Tuesday, November 3, 2009

How does an Artist Feed herself???

Creating art is the main aim, the life's goal of an artist. She would do anything to create, hold a paint brush and make the marks on canvas. Stroke by stroke, the picture emerges. A thought that takes a shape, color, produces vibrations. Connoiseurs stop and look at it and sigh in amazement.

The result of an artist's labor is breathtaking. It brings happiness, knowledge, inspiration, to others. And mostly that is what an artist gets. Admiration from people, acknowledgement about her talent, encouragement, publicity, fame.

The more mundane of all the things hardly crosses anyone's mind when they look at an artist's work. How does the artist sustain such a passion, day after day, holding brush and mixing paint, giving shape and color to one vision after another, for the world to see? Is it just her passion? How does she get her material like paint and canvas? Does it come from an unknown quarter? Is it being donated to her for free from art lovers? Who sustains an artist while she is at work, creating the breathtaking striking works?

Some time the artist has to stop, while she is working, as sher stomach makes her lose concentration. She cannot live on air. And she has to live somewhere, store her supplies in some place, under some shade. From some shop she has to procure her supplies.

Most people expect an artist to just thrive on plain air. As if, due to their exalted profession, they do not require food, clothing and shelter like the rest of the human race. Such an outlook is harmful. It has not helped the artist one bit to be looked at with such regard. People have to look closely at an artist, and recognise her for the work, the hours put in, the labor, the expenses. Art is sometimes just ground level hard work and logistics.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Beauty and the Duty of the Artist

The recent years have seen the overwelming availability of information. What they call information explosion, or information overload. In this situation, one thing that is obvious is that all kinds of information are floating around, in tne various kinds of media available.

A new generation has grown up in the midst of this overload. I wonder if youngsters today can discriminate between the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the same way previous generations had been able to.

Now more than ever the profession of the artist assumes more importance. It is the duty of the artist to depict what is good, what is beautiful, what is not ugly, in their creations. The question now is, are they able to do that?

All kinds of art is being created, reflecting the contemporary world. Much of these are not beautiful, but they are being created by artists. Use of extremely clear images, especially in art installations, using materials like blood, urine, stool, gunpowder....it is doubtful whether they are creating any beauty at all. They may be more educative, for in the line of activism. But art?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Beauty of Santa Barbara

I've been thinking about art a lot, for some time now. I've been keeping an eye on the kinds of art that is on show in Santa Barbara, the competitions and exhibitions that are organized from time to time, the number of participants, the kind of responses these get.

One of the major drawbacks I feel here is the absence of large sized galleries. Due to the architectural requirements of the city, the buildings are not allowed to be higher than a certain height, and expansions and additions to buildings are discouraged and if done at all, severely restricted. The main aim of this actions is to maintain the beauty and exclusivity of the city, not to allow modern influences transgress the lifestyle, and urbanization overtake the sleepiness of the area.

All that is in good faith, and that has served to preserve the basic structure of the city in decades. The price of hosuing and rentals is very high, and for this reason, the number of commuters to Santa Barbara is much more than its current residents. People who work here prefer to stay in a less expensive place, and then drive to work. And that has resulted in the large number of vehicles on the roads during office hours.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Film and Art

I am watching this film Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na. All about young adult romance, friendship, misunderstanding. The same love triangle, age old Hindi Film formula. But the director has tried to use a different style, narration. Old content, new style. The dialogue is simple, some effort has been made to bring in modern music.

Lot of interspersing threads, which draw in the details. Friends retell a story of their two college friends who were best friends, but did not know that they were in love too. A bit like Kuch Kuch Hota Hain. Kajol and Shah Rukh, and then, Rani Mukherjee.

The effort is to bring in elements of the fantastic, like Arbaaz Khan and his brother, coming on horses, wearing felt hats. Then the director also touches upon issues like violence, police atrocity. Upper class Indian homes, partying, drinking wine, dating and numerous affairs.

The pace is slower than masala films, and difficult shots have not been used for super special effects. Realistic portrayal of modern urban life and people in Mumbai.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Summer Art Lessons

It's that time of the year when children are at home, school vacations are leaving them with a lot of time in hand, and parents don't know what to do with either the time or the children.

And the solution is in the hands of numerous summer camping grounds, summer sports, the beach, the trails and mountains, the picnics, the bicycles and the hikings.

There are also the interesting classes. Dance, if the children like to be on their toes, painting, if they enjoy colour, music, if they have a tilt towards the instruments or vocals. the list is endless. As long as there are different types of interests in different children.

Adventure sports is for the older children, who have grown up into teenage, and want to show their independence and strength.

And reading lessons. Who can deny the weak in spelling and English a little bit of tryst with the story book, or a flirting with the pen and the notebook?

