were rearing to show off their magic. I was totally smitten by the captivating beauty in front of me!

But where do I start?! So many flowers, such an elaborate background and to add to it all, a  pot and a lemon too! It’s not at all as simple as it looks…I am doomed!!

I took a deep breath and decided to tackled this challenge one step at a time. So, now I am going to share with you all some of the tools and techniques I adopted to achieve my goal….I like to call them my very own trade secrets!

  • Start by sketching out the basic silhouettes of the flowers, the vase/pot and other elements of the composition in front of you. You can use a charcoal pencil or a regular one.
  • Make sure all the elements of your composition are in proportion with respect to each other as well as the background in terms of their sizes. This will give a more realistic look to your artwork, unless you intend to take the abstract approach.
  • Look out for perspective in the composition. This is what makes objects appear smaller and closer together the further away they are from their viewer. In other words, they seem to become smaller and smaller as they more farther into the distance. This adds depth and dimension to flat images, thus making them look more real.
  • While sketching out the various objects, carefully observe their underlying basic shapes and draw out a rough outline for each one of them. These will act as guidelines for your final sketch and  you can work around them to achieve the final silhouettes more accurately.

Now, coming to the main subject of this particular composition…the flowers. How does one draw these? Well, the secret lies in their underlying shape here as well. In general they will fit into one of these basic categories – discs, bells, cones or spheres. (I was very fortunate to learn this from a fellow artist’s article when I googled for methods to paint flowers back then). But in my painting, I discovered a new one – star shaped blossoms! So, you never know what you may find!! Anyways, this is a very important aspect as that’s where the basic form of your flower lies.

Bell, Cone, Disc and Sphere shaped flowers respectively.

  • Each object in your composition, in fact each blossom for that matter will have its own highlights, shadows and reflections. So look for these details closely. One way I looked for these intricacies was by half shutting my eyes and looking at the image almost through my eye lashes. It worked like a charmed as all the highlights and shadows just popped up magically!
  • Coming to the bouquet or bunch as a whole, flowers in the back of the arrangement will have less color, focus and sharpness while the ones in the front will have color, intensity and sharpness. The focal blossoms will have the highest color intensity, sharpness and details.
  • In order to achieve a faded effect for those blooms at the back, paint them with softer edges. This involves more blending of the various shades you have used.
  • As mentioned earlier, flowers hold great symbolic power in the art world. Hence, every color or combination of color evokes a certain mood or emotion. Here’s a cheat sheet you can use as a guide to help you convey your message –

Red – Love, romance, courage, desire.

Pink – Gentleness, happiness, innocence, grace.

Blue – Peace, serenity, openness, relaxation.

White – Reverence, humility, purity, simplicity.

Yellow – Happiness, friendship, pride, joy.

Orange – Bold, passion, enthusiasm, excitement.

Purple – Royalty, dignity, tradition, success.

Hope that made it easier for you! To help you even more, here are some Dos and Don’ts  you can keep in mind while painting flowers:

DOs –

  • Select a simple arrangement if you are painting flora for the first time. Once you’ve got a hang of the basic elements of floral anatomy, you can graduate to more detailed arrangements and types of flowers.
  • Start with bigger flowers that have lesser detailing and work on getting the basic shapes, highlights and shadows right at first.
  • If you are not confident enough to paint an entire bouquet or vase of flowers, you can always do a single bloom with maybe a bud or two and a few leaves to complete the composition.

DON’Ts –

  • When sketching with your pencil or charcoal, don’t apply too much pressure and avoid drawing dark lines. These will be difficult to paint over later and will show underneath the layers of paint. They may also smudge and mess up the colors and eventually the painting.
  • The subjects of your painting should neither be too small, thereby leaving too much negative space around them, nor should they be so big that they leave no scope for a background. I personally achieve this with free hand drawing, but feel free to use a grid of squares to get this right.
  • Don’t get bugged if you are not able to figure out the underlying shape of the blossoms of your choice. Some flowers may not fit into any particular shape category I have quoted above or may be a combination of more than one shape.
  • Don’t struggle with detailing of each and every petal on those blossoms at the back…they should appear as if they are fading into the background.

I think I have covered all the tricks I had up my sleeve which helped me do justice to my floral muse. I hope the list of do’s and don’ts help you all in your explorations as much as they helped me!

