More practice with oil pastels

Things have become a lot slower at art class – atleast seems so. The last class was about using water colours. What I learnt is that the 'poster colours' we used as kids at school is different from the water colours that I used at class now. August tells me that the beauty of water colours is that one can make millions of shades of colors with just three basic colours – red, blue and yellow. He even showed me how to mix proportions of water to a tiny blob of color to make it different everytime.

Then there was this session where he showed me how to take care of the brushes. Not without telling me the different types of brushes there were and how to store them. So the class mainly revolved around learning to mix colours and using a size 6 flat brush to paint a thin line without having to resort to a size zero brush.

I have to still practice the art of shading with oil pastels. I need loads of practice with that one before I move to learning another concept with colors. But colors have added an interesting dimension to the process of learning.


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Art Class – Progress to Oil Pastels

Since the last class on Friday, I have been quite about my art – I guess there was a reason behind it. I was beginning to lose focus. The art teachers insisted that I keep sketching things regularly. Rough sketches but they had to be in proportion. The few that I did, did not look right to me. They were in proportion but larger than life. Thats something I have noticed about my drawing skills from earlier on. I am able to reproduce a picture but never on the same scale. Not smaller; larger. ( Yeah, aside from the fact that I am a large person, large at heart and have a large group of friends
and larger well wishers, I never intend for my drawings to be large to personify me) That primarily was the cause for the dwindling interest factor from last weeks art class. I did sketch bits and pieces but was not happy with the outcome.

So when Vic and August showed up this afternoon, I talked to them about it. They looked at my work and smiled. I fail to read the message. At the end of it, they said I have to keep at it – the rough sketches are the only way to get better at what I want to be good at.Fair enough. I shall rough sketch again this week and the next and week afters too till I run out of subjects to rough sketch.

Today I had to draw a basket of vegetables and shade them. The blackand white 'rough sketch' of the veggie platter did not take time but the shading killed me. I had to look at gradation in colours and identify the highlights ( these are white parts , highlighted by natural light). By the time I got done I was exhausted! Then I had to do my first gradation in shading with oil pastels. My spirits soared. Finally some colours in my black and grey art world. I suppose the art
teachers smelled out my waning interest and introduced the colours before I backed off from the classes – which by way of clarification, I did not to set the records right. I know I have a reputation ( at least the family thinks that I don't really do anything for long) and I am bent on proving them wrong. So help me Vic!

The colouring took a lot of effort. I understood the need to be good at black and white sketching before one can move to colouring with oil pastels. For whatever it is worth, check my output –

Artclass 001Artclass 002

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Art Class 4 – Perspectives and Proportions

Victoria talked about Perspectives and proportions today.

Last class she had asked me to cut and keep aside a few pictures of interiors and exteriors of buildings. Not being able to decide which ones will do justice (I was unsure what she wanted me to do with them- Knowing Victoria's style of working with me, she would have chosen the most complex 3D picture of a sitting room and then she said-"Sketch!") I refrained from cutting them out of the magazines. Today I learnt about perspectives while viewing pictures. Victoria showed me a "one point view" where all the lines in the picture converged to meet at a single point anyway you looked at it. It was the first time ever, I heard of any thing like that! And what an interesting point of learning that was. Then I had to skim through the magazines and identify other pictures that had the same view.

That done, Victoria challenged me to sketch roughly ( News flash Victoria All of my sketches is rough, so don't stress on the rough word!) a little bamboo plant that was on the table. So I began sketching the shoots and the leaves the way I perceived them. When I was almost done, she asked me to draw a small square and draw the proportion of the plant to the pot in which it was. She taught me how to measure. She made me close an eye and hold a pencil at arms length and measure the pot and with that measurement to find out how many measures of the pot was the plant. Now I realized that she was making me understand the importance of proportion. Then I had to measure Vic's ( for want of a shorter name) head and match it proportionately with the rest of her body. ( She measured 1: 5 sitting and 1:7 standing)

Then Victoria quickly cut out a 4X4 white chart and cut a 1×1 frame within it. She said it was going to be my frame through which I will view anything I want to draw. That sounded like fun. So I quickly viewed the world around me with the frame. I caught parts of the plant; part of Victoria's nose, eye and hair, part of a stool.  Really, this was fun. I began to comprehend the idea behind viewing through the frame. You can actually see only the part of the world around you, that you want to capture and not the unnecessary parts and extensions. As days go by, Vic tells me I would not need to hold the physical frame. I will anyway get used to looking at everything through my " mental 1 x 1 " frame.

Then I had to randomly sketch a few things around the house to show Vic ( Man, she is a task master!) if I had understood the idea of proportions. So I chose a bedside lamp, water bottles, a fold able picnic stool, a nightly cream bottle, laundry baskets and showed it to her. She liked my rough sketches of the water bottles and picnic stool. 2 out of 5 is not bad..

My home assignment – three captures of a money plant in a bottle, a few rough sketches through my frame view, and ID a few more pictures with one point views..

And please be warned -  the next time I don't notice your new hair cut or clothes, you know it was out of range from my "1 x 1" frame.

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Art Class Updates

I have recently been inspired to learn art. I have a penchant for pictures and have doodled for many years without any plan. It took a friend to recognize my potential to be an artist and to show me the way.

Here, I am going to keep updating my tryst with learning the amazing skill to draw and paint.

My first art class.

Augustine and Victoria turned up exactly on time.

I used newsprint sheets – ( the quality of paper used to print newspaper in?) and they asked me to draw a tree, a house and a girl the way I would draw them. Then he drew a series of shapes and asked me to pick crayon colours of my choice and fill them in. First I had to colour them one direction and then the other . Some vertically, some horizontally. Some along the shape. then a series of curves squiggles..more caterpillars..squiggles..circles, ovals..colour shade them… finally he drew a tree and asked me to colour the bark and leaves the way I visualize it..

