Thursday, October 31, 2013

Coffee works gaining attention!

With the DST[daylight saving time] coming to an end and the summer gone, the dark and gloomy days will return soon! Its time for me to return to my blog before I go into hibernation.
After two weeks of fun in Boston, I was back in Reading looking forward to up-coming events. The art works done with coffee, exhibited from 5th May at the Takeaway gallery in Reading, looked very attractive in the frames. This event was covered by the local press and two of my works were sold.


On 7th May, I participated in the Tagore festival organised by the Tagore centre,UK in London, at Gordon Square. At the festival, I sold a few live art in acrylic on canvas and a few limited edition prints of my earlier works. The open air performance with Tagore’s songs and dances recreated Santiniketan in the heart of London. I couldn’t resist it when I was pulled by one of the organisers to join in a dance.

This was followed by an invitation received from the Nehru centre, London to deliver a talk on-
‘ Paintings inspired by Tagore’. My talk involved my association with Tagore's Santiniketan, its art, craft and aesthetics and its influence on my art. I enjoyed going down the memory lane to the days of my childhood and youth in search of materials required for the talk. It was interesting to trace the development of the unique art style in Santiniketan during the time of Nandalal Bose.

My exhibition, "Timeless Tagore" was a landmark in my journey as an artist but, now I have moved away from that chapter. I have been on the move since then and circumstances motivated me to try out various techniques in different media, exploring the possibility of creating something new.
On 17th July my portrait of Pandit Ravi Sankar, done after he passed away in December 2012, was displayed at Nehru Centre, UK during a performance by the Sujata Banerjee dance company in memory of Pandit Ravi Sankar.
I had touched it up a bit. Here is the revised version.

This was my first attempt at combining two different media. The first step was to do the foundation and background with water colour and the second step was to develop it using charcoal.
I found this quite satisfying as it brought out the effects I wanted to produce. I was happy with the expression and mood displayed in this work.

While I spent considerable amount of time in the preparation for my talk, the dramatic change in weather made June, July and August the most enjoyable months during my year long stay in Reading.  Suddenly the curtain was raised and the magic began. Now I know why such great poets were born in this country. One has to experience this drama in order to get a feel of its charm.
Our daughter came to visit us in July and we visited Ireland with her. After she left, we visited York. In August, our son came to visit us and we spent a day at Henley on Thames, another place I love to visit. Almost all weekends were spent visiting beautiful places in Britain.This was when we came to know that our stay in UK has been extended. I was only too happy to be here as long as the summer lasted. I was reluctant to leave UK during this wonderful time of the year, but 31st August arrived too soon and we had to leave for our two week’s tour of Turkey. The only piece of art done by me during this whole stretch was another coffee painting promised by me for my brother.

This goes to show, how I was enjoying the UK summer. I didn’t even feel like spending time on en plein air water colour. We returned from Turkey on 13th September but I was completely exhausted. It was a conducted tour and I found it very hectic. Walking for miles in the ruins for more than a week in the scorching sun at 42C became more of a torture. It took me two weeks to recover. Strangely, this painting was done before I visited the ruins!

Our annual festival, Durga Puja was round the corner and I felt like doing something related to this age old tradition that has now become a part of the culture of Bengal. I have always enjoyed visiting the old Jamindar[landlord] houses during this festival and in this work, I have tried to capture that memory.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Surviving the dark months in UK

Working in artificial light was bit painful for my eyes and soul. I was unable to see the colours I wanted to see. Watercolour is something that requires patience, soft and caring brush work, playing with water and a mood for all that. After doing a few works in water colour, I realised that I wasn't enjoying it, yet I couldn't stop working. This is when I received an invitation from The Coffee Art Project, Allegra Foundation to submit a work for charity.
....."The Coffee Art Project is a high profile art competition and combines our passion for coffee and art. Emerging artists specialising in all media types have submitted unique pieces of artwork that connect to coffee or coffee shop experiences.The ultimate objective of this programme is to raise valuable funds for Project Waterfall, which supports clean water and sanitation initiatives, this year in Tanzania."
I did the two of the following paintings in coffee on water colour paper. In my earlier post, I have talked about using espresso coffee, freshly prepared at home. This time I tried out with instant coffee. I came to know from the website of Steven Mikel that dark shades could be obtained by saturating the solution of coffee in water through evaporation. In his site he has also mentioned about the durability of coffee as a medium. An experiment carried out by him has shown that water colour fades faster than coffee stain when exposed to direct sunlight. Below, is the work submitted to The Coffee Art Project along with the artist statement.
MEDIUM:  COFFEE[aq] ON WATER COLOUR PAPER [ Fabriano 300 gsm ]
SIZE : 40 cm x 50 cm, Frame included
Artist statement-
Why I chose coffee as the medium used for this artwork?
I have been painting with coffee for quite sometime. This purely organic medium is easily available all over the world and allows me to pursue my artistic activity anywhere and everywhere. A sheet of watercolour paper, some water and paintbrush is all that I need to create my artwork. I have worked with charcoal, watercolour and acrylic extensively but I must admit that I am getting increasingly addicted to this versatile and unique medium with its heavenly aroma and pigment that amazingly lends itself to create fascinating shades of brown and dramatic textures.
Why I chose this subject?
The movie Lincoln was fresh in my mind when I received the invitation from Project Coffee Art to participate in this art exhibition with a humanitarian objective. I began with a portrait of the Oscar winner, British born Daniel Day Lewis in the role of Abraham Lincoln and slowly got motivated tocreate something relevant to present day slavery. The   outcome is this artwork “Can you hear the cry?”This work was displayed at a pop-up exhibition at the Dray Walk Gallery, London,from 16th to 25th April,2013. It is now a property of The Coffee Art Project.
In March, I was invited by photographer Ross Hale to exhibit my coffee works at the Takeaway Gallery, Harris Arcade, Reading. I did the following works in coffee and along with some of my earlier works, these were exhibited in May,2013 for a month.

