Friday, November 21, 2014

Rangoli 2014

Hello! Here is my rangoli of Aung San Suu Kyi at a portrait rangoli exhibition in Thane, with Kala-Chhand rangoli group. The size is 3 ft x 4.5 ft.

Little something about what Rangoli is~ Rangoli is a traditional Indian art form. The rangoli patterns are created on the floor generally on festive occasions to welcome guests. It is also considered to be a very important part in the spiritual process during the fesivals as there is a belief that when you have a rangoli outside home, the evil forces attempting to enter are repelled. In some traditions, simple patterns are made everyday by women in the family as it is also thought to bring good luck.


At the exhibition we were supposed to create portraits using this medium of rangoli powder.

There was no theme, and we were free to choose any subject/ portrait. I had to increase the difficulty level from what I had done last time. So either a difficult composition or two portraits.

First day:
We were supposed to start making rangoli from Friday, 14th November. But I had not decided on the subject then. My friend Yogesh was planning to do an old master's painting in rangoli, so I thought may be I should do that too. It will help me understand the hues and forms and values. Got the prints. Then I realized it would be way too difficult to handle multiple figures in varying gestures, their facial details, fingers etc in a rangoli.

Then my uncle suggested I should make portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi. I started looking for her portrait references on the internet. Extremely graceful face and personality that motivates. I was happy to have chosen this subject to portray through the medium of rangoli. Found many beautiful images of hers. Again spent a lot of time deciding which ones to select.  Half a day over and I finally went to the exhibition hall, and asked Yogesh to help me select two portraits, one colored and the other black and white.

That day I only made a few shades from rangoli powder(also known as kolam powder/ chirodi). It's kind of nice grainy powder, white in color that is available everywhere in India. It's made from a special white rock. To create shades, it needs to be mixed with the colored/dyed powder.

I genereally start by creating the primary and secondary colors. Then mix them to create different shades. For this, use 'Lake colors' and white rangoli powder. Mix them well until you get bright, high chroma powder of desired color. If you use too much white, the color becomes dull. So here the proportion of lake colors and white rangoli powder is important.

Second day:
Saturday morning- drew both the portraits. The drawing for a portrait rangoli is usually made on a brown paper, defining all the facial details with pencil since the details drawn directly with the chalk on the floor get lost as you progress.

 The paper is then pasted on the floor. 

I began with the black and white portrait first.
That day I pretty much left it at this stage.

Third day, Sunday:

It was the last day. I finished the b/w face pretty soon in the evening. And felt I was really quick. All the training in fine art, studying the facial structure, anatomy~ had helped and all that. Was happy. Started with the colored portrait thinking it won't take too long.

...but it did. It was 3 am, Monday morning. 17th November. If I was not doing rangoli, I would have been in the farms, watching November's Leonid meteor shower. I always wait for this time of the year, when Leonid meteor shower happens. It looks beautiful, and the feeling when you see the bright, slowly moving stars is amazing. 
Anyway, I was sitting right below this super hot bulb, in a room that felt like an oven.

To create the shades for skin, try mixing all the primary and secondary color powders with white rangoli powder/ kolam powder. More white you mix, lighter the color gets. Add small proportions of red, magenta, yellow, raw umber/sienna/brown, black to the white, to create desired skin shade.  

I was working on the hair constantly. I removed the rangoli powder 3-4 times after putting the colors on the forehead. The few strands of hair on the forehead was the most difficult part. Wasted a lot of time in doing it right. Had to redo the forehead every single time. Everytime I do the strands, they would end up looking like some cuts or dark lines on the forehead. So I just ignored the reference for that part and did what I felt like, just for that part.

For minute details, I generally put colors holding the hand very close to the floor, so that the powdery colors do not spread across a wider area. But when you have to merge two separate patches on the rangoli, hold your hand at a little distance from the floor and start putting the mid-value color from that distance, such that the color spreads on both the patches and creates a nice transition from one value to the other.

It was 5.30 am. Inauguration was in the evening, and I knew that I wasn't going to complete the full thing in a couple of hours.. So decided to go home, to freshen up and return in a couple of hours to finish the rest.

Palette~ Unorganized but looks interesting, I think.

Fourth day, Monday:
I started working again at around 11 am. Came to know that the inauguration was postponed to Tuesday. Was relieved. More time to complete things. The color portrait was frustrating. I was full of self doubt when I could not achieve the results that I wanted to see despite all the efforts I had put in. A friend asked me to leave that colored portrait as it was. And asked me to work on the black and white, doing the hands.

The flowers in the hair were roses, even for the colored portrait. Yellow roses. But I had hardly any patience to look closely and identify those details in the reference image. So just made a few petals. But the details are over exposed while taking the picture and lost..

Fifth day:
Tuesday morning 5.30 am. I have never worked on any rangoli for this long. It was difficult and I can see so many things that I could have improved on, but I guess, it was alright to call it finished.

Some more pictures. Everytime I took pictures, there was a perspective error. And I kept taking shots from different angles, hoping that one of them would give nice results. But no, Im not very happy with the angles, but sharing anyways. It was difficult to take pictures with the light that comes between camera and the rangoli. When you try to move the light up, camera casts  shadow on the rangoli.
You move the light to the right, the portrait on the right would be over exposed and the one on the left is underexposed. Same when you move it to the left. I was tired of clicking. So just sharing a lot of pictures, from different angles.

Some close-up pictures:

Hope you enjoyed reading the post. The Exhibition is open till 24th November, Anandbharati hall, Thane East. from 5 pm to 10 pm. All are welcome.

My friend Yogesh teaches portrait rangoli. 
Here are his contact details if you'd like to join:
phone:+91 9819941215

Address of the shops that sell these lake colors:
1. Mangal Jyot
Ganesh bhawan, Shop number-9,
Morarji mills,
Opposite Bharat mata Cinema,
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar road,
Mumbai 400012.
Contact: 24133694, 9821383016.
I think you have to get off at Currey road station and take the east bridge.

2. Enayat: This is at Masjid Bandar. Opposite Jama masjid.

30th November: Bombay Times ~~~

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Some paintings

I was asked to make some paintings based on religious themes. Goddess Lakshmi, Bhagwan Mahavir in kausag mudra and dhyana mudra.

Goddess Lakshmi
Oil on canvas
91 cm x76 cm
For this one I took the reference elephant on the right from Raja Ravi Verma's painting of Lakshmi ji.

Mahavir in kausag mudra
Oil on canvas
91 cm x76 cm

Siddha Bhagwan in Dhyana mudra
Oil on canvas
76 cm x76 cm

They were done in 2 or 3 days each. So to speed up the drying process of oils, I had to add Liquin original. Not too happy with the results in terms of modeling the forms and handling the values. That is what I primarily learnt in Florence, but had very little time to work on those.