Friday, April 18, 2008

Arts - what's so special about it

4.5' x 2.5
Poster colors on thermosheet
(Before 2000)

The Inner Artist

I think everyone is an artist in their own way. Some are traditional - create-the -flawless-pieces with almost no effort type, some are weekend artists whereas, some are didn't-know-I-could-do-it kind of artists. But they all are creating something or the other. That's why a structural miracle, golden gate, gets as many cheers from me as a asymmetric mosaic lying in a garage sale. As long as the work reflects the sincerity of the work ; it gets a wow.

The Journey

My journey began as a small child when I'd draw tiny flowers and faces and would get oohs and aahs from the family & friends. I'm sure they were very kind. With time, my love for the drawing grew stronger. I would mostly draw a copy of the pictures drawn by other artists. On my own, I mostly drew human faces. When I made the sketches of friends, they were occasionally pleased. Mostly because, it used to be a hit or a miss! Some pictures I made had a starking resemblance whereas others remotely matched to the person's. But by and large, the efforts were well-appreciated. Can you imagine, in my first semester, the assignment seniors gave me was to draw their portraits :-D Hard to believe, right? Most of my classmates got away by singing a song whereas I had to draw! Duh!

My notebooks were full of smiling fairies to complicated colorful labyrinths. Thankfully, my family was always very encouraging and made me feel really gifted. And then one day, I received a real compliment that I cherish to this day. It was from an elderly man who was visiting us from Rajasthan. He was no ordinary person.

He was the retired royal painter of Rajasthan and at that time, a teacher who made his residence in Jaipur. He was also a close friend of my grandfather and he invited him to be with us during months of Summer. He'd draw landscapes, still-life, and portraits in no time and to amazing perfection. In his spare time he'd make assortment of colors from natural objects such as stone, vegetables, flowers etc. and made his own brushes using natural fibers. One day he saw me drawing and observed my sketches very closely and then he asked me to draw a few more. I gladly drew some more. He seemed to like the work and told me to always draw on blank sheets and not on the lined sheets of the notebook. OK, I thought, I will.

The same evening, during the dinner time when our entire family was present, he asked my father what he thought of my artistic abilities and a career in it. My father acknowledged my talent but also pointed out that he didn't think the future is all so-bright for professional artist. He mentioned how good I was in Maths and Science and he'd like me to pursue a career in Engineering or Medicine or something like that. At that point he said, "I had the privilege of training thousands of students and sharpening their skills but the natural talent your daughter possesses it's something I'd never seen before, she is simply brilliant." That was the best thing I ever heard of my scribblings but it was not convincing enough for my parents to choose Arts as the career for me and I had to mention that I studied to become an Electrical Engineer and now work in Hardware Design.

But that compliment always encouraged me to try new things in arts and play around with color, crafts, and creativity. My inner artist finds different ways to express itself. My love of sketching slowly gave way to painting. The initial pieces were in colored pencils and pens. And then I worked with fabric colors. Ahh! the world of wearable arts. I painted a good numbers of T-shirts and other fabrics until I got tired of lack of fluidity in this medium. At That point, my mom introduced me to oil media and I soon discovered that this is the one I would be working mostly with. I now mostly paint in oil on canvas and occasionally use water colors or pastels.

A Recent Detour to Knitting

Fast forward to the day. With a super-cute, super-active toddler around it's nearly impossible to carry on paint-work; I figured the best thing I could do was to revisit an old hobby - knitting. Mainly due to a couple of reasons - It's quiet work, so you can do it when she is asleep and it doesn't require a lot of knick-knack - just a pair of needles and a skein of yarn so I can easily wrap it all up when she gets up. So I thought it's high time I make a temporary transition from painting to this art form I always loved but never had enough time for. So, that's the story behind knitting :-)

Transition from Painting to Knitting - Episode II

I learnt to knit first when I was 5. It was a class-room project and everyone had to bring a pair of knitting needles and a skein of yarn. When I told my mom about it, she almost fainted. She called the school to confirm that a 1st grader is being asked to bring knitting needles to school. Once confirmed that the teacher has indeed asked for this, she reluctantly spared a blunt pair of plastic needles and a cotton yarn ball in peachy-pink color. It was not the best yarn of the world, but to me, it was the most precious thing.

My mom, incidentally, a very artsy woman, never thought of sharing knitting with me so early on. She had created hundreds of pieces in various media - painting, knitting, cooking, gardening - you name it. But now, she had to give me the very first lesson which she'd have held back for atleast another 4-5 years. I had always watched her knit but this time I would handle the needles myself - the very thought was exciting. I was so very thrilled! She casted a few stitches for me and taught me how to hold the needles the right way and how to carry the yarn around the loop of a stitch. The next step was to knit the stitch, which I did almost effortlessly. Thanks to the careful observation!

The next day, in the class, I showed the supplies to the teacher and she asked me to do a few stitches in front of her, which I happily did. She seemed quite impressed and asked me to go on till I get the piece a couple of inches long. I do not remember very clearly what happened next but I sure do remember that before the end of the day I could knit and purl without dropping stitches.

My mom noticed that I loved to knit but I also loved to play! So nothing completed ever came out of my knitting efforts until I was almost 10 or 11 when I made a chunky muffler again as part of class project. It must be lying somewhere around.

The First Real Knitting Project

I once knitted a 4 x 6 piece and wanted to knit some more but didn't have more yarn to go on so I showed it to mom who knitted a similar piece for me and joined the two and turned out to be a cute vest. I was convinced that I made that sweater :-) And, well, I 'd loved the idea of making something. But the truth is, I never really made anything knitted all by myself until very recently. Now that I am a mom myself, I just rediscovered the hidden love for this art.

Some people call it a hobby, which it may be, I won't debate! For me, it's a great outlet to express. As a bonus, sometimes, the art piece enhances your wardrobe. I feel, knitting is a combination of flow, symmetry, and rhythm.

Knitwear Designing

Knitting gives time to ponder and brings a relaxing sense of accomplishment. In the recent projects of the knitwear I mostly focused on the patterns, setting and overall appeal. In the initial stages of any project the things to keep in mind are various aspects of color, flexibility, maintenance, texture, quality, and fitting(for sweaters); it requires careful planning for the desired results. It's not really rocket science but still requires basic accuracy. My efforts in knitting are always blended into creating something beautiful and functional. I hope to create many many more knitwears this year.

The Scope

I love to share my love of knitting, painting and similar arts. If you have any questions or comments, please let me know. I am learning too and would not mind sharing something I know.


Zaz said...

i have the stitionary books too and use them. my story is similar to yours as a kid. i did tons of things and came up with techniques from scratch. i am a buddhist now and i don't paint anymore although i have been telling myself lately that i should maybe get back to it.

Bhavna said...

Oh, is that right? I studied Buddhism very closely for a couple of years few years back. I don't practice it as is but I do follow the main ideology of it.

For painting, what can I say. Let's just say, it found me rather than me finding it.