First Year, Second Semester: Watercolour and Poster Paints

Here I have presented some works from the Second Semester of my First Year at Bachelor for Visual Arts (BVA) in Painting, Faculty of Fine Arts, MS University of Baroda. This semester, we were guided through loosely structured class assignments which gave us ample opportunity to explore various mediums independently. Pondering over the images in a reflective manner has been a fruitful exercise, as it has helped me to identify the areas that have consistently held my interest, and develop ideas as to how I can follow them up in the coming year. Further, it has helped me to find coherent links in my own work, giving me an insight into how to create and read into the ‘visual language.’ After all, this course has been not only about how to make and what to make, but also about how to look and what to look out for.

The first exercise of the semester was to develop a watercolour painting from any of our sketches. This work seems to have continuity with my ‘pond’ works of the previous semester in terms of the colour palette and choice of subject matter. In fact, throughout the year I seem to be returning to this interest with leaves and flower. I feel at this point I was beginning to feel more comfortable with the medium of watercolours. Instead of trying to completely blend in the brushstrokes, I tried to use them effectively to emphasize the texture and tonal variations on the depicted surface. The transparency of watercolours helped me to convey the lustrous quality of the leaves. The atmosphere seems to be peaceful, soothing and somewhat gloomy. This is supported by the almost symmetrical (and radial) balanced composition, subdued colours and rhythmic repetition of the gently curving ‘S’ line.

(1) Watercolours on handmade paper, A2

Shape Study in Poster Paints

A crumpled paper was kept under a strong light and we were to try and see the object in terms of shapes created by the various tones, applying a flat colour within the shape. It was a tonal study in monochrome as well as a shape study. This method creates a sense of depth, with darker shapes receding and the lighter ones coming forward. While painting, it seems like some automatic ‘magic’—you paint in flat shapes of paint, but when viewed as a whole, it appears to be a 3-dimensional structure.

(2, 3, 4) Poster paint on cartridge sheet, A2

While painting in this way, sometimes the crumpled ‘paper’ appeared to be something much heavier, like a chiselled hard rock or a jagged mountain.

In (5), I broke up a window into shapes but abandoned the monochrome, beginning to explore how various shapes interact with each other when they are filled with different colours. It was like a game. Further, I tried to represent natural objects around me in terms of shapes. (6) was inspired by blades of grass (no, it’s not a swan wearing a hat), while (7) was developed from the sketch of an Aloe Vera plant.
I used framing to my advantage (usually by zooming in), to make the image more ‘abstract’ and dissociate it from its recognizable form.

(5,67) Poster paint on cartridge paper, A2

I became so interested in the way the colours interacted with each other that I traced out the same ‘Aloe Vera’ image 4-6 times as an experiment, with different colours in each version. I changed the colours many times, until I felt they ‘go’ with each other. Then, I chose four sheets that acted as mirror images, placing them together to try to create a unified composition which would have some sense of power and drama in terms of the scale and composition.

The mirroring, increasing the scale of the works, using ‘artificial’ looking colours (instead of the typical greens and browns)—all of this helped me to move away from the literal depiction of the Aloe Vera plant as a recognizable object. Instead, I wanted to express the essence of something bursting forth with life and vitality. Again, I had to change some of the colours to make them now work as a single image rather than fragments. Here, the bright red was useful as it seems to ‘hold’ the shapes the place and unify the image (I got the idea from Surej’s version of Matisse’s ‘Red Studio’).

(8) Poster paint on cartridge paper, A0 (A2 x 4, each section is an A2 sheet)

I painted the following image (9), and edited it on the phone to create its ‘negative’ (10). It’s fun to see how the mood and associations change when the colours change, even within the same composition.

It looks like bits of sky in a wound. Or a pile of mud.

(9, 10) Poster paint on cartridge paper, A2

The red bits remind me of openings, like cracks or wounds. It’s like a concrete or plastic surface with something raw coming out.. like meat. Or lava.