He knows how to get in. It's the getting out that's bit of a problem. You have to scoop him out with a bucket. And do you even get a croak of thanks? Nooooooooo!
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Here are some artists I particularly admire -
I discovered Kathe Kollwitz in art college and it was just the most fantastic thrill. I spent hours in the library looking at the volume of her works.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Drawing from encyclopedia photo
Douglas Corrigan was an American flyer with a penchant for ignoring authority and performing daredevil stunts in his plane.
In 1938, at the age of 31, when he was supposed to be flying from Brooklyn, New York to Long Beach in California, he kind of veered off-course from the State of Oranges and Sunshine and ended up flying all the way across the Atlantic to the Land of Potatoes and Rain - that is, Dublin, Ireland - instead. He said it was all on account of a navigational error.
"He claimed to have noticed his "error" after flying for about 26 hours. This is not entirely consistent with his claim that after 10 hours, he felt his feet go cold; the cockpit floor was awash with gasoline leaking from the unrepaired tank. He used a screwdriver to punch a hole through the cockpit floor so that the fuel would drain away on the opposite side to the hot exhaust pipe, reducing the risk of a midair explosion. Had he been truly unaware that he was over ocean, it seems likely that he would have descended at this point; instead, he claimed to have increased the engine speed by almost 20% in the hope of decreasing his flight time."
He made it to Ireland safely, received a 600-words reprimand from the aviation authorities by telegram, had his pilot's license revoked for a fortnight and then went home, along with his plane, onboard a ship.
He received a hero's welcome back home, wrote an autobiography, got a starring role in an autobigraphical film by RKO Radio Pictures, made plenty of money, got married, had kids, helped the war effort, tried politics, worked in commercial aviation until his retirement, bought a large orange grove, prospered, suffered some personal setbacks and lived more or less out of the public eye.
"In 1988, he joined in the golden anniversary celebration of his famous flight, allowing enthusiasts to retrieve the famous Robin from his garage. It was reassembled and the engine was run successfully. Corrigan found this so exciting that the organizers placed guards at the plane's wings while Corrigan was at the show and considered tethering the tail to a police car."
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Sketching daily is really important - it's a warm-up exercise, like starting my daily violin practise with the scales.
I take five blank sheets and fill those up. I draw things and people around me, or images from the day's newspaper or from a sports magazine. The daily drawings, aside from for loosening up , are for developing observation and understanding postures and perspectives. The starting premise isn't to create 'beautiful drawings', though I'm, naturally, very thrilled when they turn out well.
On some days the drawing is awful. On some days it just sings. On all days, though, I draw.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Saturday, January 19, 2008
This is one of the grand things about cultivating a garden.
I love sprawling gardens that are planned, but not too planned. I like them to have a bit of a ramble-scramble look, just a touch of the overgrown, an easy-going personality that is not defined by precisely marching hedges, a place to be quiet in and listen to the birdsong.
Like my garden. :-)
Friday, January 18, 2008
I've just been reading George Orwell's Rules for Writers.
The article makes special mention of Orwell's sixth rule -
Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
Followed by French novelist Gustave Flaubert's take - "Language is a cracked kettle on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, while all the time we long to move the stars to pity."
This reminded me of the time I attended a literary event organized to mark the publication of a new Marathi novel by a Marathi writer I knew. It was a very high-falutin affair with a good sprinkling of 'Marathi Intellectuals'.
'Marathi Intellectuals' can often be rather tedious beings - blessed with traditional set ideas about the way things should be and nationalistic to the hilt.
The main speaker was a rather well-known writer, who is based in London and who had been roped in as he happened to be in town at the moment. His speech - a very jingoistic one - was about saving the 'sanctity and purity of the Marathi language' from the 'ever-spreading encroachment of the West'.
If you hadn't already been encroached by the West, you would hear this speech and go away thinking nothing but founts of evil existed in the West.
I'm really tired of this 'us' and 'them' mentality. The only way these people can prove 'our' culture is superior is by denigrating another of which they obviously know precious little - if you can take a couple of stories of violence, intolerance, and steamy sex, and conclude this is the essense of 'the West', you should be prepared for the competition over there that reads about poverty and illiteracy and disease and develops much the same ideas about 'the East'.
We don't have the monopoly on wisdom and culture - and these people prove it every time they insist we do.
So anyway -
'Our tradition and our culture', he proclaimed, must be 'preserved at all costs'.
At the cost of living in a stifled, stunted atmosphere?
Tradition, Culture and Language are not static things 'to be preserved'.
* If they were, our society would never evolve and we would never make any kind of progress.
* If they were, there would never be any scope for any creativity.
* If they were, we would still be speaking the 'pure Marathi' from the era of Dnyaneshwar. How many people can even read the Dnyaneshwari today and understand exactly what the man is saying without referring to the commentary in modern Marathi?
