Secrets of Creative Thinking from Artist’s Point of View Part 1

  ” To grow we need something creative ” In Company board meetings people express this feeling. This is needed even in Drawing.
 Wise people say ” Do not deceived by appearances, look at their inside. ”  One who draws must understand this saying.
There is so much confusion, ambiguity in art students who want to learn drawing/sketching seriously. Many practising artists feel uncertain about their drawing skills. Always they are used to hearing this phrase ‘ Infuse life into your sketches.’
Interesting phrase and a very familiar one too. Not only in drawing, this phrase is used in every field … Business, Industries, Education, Sports, Architecture, Acting, Dance, Music, Fashion and so many.

When companies recruit candidates for jobs, they say ” We want creative brains.”
In Company board meetings they say, ” To grow we need some creative approach. ”
” I need something different. ” Client says to an Interior designer.
” This time I want to do something special.” Hero says to director.
” My designs should be totally unique.” Fashion Designer thinks.

Innocence (Tonal Drawing)  Artist: Magunta Dayakar

‘ Creative brains, Creative approach, Something different, Something special, Totally unique …’
To everyone these are very familiar phrases but most of them are not able to understand their true meaning.
” Infuse life into your sketches ” is also a similar phrase.

In his ‘ Practice and Science of Drawing ‘ Harold Speed says …
” The visible world is to the artist, as it were, a wonderful garment, at times revealing to him the Beyond, the Inner Truth there is in all things. He has a consciousness of some correspondence with something the other side of visible things and dimly felt through them, a “still, small voice” which he is impelled to interpret to man.
It is the expression of this all-pervading inner significance that I think we recognise as beauty, and that prompted Keats to say: “Beauty is truth, truth is beauty.”
And hence it is that the love of truth and the love of beauty can exist together in the work of the artist. The search for this inner truth is the search for beauty. ”

I will analyse the essence of these words for the benefit of layman who is not able to understand them truly.
Once again let’s read this quote ” Do not deceived by appearances, look at their inside. ”

In essence this is what Harold speed said. “ … For example, you are meeting a person at some occasion. He is a business man. He talks sweetly, intelligently and his gestures are very refined and his appearance is very posh. You are mesmerised by his presence. In a few months you became close to him. A friend of his. One fine day you invested your hard earned money in his business because he convinced you that it would be a good investment. And you believed you have done a wise thing. Few months passed. Suddenly one day you came to know that his words are not true. He trapped you shrewdly to steal your money. By the time you realised it, it’s already too late. You became helpless.”

Why things happened this way? The reason is simple. You are influenced by his external appearances and acts. There is nothing wrong in getting influenced by something. If we won’t be influenced we are not humans. We will become emotional due to influences but at the same time we should question our influences and emotions. This nature of questioning is the character of a creative person.

Again coming to the matter, what happened in your case? You are influenced by him and you become emotional; so you simply believed him. Then it leads to losing your money. You are deceived by his appearance.
Once again I am saying, getting influenced and becoming emotional due to some influence is not wrong but you have to question the nature of those influences, whether they are genuine or false.
Here the problem lies … Even you don’t know that you have to question your influences! Instead of questioning simply you are carried away by them.

Same thing happens when you start to draw something. Don’t think art and life are two different things. In fact both are one. Whatever happens in life the same would happen in art. Because of your ignorance you don’t know that.

Ignorance! It’s the reason for our failures in art and life. I told you life and art are the same. Many people think art is different from life. They think it’s something different, that it is the outcome of the emotional expression of the artist. This kind of thought itself is another kind of ignorance.

What does it mean … ‘ Emotional expression of an artist? ‘ Is he doing drawing in some kind of emotional state? Is it true? Or false?
The one who is swayed by excitement, ecstasy, elation, for him, how is it possible to think coolly!

With out that state of mind how he will see his subject as a whole? Seeing the thing as a whole … an artist needs that skill. Not only an artist, each and everyone whether they are business men, scientists, actors, musicians, or anyone, who wants to think creatively they need that skill … Seeing it as a whole.’

( To be continued in next week)

Color Notions – False or True Or Relative?

You went to a party. So many young ladies are there. All are beautiful. You will get confused, on whom you have to put your attention because everybody is beautiful. Then suddenly another young lady entered there. You are shocked when you see her because she is very unattractive. Where everyone is beautiful, such unattractiveness among them, you could not digest. For sometime your eyes will follow her, whatever movement she makes.

It’s relativeness.
Unattractiveness  among Beauty.
Same thing happens when a beautiful girl steps into a place where every girl is average looking. This kind of feeling is evoked everywhere in our lives and nature. Everything we see is relative.

Figure 1 : Red

See this Color Red. How much attention it is getting from you? Analyse truthfully the feelings evoked in you. 

Figure 2 : Red and Green

Compare figure 1 and figure 2. See the figures one at a time. Analyse which red is more striking.

A French Romantic artist Eugène Delacroix regarded as the leader of the French Romantic school said …“Everyone knows that yellow, orange, and red suggest ideas of joy and plenty. I can paint you the skin of Venus with mud, provided you let me surround it as I will.”

Figure 3 : Liberty Leading the People is a painting by Eugène Delacroix

See how much little quantity of red he used in the entire picture space. How much attention it is getting from us! Is this not proving the theory of relativeness of a young ugly lady among beautiful girls? Or a beautiful lady among average looking ladies.

