Tag Archives: Creativity

Ideamarked! December 2010: Internet Delights, Online Wars, Schooltime Nostalgia, Curd Rice, Romance, Art & Writing

I’ve had a busy December, what with friends from out-of town, the big relationship questions, getting started on the Yahoo! Real Beauty arrangement and a month-long writing exercise (you’ll have to read further to know what!). But I still managed to keep an eye on things of mutual interest, dear reader. *Pause for applause* 😀 I’m feeling upbeat and high-spirited this month. So be nice and leave a comment or two telling me what you think and what else you’d like to see.

  • This would have been par de course in an 80s Bollywood flick dhak-dhak style! (via AwkwardFamilyPhotos)
  • Getting ready for the Kala Ghoda Art Festival 2011.
  • This really appeals to the Ideartist in me! (via PS-IMadeThis)
  • A month-long writing exercise with a daily prompt (via Reverb10) Hat-tipped by Lakshmi Jagad. Also see my posts on this, here.
  • I first heard this song featured on the soundtrack of ’13 Going On 30′ and then fell in love with it. It was the theme song of my journey to the big Three-O and beyond. (Billy Joel’s Vienna Waits For You via YouTube)
  • Two drifters off to see the world, there’s so much of world to see. A classic. (Breakfast in Tiffany’s Moon River via YouTube)
  • Stoopid copywriters, funny fails! (via Failblog)
  • An interesting concept: Turning off your phone as a technological gesture of affection. (via Arzan Wadia)
  • Some of us miss the forest for the trees. And then there are those who remind us to stop and pick a fruit and savour it before burning the forest down. (Ashwini Mishra on the small things)
  • I came upon this blog from a reader response. It took me back to my early days of blogging when blogs were personal journals (not blossoming ebusiness ideas) and bloggers were ordinary human beings (not the next big Internet celebrity). I particularly liked the idea of this tag (yes, another throwback to those days of yore) and his answers. (via Yuva Anandan)
  • I ran into an online war with Bombay Elektrik Projekt after I tweeted that I was disappointed with their Monday Night Slam event. They slammed me on their Facebook page and on Twitter. An account of the event is here.
  • I didn’t send this one in but it instantly reminded me of my Best Friend. (via PostSecret)
  • An ode to that humble king of South Indian cuisine – thayir sadam (curd rice to you philistines). The article has liberal local references so you’re advised to carry a Tamil-English dictionary. But it is worth a read. Damn, my stomach’s growling. And this after having had a sumptous dinner of the aforementioned thayir sadam!! (via HawkEyeView)
  • Remember the teenage sleuthing trio of Jupiter Jones, Pete Crenshaw and Bob Andrews? My early adolescence was checkered with the adventures of The Three Investigators. Here’s remembering.
  • Horsing around (via AwkwardSchoolPictures)
  • Things you would never know without the movies (via TheTopSpace)
  • “Not email but Facebook may launch its own country by Monday!” (via FakingNews).
  • Hardware meets software? The clash of the giants. A good read, even for the techno-greeks. “Apple versus Google” (via IntelligentLife)
  • From the idea-archives: My article on learning to cook from the internet, which featured in JetLite’s in-flight magazine in October 2010. Cooking wannabes and seasoned chefs, do take note! (on The Idea-smithy)

If you see yourself (or your site featured here, if you’d like to be or if you’re just intrigued by the Ideamarked posts, do drop into The Idea-smithy Facebook Page and tell me about it. I love company!

Reverb 10.11: What I Don’t Need In 2011 (And How I’m Avoiding Them)

A list! I love lists! And that’s only the first reason why this Reverb 10 prompt has me singing.

December 11: 11 Things

What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?

(Author: Sam Davidson)

Fooo…..yes, I was all enthusiastic and eager and ecstatic (and other good-sounding ‘E’ words) at the thought of a list. But having discovered the list is (again!) about things that one has to bid goodbye to, my E stuff feels D’ed (dampened, defeated, disgusted, demeaned, disillusioned, devastated…).

11 Things My Life Does Not Need in 2011 (why not and how I plan to get rid of them):

1. Writer’s block:

I’ve faced this enough of times in the past year and can testify to it being the vilest, most horrible, uncomfortable, lonely, sickening feeling ever. It’s like being constipated for days on end and watching everyone else eat sumptuous tasty meals. It’s like being pregnant for eighteen months, watching your belly bloat to alarming proportions and wondering if the only way out will be for you to burst. *Shudder* Never, ever again, please.

I don’t really have a plan to get rid of the possibility of this but I guess I can keep my proverbial medical kit handy. Good friends, other career options and enough of distractions to tide me over till it passes.