Sources and Credits –

https://www.bloomandwild.com/floral-muse-flowers-in-art

https://www.easy-oil-painting-techniques.org/how-to-paint-flowers.html

https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo/disc-shaped-flower.html

https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo/bell-shaped-flower.html

https://www.dreamstime.com/bright-showy-bergenia-crassifolia-cone-shaped-flowers-close-up-green-leaves-background-evergreen-plant-bright-image145978242

https://www.jparkers.co.uk/3-dahlia-viking

https://www.visartscenter.org/event/cocktails-and-canvas-red-poppy-2/

https://www.dhgate.com/product/impression-group-oil-painting-nice-pink-flowers/160864642.html

https://chenyupainting.en.made-in-china.com/product/WXMEuiVyAHhl/China-Ca-1168b-Hand-Made-Blue-Flowers-Bloom-Wall-Decor-Oil-Painting-on-Canvas.html

https://www.overstock.com/Home-Garden/Fine-original-oil-painting-of-white-flowers-on-canvas-20-x24/18753567/product.html

https://www.toperfect.com/birds-and-yellow-flowers.html

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32269855313.html?s=p

The Muses that Inspire Us

She thirsts for expression,

Swaying to her own beat.

She prowls inside our heads,

Craving to feast.

To feast on our minds,

A mangled array of confusion,

She wants to break free,

She’s looking for retribution.

She feeds on the dreamers and the wanderers,

She turns even the skeptics into believers.

Her insanity craves a palette of myriad hues,

To help her overcome the defiant blues.

To some she’s Mother Nature in her full glory,

To others she’s the sea in her raging fury.

To one she appears as unicorns, angels or fantasies,

While others have visions of nudes, Gods and galaxies.

She’s the celestial entity reining the aesthetic universe,

She’s the ethereal MUSE that inspires all of us.

                                                   (Self-composed).

Inspiration is something that comes easily to some people, while for others, it can be quite a struggle. What serves as inspiration, is called the MUSE. Most artists look for a muse as a source of their creative genius. But what is a muse? It can be anything that sparks your creativity and imagination, like a person, place, object or even a situation for that matter.

A muse is something that has to be considered very thoughtfully. For most artists, a person — especially a woman — will be a source of artistic inspiration. In mythology, the Muses were nine goddesses who symbolized the arts and sciences.

Having a muse that is capable of bringing your creative ideas to life, is a gift. Traditionally female muses have been the source of many artistic inspirations and great works of art, due to their beauty, character, or some other mysterious quality.

For most artists, a  muse is a person who ignites his or her fantasy. But for me, it can be anything that acts as a fuel and sparks my artistic neurons to get my creative juices flowing. It’s what unleashes my artistic energy.

Finding a muse can seem difficult sometimes, but certain things can fuel ideas for works of art.  It is this muse that penetrates the artist’s mind, which is the seed of  one’s creativity. This source of inspiration gives birth to the spark of creation, and thus an innovative idea is conceived in the womb of the mind. The artist then gestates and nurtures this notion of his imagination, until it matures into a viable concept. It’s now his baby, ready to be born, all set to see the light of the outside world.

But how does one find a muse? I believe that the muse finds the artist and not the other way round. It is a spontaneous process and cannot be planned or predicted in any way. Having said that, I would like to share a few personal tips with you all that could help you along your path to discovering your own muse:

  1. Think – Note down your thoughts and work on them. Even if they seem irrelevant and foolish,  pen them down.   Sometimes the most mundane of ideas spark a highly fascinating story or concept.
  2.  Memories –  Recall your past, look at old photos and reminisce about old times with your relatives and friends. Who knows? You may  find treasures while digging up the ground!
  3. Travel and interact – Talk to people and be active socially-by doing this, ideas will flourish far more easily. Travelling is an extremely important part of the creative journey, and has helped countless artists.  Believe me,  a change in environment can go a long way in powering up  your inspiration.
  4. Take note of your emotions –  When you’re exhilarated, remorseful, thrilled, bored, concerned or even feeling level, make note of exactly what’s going through your mind and how you see life in that state – even a simple emotion can be a source of great works  of art.
  5. Make a note of your dreams – Several artists have based their works on dreams. Salvadore Dalí’s paintings are said to have been fruits of their creator’s dreamy imagination. Keep a ‘dream diary’ where you write what you saw and how you felt in each dream. This will help in completing the concept.
  6. Read, listen and see – Read books, listen to music, visit galleries. Make yourself a journal with your favorites  and  a how-to-do manual with techniques you found unique and interesting. In today’s world of technology, the internet is also a great source of information so all hail Google and Youtube! Listen to an eclectic mix of music (opera, rock, jazz, anything). Be bold and experiment. You’ll be surprised how much inspiration this can give you.
  7. Dare to be bold? – Step out of your comfort zone and try things you would never do. It could prove life-altering and inspiring.
  8. Trust your  instincts –  Have faith on your gut feeling and just do it (As long as it’s not illegal!).
  9. Don’t plan too much –  Inspiration isn’t something you can plan. It comes to you spontaneously so if you try to organize it into a plan, the idea will become stale by the time you are done planning. Don’t try to be too methodical, just go with the flow and let things fall into place on their own.
  10. Start! –  Don’t keep waiting. Begin with whatever comes into your mind and play along as you go to shape up your concept. You’ll be  pleasantly surprised when you run into your muse as you cruise along your creative voyage.