Figure 4 : Peter Bruegel the Elder’s Landscape with fall of Icarus

See another painting from 16th century artist Peter Bruegel the Elder’s -Landscape with fall of Icarus – How a small bit of Red appears dominant, surrounded by lot of Green and Earth tones.
You see how the red is appearing with more striking contrast than in Delacroix painting.
Why red here is appearing with such intensity? Because green is Uglinesscomplementary to red. Whereas Delacroix painted the entire picture space in his painting with varied brown tones and blue greys. That’s why there Red is not appearing as strikingly as in Peter Bruegel’s Painting.

These things are proving the power of color lies relative to its surroundings rather than on its own.

One painter says these words
”I like red color because it expresses excitement, energy, passion, strength, aggressiveness and danger …. ”.

What about the truthfulness of this expression?

Are we really feeling these attributes from the color of red? Or are we tuned to those notions since long? Have those notions become our beliefs? If not, why in some countries red symbolises Joy, Good luck, Happiness; In India women use it as Sindoor on their forehead as it symbolises their happiness and fortune and the same red is used as a symbol of Danger in traffic, hospitals and wars ,Red alerts, Red corner notices, Red tapeism in government offices and also used as a symbol for Shame and for many many more negative things … . so much contradiction.

I think these notions may not be true.
When we see red we feel little bit uneasy for its’ strong intensity and harshness. It effects us very deeply and will get our attention totally. Because of this reason red will be used as the symbol to get our attention. For example when we see a person in an accident first we will see his blood, due to that effect we will try to turn away our face. This is true.

Derek Jarman said – “Painters use red like spice.” This is true. That’s why in their paintings Eugène Delacroix, Peter Bruegel the Elder used red as a spice.

Not only Red, all colors are like this. Yellow symbolises light, Green symbolises nature, Blue symbolises night, water and skies like Red as blood. These are basic influences on us. Artists have to use these influences in their work depending upon their subject. At the same time they have to understand the relativeness of color.

In conclusion, Color is relative, Its’ attribute depends on surrounding colors. Once again we have to remember Delacroix words … “ I can paint you the skin of Venus with mud, provided you let me surround it as I will.” 

Are These Statements True?

Dear All,

Sorry for not posting in ‘Painting Secrets Column ‘ this week.

After 3 years break, Again I am reopening my institute and studio in my old place where I conducted classes for 15 years.Due to that busy work i was not able to post my article here.
From next week it will be regular.
At the end of this month 65 years would have passed from my life. Last few months I thought about retirement.Spending time, with some reading, occasional painting, a little bit of writing on art and fiction.
But slowly I have realized my life should not be like that. The reason … When I was in forties I had reasonable knowledge which was sufficient to do my work well. After that, in the next 25 years I have acquired a lot of knowledge on the science of art. If I have to say in one line …’ I have understood the Art of Painting.’

After acquiring that much knowledge, taking retirement … I didn’t feel it’s the right thing to do. So I have come to the conclusion that I have to continue my work as if I was in my twenties and have to share my knowledge with whoever is interested to learn. This is going to be my remaining life.

Next week I am going to write an article about Color Relations.

”I like red color because it expresses excitement, energy, passion, strength, aggressiveness and danger …. ” One painter says.
”I use yellow to express joy, happiness, idealism, imagination, hope, sunshine ” another painter comments.
” The artist used yellow, blue and red very powerfully. lot of energy and vigor flowing in painting ” one critic writes.

Are these statements true?

How truthful these statements are when we apply them in our work?

( Read this article next week in my blog.)

If I know Color Mixing Tips …

It’s always interesting and sometimes funny when experiencing some art students’ attitudes. They think if they know how to mix the colors, they can do paintings well.
Is it true?
If we know few tips about color mixing, does it helps us to do painting well? To find answer for this question first let us explore what is color mixing.

If you mix white to a color it is a Tint.

If you mix black to a color it is a Shade.

If you add its complementary color to the color, it is Grey or Tone.

 (Colors on exact opposites of the color wheel are known as complementary

 colors. See the color wheel given below)

These three things will play in any painting, whether it is realistic art or abstract art.
Mixing these colors as tints, shades and greys, is it really difficult? Not at all. Few days of practice of mixing those colors will give anyone familiarity with them. Then they will know how to mix colors, how to get tints, shades and greys. Even after that their paintings don’t turn out well!  What’s the problem? What’s the reason for their failure? The reason … Lack of understanding about color.

Mixing color is only a part of the process of understanding color. While color is an ocean, mixing color is only a wave. Studying a wave is not enough to understand the mysteries of a Sea. Studying wave means you are standing at the shore. From there you have to enter into the sea. From there …. you have to travel to the deep dark mysteries of the ocean.

To know about the ocean of color we have to start with Color as a Value. Many great artist say that ” Value is more important than color. If you get your value right your color also will be right.

When we paint a picture with variations between black and white that is value scale. Usually 5 to 9 value variations would be in that scale. Depending upon the subject and taste of the artist, he will choose a few values in that scale.

One of my students Hyma painted these two pictures with grey value scale.


  The head of the tribal woman is painted with full value scale that means almost 9.
Tribal Woman


Two Women

Semi abstract painting of two women painted with 4 values.

Same thing if we do in color, there we have to see every color in a grey scale. That is Color as a Value.

I will discuss about this and about some more in coming weeks …..