2. Financial worries:

I’ve never been poor. But there have been times when money has felt a little stretched. Add a generous dose of good South-Indian girl guilt to that. That’s when if the outgoing includes items that are not mind-enhancing and matrimonial-prospect-inducing, they’re considered wasteful. Incoming has got to be a steady, predictable flow, no windfalls-followed-by-empty-periods for this one.

Considering I’ve chucked up a sensible, respectable career for a newfangled, alien venture like writing, am well past my sell-by (as prescribed by the Southern powers-that-be) date and show no signs of making up for it, pressure is high. Much of this of course, is self-induced which is the beauty of any childhood-implanted guilt. The recording plays on inside your head, long after the originators of the voices have fallen silent. Anyway, I really do not need the cringing self-doubt of dwindling savings with no albeit tiny-but-definitely-incoming money flow in sight. I don’t believe I have the nerve to go through with being footloose and income-free for very long. Which just means, I’ll run back to the safety and uninspiring boredom of a respectable job, again. And that’s the end of my writing career, my dreams and my self-worth.

How I plan to keep this wolf at bay is by thinking ahead and keeping open to income-generating options. Naturally, I have my pride and conscience and I don’t intend to resort to get-rich quick schemes. But I have chalked up a number of things that I can do and do well. There’s writing of course (all kinds) and also number-crunching, business analysis and a number of other things I’m still discovering. It’s still a tricky thing for me, marketing them in a way that doesn’t sound like I’m full of myself. But very simply, these are retailable skills. Money earned for work done is a simple enough mantra. And fingers crossed that there will be enough of takers for what I’m selling.

3. Emotional distance

One of the first things that I decided I wanted to do, when I quit last year, was to go back to being the person I was a decade ago. Starry-eyed, idealistic, passionate, uncontrollably alive. Also unfashionable, socially outcast and totally uncool. But I wanted that and I wanted it all, no exclusions.

A big revelation happened over the course of the year (through the novel and many wine-soaked conversations with E Vestigio and long distance phone calls with P, L and others). I cut out sarcasm. Then I whittled away at cynicism. I chipped off bitterness. And I’m gnawing away at polite behaviour.

The results are that I’m exploding more than once. I’m often caught at a loss for words or saying the most horribly inappropriate things at the wrong times. But I feel so very alive! The sense of being weighed down is going. Even though I’m actually a few kilos heavier than when I had a rigourous daily schedule, I feel lighter.

I’m not completely there yet but I intend to keep at it. Emotional distance from people and experiences is what I thought kept me sane. But it also kept me stifled, tiny and mostly dead. I’m letting go. Be warned, much madness up ahead but it’ll all be authentic, 100% me.

4. Poor health

Rheumatism. Spondilitis. Diabetes. All things that doctors have been threatening, are creeping up on me.

Malaria. Gastroentitis. Low blood pressure. Vitamin D deficiency. Weak bones. All things that have already made their presence felt in my life.

I was always a skinny kid but also a bundle of energy and I recuperated quickly. The most ironic thing about my health in the past decade was discovering that I was overstressed and vitamin-D deficient. On asking what I could do to get better, I was told to work less and play more!

That seems like wonderful advice to follow (even doctors say nice things sometimes). So I intend to worry less, laugh a lot more, eat well, run around like crazy in the sun – and hopefully live not just longer but better.

5. Unhealthy weight gain

As mentioned above, I was a skinny kid and I grew up into a lean adult. But shortly after I quit my job, I discovered that I was alarmingly fleshy for my snugfit jeans. I ended up getting a new wardrobe (of dresses and skirts) but that niggling belief that I was bloating hasn’t left. Of course I’m duly grateful that it’s only a little weight, that actually does look good on me. But I’m alarmed by the idea that it could just inflate (pun intended) out of control. What’s more, I really don’t want to add cholesterol, heart disease and other things to the repertoire I’ve listed above.

What I plan to do about this, has actually already been set in action. I signed up for yoga six months ago and did follow the regime for a good while. But the schedule didn’t suit me and I fell off the bandwagon. Mercifully for me, I also started swimming, an activity that brings me even more pleasure than health benefits. The weather has gotten a little too chilly to enjoy the swim much but I still managed to get into the pool 4 days last week and complete around 15 or more laps before shivering my way back to the changing room. Maybe I’ll sign up for a dance class too.

Persistence and patience are my friends and I don’t intend to let those sneaky kilos get the better of me.

6. Boredom

The killer of all things creative, happy and joyful, who would be scareder of boredom, than a storyteller (an entertainer)? Thankfully for me, the world is a treasure trove of interesting things and people and experiences.

