My first Book – How To Start a Painting And How To Plan It ?

Like Elements of nature there are a few elements in art also. Those elements can be played with using principles (tools) of Composition. Whatever art form you may work with, this knowledge is a must. If not, your work looks like a work of craft rather than a work of art.

Western great artists work their paintings through this knowledge. That’s why their paintings look powerful and impress us as works of art. Our famous artist Raja Ravi Varma also learned those techniques to a certain extent from western artists. To be truthful, except for a few, most of our Indian artists are not good at those techniques.

And, a few people think they are born with talent and do not need to learn any technical skills, they feel with their artistic mind they can create master pieces in art with hard practice. It’s a wrong notion. A person who does not know how to read and write, can he write poetry ? Is it Possible ? Just think … The same applies to Artists also.

I am very much determined to create awareness about these elements and composition principles of art through my writings. Many students are not used to READING art books, rather they flip through the books, looking at paintings. Reason for this maybe … difficulty in understanding westerners way of writing. Both as an artist and writer, I am trying to solve this problem, by writing in an easy manner for my readers to read and understand easily.
Magunta Dayakar Art Series – Book 1 available on Amazon

How beautiful it would be if you know ….

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.

Many people are asking me … what is the language of art?

Many people are asking me …’ what is the language of art?’

It’s not possible for me to answer everyone individually. Here I am explaining about it.

‘Every subject has its own language. For example if you want to learn English, you should start with alphabets, words, sentences, grammar and like that. Once you study these things well, then you are able to structure a sentence to communicate whatever you want to say. Making sentences into a paragraph, from paragraphs to pages, to write you need a lot of practice and a lot of reading. After that writing making it readable is the next step. The one who makes his writing readable will become a popular writer, his writing would be called as popular writing. Example … Popular Novels or Fiction.

Art also has its own language … Line, Shape, Space, Form, Value , Color, Composition and many more are there in the language of art. If someone wants to become a professional artist, they must study these things at least to a certain extent. These same things apply in all visual art related fields.

I have written an article on my blog, titled as ‘ Does every artist and art student have to learn the language of art? ‘ Read it to get some understanding.

It’s impossible to explain about the language of art in a few articles. It goes on with more intricacies about it. I would like to write about it as long as possible. It’s also a learning for me. I am not thinking that I am helping others by writing about it. It’s helping myself. I am learning more by writing about it.

Whatever I am writing through “From The Painter’s Heart’ and ‘ Painting Secrets Columns’ is about the language of art and creative thinking.

Read these columns, slowly with time you will be able to understand it. That is the way I learned, the same I am suggesting to anyone who wants to learn.

Tail Piece

I read John Carlson’s “Guide To Landscape Painting” 20 years ago. When I read it I didn’t understand much even though I was a professional writer and had a habit of reading a lot of books. After repeated reading I had started to understand it.

Later I read twentieth century prominent American plein air painter Paul Strisik words about Carlson’s book …

” I read Carlson’s book hundred times, then only I have understood it.” This is what he said.

Understanding the language of art is not difficult but it requires continuous effort and analytical thinking.

Visual Imagination…what is it?

Every artist however skilled he is, always gets doubts on Composition and Design at least once in awhile, if not every day. The nature of the subject is like that. If it’s easy to understand, we won’t be talking about it.

One of my students asked me….

” Sir. You are saying Composition is more difficult than Design! Why?”

” It is all a play on a picture space. To play we have to use a tool. That is Composition. If design is a plan, composition is the tool to execute that plan playing with the elements of art. I told you already, applications are always more difficult than planning.

You see… here we have few elements. With that we have to create a scene. A scene is a space. That space is empty until you put some shapes. Those shapes have to be turned into forms using light. We see that light through colors.

