Trying To Paint

We went to the Muse Paintbar last week. I was not too familiar with its concept before we went, but I had seen the storefront while walking through the nearby shopping area. All I knew was that it was a place where one could paint. I got a little more educated about the place the day of the visit. There would be an instructor providing directions during an extended group painting session. There were no qualification requirements to attend a session. Anybody, even those with little or no experience, could paint. The instructor would be using a pre-selected painting as a template for providing the instructions. He or she would be painting along with us. While you were painting, you could also relax with some food and drink from the bar. Music was played in the background.

As I have mentioned in the past, I have not done any real painting since my days in school. This turned out to be the perfect situation and setting to try something out once again without a feeling of pressure.

It turns out that there is an internal tension in my psyche between the need of an engineering mind to to follow instructions, or a process, when doing something, and the need to relax and let go, and let the creative juices flow more freely without worrying too much about the end results, when it comes to artistry.

When taking digital pictures, you have the opportunity to address any issue you might have had with your previous attempts by taking another picture, by making whatever correction you feel is necessary. This process of making corrections or changes is not as easy when you are applying paint to canvas.

The Muse Paintbar experience was a totally laid back experience. It was fun. The instructor was good when it came to addressing the aspect of the the painting challenge that I have mentioned before. Even while providing instruction, his overall direction was generally about being casual and non-critical with our efforts on the canvas, and not worrying about how it would all look in the end. One did not have to paint “within the lines” as it were. My engineering mind managed to absorb this vibe, perhaps because of the relaxed environment we were in. I went against my ingrained instinct and let myself be more free-flowing in my efforts.

This is what I ended up with.

This was the setup in which we were enjoying our experience at the Muse Paintbar.We had a table to ourselves as a group. Instructions were being provided by a young man standing on the platform to the right side of the picture. He was playing some nice music through from his smartphone and the audio system in the room, mixing in some familiar oldies with newer tunes.

This is what we came home with collectively.

The experience made me think about painting once again.

Water Colors

The image of a paintbox flashed through my mind one morning last week. I am not sure what triggered a memory of something from my childhood. I suddenly had a vivid remembrance/recollection of my leaning over a piece of paper with a wet paintbrush in hand, bringing my brush to a particular color in the tray that lay in front of me, moving the brush back and forth on the cake of color to allow the material to dissolve and be absorbed on to the brush, and then applying the brush to paper. For some reason the name Camel is associated in my mind with the brand of the paintbox that I would have used. I do not know if this was only in my imagination working overtime, but I do note that there still is a brand of watercolor called Camlin from a company based in India.

I used to really like painting as a kid. I think I even graduated to using tubes of paint at some point, but never beyond painting with water colors. I even got to the point of using brushes in different sizes to help fill in different spaces of the picture being painted more efficiently, and to try to achieve some degree of finesse.

I remember that we had to take drawing classes while in middle school. There was a separate classroom dedicated just to drawing. The person in charge of drawing (called the drawing master) was really good at painting. He also used to play volleyball well. But he was also a terror to the kids. He had a habit of breaking the rulers that he hit the kids on the hands with. I somehow managed to escape his wrath, and went on to appreciate what I got to indulge in while in his class. It is impossible to judge whether I had talent or not, but I did enjoy the process.

It was in 1969, the year when man landed on the moon for the first time, that the school decided to have a painting competition in commemoration of the event. I remember painting an astronaut on the surface of the moon. I remember that all the colors I used were dark. It makes sense, does it not? The other occasion I remember was when I took part in a competition organized by the college students in one of the hostels on campus. I do not know what the theme of the competition was, but I decided that I was going to paint an image of the Virgin Mary in what I pictured stained glass to look like. You see, I imagined this stained glass to consist simply of pieces of glass of different colors, stuck together to form a pattern. It was a brilliant move on my part. All I had to do was create random blocks in different shapes to fill in the space, and simply paint each block with a single color. Finesse did not matter in this regard. What mattered was how close the final result could be taken to represent the person I was trying to paint. It could be considered some form of abstract art. Best of all, I could fake out the details when drawing the face. Faces were my biggest challenge when it came to painting, especially the eyes and nose. (I had even avoided having to draw a face for the picture of the astronaut on the earlier occasion!) In any case, they decided to give me a prize in the category and age group that I was participating in. I do not remember any more details.

It is now years later, far removed from my days of middle school. I have not used a paintbrush since then other than for perhaps helping to paint the walls of a house. More recently, I have considered going to the local arts store to buy a the basic stuff needed to try out watercolor painting once again. But something is also stopping me. Basically, I think that I have become a wimp. I am cautious of even the process of getting started. I am concerned about consequences even if there probably aren’t any. I do not even want to buy something that I may not use after a period of experimentation. It could turn out to be a wasteful endeavor. I am concerned that this is only a temporary and foolish fancy that will eventually go away. (I have much experience with such things.) I am concerned that there are too many other things that I do that will distract me from putting in the effort that I feel is needed. I am lazy enough to not want to take classes. Essentially, I can no longer think like the innocent and carefree 10 year old I once was.

“1945-1998” by Isao Hashimoto

This is an old one, and the video has been linked to by many people in the past. I am providing the link just in case you have missed it. There is  an eerie beauty to this piece of “art” even while it provides a different kind of testament to the manner in which humankind can put itself in danger by its actions.

via “1945-1998” by Isao Hashimoto

My apologies if you have seen this already.

About The Pictures Submitted For the WPC: Abstract

This blog describes the nature of the pictures in my submission for the WPC this week on the topic “Abstract”.

The first and third picture are actually of ice (frost) formed on the windshield of a car on a cold winter morning.  The nature of the  ice pattern that day was unusual.  If I remember correctly, the second of these pictures was taken after I started the process of removing the ice using deicing fluid.

The second picture in the series is of a glass brick on a wall that I saw in a commercial location.  The picture was taken in the evening after sunset.  The glass was reflecting artificial light that was falling on it in a strange way.

The last picture is of a chandelier which hangs from the center of a dome at the Chicago Cultural Center.  The picture was taken from directly under the chandelier.  Here is a picture of the dome taken from the side.  You can see where the chandelier is suspended from.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Life Imitates Art

How does the photograph really capture life?
Can the imitation of art also be artistic?
Should the art that is being imitated be something created by somebody else?

In the first part of my response I have series of pictures of nature that in general look like paintings to me. Since paintings are works of art by definition (may not be good art, but art nonetheless!), I think these could fall into the category of life imitating art.IMG_7057IMG_7073IMG_7196IMG_7339OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I believe this last picture is more in tune with the theme imagined by the author of the challenge.

For more pictures submitted for this week’s challenge visit this site.