I’m not going to deaden this by putting a schedule on it. Suffice to say that when something occurs to me, I explore it. A new hobby? An interesting person? A novel idea? I’m a sleuth for interesting experiences and each one I pick up only leads to bigger and greater delights.

7. Control

This is the other card in the evil side’s deck, supporting the first card of boredom. Control by family, by employers, by social norms, by stereotypes. It kills the spirit, it kills my soul and it damages my creativity.

I don’t have a plan to avoid every instance of being controlled by another person or entity. But when I do face one of them, I intend to stand my ground and not cave. Enough died, already.

8. Other people’s problems

Egos. Insecurities. Complexes. Weaknesses. Negative sentiments. I’ve had a strange affinity for all of these from other people. That, coupled with the ability to absorb and expand on all, I feel like I’ve been quite a bundle of other people’s nerves.

It’s rather tricky detaching oneself from these things without imposing emotional distance from them. I don’t get it most of the time. What’s more, standing up for myself has never come easy (no matter what the image may dictate).

No plan on this one either. Just the will to oppose it and hope that practice will make perfect.

9. High bills on clothes, makeup and socializing

This I really, really don’t need. I am no shopaholic but after a decade of denial, I decided to indulge. Now I think, enough of self-pampering and now for some balanced restraint.

This is the other aspect of keeping away financial worries – curbing the unnecessary outgoing along with building the possible incoming. I don’t really have to have expensive shoes that only last a month. Mumbai roads make dust of everything and none of the big shops guarantee any quality on this terrain. High-voltage partying has never been my scene and mercifully the social circle I move around in, doesn’t really cotton to it either. Mostly I am now okay with saying that I can’t afford it and so I won’t. Out with the fabulous lifestyle, in with some peace of mind.

10. Goodbyes to people I’m close to

This is more a fearful wish than an intelligent item on the planning list. Six months of 2010 were spent in trying to cope with saying goodbye to good friends, to notions of loyalty, to dreams of greatness. I know I learn from each of these experiences. But I’ve had a rough, really rough enough ride of it. I’m not sure I’m ready for another dose, just yet.

I can’t think of anything to put under 11 so this is going to be a list of 10. That’s my bit for letting go of control (even my own OCDness)!

Reverb 10.8: Beauty Is The Difference You Make

I absolutely hate this Reverb 10 prompt because it reminds me too much of the feel-goodey self-help books/seminars/talk shows. I can’t see what it possibly has to do with writing. And that said, I will still do it because I’m stubborn, because I’m annoyed and according to my writing circle, any strong emotion is fodder for a writer. So here then is a prompt that sparks off the ‘irritable’ energy in me.

December 8 – Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful. (Author: Karen Walrond)

What makes me different? Nothing at all. I am not one of those people who strives to be different. I am the person who manages to say or do something that makes people around uncomfortable. For the Harry Potter fans, I am the Luna Lovegood of my world (in the ‘had a curious habit of saying things like that which made everyone uncomfortable’ way).

When I was a kid, I was called weird. Children don’t take too well to a kid who questions the method of selecting the ‘den’ in a game (it’s biased too badly in favour of the bigger, stronger kids). The kids I grew up with did not like change and hated my frequent suggestions to reverse game rules, mix-and-mash games (football on bicycles, hide-and-seek where everyone looks for one person and hides with them when they find them) and other variations. ‘Weird’ was a well-earned tag, I suppose.

Then I grew up a little more and stepped into adolescence. But I hadn’t developed the badass attitude to be called delinquent, misbehaved or troublesome. Instead I became ‘inexplicable’. I mean, who gives away their lunch in return for being left in peace to stare out of a window? Who makes a beeline for the skeleton in the biology lab to go shake hands with it? Who answers a Foundation Course question of ‘What is your identity?’ with ‘I am unique’? (Yes I did that. Everyone else had used up the ‘I’m Ms.so-and-so’, ‘I am the class topper’ answers). Who cuts physics class to sneak into psychology lectures? Who gets to college early to watch a sunrise? Inexplicable, indeed.

I dropped a year in college because I couldn’t bear physics. Then I made life miserable for the head of my math department by questioning every thing she said. I called my placement co-ordinator, a pimp, because she insisted on sending me to a dubious company (whereby she retaliated by banning me from college placements). I sat unemployed for six months because I didn’t think the jobs that were on offer were worthy. And then, I quit the prestigious job that I did get, a year later with nothing else on hand. Mysteriously three months later, I landed another (and even more prestigious) job. Three years later, I made a career move that surprised everyone in the company who heard of it and every mentor I’d ever had (one of them said I’d plain lost my brains). I quit that a year later to write. Without a publisher, without a job on hand and right in the middle of recession. Brainless? That’s me.