12th April- left for Boston to visit our children and grandchild.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

"Welcome- year 2013"

May 2013, this blog will complete five years of its existence. While I was going through all the previous 32 posts, I enjoyed following the journey of a 'self-taught' artist. What does the phrase 'self-taught' really imply? Is it possible to distinguish between the teacher and the learner in a situation where the learner is the teacher and vice versa? Through a series of trial and error one acquires the ability to transform a blank canvas into a work of art. I suppose all artists, whether they have received formal education or not, go through this process. The outcome becomes a work of art only if the artist is satisfied with his or her creation. Every artist, big or small enjoys this ability to create something the way he or she wishes to see it and this success helps him or her to move on.
I returned to UK from India on 5th January and have been indoors most of the time. After spending almost 18 years in Singapore, it wasn't easy to cope with being all by myself from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm in this gloomy, wet, cold UK weather in the absence of natural light. It would have surely caused depression if I did not have my best companion and my passion to keep me active throughout the day. In fact, this weather has compelled me to read, think and explore and I am really delighted to spend so many hours in educating myself. Would like to make the best of it before the weather changes. I must give a little account of how I spend my days.
I borrowed a few art books from the library and would like to discuss a few points I found worth noting down. I am a person who doesn't like to follow so many do's and don'ts when it comes to art. It spoils my spontaneity and I lose interest in my work. I have been lucky to find 3 books written by 3 water colour artist from UK and each one has broken away from traditional water colour instructions. These are:
Atmospheric water colours by Jean Haines, Breaking the rules of water colour by Shirley Trevena and
Paint with freedom,expression and vitality by Gerald Green. They have distinctly different and unique styles. One could visit their websites to view it. ; ;

It is always interesting to read each artist's perspective, interpretation and technique. One thing they all have in common, is the ability to drive out fear while dealing with water colour. It is a difficult medium to work with but real fun if one can conquer it.

I have also been watching some interesting TV programmes on art. The society of all artists, SAA along with the Painting and drawing channel conduct TV shows where artists demonstrate there techniques and conduct lessons for viewers. UK is a gold mine for someone wanting to pursue water colour. It has quite a few water colour societies and the standard of the work of water-colour artists is high although most artists adhere to traditional water colour methods.

I have also been reading the blogs of other artists.

I have done a few works after returning from India. In this past six months, I have allowed myself to play and explore and have produced plenty of water colours and a few acrylic works. I need to be mentally more settled and stable in order to focus on any particular theme or style. Perhaps, I need to take out the juice from all the knowledge I have gathered from various resources in these few months and cook something really appetising.

BTW, I usually cook in the evening because that activity does not require daylight and I try to take out one hour daily for yoga practise. On the whole, I have a busy schedule and an interesting one too.

The following works were done between 5th Jan and mid February. I was practising my water-colour skills.
Kerala fisherman-water colour on paper 
Play -water colour on paper

Chikoo- water colour on paper

The following works were done to brighten up our living room and remembering the bright and colourful Singapore days. The title 'flow' indicates flow of life and time's play on our mind. My work was driven by the ability of our mind to travel between space and time without any hindrance and allow us to recollect memories we treasure. It helps in a situation where the present is not particularly pleasing.
Flow- acrylic on canvas each measuring 16" x 30"
Pandit Ravi Shankar passed away on 11th Dec. 2012. I was watching his BBC interview on the TV. In this work, I have tried to capture his expression at a moment when he was describing the combined feelings of pain and pleasure experienced by him when he composed his music during his performance. 
Pt.Ravi Shankar- charcoal and water colour
on paper measuring 18" x 22"