Tag Archives: Fabric-painting

Ideart: Mumbai Skyline On A Bottle

IMG_20131220_224557

Ideart: How To Paint An Assassin

Here’s something I painted for the boy for his birthday. He’s a gaming freak and Assassin’s Creed is one of his favorite franchises. In honour of the visual/verbal medium, this post is in a comic-book panel format. Presenting Ezio Auditorie:

* Cross-posted to Divadom.

Ideart: The Making Of A Superhero-Nagraj

Actually, this should have been my first superhero-on-tee project for the boy. I had after all, heard of Nagraj, the popular snakeman character of Raj Comics. But the boy’s first choice was the dog-parented desi Batman and so Doga it was. Still, when I spotted this olive green tee-shirt, I knew the snake myth was calling to me.

I’ve been a fan of snake stories, the icchadari naag legend with its human-snake shape-shifters, the associations with Shiva (undoubtedly the darkest and most complex citizen of the Hindu belief system). I loved Snake Woman even if I couldn’t find the issues to complete the story. When I was a kid, I read a story about a king who secretly ate a piece of snake meat everyday, which gave him the power to understand the language of animals. And of course, JK Rowling’s attempt to cash in on the snake mystique with Slytherin and Parseltongue. I was quite looking forward to bringing my own interpretation of the snake story to life.

I’ve never been comfortable with the transition from sketching to colouring. My drawings usually turned out well and then were ruined by colour. With time though, I realised it wasn’t exactly that I couldn’t colour, I just couldn’t colour within the lines (yes, pun unintended). So I began colouring independently or painting directly on the surface without using lines to guide me.

Superheroes are tricky things to portray. For one, strong masculine physiques have never been my forte. And then there’s the fear of backlash from the fanbase. Superheroes attract staunch loyalists who will pounce on you for the tiniest detail that you got wrong, from the exact shade of costume, to the height of heel, to the curve of the logo, the hairstyle, expression etc. No chances I decided and figured I better chalk out a map and stay on course, no matter how long it took me.

I started by sketching the character in pencil a few times to get a sense of structure and pose. Then I replicated this on the tee-shirt using a soap marker (the kind that tailors use to mark out cutting lines). My mistakes which were easily rectified using water.

I found a shade (Sap Green) that perfectly matched the costume shown in the picture. I knew it would be too dull but I planned to highlight with pearl tints anyhow. Also, teeshirt hosiery absorbs a lot of colour and often the brighter colours lose their sheen as a result. The way around this is to layer on colours, waiting between coats to dry. That way the topmost coat is laid on a non-penetrable base (of colour) and stands out. Careful with this though, too many layers and if your colours are too old, they’ll peel off.

I’d intended to do something similar for the white snake crest down the front of the costume, layering with silver and white. But I made my white very thin with water and spread it across the area. This, I knew would make it dry with a water-colour like finish. As it turned out, it dried in the exact shade of grey that would make the white really ‘pop’. The same was used for the undersole too.

The skin was already going to be in that wonderfully authentic looking shade called Flesh Tint (used with great success on Sabu, I thought). Hair in black didn’t really show so I added a few touches of Pearl Blue to highlight it (a technique I see a lot in comic books). Fine brushed strokes of black created facial features. The Wikipedia entry for Nagraj says that he has blue eyes so I used a piercing Pearl Sky Blue for the irises with a black dot in the centre.

By this time the green was dry and I was ready to start highlighting. I started shading with Pearl Green, afraid it would end up too blingey. It did look rather bizarre against the Sap Green. But following the original picture, I also added black for the shaded areas. It still looked too much like a child’s colouring book, with the colours standing separately. So I fell back on my old favorite technique – blending.

You do this by painting when the colours are still wet. Where two colours meet, add water and mix them. Don’t be afraid to dip brushes into different colours without cleaning them, it adds interesting swirls of colour on the canvas. When I was done, I realised there was no trace of the original Sap Green visible, which was just as well.

I finished off the costume with Crimson for the pants and boots. The snakes were added later, using Pearl Metallic Bronze and Rust and V-designs in Black. I know they look a little artificial and too thin but that’s how they were shown in the picture. I could probably have played around with that but I just let it be. The final touch was to outline every border in the picture in black. This is what adds that comic-book look to the picture.

Garment: Standard size XL men’s tee-shirt

Material: Tee-shirt cotton

Background colour: Olive green

Paint colours used:

  • Fevicryl no. 21 Sap Green
  • Fevicryl no. 30 Flesh Tint
  • Fevicryl no. 27 White
  • Fevicryl no. 04 Crimson
  • Fevicryl no.304 Pearl Green
  • Fevicryl no.355 Pearl Metallic Bronze
  • Fevicryl no.356 Pearl Metallic Red
  • Fevicryl no.354 Pearl Metallic Rust
  • Fevicryl no.319 Pearl Sky Blue
  • Fevicryl no.305 Pearl Blue
  • Fevicryl no. 02 Black

*Cross-posted to Divadom.