I’ve never been prouder than when following my own quirky, mad, unpredictable choices. They’ve always worked for me. I can’t always explain how and why but many of those times, I just know that something is right for me, even if the world seems to think otherwise.

And I’ve never been happier than when I’m able to live as weirdly, as inexplicably and as brainlessly as I want to. That happiness comes from freedom but also the peace of mind that no one has ever been burdened by my choices. I’ve always borne the consequences of my decisions and really, really, not a single one of them has been bad. The only difficult things I’ve had to face have been the results of following what people around me felt was right (uninspiring education, unsuitable workplace, unlovable love interest).

I can’t tell if it that any of this makes other people happy. But here’s something – Because my own life is so offbeat, my choices so inexplicable and my self so ‘weird’, I have a near irrational hope in other people’s dreams. I’ve been told by at least a few people that my belief in their abilities gave them the courage to pursue what they really wanted. That’s an aspect of beauty I would be proud to stand for.

Nobody really wants to be born ‘different’. It’s so much easier, better to be born smart or attractive or popular or steady. I spent long enough ruing the fact that I couldn’t be the girl my family wished I would be, the ‘right’ kind of girl for the men I loved, the ‘perfect’ employee that the perfect workplace demanded. Now, I think I’ve just reconciled myself to the fact that I never was any of those things and never will be so I may as well enjoy being myself. After all, nobody else is.

Reverb10.6: The Creative Flow

I actually like the Reverb 10 prompt on this one because I instantly had an answer and it also ties in to one of the most useful insights a friend brought my way earlier this year.

December 6 – Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it? (Author: Gretchen Rubin)

I’m going to take this question to exclude the creation of writing. Other that writing, how have my creative ideas been expressed? Let’s see. I discovered a spark of an interest in the kitchen. Instead of falling back on the system, in my case my mother’s teachings and many cookbooks, I went online. I explored a cuisine I knew nothing about (and that my mother knew nothing about). And I experimented. The advantage was that my mother couldn’t stand over me correcting every little action. It freed me up to explore the art of cooking for myself. Full expression and mastery of a creative field does require privacy and the freedom to make your own mistakes. I think my mother doesn’t quite get that and her total and complete control over whatever I do in the kitchen, kills whatever spark I might have. I managed to break free of that by trying this. I made pesto, moussaka, Greek salad and a cake. 🙂 Tummy happy and mummy happy too!

The other thing that I did do is pick up fabric-painting again. Seven years ago, I used it as an escape from a difficult situation I was in. That time it was a bad relationship. This time, it was the anxiety and pressure I felt over my book. Surprisingly it really helped. It was such a comfort to be able to create something that I felt confident about. Alternately it was very relaxing to be able to mess around without anything really invested in the result. I also picked up the Ideart series again. What’s more, in a very funny way, it acted as a lubricant for my then-stuck writing. I guess creative expression through different outlets keeps things moving for an artist.

Of the many things I’d like to create, I’ll narrow down to the same two I’ve spoken of here. I would like to learn cooking further. I already have the basics of vegetarian South-Indian cooking. I identified non-vegetarian cooking and baking as two things I’d like to explore. It’s not entirely a coincidence that my mother does neither of these. She’s a wonder in the kitchen with her South-Indian vegetarian cooking. And somehow, there is just no room for me to experiment or indeed, prove myself there. It feels too much like a competition and one that I’d never win. On the other hand, in non-vegetarian cooking and baking, there’s no question of competition. I’d feel free to just be myself and mess about, confident that whatever turned out would be right and fine. Takes the pressure so very much off but retains all the fun and satisfaction of creation!

The other thing I’d like to do relates to visual art. I would love to paint a mural in my room or on the outer wall of my building. Currently I don’t see that being possible, since a lot of paints spark up my allergies. Having them in my bedroom would be condemning myself to months of allergy attacks. But it’s something that bears thinking about and maybe I’ll revisit it, in the weeks ahead.

I just realized my insight from this prompt was that result-orientedness could kill creativity. It’s a little too Zen to advocate not caring about results at all. But perhaps switching to something else, at least temporarily, can help take one’s mind off the pressure of doing well.

Reverb 10.2: Redundant Habits

Yesterday’s Reverb 10 prompt had me thinking for awhile without a satisfactory answer.

