Magunta Dayakar’s interview with Magunta Dayakar … On Art

Who is an Artist?

One who never stops to learn. Continuous Learning means being Creative. Art is Creative.

What is art?

The ultimate outcome of an artist’s understanding of life.

An artist has to achieve perfection in art?

Trying to know what is perfection is art.

How it can be achieved?

Through learning language of art along with intuition.

What is Intuition?

Your experiences about life.

What is language of art?

Every language has a grammar. Art also has its own grammar. That grammar is sketch, value, color and composition. By combining intuition and language of art, artist’s work will become expressive.

What about abstract art? Is it also expressive?

It’s confusion more than expression.

Are you saying abstract paintings are not expressive?

Art means communication. When Abstract art remains non communicative, how do you call it expressive?

Why do you say abstract art is not communicative?

Ask anyone on the street about Abstract paintings, they will look at you in confusion. For example, when a landscape artist paints sky in his painting everyone will respond to it, because they know it. It appears like sky which they are seeing everyday. An abstract painter puts some color on canvas which he feels will represent sky. But it’s not appearing as sky to the viewer. To him it’s only some paint. So he will get confused.

Do you mean art has to be at a level, where it can be understood even by ordinary people ?

Everyone’s senses respond the same way to pain and pleasure, whether it is an ordinary man on the road or a man living in a palace. If common man cannot make sense of an abstract painting, it is not different for anyone else.

Do you mean art has to touch our senses?

Otherwise what is the purpose of art?

Does art have a purpose?

Yes. It should make us happy. Being Happy means being an Artist. That’s why everyone likes some form of art, whether it is music, a gripping drama or an inspiring painting. Everyone wants to practice a little bit of this and that art form.

So you are saying … art is essential to make us happy ?

Yes. Art means creativity. Creativity means continuous learning. One who learns continuously will know the essence of life. Knowing the essence of life means knowing your inner self. Knowing your inner self means you have understood the purpose of life.

Every master artist says ” Paint thick in light areas, paint thin in dark areas.”

Every master artist says ” Paint thick in light areas,

paint thin in dark areas.” … to understand this we

need creative thinking.

Why do they say that? What does that mean?

Usually they won’t elaborate on this topic. They won’t give you much clarity on this!


Art students don’t know.

But we all know what they said is important otherwise why they would talk about it ?

Is there any secret here? Or did those masters think, what they said would be understandable to the student? Is this true?

O. K. When I started this column I told you ‘ There are no secrets, only approaches.’

Yes. It’s true.

In the Evening

Again we will read those words. ” Paint thick in light areas, paint thin in dark areas.”

Paint thick in light areas …

‘ Why we have to paint thick in light areas ?’ … This is the question we have to ask ourselves. Why we have to ask ourselves? Because nobody is there to answer for us. This is the way I used to question myself. An artist needs this kind of attitude. This is one of the key attributes of the creator.

Every artist is a creator.

Again, coming to the topic … Paint thick in light areas…

Why we have to paint thick in light areas? We will find the answer but for that we have to learn an approach to find answers.

We know what is light area. Where light falls that would be the light area in any space whether it is outdoors or interiors. The space which won’t get light that would be dark area. This is very common thing in our day to day life. This we are experiencing everyday. What I am talking about is actual space where we would be a part of it. That is three dimensional. That three dimension is not an illusion. It’s real.

But if we want to paint the same scene it won’t be a real. We are creating an illusion on our canvas which is a picture space. This picture space would be divided into light and dark areas.

Paint thick in light areas…

So, as per masters saying here we should do our brush strokes with thick paint, vice versa dark areas with thin paint.

Just sort out the phrase .. Thick and Thin.

Thick paint will appear to our eye. Thin paint won’t appear. Here the key lies.

In our actual lives we will only see the light ; we won’t see the dark. This is the way our vision works.

So when you paint the light areas with thick paint, it will appear to the viewer’s eye, vice versa if you paint dark areas with thin paint it won’t attract the eye. That way the light effect will be real.

This is the same we experience in real life.

If we have to create the same experience to the viewer on our picture space, we have to follow our paint applications, the way our eye will see. Then we will get the light effect in our paintings.

That’s why every master artist says ” Paint thick in light areas, paint thin in dark areas. ”

If I had known this truth in my younger days…my life would have been more beautiful.

It’s only one line where I am trying to find the beauty of life and where it lies. Beauty and problem

lie side by side. If you remove the problem then beauty only exists. Few human beings who try to

live always creatively , sometimes suffer from emptiness. The reason… they want to do so much in

a very short time.

Its like to trying to finish painting quickly or any creative work. When an artist tries to finish his painting as quickly as possible what’s going to happen? The very first thing, he won’t enjoy his work and next, his mind feels pressure which leads to loss of interest in his work. Results … he will try to find some other ways to survive, that means change of profession.

All of this happens due to trying to achieve things quickly. Then beauty of life is lost; depression or problem remains.

I am feeling the same. I have been trying to do so much as if this moment would be the last one of my life. Results … it’s pushing me towards emptiness as if all of my knowledge is abruptly non existent.

