Step by Step Progress of my Lion Painting and a bit more….

I made a few more paintings.

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This one I did while I was attending the one week oil painting class that I mentioned in the previous blog post. Anyway, for those of you who didn’t read it, I was actually looking to do something different from the others. So I applied my new found knowledge in this painting. I was very happy with the outcome. It was a copied painting anyway with a few modifications. Nevertheless I thought it turned out good. But I won’t forget to mention, I was still in the guest room at that time and I didn’t have an easel. I was using a chair to place the canvas board. But the true challenge was the cotton trees. We had lots of cotton flower trees outside the guest room and it was the perfect climate for them to shed the cotton. Oh how nightmarish. The flowers everywhere, plus the wind; the strands of cotton got everywhere. I don’t know how they got into the room but I had to pick at my painting with a clean brush every now and then to remove these strands which would stick to the oil paint and refuse to come out.

Luckily a house was available to us soon enough. And I had a new dog now with me; my furry little Foxy. Once I had unpacked and settled down, I made the painting I had mentioned in the previous post. Here are the step by step photos of the abstract Lion painting.

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I know that the pictures 4, 5 and 6 look the same but if you take a closer look at it you will know the difference.

Well, not much writing this time. There is a lot one can learn from progress photos and I hope these photos help.

Until next time…. 🙂

My learning sources

After dealing with all my health issues, yet again I was in a new place. Yeah I’ve got to move so very often; woes of being an army wife. This new place in West Bengal was unlike any other place I’d lived in so far. Surrounded by tea plantations and forest and it rained most of the time. But I reached there in the beginning of summer. I stayed in the guest room only for a month here because a house was available soon after we reached there.

Meanwhile when we were still living in the guest room, I heard about a one week oil painting class in the vocational training center conducted by an army wife. I decided to go. It was one of those typical classes where you have to paint what the teacher tells you to. She made us paint a Ganesha painting. Well, I asked her if I can paint anything else but she didn’t agree. She didn’t even let us choose our own colors. We had to paint the same image and she even told us what colors to mix. It wasn’t a total waste though.  There I learnt about mixing colors and working in layers and the basics which I didn’t really know. And yes, I finally learnt how to wash my paintbrushes. Can you believe it? After 4 paintings! We were also given reading material on a few oil painting tips. It was pretty helpful.

I then went online and downloaded ‘Oil Painting for Dummies’. This book is The Art Bible. I learnt loads from it. If you don’t mind reading, then I recommend it to everyone who wants to paint in oil. I don’t know what I would do without it.

The painting that I made after the one week class is my all time favourite. I sold it to my senior from school who now lives in the U.S. It took me about 4 weeks to complete it since I painted it in layers. And each layer took about a week to dry. But it was all totally worth it.

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Mom and Dad encouraged me to pursue an art career after they saw this painting. And my friends loved it too. I got lots of likes on Facebook. I loved the encouragement.

My second big source of learning is YouTube. You find so many painting videos on YouTube; you don’t really need to go to a class if you live in a place where there are no painting classes. You can learn from the comfort of your own home anytime if you have a good internet connection.

They say ‘Practice makes a man perfect’. Well they are right. Time is your biggest teacher. The more the number of paintings you make, the better an artist you will be.

Do come back next week to see the progressive photos of the lion painting.

THE TRAGIC CHANGE- How I dealt with my health issues and still didn’t give up on art.

I enjoyed my time in Punjab. As unlikely as it is to find a Christian officer in the Indian Army, we had 6 Christian families in one place and Sundays were never a bore. We went to Church together, had potluck lunches and talked a lot. We made some great friends; ate Goan, Mangalorean, and Coorgi cuisine and had loads of fun and that made the most boring place on earth, the best. I shouldn’t forget to mention that I once visited Pooja (army wife and friend)’s house and saw these beautiful paintings at her place and fell in love with painting all over again. Inspiration! They were painted by her dad. Pooja too is a well know artist now.

I always say ‘Time flies so quickly when you are having fun’. We’d lived in Punjab for a little over a year and my husband was sent to a new place again just when we had moved into an amazing new house. I had to stay back in Punjab for a month or two until we got one allotted in the new place. I think I could’ve stayed with my husband in a temporary accommodation but I had to stay in a nice house for once, even if it was for a month.

A few days before he left though, I started having a sharp pain in my back toward the right hip. Pascal thought it was because I had just got an injection in my left heel because I had a very painful heel spur and I was limping so it might’ve caused the pain in my back. He left to the new place and I kept complaining about my back pain. I kept thinking that I had a sprain but I began to worry when the pain didn’t go away even after a month. I eventually packed up and moved to the new place. The pain increased and I kept ignoring it until one day when I was sitting in a chair for an hour and I started getting pain radiating down all the way to my right leg. Oh dear, I knew I was in trouble. I went to an orthopedic and he just sent me away with pain killers and anti-inflammatory drugs. He told me to come back after a week if pain didn’t subside. I dint want to see his face again but there I was, a week and a half later with no change. He sent me away again with new drugs and back again I was at the hospital after a week. I got some scans and he didn’t find anything wrong with me. He had the nerve to tell me that it was all in my head. I just wanted to shake him and tell him ‘It is in my back and right leg you Moron!’