December 2 – Writing.
What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?
(Author: Leo Babauta)

Could I really be that efficient? My days aren’t all the same but most of them involve the following activities:

  • Sleeping
  • Eating
  • Hygiene & grooming
  • Swimming
  • Email
  • Facebook/Twitter
  • Blogging
  • Writing for deadline-based assignments
  • Working on the novel
  • Phone conversations
  • Meeting friends
  • Cultural activities (movies, events, literary discussions, festivals)

Even when I’m not writing, I am doing something that either triggers off ideas or rekindles inspiration or relaxes/supports my system in being able to stay creative and energetic.

And this is a tremendous realisation. Last year, after I quit my job, I agonized a great deal over the inefficiency of my schedule. Being used to as I was, to a tightly-packed day with at least 8-10hours of work ending in tangible deliverables, it was a paradigm shift. I found it very difficult to accept the idea that I could not, try as I might, write for 8 hours a day or even daily. I could not set a daily word/chapter goal and hope to realistically finish it.

It’s been over a year and I’ve made my peace with some of that now. I do something involved with writing every single day. Some days I’m just bursting with new ideas and I spend those just listing them out or spinning unfinished pieces. There are odd moments, concentrated bursts of creativity where I can see a story or a chapter or a post literally materialize in front of my eyes. Since I now have the luxury of time and a computer at my disposal, I usually get up and jot it down immediately. These don’t happen often but often enough to keep me hooked to the pursuit of the creative spark. And finally, the majority of the days see me able to write a little, think a little, talk a little and work a little. The bulk of the boring stuff like fact-checking, housekeeping, mail management, editing, cleaning up and actually posting happens then. It’s a more fluid rhythm than I was used to in the corporate world, but it is a rhythm nevertheless.

I guess I don’t really have a redundant habit that doesn’t contribute to my writing and that I should drop. Which can only be a good thing. 🙂

Movie: Ravanan-Skip & Read Amar Chitra Katha Instead

If you haven’t seen Ravan (or Ravanan) already, I’d suggest you not bother. If you’re the only person in this country who doesn’t know the story, pick up an Amar Chitra Katha rendition of Ramayana. It has the basic plot, the facts as most of us have heard them and the visuals are nice enough. It’ll be cheaper on the pocket too.

I would have given the movie a definite skip if it had been called Rama or Ramayan. I mean, I was weaned on the Ramanand Sagar classic and the aforementioned Amar Chitra Katha culture. I even saw the various renditions on television, movies and pop culture, edifying the perfect man, his perfect wife and the exact opposite embodiment of evil with all the paraphernalia of Hanuman, Vibhishan, Lakshman and Surpanaka.

If by some chance, I found I’d forgotten a tiny point, I could retrieve my copy of the original or I could turn around and ask just about anybody and expect the right answer. Why then, would anyone in their right minds, want to spend time and money to hear the same story in a theatre?

I was intrigued by the title Ravanan. While I’ve seen the old story in the old setting and in new settings, I haven’t heard it from the other point of view, the darker side. I’m sorry to say, it was a sad trick to lure the audiences into the theatres. As a vision, the idea of telling the Ramayan from Ravan’s point of view is interesting but it didn’t carry through in execution.

*spoiler alert*

A movie that set out with such lofty ideas didn’t even explore the complexity of some of the other characters. Hanuman, for instance, is depicted by a washed-up actor portraying a jungle officer given to silly dancing and pesky monkey-like behaviour. Vibhishan is no more than a nondescript younger brother who has exactly one dialogue and gets shot dead soon after. Lakshman is a lackey cop who is unconscious/dead for most of his screen time. Each of these depictions comes across as a parody in poor taste.

The idea of a tribal leader on the wrong side of the law is intriguing and the tough forest terrain would well explain his personality and behaviour. But it wouldn’t explain spending an entire hour showing what looked like rejected National Geographic clips. I kid you not, I was surprised when the interval came and my watch showed only an hour had gone by. And the Vicco Vajradanti ads in the interval were far more entertaining than what I had been subjected to, before that.

The second half picks up (though not before a forced back-to-back two songs) but by then the damage has been done. Too much, too late. There just isn’t enough time to think about the character conflicts, the depth of each of their emotions. Mostly by then, you just want the movie to get over and be done with it.

I’ve never liked Aishwarya Rai as an actress and with this movie, I add the rest of the cast to this list too. Vikram does an Ajay Devgan with grunts and a perpetual scowl to depict menace. I’m sorry to say that Mani Ratnam and A.R.Rahman fall in my ratings too. This is just lazy creativity – poor storytelling and rehashed tunes.

The bigger question is why are we so stuck on the two great epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata? Granted, they were great stories (and that’s why they’re called epics). But have centuries worth of storytellers not been able to come up with new fare? Have we become pathological remixers?