Ideart: Doga-Born In Blood

This is another of those posts I’ve been meaning to get around to for a good while. I painted this for the boy right after the success of Sabu. While the Diamond comics thespian provoked a soft chuckle, this piece got more of the reaction I was looking for – not from the boy himself, but his equally comic-book loving friends.

Doga is his favorite childhood comic character. I’d never heard of him so far, which is probably why the boy’s description of “he’s called Doga because he was brought up by dogs” made me go ahahahahhahaha! He was mighty miffed by that so I painted it for him as a peace gesture.

The painting is based on a high-resolution image that he sent me, in colour. However, I figured a plain white line drawing against a black background would make maximum impact. But once I painted the character, it felt natural to add a few strokes and before I knew it, the picture had a shaded feel to it which I think added to the diabolical nature of the character. The boy thinks that the head is the wrong size and the limbs proportion is off. I take that feedback since I’m not too comfortable drawing masculine features and profiles. Mostly, I’m just happy it doesn’t look too ridiculous. Incidentally, I did the lines in plain white and the shading in a silver tone. The pearl tones catch the light adding an additional eerieness to the image.

The extra colour on the pants and the gloves was added as an afterthought after I looked at the original coloured picture again. I’m not sure whether this was a good idea or not since it might bring it closer to the original but possibly takes away from the impact of pure silver-white on black.

The boy also requested the caption ‘Doga – Born in blood’ written in bloody, dangerous-looking script. It took me awhile to find something like that online but once I started painting, it was actually really easy. It was just a matter of dabbing the paintbrush in water, after coating it with paint and letting it drip down the tee-shirt a bit. Once it dried, I touched up the natural ooze patterns with regular colour. If I had had a pearl toned red pigment available, I’d have highlighted the words too. As it turned out, I think the effect of dried blood (not shining but semi-clotted) comes through better.

Garment: Standard size XL men’s tee-shirt

Material: Tee-shirt cotton

Background colour: Plain black

Paint colours used:

  • Fevicryl no.301 Pearl White
  • Fevicryl no.24 Vermillion

*Cross posted to Divadom.

Ideart: Desert Dancers

Take one white shirt.
desert-dancers-2

Pick up a paint brush and the remains of earlier painting projects. Grab an old comic book of the Amar Chitra Katha persuasion. Copy a ubiquitous picture of a woman in the lehenga-choli-chunari garb. Colour brightly.

The man is a little trickier as this West-Indian costume isn’t easily visible in the aforementioned comics. But a search of ‘Dandiya dancers’ should throw up some references. Since the background was white, I didn’t bother colouring in his clothes at all. The kurta and pyjama are traditionally white. But I did add a splash of colour on his turban, the sash and ended with the mojri-style shoes. Hairfine strokes to denote creases in the cloth, were my finishing touch.

The woman in this picture brings in the colour while the man adds the motion. Together they present a picture of the vibrancy, the sheer energy of Dandiya.

Let’s have the actual design once more
desert-dancers

Garment: Fitted waist-length kurti with cap sleeves and side-slits

Material: Polycot with chequered texturing

Background colour: White

Paint colours used:

  • Fevicryl no.02 Black
  • Fevicryl no.301 Pearl White (for highlights on the lehenga)
  • Fevicyrl no.21 Sap Green
  • Fevicryl no.04 Crimson
  • Fevicryl no.11 Lemon Yellow
  • Fevicryl no.10 Indian Red

* Cross-posted to Divadom.

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If you liked this post, also see:

Other Indian designs at Kolam and Kathakali

Ideart: Mere Pass WOGMA Hain!

Another Ideart opportunity and my marketing mind tells me this should be called co-branding. 🙂 At the Mood Indigo-BlogCamp Dec 2010 that happened over the weekend, I had a chance to showcase one of my works.

I first met Meetu at a common friend’s party. A few months later, we connected at the 2008 BlogCamp at IIT Powai. We kept in touch, our blogs establishing a mutual admiration society. Last year, I called to tell her I’d be in Pune and she invited me to crash at her place. I don’t know if she has had a chance to regret that (!) gesture as yet but her place feels like my home away from home to me now. I have also had the honour of being a guest author at WOGMA, the blog that makes Meetu famous.

So it was nice to have the opportunity to show my solidarity for WOGMA and Meetu in a very personalized way, the Ideart way! Meetu wanted a fun WOGMA tee-shirt to wear to the BlogCamp event. She also sent me the inscription and a detailed description of the design. I think she was quite happy with the result. 🙂

The tee-shirt says,

Tumhare paas
…actor hain,
director hain,

Mere paas,
…WOGMA hain!!