Think… all these are applications. To make the space pleasant, you have to use these applications with lot of tools. These tools we call as principles. Principles are the tools you have to use to work on something. If you want to be the best in composition you have to know about these principles. ”

” What are these principles? ”

” Variety, Contrast, Repetition, Proportion, Balance, Emphasis, Pattern and Rhythm. These principles interact with elements. They choose the variety of shapes, values, colors … and will turn all elements into one family. That should be harmonious. This leads to unity. Achieving this unity means that you are successful in your applications. That means Composition.”

” I am a bit confused Sir, please tell me some more about these principles .I am not able to understand them, they always confuse me. For example ‘ Variety ‘ as a word there is no confusion. Everybody knows the meaning of it. Same with Contrast, Repetition, Balance and others. But the problem is we do not know how to use it in work.”

” Dear young lady, this is the problem more or less every art student usually suffers. They try to apply these principles without understanding them. There they fail. Usually what happens? First they learn about them. Then they will get excited because they think they knew some secrets of painting. They become confident that they are able to apply design and composition in their work. Then they will start. Suddenly some problem will happen which they didn’t expect. They become frustrated. Confused. Then they lose their confidence. ”

”Yes! Exactly it’s happening to me. Why?” She asked me.

‘Answer is very simple and complex.”

She is looking at me questioningly.

”….visual Imagination.” I answered.

She was in silence for a few moments. Coming out of that silence she asked me.

”I don’t get it sir!”

I explained to her, ”First you have to imagine what you want to paint on your canvas. You have to see the anatomy of the particular picture in your mind. Then only you have to start work with your tools. Things will turn in your favour.”

”Anatomy of the picture!?”

” Yes. Anatomy of the picture. That means whatever you want to show the viewer in your finished painting, you have to see the basic structure of it in your in your mind’s eye. This is called Visual Imagination. When you are able to get this visual imagination, then your tools will follow. That is the coordination between mind, eye, hand and tools. Every Artist requires these visual imagination skills when it comes to applications on picture space or any actual space.

Who said, if you are a painter you have to sell paintings ….

”Are you promoting your work now!?” Some people who know me from a long time asked me with surprise.

I was not surprised by their question. People who know me well would ask that question after seeing what I am doing now.

Since two months I have been writing continuously on my blog, posting on my face book page along with my paintings and started to interact with millions of people.

The people who knew me since decades never expect this kind of act from me, even in their wildest dreams. What they knew about me is that I am reluctant to market me and my work.

Yes. They are right. I feel uneasy to go to the people to sell my work whether they are potential clients or galleries. I know what I am. Some things won’t suit me.

Of course, I sold whatever I painted till this day and at present I don’t have any paintings with me to sell. This happened just because people like my paintings so they bought all of my work.

People have a notion that, being a fine art artist, you have to sell your paintings, if you don’t sell you are a failure.

What a wrong notion! Selling paintings is not the only way to survive as a fine art artist. You could teach and paint for pleasure and … you can write books on it if you are truly that good. If you are not good, if you are a mediocre, you should face survival crisis. Not only in art, mediocrity faces crisis in every field, when economy is not positive.

Who said, if you are a painter you have to sell paintings as if it is the only way for an artist’s survival?

In truth, Painting is an act which enlightens our mind. The students who are coming to my class are experiencing that change in their minds after a few classes. But this enlightenment, relaxation and calmness would happen only if they achieve artistic growth, that means learning technical and creative skills. A good teacher will help students to achieve that.

Who is a good teacher?

The one who has a commanding skills on subject, who has the best communication skills, who is able to understand student’s absorbing levels and finally who is ready to share whatever he knows …is a good teacher. This kind of teacher will help the students to attain the enlightenment of being an artist.

When you are able to others to help achieve enlightenment through art … is there anything greater than that?

If you sell paintings, only you will earn money and fame but if you help others to experience pleasure and relaxation through your art, it would be more meaningful for being an artist.

So, I choose the later than former because it suits my nature.

Now at the age of sixty six, I have started to feel that I don’t have much time on my side, so better to spread my knowledge to more distant places than limiting to Hyderabad. The Facebook, the twenty first century’s wonderful innovation is helping me to continue my journey.