Last week’s fiasco Rajneeti was a foul remix of Mahabharata and The Godfather. It grated on my nerves for how the characters seemed to be forced into the roles of their Mahabharata counterparts to the point of ridiculous serendipity (Ajay Devgan being the driver’s boy a.k.a charioteer’s son, Ranbir Kapoor as the sharpshooting Casanova a.k.a. Arjun). Ravanan didn’t even get that far. With the caricature of Hanuman in the first few minutes of the movie, they had already lost me.

My tweets on this have been getting a few replies to the effect of human emotions being finite and there being only so many stories to express them. I disagree. The art of storytelling is universal and timeless. It is an art because it moves, it flows, it engages and it grows. It’s what made Omkara wonderful even as it was a retelling of Othello. Vishal Bharadwaj managed to find his Iago in a rustic local goon called Langda Tyaagi. His version, in an English script could have been called Iago and not Othello. That’s what a different story is all about, even though it’s the same plot.

With a movie, there are several components that can drive the story forward – an original script, great casting and acting and good screenplay. Ravanan, I regret to say, enjoys none of these.

Ideart: Retro Shirt & Kolam

I was grumbling the other day to Samir (who must think I’m an awful crank since I’m always subjecting him to my grumpiness). The issue was that I couldn’t bring myself to write. Not that I didn’t have things to write about, but that I was all out of words so to speak. He scratched his chin (or so I imagine since this was on chat) and said,

It’s natural to feel that way. Creativity must find an alternate expression at times.

Yes, the boy is wise, isn’t he? 🙂

After reviving my karmic enthusiasm for colour and fabric, I realized that my materials, the paints were woefully past retirement age. So today, I restocked with a new set of paints and five new brushes. A new paintbrush is like a new laptop in a lot of ways. You need to find your way around it and it feels stiff and strange, initially. But it also feels brand new and anything new gets the creative instinct flowing in my veins with the blood.

I pondered on what to start with, for awhile. When you’ve been away from the palatte for awhile, that tends to happen, the brain-freeze, the finger-paralysis. From experience I know I just need to get started and then even if I discard the initial efforts, I’ll be off to a good start.

I set aside the blank tees bought especially to paint on, the kurta that’s been waiting for years now for colour and the much-loved FabIndia cropped tops. Flipping through FeviArt (Fevicryl’s magazine) for inspiration, I found a photo-feature of a fashion show where NIFD had tied up with Fevicryl Hobby Ideas. The models were wearing dresses, tunics and jackets on some sort of shiny material, all splashed with crazy, wild sheeny colours. My eyes have always paused at this page, each time I’ve flipped through the magazine and I knew today was the day my fingers got to follow suit.

I dug out an old Van Heusen shirt I had bought on sale and regretted ever since. The shirt is a creamy silk and crumples with each breath. It’s also large-sized and doesn’t flow the way I had envisioned. Instead, because of the fabric, it clings to the skin and because of its size, looks too large rather than drapy on me. In addition, it’s too short to be tucked in at the waist, thus losing its potential for a Mexican shirt-in-tight-jeans look. But the shiny and clingy fabric was just what was needed for what I had in mind, after seeing the magazine photos.

I didn’t plan anything in particular. The colours I picked out this morning are all from the Fevicryl Pearl range and are from two broad colour groups. Yellow-Green-Turquoise and Blue-Lavender-Pink . I started with the back and just let the brushes play along running the colours into each other. The brushes I used were all flat, square tips and made for some interesting brushstroke textures.

In addition because the fabric was crumpled and stiff at those wrinkles, the colour caught and skipped in places. I decided not to worry about a pattern too much and just play with textures and shades. The front has more of the same though in a different brand of abstract.

Now, the front looks like a paisley print to me while the back has a retro vibe. So I guess, the artwork is consistent in terms of period and styling. I’ll probably wear this with dark fitted jeans. The dried paint should make the fabric a little more stiff. The back has more connected colour strokes so this should make the picture ‘stand’ while the front has seperate patches and due to the contours of the body will probably flow in a wave-like fashion.

Garment:Full sleeved formal shirt

Material:Silk (the shiny kind that crumples easily)

Background Colour: Cream

Paint colours used:

  • Fevicryl Pearl Lemon Yellow No.302
  • Fevicryl Pearl Green No.304
  • Fevicryl Pearl Turquoise No.320
  • Fevicryl Pearl Blue No.305
  • Fevicryl Pearl Ice Blue No.321
  • Fevicryl Pearl Sky Blue No.319
  • Fevicryl Pearl Garnet No.318
  • Fevicryl Pearl Pink No.303
  • Fevicryl Grey No.07

And here is something I painted the same day as Good Karma, Bad Medicine. Unfortunately the top has gone missing after that day and I don’t feel inclined to writing about it. 😦 In any case, the design is a traditional kolam design that I got off the Internet and I only used basic white. The back reads ‘Kolam: The Art of Welcome’ since that’s what the south-Indian rangoli is supposed to be.