Many times in my past it had happened to me. But in those times I had not tried to find the reasons. Now, maybe because of age, when the mind and heart are searching for calm and peaceful state, when they are not happening, then I may be struggling to find the reason for the emptiness.

When I am typing these letters, words and sentences suddenly a thought flashed in me out of the blue. I have understood its message. ‘ Let the body jump into deep seas but keep your mind alert on how to survive there.’

Experiencing this great insight, I have come out of my emptiness with lightning speed. Then after a few seconds, I have started to think…’ If I had known this truth in my younger days…my life would have been more beautiful.’

But nothing is too late ; from now on I will make my life beautiful.’

Tail Piece: We may have so much knowledge and skills. But if we try to use them all at once, we will be in confusion. Confusion leads to loss of self confidence. Then you will enter into emptiness, that means the beauty of life is lost. So what we should do is we must know our limits however knowledgeable we are. After-all we are humans. We have certain energy limits which should not be exhausted.

We should think – We should plan – We should implement it at one step at a time, with calm and cool mind.

We are here to experience the beauty of life instead of making it empty. Each and every act of us should lead us to this beautiful state.

Keats says “Beauty is Truth, Truth is Beauty.”

From artist’s point of view truth and beauty can exist together in his work. The search for the inner truth is the search for the beauty. If we don’t understand the inner truth, the external beauty will fade away with time.

We can say it this way. ” Do not deceived by appearances, look at their inside. ”

… 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 or painting 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. The whole means … Inner self and Outer self.

If they understand The Whole, Then only they are able to understand Keats words … “Beauty is Truth, Truth is Beauty.”

How to Create Drama in Painting?

To paint means to create drama. People love drama. But the drama should appear realistic. If it doesn’t appear realistic, viewer will get bored of it. That means rejection. You call it … Failure.

Reality is a Documentary. Drama is a Feature film. The story for both may be same.

To explain in more detail… lets take a story as an example, “How a poor girl from slum reached the heights of success”, this is the story line.

What is a Documentary?

If some one goes to that girl’s place, to record …where she was born, where she had grown, the school where she studied, the place where she trained, the people who helped her, due to whom she faced problems and finally makes an interview of her … if you do all these things in realistic places and people who are connected with her … It is a Documentary film.

What is a Feature Film?

If you do the same thing by creating same atmosphere in studios and outdoors, hiring professional actors to play real life characters and emphasizing the crucial incidents of her life, down playing not so much important things, giving a powerful beginning to the story, continuing with surprises, building anxiety and tension when the story is reaching towards the climax.. finishing with breath stopping moments … that is a Feature film.

Same thing applies to artists for working their paintings. They have to create drama in their works.

Artists paint in outdoors, they work from models, objects, photos and imagination. They try to capture figures, objects and all of those with proper perfection as much as is humanly possible. Depending upon the artist skill levels they may succeed to certain extent. Is it enough? Is there a drama? Without drama where is the surprise? Without that element of surprise how can we call it Art? If they won’t create drama in their paintings, they won’t surprise the viewers. That means failure.

This is the problem many artists usually face. That’s why whatever they work, however much they try, at the end they feel dissatisfaction, if not immediately it would be later. That’s the reason … even though an artist enjoys his work after he finishes, when he looked at it after sometime , he would start to feel doubt about the quality of his work. He will feel the painting lacks something but he doesn’t know what it is. This is a very common experience for most of the artists, whenever they see their past works.

The reason for this is … lack of drama. Failure at creating drama. In every art drama is essential. Without drama there is no art whether it is writing, movies, music, acting, dancing… If the drama creates the illusion of reality that would be more powerful. We call such a works great art.

But, the question is … how to create that drama in painting?

Again, we will go back to the story of a poor girl from slums who has reached the heights of success…

A girl from slum created a history. Interesting! … because she is a girl from slums! Usually we won’t expect that kind of thing. An IAS officer’s son selected for IAS we won’t give much importance for that. Because we know it’s common. There’s nothing to be surprised about. But if an auto driver’s son is selected for IAS … it’s a story. News papers flash that story on front page. People will talk about it with surprise. The reason … that’s unexpected. If an unexpected thing happens, if it’s harmful thing people will get shocked. Same way if that unexpected thing generates pleasant interest, it causes surprise. That is drama.

The essence of drama is …make ordinary thing extraordinary. To show it as extraordinary you have to make all surrounding things of it, in less light. That means not in much focus. Then that ordinary thing is elevated. Then refine its structure more and more. In art, refinement will be done with Value, Color, Texture and many more. Then drama will come. When viewers see that ordinary thing in an extraordinary way, on your canvas they feel surprise. Then your painting will become successful. In every art form this works.

I am repeating these words …’In art.. refinement will be done with Value, Color, Texture and many more.’

What are these?

Value, Color, Texture and many more of these belong to elements of art and principles of composition. This you call … language of art.

If an artist has understood the language of art, with that understanding if he finishes a painting, then he won’t get any dissatisfaction with his work whenever he sees it. Viewers also will get surprise for his work.

Surprise is the key element of Drama. To create a powerful drama on canvas, the artist must have an understanding of the language of art.