Thursday, April 16, 2009

One of the very important aspects of learning fine arts is studying the work of masters. Art has been a channel to human emotions since the very ancient times. From the time when stone age men painted their caves, painting and sketching has developed into a very scientific and at the same time very graceful art. All because of the creativity and dedication of a few great men. Artists like Da Vinci, Botticelli, Blake, Van Gogh and others honed the art to bring it closer to perfection. Study of the human figure as an object for art, development of various styles of painting, depiction of abstract ideas as well as the material universe around us, making art a bearer of knowledge and sometimes the whims and fantasies of the artists using clever symbolism are some of the various aspects developed during all this time. One of my favourite artists during the renaissance age, the age when a huge paradigm shift in the art world began, is the Dutch painter and etcher, Rembrandt.
One of the main reasons why I love Rembrandt's art is his mastery over light. You see, light is the reason we can see and appreciate things around us. Thus, painting is in a way nothing but a deep study of light and its effect over objects and a quest to master it. Whatever be the painting-
watercolour or oil or charcoal, however vibrant colours you may use, however correct your propertion is, if you mess up your light effect, you mess up your painting big time. Not only had he perfected this aspect of painting, he loved to play tricks with it in his paintings. Take one of his most famous works for example- The night watch.

The first thing that comes to your mind when you see the painting is confusion- total confusion. It is a scene which depicts some musketeers embarking upon a journey, led by their captian and a lieutenent. There are three main figures in the painting- the captain, the lieutenent and a small girl. Rembrandt has cleverly used light to highlight the importance of these three characters. It looks like the three of them are stepping into the sunlight while the remaining party is still in the shadows. Even so, take a look at the little girl again. There seems to be an ethereal, unnatural glow around her, which is superbly contrasted by the black uniform of the captain. The reflection on the spearhead in the hand of the lieutenent, the sheer sense of movement among the people in the picture are nothing but awesome. Another important thing is the size of the painting. It is about 11ft by 14ft, which as you can imagine, is colossal. The night watch is hailed as the best work of Rembrandt.
He was also a key figure in the baroque style of painting. The baroque signifies grandeur and might, and usually, the paintings are very ornate and filled with detail. Heres an example-

This is a painting called 'A philosopher in meditation'. Again, look at the light effects- the main source of light in the picture is the window, and the philosopher sits right in front of it, making his figure hightlight because of the direction of light. The winding staircase looks grand and beautiful as it emerges from the shadows. And a secondary source of light is generated because of the second figure of a woman lurking in the right hand corner stroking a hearth. Some consider this painting to have gained inspiration from the yin yang symbol: male-female and light-dark contrasts in the right and left side of the picture may not be a coincidence. Anyway, whatever was his symbolic intention behind the setting, 'A philosopher in meditation' sure is a beautiful piece of art.
Now for one last sketch of Rembrandt-

This is a sketch of a lion by Rembrandt. This is one of my favourite Rembrandt works. I'll tell you why- look at the amount of grandeur and majesty the guy can bring in his huge masterpieces. He manages to bring the same majesty into this simple sketch! This is the way a lion should be drawn. The beautiful simplicty of lines is enchanting. And that is the mark of a true artist- he can create magic with the simplest of linework.
Rembrandt was blind in one eye....

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Thats a self portrait. Guess which song I'm playing!
This is a charcoal sketch. Now charcoal is a quite tricky medium to handle. It spreads, smears and stains like hell. You have to be really careful while using it. Especially lefties like me have to take care and sketch from the right side of the paper to the left side so that the charcoal doesn't smear. But it is also a really beautiful medium. If used properly, it can really give a good depth to the drawing. Again, a extra care should be taken about the shade-light effects because you can blalantly see them in the sketch. A little mistake can make the sketch seem unreal. While practicing charcoal sketching, keep something in front of you- anything- a bottle, your cell phone or maybe your complete worktable and try to sketch accurately it as fast as possible. Its a very simple exercise to increase proficiency over charcoal and also sketch faster. Try it!

Kala @ Waves - A lookback

Waves 2009 was a the biggest cultural fest BITS Pilani Goa had seen till now. 3 days filled with loads of events, and Kala helped organize the art events.

I guess this post was due for long. Anyway while going through a few of the pics I clicked, I decided to post some of them here.

Hope you had a great time at Waves, just like we all did!

The Kala palette - 5 Events organized by Kala

The Kala Stall :)

Panaroma Paintings

Nikhil in Merge (Sketching competition), with the theme "Reflection"

Unconventional Painting - The crowd (1)

Unconventional Painting - The crowd (2)

Blind Art (Yup art with your eyes closed!) :P

A part of Kala:
[Sitting] Suchi, Shipra, Sakshi, Rasagy (me!), Sutirth
[Standing] Nikhil, Divesh

Have any memories to share? Leave a comment!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

fresh from the easle

This is my latest venture. Although not permanently, but I'm one of the few people who currently have two guitars in their room. And in a futile mental debate about which one of them to play, I kept them in a corner and sketched them instead. This is done in graphite, though I was thinking about doing it in oil pastel or ink. Maybe I'll incorporate all these media into one mixed medium sketch the next time. It is always a wonderful experience to do the same sketch in different media. Gives you completely different but equally interesting perspectives of things. For example, a watercolour painting teaches you about the usage of various shades and tints of colours, while a charcoal sketch of the same subject gives you more information about the depth and gradient of the drawing. Something like this-

These two sketches are my entries at an online monthly challenge called the Virtual Sketch Date, where they give you a reference image and weeks time to interpret and sketch them. For more info go to Both are based on the same photograph, but the first is done with watercolour while the other with charcoal. Observe that more emphasis is given on the vibrant colours than the shade light effect in the first drawing. While, in the second, which is monochromatic, you can do a better study of lighting and depth. This is one of the reasons why I didn't paint the bird feeder in the first painting. It is duller and takes off the focus from the birds. But, in the charcoal sketch, the same feeder looks brilliant because you don't have to worry about its colours and the charcoal brings out its depth really well.
So, experiment with various media, and tell me how the sketches are!