I find it very funny that people can lambast 'the West' and insist on 'preserving traditional ways' and find nothing odd about adapting 'Western ways' to suit their own ends.
* Using a car - an invention from 'the West' - to arrive at the venue
* Using a mike - an invention from 'the West' - to air their views.
* Being dressed in a business suit - a fashion from 'the West'.
* Living in 'the West' themselves.
Some Desi patriot.
Monday, January 14, 2008
The first time I went plein air painting was in school when I was taking art classes for the Intermediate Exam. Our art class went to a nearby mountain to paint for the entire day, and I remember the trip not so much for the fantastic art I created - I didn't create any fantastic art actually - but for the heavy bag of art materials and food that I lumbered under.
Back then, a heavy bag was always the main staple of all my outdoor expeditions - my Ma had the notion that I would starve without sufficient food and so, on every day trip, she supplied enough for a month. And that is why, on this particular occasion, the art teacher Mr. M and I overexerted ourselves taking turns in hauling along the sheer weight. Finally another teacher Mr. Y, who was tall and strong, took over and we could devote the remainder of our energies to painting.
Plein air painting became de rigueur in art school, but, even without my Ma's food bag weighing me down now, it took me quite a while to get the hang of it. I struggled and struggled and all the time I was struggling in an entirely wrong direction. There's nothing more disheartening than setting out full of hope and coming back with a muddily messed-up sketchbook/paper/canvas. The trouble was I didn't really know how to see things - if I viewed a tree and a house, for example, I saw A tree and A house, I didn't see them in relation with one another. Neither did I have the slightest notion about building up a painting. It was all dash, splash and, Oh Damn, I've made a hash!!
A good friend told me to see in terms of colors - it's not a tree, he said, it's a patch of green in varying shades. About the same time I also came across a 'how to paint landscapes' book and it had a technique that has worked well for me. Paint the white base with yellow or brown or olive green or red or orange (actually any color, depending on light and required effect) and then build up the painting on that, so it comes out looking like a whole rather then different parts stuck together. Concentration is important and so is confidence. You start waving your brush or your palette knife timidly, and it's over already, you end up with a painting that looks like it is apologizing for taking up the paint. So, anyway, as the wise woman said, be bold (not brash) and practice and practice and practice and practice and then some more - and if you aren't careful, you'll end up in Carnegie Hall instead of in the Guggenheim....
I won't say I have completely got the hang of it even now; every trip is a new adventure and a new experiment. But there's less self-consciousness - I cured the self-consciousness to an extent by drawing every weekend at the Prince of Wales Museum in Bombay; it's always full of tourists and visitors and many of them stop to see what you're doing and then... you get used to it - and less uncertainty, if you know what I mean.
It's not very often nowadays that I'm faced with situations like the one where the two fishermen left their boat and strolled over to see what I was doing and, comparing it with the view in front, told each other knowledgeably -
"It's what you call modern art."
"Yes, it's not supposed to look like what you see."
Friday, January 11, 2008
I took this photo in Kesharganj, a small village near Lucknow. We were driving to a construction site and saw this house on the way. It was in a lovely, peaceful spot, surrounded by sugar-cane fields and big, gnarled trees. The lady was very happy to have her artwork photographed and invited me in to see her home as well.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
According to Walt Disney.
Once Upon a Time, that is.
See larger image on Flickr.
This reminded me of the time I started art college. There was always a long waiting line for the Applied Arts section - Applied Arts, most people assumed, was the only sure meal ticket for a career in art. You could count on a job in an advertising agency later on. With Fine Art, on the other hand, there seemed to be so much you could do, nobody knew exactly what they could do, and that led to a lot of uncertainty. 'What next' was a very big issue.
I remember a chap telling his girlfriend, "Go for Applied Arts. I don't fancy both of us starving together in the future."
He was a disgruntled, talentless member of the Fine Art section, of course. And with no ideas or imagination about forging his own career, he was grasping at the future economic straws offered by his future wife's future prospects. Still, whatever his motivation, it puts him, in the enlightenment stakes, a bit above our Walt.
And way above our College Principal, who was in the habit of 'encouraging' girls to take up Fine Art - and leave Applied Arts well alone - as "'you are only going to get married and have children after all".
I nearly went for Applied Arts, just to show the chauvinist, but better sense prevailed.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
The elephant showed up one morning with three or four orange-clad sadhus in tow. They wanted money for their piety. I said I wasn't that pious, but I did offer to give the elephant a pomegranate. Which pleased all of us. Here he is saying thank-you.
He seemed like a really nice elephant and he took the fruit very gently from my hand.
It's illegal to take your elephant out begging this way, especially in the city, but every now and again one shows up.
The owners here seemed quite fond of him, no prodding and screaming, which was a relief.