So there is a lot to do. Only one needs the inclination, to start off the process.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Texture in my Work

Title: Untitled,

Medium: Oil/acrylic on canvas, 36"x30"

Price: $1000

In this painting, I applied colour in big swathes, with my brush sweeping in side to side motion. When one layer was complete, I allowed it to dry, and then applied another layer. I don't recall how many layers I applied in total. but the were quite a few.

The complementary colour scheme also added to the brightness of the painting.

I did not draw from a model. On most occasions, I draw figures from imagination. That is the reason I have a dreamy quality to my figures, I feel. My figures are not real. But they are not unreal either. They exist in my mind.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

On being Unattached

Title: Mendicant, oil on canvas, 30"x20"
Original: $600
Giclee: 150
Print on paper: $70

Indian philosophy and religion have, over millenia, tirelessly pointed to one thing.

In religious discourses, public commentaries, cultural practices, that is the only thing that describes everything else. That of renunciation.

The yogis and the mahatmas have followed a lifestyle that is intricately connected to this philosophy. The general population too have not been too far away from this philosophy.

Take the example of Sri Krishna's teachings in the Bhagawad Gita. Krishna exhorted Arjuna to follow the call of duty, and renounce everything else. He asked Arjuna to ignore his feelings and emotions, and also any expectation of a fruit from his work, or labour. But just to do his duty, and participate in the Mahabharata war.

We have seen in art the theme of renunciation, not only among Indian artists, but also from other religions and cultures.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Art Fair and Stearns Wharf

Title: Untitled, oil on canvas, 36"x24"

Original: $900

giclee: $150
print on paper: $70

Yesterday I went with my husband to the screening of the Santa Barbara art walk, held every Sunday, at Stearns Wharf.

Since my arrival in Santa Barbara about a year ago, we've been at the Stearns Wharf innumerable times. Sometimes just to listen to the sea, sometimes to watch a program, sometimes to feel the sand beneath our feet (sandals/shoes?)

This time it was for my art. And I met quite a few artists. The judges at the screening were artists, some of them having shown art at the Santa Barbara Art and Craft Show for decades. One of them was a fourth generation artist.

My husband met his former manager, who has found peace in jewellery making. She did look in sync with herself. That is what art does to everyone. We find our voice, our calling.

And then there was our neighbour, who was harried by the falling real estate prices, as the value of her condo has fallen by $220,000. And paying the mortgage was an enormous task, in these times.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Process of Creation

Title: Fair Weather, oil on canvas, 50x40"

Giclee: $300
prints on paper: $150

Any process of creation seems to me to have a similar path from beginning to the end, when the outcome takes the final shape.

I have to still think it out if this is a generalization. What does one need to create? A thought. An idea. This is the germ, the seed. Whether it is in growing a tree, or creating a painting, or writing entire volumes of a novel, the seed is of the utmost importance. Rather, necessity.

First the thought, the idea. Followed by the real seed. Whatever the idea is, the seed would follow. The idea, the thought, is the most powerful, and the first step to producing results. Greats results, or otherwise. Whatever is the seed, other things would follow.

That is the basic premise in any field of study. Botany, agriculture, zoology, veterinary science, any field of study. This also pertains to intangible fields of study, or those fields which does not require the kind of scientific discipline that produces laboratory analysis and outcomes. Like the various artistic fields.

It is the germ that determines the steps that follow. After the selection of the germ, what other steps follow this initial step, I'd write about it subsequently. Now I need to go to bed and sleep.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Picking up Orchids

Title: Picking up orchids, oil on canvas, 48"x36

Original painting available for $1,800
print on paper for $150
giclee for $300

This painting was about dreams, like picking up dream flowers. Large format, oil on canvas, the experiment was about creating a dream like feeling, with the background merging in wavelike motions.

Doing it brought me great satisfaction. Of course it took a lot time, and many many layers, as the canvas kept absorbing whatever initial layers I brushed into it.

The outcome was lovely. Somewhat stylized. And the style conservatives find points to draw attention to. But I love the effect.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Participant or Onlooker?

Title: Dilemma, oil on canvas, 50"x40"
Original: $2000
Giclee: $300
Prints on paper: $150

What is art all about? Is it about being part of something, or is it about looking, from a distance? Untouched. Not touching. Using a barge pole to experience things. Life. Anything.

I think, art is about being both. While creating, one is a participant. With the medium, the paraphernelia that goes into the making of art. But otherwise, during the period before, or after the process of creation, one is more an onlooker.

There is a distance during this period. Because, without distance, art cannot be produced. There needs to be a perspective, and that perspective can be gained only when one has placed some amount of distance between oneself, and the thing that is going to be created.

And that thing, although it comes from inside, requires some amount of observation, or being an onlooker.