In the next few posts, I am going to share with you a few of my muses and what inspires me to paint. But, before I do that, a DISCLAIMER…the next set of paintings are mostly imitations as they are my initial works and part of  my learning process. Hence, neither do I claim them to be my original creations nor take any credit for them. On the contrary, I am grateful to the original artists for providing me with such wonderful inspirations, which helped me hone my skills as I progressed along my creative journey.

So here’s a sneak peak of some of the muses I stumbled upon while learning the finer nuances of art. Each one of them not only contributed towards polishing my technical skills as an artist but also opened my mind to a vast array of creative possibilities. Hope they ignite the spark of inspiration within your creative centers as much as they did for me! I shall discuss them in detail in my future posts.

Deep Sea Dweller

In my last post, I had introduced you all to the mighty and deadly underwater war machine, the Submarine. Here’s a sequel to the same, titled, “Deep Sea Dweller.” This one too exhibits the colossal boat in her full power and glory, as she prowls the expansive oceans, keeping a watchful eye on her enemy.

Pop Quiz!! Why do I refer to her as a boat? That’s because submarines are also called “boats” colloquially. Remember the term “U-Boats?” It is an anglicized version of the German word U-Boot, a shortening of Unterseeboot, literally “underseaboat”. While the German term refers to any submarine, the English one refers specifically to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in the First and Second World Wars. 

How’s that for submarine trivia? But let’s back to my artwork now. As the title suggests, this one resides in the deep abyss of the vast ocean, maneuvering covertly and patrolling the predators lurking above. She sneaks right under the noses of her adversaries, out of sight and without a sound. Her mere presence is enough to restrain the enemy from executing his vicious plans. Even though he cannot see her, he is well aware of her presence and her ability to annihilate him in a fraction of seconds.  

While the previous one was a conventional diesel submarine, this one portrays a more advanced, nuclear version. This is evident through the distinctive differences in their silhouette and appearance. I have endeavored to capture this very essence of the remarkably fearsome unit of warfare. The subject of this painting is not only larger in size and dimensions, but also sleeker and more streamlined than its predecessor. I have paid special attention to the technical detailing of the various parts of the submarine here as well, so as to depict it as authentically as possible.

Coming to the background, I have always been a big fan of sunset scenes. So what better than the setting sun as a backdrop to this glorious piece of machinery? As the light fades, the submarine emerges from the depths, with her enemy still unaware of her presence.

A sunset is the most spectacular and vibrant color palette painted across Mother Nature’s canvas, the sky. The many different shades of the sky as the sun sinks beyond the horizon, serves as a source of inspiration for me. The sunset I had in mind for this particular composition, comprised more of warm tones of yellow, orange and red. In order to enhance the dark shadows in the clouds, I have combined these shades with burnt umber or Payne’s Grey in varying intensities to achieve the desired effects.

Just like the sky, I have depicted the waters surrounding the sub in similar shades of yellow, orange and red. Not only does this impart a surrealistic feel to the painting, but also serves as a reflection of the sky above in the mirror of the vast ocean below.

Since my medium of choice here was oils, let me talk a bit about the technique of oil painting. I generally start with a super thin layer of the oils I use, in this case, a mixture of linseed and turpentine oils. While the former is a medium for my oil paints, the latter serves as a thinner or solvent and helps the colors spread evenly onto the canvas. As a general rule, I work from light to dark, starting with the yellows and oranges, adding the darker colors later. The advantage of working in this order is that not only is it easier to make your composition darker than to lighten it, but also it is easier to clean off lighter colors from your brushes and reuse them more efficiently.

I have painted the initial layers with longer brush strokes to get the overall effect of a sunset sky. Thereafter, I delved into the detailing of the clouds, paying special attention to their shape and shadows. In order to give the clouds a natural look, I used a dry brush with just a dab of paint and no oil, moving it in circular motions onto the initial layer I had laid down for the sky. But mind you, this first layer must be more or less completely dry so that the colors of the second layer do not merge into it.  This technique tightened up the shape of the clouds pretty well.  As mentioned earlier, mixing your warm tones with burnt umber or Payne’s Grey takes care of the darker shadows of the clouds.