I think I’ll do another Kolam sketch and write about it in my next Ideart post.

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*Cross-posted to Divadom.

Ideart: Good Karma, Bad Medicine

A few days earlier I had a thought. The words

Good karma, bad medicine

just formed themselves in my head. I can’t quite explain the thought. It was one of those ideas that just showed itself and vanished before I fully explore it further. It still sounded interesting. I put it up as my Twitter/ Facebook status to see if I could glean anything from it from seeing it in print. Still no luck. It was one of those things that you can just about see from the corner of your eye but never quite catch it straight-on. That’s when it occurred to me that the best way to communicate this thought may be visual and not verbal. And I realized that it had been awhile since I wielded a paintbrush.

The minute I had that thought, the image I needed flashed before my eyes.That was just it. The idea was a picture, not a sentence or story. After that it was just a matter of executing it. Luckily I had a plain black singlet handy and kept waiting for just such a time. A budding artist learns to store away material that could come in useful.

This is a tank top, that I picked up the first time I saw it because it is the thin, stretchy tee-shirt cotton material. There are no big logos or pictures on it and the cut is basic but curved along the sides rather than the straight up-and-down of unisex tees. I hate those since they hang and tug alternately.

The first thing I had to do was figure out a way to get rid of that little logo in the corner (little as it was, it was still in a white rubberprint and stood out) since that would certainly not do with the idea I had in mind. I was out of black paint so I tried dark blue and dark green but the rubber print of the logo showed right through both of these. Finally I coated it with Fevicryl Pearl Black no. 306.

I wanted the picture to be exactly in the middle of the visible area of the tee-shirt. If you are painting a tee-shirt for the first time, I recommend putting it on and marking off the area while still wearing it. Otherwise, one is used to the stark, solid borders of paper and too often the artwork goes over the visible area or looks too small or big. Clothes fall on each person’s body differently and ideally you should always see the garment on the wearer before painting on it. This area usually comes to about 8in x 8in or 20cm x 20cm on my clothes (and I rather smugly report that it turned out a perfect square without using a ruler or even pencil sketching!)

I started with a swirly line using a thin brush and Fevicryl Pearl Spring Green no.311 and then Fevicryl Cerulean Blue no.32. But I realized that a psychedelic design with multiple colours would need to have broad strokes for each colour to be visible and not get lost in too-intricate strokes so I switched brushes. After that it was a random selection of colours applied in strokes, splashes, squiggles and splotches. I painted over in a number of places and in other places I also used the same brush in multiple colours without cleaning the brush. This last gives the effect that you can see to the right of the second dot on the right. The yellow and pink run parallel for a bit before the yellow strikes out on its own. The colours must not be too liquidey if you want this effect since otherwise they’ll merge into each other.

This is one design where red (my favorite colour) was not the most striking note. On the contrary, the red quite got lost in the gloss of the other pearly tints so I used it as background in a number of places. When I had covered the entire square, I dabbed on circles with the Fevicryl Pearl Spring Green no.311 and you can see the colours beneath through the thin veneer of the green, in places.

I originally intended to paint the words over this design in black or white. But I realized the paint area was too small to fit in words and besides, it was too striking to waste as background. Besides, there was enough room above and below for lettering.

I tried for a digital-looking font and a religious-looking orange (Fevicryl Metallic Red no. 356) for the words ‘Good Karma’. In contrast the words ‘Bad Medicine’ at the bottom are in a more graffiti-like font in a Fevicryl Pearl Lemon Yellow no. 302.

Finally I noticed that the painted-over patch over the logo in the bottom right corner had dried and was standing out against the black. So I painted on a stretch in the same colour across the tee-shirt, a sort of rough underline the way one would highlight a graffittied sentence.

I’m not sure whether the finer points like font and colour would be noticed but I’m guessing they would register at a sublimnal level. The message just is one of those things. I wore this with worn-out blue jeans, a silver chain double-looped around my neck with a New Age faerie pendant. It got some appreciation. 🙂

Good Karma, Bad Medicine

Garment: Sleeveless ladies tee-shirt

Material: Hosiery cotton

Background colour: Solid Black

Paint colours used:

  • Fevicryl Pearl Black no. 306
  • Fevicryl Cerulean Blue no. 32
  • Fevicryl Crimson no. 04
  • Fevicryl Pearl Spring Green no. 311
  • Fevicryl Pearl Pink no. 303
  • Fevicryl Pearl Lemon Yellow no. 302
  • Fevicryl Pearl Metallic red no. 356

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* Cross-posted to Divadom.