Creative instinct survives only in that way

There is a wrong notion in many of the art students and art lovers that realistic artists are able to paint only realistic paintings, Abstract artists will be able to work only abstract paintings …

Similar notions are that oil painters are capable of working only in oils, water colorists only in water color and that acrylic painters are good at painting only in acrylics,

The same way, Portrait painters do only portraits, landscape artists work only landscapes, still life painters paint only still life…! This kind of opinion is false.

Art students once they are influenced by this kind of notion, then they will try to stick to one medium and one kind of subject. Then their artistic growth stops there. Art means creative. Artist means creative person. Creative person should always continue the search for new paths. Picasso is one such example. He was a painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, stage designer, poet and playwright. He had started with realistic painting, then transforming into cubism and from there experimented with many styles….

Creative instinct survives only in that way.

An artist who is trained in language of art can work with any medium, whether its oil, acrylics, water color or any other, and he can work on any subject …realistic, semi abstract or abstract painting. All he has to do is adapt for new paths. That is Creativity.

Artists doesn’t need to stick to any one subject or any one medium for their lifetime as if it is their ancestors property. If they try to work like that for whatever reasons they won’t enjoy the artistic pride.

Here I have given examples of my paintings which are realistic, semi abstract and abstract in oils and acrylics.

What is Originality in Paintings?

To paint means to create movement. Movement is life. Life is precious. You could not buy a life for a dying person, however rich you maybe.

To create the movement on canvas is an artist’s work. If he captures movement, life follows it. Then his work will survive forever.

To capture life, an artist needs good understanding of the language of art along with intuition. Language of art is a technical skill, just like the grammar of a language. Intuition comes from your life experiences … your sufferings, your joyfulness, your pride and frustrations, your success and failures … all of those experiences would shape your character. That character is your intuition. Every painting shows the artist’s character. You could say what an Artist really paints is his character. That is Originality. Originality survives forever.

If an artist paints to satisfy the market, his work will become illustrations. Illustrations won’t survive for long except if they are painted by great masters. Why this exception? The reason is .. those great masters do every work with their character. Character survives. Their character is their Originality.

19th century Dutch Post Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh starved throughout his Artist life. He died in extreme misery and heart bleeding poverty. No artist suffered in history like him. But in later years, his paintings sold for hundreds of millions dollars. Still they are selling.

Why they sold for those unbelievable amounts?

The reason … he captured movement on his canvases, regardless of the subject. Through that movement he created immortal lives on canvases in spite of his misery and poverty. He had tried to see his character on canvas through his work. He became successful in his struggle. That’s why his paintings have been surviving for so long and will survive forever. That way he made his life immortal.

Being an artist means … Creating life which is immortal. Instead of achieving this, if an artist runs after money and fame, his paintings will be worthless after some time, however successful he maybe at present.

I enjoy it like a game

Whenever I start to paint my imaginary landscapes, I feel that I am playing chess with a grand master who has never been defeated. That grand master is no one … it’s my canvas. Every moment I use all my visual imagination skills to win over that. I use composition as my weapon along with my visual imagination.

With lots of moves and counter moves I will win the game in the end.

Balance, counter balance, repetition, variety, pattern, rhythm, spatial depth, contrast, centre of interest, line, movement, size, shape, proportion, space, texture, color and many more divisions of army of composition will play their roles through out the game whenever their presence is needed.

I know without this army of composition I will become helpless like a king without a kingdom. So I give royal treatment to all, whether they are small or big. I know by experience sometimes even an ordinary soldier can also change the game.

So by knowing all these strategies, evolving every moment with visual imagination I enjoy it like a game.

Yes. The king who has strength will enjoy the rule of kingdom. Of course he also has to know his boundaries. If he doesn’t know his boundaries sometimes it may lead to him losing his kingdom also. History has proven this fact.

Tail Piece: Doing painting is not just hard work ; It’s a game of creativity. The one who paints a picture must know when he should stop. Otherwise he will lose the painting like a king who oversteps his boundaries and loses the war.

