How did the journey in the painting start ?
It was already 14 years of theatre work and i was now looking forward to direct a play on the life of a painter.
I remember that moment even now, when i began visiting the galleries in Bangalore on a regular basis to understand paintings and the different forms that exist. i had never painted or sketched ever in my life before that.So when i walked into a gallery cum art school, i saw a poster that said 6 months painting program, and since i do theatre full time running organizational theatre, i had the privilege of time on my hand. and i jumped into that course immediately.
Almost at the end of the course i realised, i had not learnt a single thing. Later i realise Art can never be taught, its an initiation you get, and it is really up to you to purse that short term affair into a life long commitment i came back from the Art school frustrated but driven to learn something new.
My formal painting training experience
I had go get a face right. so i began to work all day, sometimes all week and sometimes all months, doing nothing but just getting a face right.
As time grew by, i began to slowly paint. so for almost 3 years i did nothing but charcoal sketches and i began doing around 15 large size charcoal works, all in the size of 4 feet by 3 feet.
I realised one can get good at sketches but painting is a totally different ball game.
My discovery of impressionism
I was pretty sure I wanted to specialise in impressionism. maybe the gallery visits and reading up on all the styles helped me understand, the style i really wanted and was most fascinated by, impressionism. and i realised it was the most difficult style to learn and pursue
There aren't many impressionistic teachers in Bangalore, and so i struggled with that a lot, i hunted every nook and corner
I remember when i was invited to Moscow to do a series of theatre workshops for theatre groups and the Moscow university. i told my host i want to learn painting from an impressionist painter. And so Andrew who was the father of Evgeny my host networked and found Natalia. i spent quite sometime with her learning to paint from the scratch.
I remembert one moment when we were doing Plein-Air, and she said paint. and i painted what i saw from nature. She destroyed it and said, paint again. i was shocked but passionate to get it right, so i painted again. that afternoon she destroyed 7 of my painting and i had to do it every single time. that small action of hers taught me a million things about painting.
4 Top learnings from the most experienced
1. Never give up what you started
2. Never be happy with what you have done once, redo it till you get it right.
3. Always look for improvement,
4. Painting is not about execution but its about looking.
When i look back i realise these are beautiful life lessons as well.
Before COVID i would paint once in a while whenever i feel like and whenever i have some interest but once COVID hit, i began to paint every single day, in the painting world they are called Warrior Painters, who paint every single day.
This simple act of painting everyday helped me keep my sanity, my inspiration.
Something to do on a consistent basis, especially when theatre work almost stopped for me. this my source of inspiration and an opportunity to get drunk in creativity.
The artists who inspire me are obviously the impressionists, Monet, Cezzane, Renoir, Van Gogh, Pissaro, Manet, Monet, Beth. They all inspire me. They worked at a time when they had least of the money in their lives, they struggled for 30 years. It was only after 30 years, public began to understand and appreciate Impressionism and then took the world by storm. the most important movement in Art History happened at a time when the artists were struggling and when the world was going through a difficult situation in history including wars. Many of the impressionist died in poverty. Among the whole lot only monet experienced financial success and lived longer to see that.
This story although very painful and sad is very inspiring as well. Artists believing in themselves and their art when the world reject their work for 3 decades, talks a lot about persistence, and self belief among many other qualities.
Painting during the pandemic
Before COVID for 7 years i made 300 paintings and sold one. but during COVID i made 500 paintings in 1 year and sold 28 to buyers from 7 different countries.
In COVID i also founded a painters community called the International Painters Community. we are currently 50 painters from 15 countries. i realised that painters go through a lot but in their own silos, so why not create a community. Its been a phenomenal ride, we have hosted these artist for over 4 international exhibitions as a team. Almost all the painters i have never met in my life. i have made some amazing friends for life among these painters, people whom i have never met in my life but have come together because of our art work. I also my very good friends Lesley Passey and NIki Thomas who are from UK, we have together formed The Inspired Artists group where we intend to reach out to more places, spaces and artists through our work.
Theatre production on the life of painters
So on the theatre front, the parallel story while i was pursuing painting
In 2017 i zeroed in on the life of Amrita Sher-Gil and i directed this mega Abstract Musical which has around 35 actors, 15 dance, 10 SFX crew, 15 Backstage crew, a team of 75. we completed around 5 shows from 2017 when it was premired till 2019.
In 2019 i directed the next mega abstract musical on the life of MF Husain, we premiered it on Dec 7, a few months later COVID hit.
Perhaps the act of pursuing painting while directing the trilogy plays, completely transformed my life.
I leave you with a quote from Vincent Van Gogh which always inspires me in theatre, painting and in life ... " If there is a voice inside you that says you cannot paint then you must paint so that , that voice is silenced forever".