(a filmi tribute to Deewar)

I considered two fonts for the message. Since Deewar came out in the 70s (my favorite decade of pop-culture!), I first wanted the curly-wurly psychedelic font that characterised those references (think the title of Om Shanti Om). But the message was too long to fit such a complex font onto the tee-shirt and I didn’t want to risk taking away from the WOGMA logo.

So I picked the other font which was what I think of as a ‘Las Vegas’ font, since Hollywood movies often show casinos and clubs with their billboards flashing names and surrounded by bulbs around each letter.

As with many Ideart projects, the conceptualisation took up the bulk of the time. Once I knew what I was going to do, actually carrying it out took very little time. The main words were painted on with a flat brush and touched up with the hairfine point. Once dry, I applied tiny yellow spots on top of the black letters. You can’t actually see the yellow dots too well and the effect isn’t quite what I had imagined with the Las Vegas lights. But it does brighten up the otherwise severe black strokes without detracting from the colourful WOGMA logo.

I was quite nervous about the WOGMA logo since this was the only thing that Meetu really wanted replicated as closely as possible. The logo on the site is an online print and I was not sure I’d be able to reproduce it in fabric paint. So I took some liberties with the shades and tried to stay close to the shape of the coffee-stain style ‘O’. I used my favorite technique of dabbing water-diluted colours and blending them where they met, before they dried. The ‘W’, ‘G’, ‘M’ and ‘A’ were done in a slightly narrower flat brush using a maroon colour (I didn’t have the plum shade of the actual logo, sorry Meetu!).

The back of the tee-shirt was even easier since I just replicated the WOGMA logo and practically scribbled the ‘movie reviews from a part of the audience’ that Meetu had asked for.

There was still something missing and it looked too much like the kind of tee-shirts that corporate types give out at conventions. So I gave it a neckline to make it look less like a tee-shirt and more like a dressy top. The same yellow-dotted black stripe ran around the V of the neck in the front. I didn’t have a chance to do the back and I figured Meetu’s long hair would cover that anyway. The entire exercise took all of one hour but a lot of frantic phone calls to Meetu. 🙂

Garment: Standard V-necked women’s tee-shirt

Material: Tee-shirt cotton

Background colour: Plain white

Paint colours used:

  • Fevicryl no.02 Black (for basic script)
  • Fevicryl no.302 Pearl Lemon Yellow (for dots & ‘O’ of WOGMA logo)
  • Fevicryl no.311 Pearl Spring Green (for ‘O’ of WOGMA logo)
  • Fevicryl no.303 Pearl Pink (for ‘O’ of WOGMA logo)
  • Fevicryl no.24 Vermillion (for ‘O’ of WOGMA logo)
  • Fevicryl no.10 Indian Red (for ‘W’, ‘G’, ‘M’ and ‘A’ of WOGMA logo)

Ideart: Sabu-Jupiter Jwala

Another edition of Ideart! It is most delightful to be able to gift something that you’ve put a little piece of yourself into. The boy is at the slightly flummoxed receiving end of this.

Being a typical boy in all such manner of things, he’s a comics aficionado. Grave conversations have been had about the merits of desi superheroes over the firang crusaders. He’s actually a Homer Simpson fan but the American sensation’s face is plastered over teeshirts right across town. I thought it would be fun to bring in a desi touch to the comic characters-on-teeshirts fad. So I started with something familiar to every Indian kid across the country (secretly in cases like mine since my parents didn’t approve of the bad English). The world of Diamond Comics!

Chacha Chaudhary would have been the obvious choice for the tee-shirt with the telling caption of ‘Chacha Chaudhary’s brain works faster than a computer!’ But I felt the concept of a bald, alien giant clad in gold earrings, belted shorts and boots had far more potential.

I looked through a number of images online and offline to get a good sense of Sabu. The drawings were actually a lot more detailed than I remembered them. For example, Sabu’s boots aren’t always the ubiquitous black. Sometimes they match the colour of his shorts, sometimes the belt. The mustache is finely waxed and shaped (presumably garden shears would have been put to use trimming it). And finally his body language lent itself to a delightful range of renditions. Since Sabu is the muscle end of Chacha Chaudhary’s adventures, there are several panels that depict high kicks or punches (with a star-shaped ‘Pow’ bubble).

I put together some amalgamation of all of these. The result shows Sabu preparing to land either a punch or a kick. I know a villian being punched might have added to the image but I wanted a dedication to Sabu, not just a scene from the series. As it turns out, I think Sabu could be mistaken for a (rather clumsy) ballroom dancer.

White and black were my choices for the background. But when I saw this grey, I fell in love with it. Sabu has neither the pristine moral science character of Chacha Chaudhary nor the dark, brooding past of some of the other superheroes. He’s musclepower, sidekick and comic relief all in one. Chacha Chaudhary has to restrain him from some of of his more angry ideas on occasion. He’s treated like a child, a rookie and even a faithful pet. Grey seemed the perfect choice for Sabu.