Once I had all my colors down, I blended them, so as to get softer edges. Even the edges of clouds tend to be surprisingly soft.  I gave special emphasis to the tone of the sky toward the top of the scene compared to the horizon, as well as the areas of light tone where the sun catches the edges of clouds (I added a little white here for a more dramatic effect).

For the sun, I simply pulled yellow outwards from its extremity towards the edge of the canvas with my brushstrokes. As earlier, I added orange above the yellow, blending it in by pulling it slightly down into the yellow. Pulling the yellow into the orange gives a more uniform blend.  I added red the same way, making sure I blend it like the orange and yellow.

I added some white highlights in the sun to make it stand out and went over it in yellow once more to make it more vibrant. Just like the sunset, the water of the sea was painted with simple brush strokes and blending technique. Once again I used a combination of burnt umber and Payne’s Grey to render the submarine, with a touch of white to display the minute markings on its hull.

Feeling inspired enough? So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and pick up your brushes and paints, splash the colors of twilight onto your canvas and add a submarine on top!!

Portrait of the Unseen and Unheard

What comes to your mind when you think of a seascape? Water? Waves? Ships? Boats? How about under the sea? You would probably think of corals, aquatic flora and fauna, fish, dolphins, etc., etc. How about a Submarine?? While the above mentioned subjects are very commonly used by artists in their compositions, there are very few submarines that have been artistically portrayed onto the canvas. Why do you think so? Is it because they are submerged, out of sight, covert and inaudible? Wouldn’t it be simply wonderful to have a beautiful seascape with the possibility of a submarine surfacing from down under?  

Personally, I found the idea of painting a submarine extremely fascinating! So that’s what I did!! Enough of those ships and sailboats! Let’s talk submarines!!

For centuries, people dreamed of a vessel that could go under water for defending their maritime interests. That’s when the mighty submarine came along. She took warfare to an entirely new level with her ability to destroy enemy ships while remaining undetected herself.

In my personal opinion, if submarines had not been invented, it would be difficult to stop the world’s super powers from using their state of the art, technologically superior weaponry. I think they serve as the biggest deterrent against an impending Third World War, a threat that will always be hovering over our heads. I like to call the sub a tin can full of the bravest lot of mankind and armed with the most powerful creations of technology.

For this very reason, I chose submarines as the subject for my next set of paintings. What fascinated me the most about them was their stealthy and silent presence. One moment there’s nothing out there and the very next, there it is! Right in front of you, emerging from the depths of the sea, ploughing its way through the mighty waves.

For me ‘Submarine’, is probably one of the most important subjects I’ve painted (well, after dragons of course!), and it will always remain close to my heart. It was an amazing experience and it really changed my perspective of a seascape.

The Eavesdropper

 So, let’s talk about my first composition. I call it “The Eavesdropper.” This one is a rendering of a conventional diesel submarine making its way through the vast expanse of the ocean, with fluffy white clouds and the bright blue sky as her backdrop.

It depicts the mighty war machine just after she has emerged from the depths of the sea to take a sneak peak at the world above. I call her the Eavesdropper as when under water, she sneaks around stealthily and keeps a watchful eye on her enemies, listening ever so silently to every sound, every move he makes. Her magnificent supremacy and grandeur become evident when she surfaces and makes herself visible to the entire world, thereby affirming her presence as a warning to all who mean harm.

I felt that oil paints would serve as the best medium in order to bring out the intensity of the potent power associated with this beast. I have tried my level best to do justice to the finer details of the hull of the sub, which is what is visible above water. I have adopted a conventional approach to paint this one, so as to make it look as realistic and authentic as the real thing. Similarly, while painting the clouds and the sky, I have taken the help of realism as a style of painting, in order to make the background look natural. Hope all this is visible in my work!!

Awakening(Commissioned)

The second and final installment of the Buddha series is a painting titled Awakening, which was made to order for an office space. The brief was to create an image of the Buddha in the highest state of consciousness, that is, Nirvana.

I had been specifically asked to use muted colors, hence I restricted my palette to earthy tones, comprising of warm hues like yellow, orange and brown, with just a hint of red.

Nirvana is a place of perfect peace and happiness and the realization of this state is the awakening. The path to attaining nirvana is meditation, which was practiced by the Buddha himself. Hence, in my painting as well, I have depicted him in a meditative pose.