Ideart: Kathakali

I’m fascinated by Indian designs, motifs and art forms. Such vibrant colour! Such dazzling variety! I did a set of pieces called ‘Tandav’ using motifs and images from Indian dance forms. Sadly enough I didn’t think to take pictures back then and most of those garments have been worn out and discarded.

Kathakali (for the uninitiated) is a classical dance form from Kerala. The movements are small and detailed, all in the eyes and fingers. The costumes, especially for the men are the most delightful part of the dance. The make-up and costume apparantly take upto 6 hours to don. I was fascinated by the phlethora of colours on the Kathakali costume. This is my tribute to this grand art.

I used a plain black terrycot vest. It was a few years old and unused because it was too broad for me and the fabric wasn’t the soft, clingy variety that would look good, loose. It turned out to be perfect for holding an elaborate, heavy paint picture and the black background was just what I needed to offset all the colours. Black is the one colour that you won’t find in a traditional Hindu costume so it brought out the other colours really well.

I looked up a number of photographs of  Kathakali costumes before settling on this design. Instead of a complete costume as I had originally planned, I decided to concentrate on only the face since I felt the detailing of jewellery and make-up was a masterpiece in itself. My painting is a close-up of just the face of a Kathakali dance hero. The final result was a mixture of several different costumes that I saw.

The painting looks very elaborate but was actually very simple to execute. The lines were clean, I didn’t need to use any shading and the drama in the piece comes from the vibrant colours.

I outlined the face with a sliver of soap. The outline took several tries before I could get it to be perfectly symmetrical and even then I did make one side slightly larger. The thing about fabric paints is that you never erase, you  just paint over or improvise, which is what I did here. The curve on the right of the face was actually smoothened out by painting over with Fevicryl no.02 Black. Okay, I cheated. 🙂

The bottom piece is Fevicryl no.27 White. I refrained from using silver (even though it would catch the light well) because I wanted to retain the authenticity of the image. The jewellery was  Fevicryl no.352 Pearl Metallic Gold and for the sapphires, I used  Fevicryl no.32 Cerulean Blue. I had actually used plain red for the jewels but it didn’t look as impressive, especially since the swirls on the headpiece were the same colour, so I painted over with the metallic range.

Initially I had thought I’d leave the eyebrows and kohl edging unpainted since the background was black. However after finishing the rest of the piece, those areas looked dull (on account of the shiny dry paint) so I finished them up with  Fevicryl no.02 Black. I also outlined every border between two colours in the same black. This makes the colours stand out better and should be used only when shading is not used.

Incidentally I painted this piece when I was nearing the end of my colour stock so I also used the opportunity to clear out the little remaining paint that I had in most of my bottles. Hence there are some uneven splashes of colour here and there that are not duplicated elsewhere (because I ran out of that shade!). I think it adds to the vibrancy of the piece without any one colour making a statement in itself. I wanted the facial green and white edging to be the central focus.

The one tricky bit was the face itself. Having finished the big areas of colour, I was left with a bright piece which did not quite look human. Adding lines on a sketch of a face is always risky since it can make your subject look old. I used a hairfine brush to add a few strokes for nose. The laughlines were an afterthought and I actually drew them too long which made the face look pulled down. So I corrected by painting over with the facial green. A couple of spots on the right corner of the face and little dash under the lower lip made it seem more human.

Since the vest was still too big for me, with gaping, wide armholes, I teamed this up with a bright green FabIndia shirt. The shirt itself was an impulse buy and I didn’t quite know what to wear it with since the cut was too severe for casualwear and the colour too bright for office. Since only the sleeves are visible, it matched the green face paint of the dancer well. I’ve always worn this with classic blue straight-fit jeans but I daresay straight black pants could add a slightly more evening-formal look. If I was feeling upto going all gypsy, I’d wear this over a flowing skirt.

kathakali1

(If you like this piece, watch for Desert Dancers, another other Tandav piece that I’ll write about, shortly)

SeriesTandav

Garment: Sleeveless waist-length vest

Material: Terrycot

Background colour: Black

Paint colours used:

  • Fevicryl no.27 White
  • Fevicryl no.o2 Black
  • Fevicryl no.32 Cerulean Blue
  • Fevicryl no.352 Pearl Metallic Gold
  • Red
  • Yellow
  • Green

* Cross-posted to Divadom.

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If you liked this post, also see:

Other Indian designs at Kolam and Desert Dancers.

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