Given my low confidence with drawing male characters, I took a long time sketching the figure out. The simplicity of Diamond Comics artwork made this a good first step for me. I retained the slight errors in size and perspective because that’s what I see in the actual comics too.

Colouring was the easiest bit of this project, given that Sabu wears very few clothes. A skin tone for the body,  blue shorts, gold earrings and brown belt and boots. The effect was rather like a child’s colouring book so I added some shading. The way to do this is when the base layer of paint is still slighty wet but not runny. Lay a spot or even a thin line of a darker (in the case of the skin) or lighter (the shorts) shade of the same colour and blend in.

I’m rather happy with the way the shading turned out on the arms, especially Sabu’s left arm. The brush strokes left hairfine lines and I didn’t blend them in further because they give the impression of hairiness and add to the desi machismo look.

Sabu’s expression didn’t give away much and I didn’t want the Jupiter giant to be mistaken for a dance instructor. So squiggly lines radiating from his head were added to let the viewer know that Sabu was angry!

And my favorite part of the image – the caption, was detailed below. In Hindi for maximum impact:

Jab Sabu ko gussa aata hain, to Jupiter pe jwalamukhi phatata hain!

(When Sabu gets angry, a volcano erupts in Jupiter)

Garment: Standard size XL men’s tee-shirt

Material: Tee-shirt cotton

Background colour: Gray with white flecks

Paint colours used:

  • Fevicryl no.02 Black (for outline, caption, mustache and anger strokes)
  • Fevicryl no.352 Pearl Metallic Gold (for earrings)
  • Fevicryl no.30 Flesh Tint (for skin)
  • Fevicryl no.32 Cerulean Blue (for shorts)
  • Fevicryl no.10 Indian Red (for belt, boots and skin shading)
  • Fevicryl no.305 Pearl Blue (for shorts shading)

* Cross-posted to Divadom.

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If you liked this post, also see:

Other comic book art in Doga: Born In Blood & The Making Of A Superhero: Nagraj

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.

Ideart: Kolam

Kolam is a household art form practised in South India. It is not the same as the North Indian rangoli which is more of a festive occasion icon.

Kolams are created everyday by the lady of the house and are an important ritual to start the day. Traditionally nobody leaves the house till the porch has been cleaned and the kolam laid out at the doorstep. The kolam signifies a welcome to the Goddess of wealth and also anybody else who comes to the doorstep. A subtextual purpose is to feed mice and other small animals in the vicinity. Suffice to say that in many places, few traces of the kolam remain at the end of the day. It is worship and welcome along with providing for smaller beings.

Kolams are made of finely powdered rice and laid out by spilling it from between the index finger and the thumb. The most common kolams have a basic framework of dots and lines curling around them in various loops and rounded designs. The challenge of a kolam is that it must be drawn in one unending line stroke.

The more elaborate kolams are usually reserved for festive occasions and religious ceremonies. Some of them do include colour, geometric patterns and even images of gods, flowers, birds, animals and diyas. Some designs also have special significance to dates and occasions. But the most recognizable (to a South-Indian) designs are the basic dots-with-doodle ones.

I’ve been fascinated by this art form for many years and I learnt it (as all good heritage practices are), from my mother. I started with laying borders, then progressed to simple 16-dot designs and upwards till I was finally elevated to the honour of laying the mahakolam on religious occasions. I tend to be more ambitious than my mother, gunning for more complex designs each time. But she’s much more skilled than I am and her fingers (even stiff with arthritis) manage to lay perfect lines where I spill out shades and strokes of varying thickness. Practice does make perfect with a craft.

There’s not much to tell with the actual technique on this project. I used the thinnest brush I could find. In fact, it was an old brush that had stiffened with earlier, unwashed paint. It suited my purpose perfectly since I needed a stiff surface to guide the paint in a clean, even line. If you’re trying this for the first time, the key is to count the dots in each line, start at any tip and just follow the line. Practice on paper first. I still do that.

I’m rather proud of this one. It actually took just 15 minutes but each one of intense concentration. The design is a first for me – I’ve never laid a kolam with pointed peaks before. One one hand, the technique itself was easier since I am much handier with a paintbrush than I am with powder in my fingers. On the other hand, the surface area was limited and an already intricate design as this one shrunk into that space made it much more complicated.

If you look closely, you’ll notice the paint is not even across the design. But I’m deliberately not touching it up to retain the authentic feel. Real life kolams are not evenly laid out since the powder never falls exactly the same way all through.

This is my kolam, the fine art of welcome.

* Cross-posted to Divadom.

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If you liked this post, also see:

Other Indian designs at Desert Dancers and Kathakali

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