The look of serenity on the Buddha’s face in this composition symbolizes the joy and contentment he experienced after he awakened to nirvana. I have attempted to highlight the two important aspects of Buddha’s Awakening here, namely, the “what” and the “how”. The former is what the Buddha awakened to, which is the fact that immortal happiness does exists. The latter refers to the means of achieving this eternal happiness, which is human effort.

While painting this piece, the biggest challenge for me was to portray not only the tranquil expression of the meditating Buddha, but also  a vision of the ultimate reality that he was able to see once he awakened to nirvana. I have tried to illustrate this vision in the form of the Buddha’s reflection in the flowing stream. This image of the Buddha himself in the water is symbolic of the eternal happiness that was within him. In order to realize it, all he needed was the right perspective.

In other words, you don’t need to see different things, but rather see things differently and the undying happiness that we are looking for in worldly delights can be found within ourselves.

I have also attempted to capture some of the other important aspects of nirvana in my painting. One of these is mindfulness, that is, an awareness of reality around us. The background of the painting, specifically the negative space and the flower buds around the Buddha, represent this reality.

Another factor is concentration, which is evident through the calmness in the face of the Buddha, thus displaying that one pointed state of awareness.

Yet another facet that I have tried to bring out is tranquility of both body as well as soul, by rendering an aura around the body of the Buddha and a warm glow in the center of the torso. The former denotes calmness of the bodily form and the latter, serenity of the mind and soul.

The Buddha’s look of contentment personifies equanimity, wherein the body, mind and soul are in equilibrium and accept reality as it is, without any craving or aversion.

I have once again used my favorite medium to create this composition. Yes! Oil paints!! But, to bring about a tactile feel to my work, I have also combined it with the technique of impasto, which I have discussed in detail in one of my earlier posts (Dragon-Resurrection, dated, July 6, 2019).

I have applied the impasto in the flower buds and their stems in order to give them a 3D effect.  Previously, I had used it in combination with acrylics but this time, I have taken the conventional approach with oil paints.

One thing that I realized is that the end result obtained with both mediums is entirely different. While acrylic impasto gives a matte effect, impasto with oil paints has a glossy sheen to it.

Now I am not saying that one is better than the other…that is a matter of personal choice. So try both and take your pick!

A Tryst with the Divine

Hey folks! Now that I am through with the Dragon Series, let me introduce you to the next couple of paintings, the subject being, Divinity. For this set of artworks, I have attempted to capture the essence of the Buddha onto my canvas.

Enlightenment

The first painting, titled “Enlightenment”, is a portrait of the Buddha. The word Buddha is not a name, but a title, which means the enlightened one or the awakened one. It is a Sanskrit word that means “a person who is awake”. What a Buddha is awake to, is the true nature of reality. When the Buddha passes into the peace of Nirvana, it is like a transformed state of existence.

This perfect state of existence, where knowledge or wisdom co-exists with compassion, is called Enlightenment. Knowledge here does not means worldly knowledge of things around us, but a true understanding of reality and the intrinsic nature of things surrounding us. Enlightenment is so much beyond the realm of outside ordinary experience that it cannot be described, but only be realized and felt within ourselves. If I were to put it in words, it would be a paradise within us.

I call this painting a partial portrait, wherein I have painted only half of the face of the Buddha, representing that true reality He sees upon attaining Nirvana. Once enlightened, He is oblivious to all external influences, thus the other half, which symbolizes a superficial exterior, ceases to exist.

The medium I have used for this portrait is oil paints. However, I have been a tad bit adventurous with the background of this artwork! I am greatly inspired by the palette knife technique of my all time favorite artist, Leonid Afremov. He is a Russian–Israeli modern impressionist, who works mainly with a palette knife and oils. Using his unique knife painting technique, he dabs paint onto the canvas in relatively thick and small strokes, creating paintings that seem to be a burst of countless bright colors.

Using a palette knife to paint is very different from a brush. A brush bends and flexes as you move it. The palette knife is a more rigid tool. It can be used to carefully add a straight line or toss on a huge blob of paint. While Leonid possesses his own signature style, I have attempted to reproduce similar effects using a brush instead of a palette knife in my painting. Also, instead of using several colors (like Leonid does), I have used different tones of blue to create an Ombre effect as part of the background of this artwork. Ombré (literally “shaded” in French) is the gradual blending of one color or hue into another, usually moving tints and shades from light to dark.


Sounds Greek and Latin to you? I shall attempt to “enlighten” you all in detail on these terms some other time. For now, it’s Adios till my next post!!