Then told me about how the direction of the strokes can give volume and a 3d feel to an otherwise flat picture – to my eyes it still looked flat. i guess I have to train my eyes to look at it….. artistically. End of the hour he asked me to go around looking at the trees around my neighborhood… get a feel.. maybe carry a sketch pad… visualize how the tree is in my mind.. embrace it in my mind..capture the way the branches branch out.. the leaves …er….leave out (or did he say that?) maybe take a picture with a camera.. then come back and draw from memory. refer picture if I need inspiration.

The next time you see someone with a sketch pad, a 6B extra dark pencil, closely examining trees near your house, it could be me!


I was finishing my third tree- a part of the 3 tree home assignment when my art teachers walked in this afternoon. They said nice things about my pictures- particularly one that has various shades of black.


Today's class was all about shading and how to identify the different shades in objects.

So I was asked to shade with a black ( 6B-Staedler) pencil. Also to identify the different shades of black in percentages.So I drew little boxes and shaded. I did a 100% black to a 0% …grey…white almost- I left the last square blank:-) The tough part was to identify the shades after the shading was done. I had to pretend like I actually made out a difference between 100% black and 95% black. Except for some spotted gaps my 100% shading looked as black as even the 75% black square. Anyway, I learnt to hold the pencil lighter and tilt it close to the paper to make it look greyer as it progressed.

I tried my newly learnt shading tricks with some wax crayons as well. Victoria asked


me to identify the shades of colour on my skin- I had casually propped my hand on the table without knowing that I was inviting trouble! I hoped for some help to come my way, and I was disappointed. They just stood around me and egged me to go on and take a guess. So there I was looking at my hand like I was for the first time and said something that convinced them that I was at least making an attempt!

Then came the tougher part. Today I attempted shading my first live still picture! And I tell you its an eye sore but a decent first attempt? Victoria tilted the cup a bit, held it higher than my eye level and placed it on the table for me to get various "captures".


Class 3

Today was learning to shade shapes day. We took out Akank's blocks for want of cylinders, triangles, rectangles and squares. So I was asked ta imagine a cylinder on a flat surface with the sun shining on it from different directions. I had ta shade the different parts of the cylinder. They let me decide what percentages of black I would choose to shade the different sides of the cylinder.

Shade 006
Shade 007

It turned out to be a science lesson totally. Suddenly I had to recall some science facts of how long the shadow would be if the sun shone on it at 60 degrees from the left. No wonder the wise men said " Learning to draw is a science". It takes an Einstein to be a Rembrandt.

Anyways, there I was imagining the sun shining at the cylinder and trying to bring it to life with my 6B Staedler. And Viola!  It did look 3D like and ready to roll when I was done – with a little help from Augustine and Victoria, of course.

Then I shaded a square block, without much help. Now my home assignment is to draw three shapes, from three different angles in three different positions. So does that make it 3 x3 x 3 or just 3 x 3?

Now I have to revise my math skill as well.

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Review – This is it

MJ's This is it – watch the trailer – had nothing to do with anything else about MJ but his last concert. Actually all footage is of the practice sessions between March and June. The film began with some random two line interviews with the dancers that had come to audition for his on stage key dancers positions. Most of them young people who have always aspired to dance for the man. So naturally, they were all emotional , just being given the chance to audition meant so much to these people. ( Its a dream come true
said most)

Then they show the audition , with MJ sitting in the bleachers, watching, nodding, pointing and picking people he wanted. The entire film is footage from the video cameras that were at work during these sessions, without a voice over or commentary. So you actually hear what MJ says to the director or his dancers. So its all in bits and pieces with real voices, comments, laughs.

MJ changes into his flashy coats in each of his rehearsals. The – trademark studded glove on one hand is never there. He looks frail, cadaverous and wasted – not old. His eyes look ghostly – on the rare occasions he takes of his Elton John goggles. His hair is the only thing that makes him look nice. He wears his hat on and off during his rehearsals. I particularly liked it when he requested the key drummer and other musicians to wait for his cue. If you watch (Billie Jean) some of his videos you will hear these drum beats and special effects each time he snaps his fingers, turns, jumps or points his hand. Of course there was a lot of trademark MJ moves in the film – the moonwalk, his constant shake of wrist like he is trying to loosen up his joint, his crotch grab, his gyrating hip and his fantastic, restless, dance moves. Incredible.

At one point during his rehearsal, he says the chorus was loud. " It feels like someone is using his fist to plug my ear "in his usual soft voice.Then there is this time when the director tells him to climb on to the crane that will lift him off the stage during one of his songs when he says " Ok, I will" like a meek little boy. To his musicians he says " Lets do it one more time".  Every time they got the steps or music right he said " I love you. I really do". He says ' " I feel so blessed to give back something to the world. When I write these songs I give some sense of hope to people… " Ask MJ fans around the world and they will vouch for that!

The director says to everyone on stage," We are all here because of him… may it continue… with him leading the way" The press footage where Michael says  – "This is the moment. This is it". It is so poignant. My heart went out to him. Felt sorry that he was not given that one last chance to rock ( or Pop, as the case may be) the world.

It was worth being there. And it is going to be a special memory for more reasons than one- It was MJ's last and my first ( movie by myself in 40 years!)

Some of the songs they showed in full during the movie –

Annie are you ok
Billie jean
Don't stop till you get enough
Smooth criminal
Man in the mirror
Earth Song
Black or White
They don't really care about us

RIP, MJ. Love you too!

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