Doing Painting is a Mind Game, where your wisdom is your opponent

How is this painting? I have done this to enjoy the fun of doing painting. Yes. Doing painting is fun, if you have understood the language of art. Painting is fun if we know what we are doing and what we have to do. What I have realized while doing painting is, its a mind game.

When I wrote fiction I used to visualize my fictitious world, the people in it, their interactions, their movements, consequences, how the characters, incidents evolve and move towards climax, in between so many ambiguities, anxieties, uncertainties, frustrations and depressions; everything leads to climax. Once the climax will be over there is a terrific relaxation, elation, finally fun.

The entire process I call it a mind game. I believe this mind game happens in every creative act whether it is writing, painting, music, dance, acting … The same way when I start painting, I have a rough idea in my mind of what I want to see on the canvas, my brush moves on canvas to give clarity for that rough image, then … shapes will form, light illuminates them, colors interact within them as bright and dull tones, relations will be established as values, temperature will be analysed with each and every plane, balance can be observed, variety, repetition, contrast will be adjusted, edges will be blurred, softened, sharpened … every brush stroke should interact with the whole canvas, finally ending with checking movement, harmony and unity. That’s the painting.

Simply it’s a mind game. It’s easy to conquer the enemy who is existing outside rather than the one who is in your inside. Here the enemy is your urge to paint well. To satisfy that urge you should acquire the tools of language of art. With the help of those tools along with your intuition you will be able to win the mind game.

These tools are ….

in primary layer

Sketch, Value, Color, Composition

in Secondary Layer

Size, Shape, Space, Perspective, Edges, Texture

in Third Layer

Focal Point, Balance, Variety, Contrast, Repetition

in Fourth Layer

Harmony, Movement and Unity.

Every art student has to understand these. After studying the essence of these, start putting them in application. It will take few years to achieve reasonable control on them. But its worth it.

Painting is not just about doing paintings to feel the pride of being an artist. To become a true artist, every art student must understand these tools, at least their essence. Then only you know the feel of finishing a painting. That moment you will able to win the mind game where your wisdom is your opponent.

Why Artists Paint?

In the early hours of the day, this question suddenly flashed in me.

At the same moment, I have also got the answer.

Every human being on this earth will struggle a lot to survive, whether they are poor or rich. If they are poor they will struggle to meet their basic needs, if they are rich they will struggle to grow. Both will struggle for survival, paths may be different.

So struggling for survival is must for any one whoever they are, whatever profession they may be in. In that game of survival everyone needs strength to fight.

Same way … working a painting will test your strength more and more. It is more difficult task than any others. The reason … it’s creating life on a two dimensional canvas. If it’s not life, it’s creating a feeling of an illusion of life on canvas.

Life is precious. Saving life or creating life is priceless. It’s invaluable. Even hundreds of crores of money could not save a person from death. Money has no value in terms of life. When an artist has to create life on canvas he should be richer than all the money in the world. Because he is creating life on canvas. But that richness lies in his mind. That richness is … desire to create.

That desire itself is energy. In the universe energy is life. Without that energy there is no life. To create life on canvas artists will use that energy. In those moments he will explode like a sun. He will feel entire power of the universe in him, at that time.

When that work is over, he will become relaxed but at the same time he starts to feel confidence about his ability to create. To them every painting is a challenge. That challenge tests their strength. If they realize their strength through their work, that will boost their confidence in their ability to survive

the obstacles in the journey of life.

That is the key … ‘Ability to Survive …’

From poor to rich, ordinary person to celebrity, everyone needs confidence to survive in life. Most of the people will lose the confidence and strength when the problems surround them more and more. Whereas artists will become more hardened day by day, with time. Irrespective of miseries which they are facing, they will continue their work as if nothing exists in the world except their creative act.

The reason … whenever they are in work, they feel the energy. Energy is life. When a person is getting life from his work, how he could stop it, when life itself is invaluable?

That’s why … Artists paint not only to create life on canvas but also to feel life, in themselves.