After another week of anti-inflammatory drugs, I went to the ortho doc back again and said, ’either refer me to a Neurolosurgeon or order an MRI scan’. The doc must’ve finally seen it in my eyes, the pain and anger and he made the right decision of doing both before I started yelling or crying. Within a week, I was done with the MRI and I was sitting in front of a doctor who was quite plainly telling me ‘You have Lumbar SpondyloLISTHESIS and that is causing a nerve compression in your right leg, hence the sciatica and I’m afraid you have to live with it for the rest of your life’. There it was, THE WORST DAY OF MY LIFE.

I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t cry. There was no fix. I was devastated.

Once I wrapped my head around what had happened (it took a few weeks), I finally called an orthopedic surgeon whom I trusted. He told me what physiotherapy I have to do and I followed his instructions. I went for physiotherapy alternating every 15 days. Not much change in my condition. I cried all the time. I was on bed rest for months which led me to put on weight. Pascal cooked for me after he came back from work, he helped me bathe, and he even fed me. He did everything for me.

I called the doc yet again and he said he could help me ease the pain. So Pascal took a week’s leave and we went to Punjab and the doc used to personally come and set up for my physiotherapy every day. A week of physiotherapy there and lots of multivitamins and my radiating pain was down by 75%. I was so happy. Some improvement is better than nothing right?

Things got better. I improved. Mom and Dad visited me. They stayed for a week. One evening, they suggested we go for a walk and I was shocked to discover I couldn’t even walk half a Km. But I probably wouldn’t have gotten out of bed if it wasn’t for that day. I then went to Bangalore for 3 months, joined the  gym, found a physical trainer who was also a physiotherapist and trained with him for three months. My life changed tremendously after that. I got better; I pushed myself too hard though, and was sick again for a while but now I know how to fix it. I know my limitations and I strive to do well.

There will always be people who do not understand me; they see my smile and joy and think ‘Oh this girl is just pretending to be sick, avoiding work, stubborn, doesn’t mingle, doesn’t socialize…etc,’ Yeah I’ve heard it all and I don’t give a damn. You can judge me. It only reflects what you are. If only you were in my shoe, but I wouldn’t wish it even on my enemy.

No matter what difficulties come your way, strive to achieve what you want. Don’t let anything get in your way. I cannot sit or stand for more than half an hour, I have to lie down or rest for 5-10 minutes every hour, but I still come up with excellent paintings and if I can achieve my goals, then you can too. 🙂

The next blog post will be more about art. Watch out for some good tips on working with oil paint. And a little bit about me 🙂

MY PAINTING TRAGEDIES – The many mistakes I made when I was teaching myself to Paint.

Besides smudging oil paint everywhere and getting it all over my clothes and stuff, I had a lot of other issues with oil painting. I couldn’t really paint much since I spent a month in Bangalore, back at my parents place. And then came leave. Pascal and I spent a while in Bangalore and then in Goa.

You would think I should be happy about marrying a Goan because of the holiday prospects. My friends so often kindly remind me ‘oooh, you’re so lucky; you’re married to a Goan which means every holiday you’re in Goa.’ Well, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. It is just like dessert, you eat too much and you get sick of it or get zits all over your face. I wouldn’t say I’m sick of Goa, but the novelty has worn off. At least once a year I go there, spend all day everyday on Calangute beach; my in-laws own a business there. I go to Goa now only to visit my in-laws and to see the pure joy on Pascal’s face when he sits on a chair in front of D’Silva’s Shack facing the sea and enjoying his time away from all his work and of course I love listening to the waves.

Back again from leave I was in a new place now in J&K, the winter was unbelievably brutal. I made a heart painting. This one I made for myself. I wanted to hang it in my living room. I kept the painting in my spare bedroom to dry. A week passed and it wasn’t dry yet. I didn’t think that weather would have anything to do with the drying of oil paint. Two days later I checked again and I saw a thin layer of fungus over the surface of the painting. It was the end of winter and it was starting to get warmer, so I treated the painting like anything else that would get fungus. I put it out in the sun. The fungus disappeared after a day. I decided to put it out in the sun in my balcony every day until the painting dried. What I didn’t realize was that our quarter’s outer walls were being painted or whitewashed. Bam! Whitewash all over my beautiful heart.

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I was so heartbroken. My first destroyed painting!

Just so you know, Oil Paint dries through the chemical process of curing and not through evaporation like most things do. The paint develops a skin of dry surface initially but the paint itself takes weeks or months to dry completely. I would also suggest painting in layers and not all at once when you are working with oil paint.

We took leave for a couple of days and visited the saffron fields in Kashmir; the only place in India where saffron grows. The saffron flower is beautiful. Fact: You only get three strands of saffron from a single flower.

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I finally painted this saffron flower over the whitewashed heart. Unfortunately I do not have the photo of the painting.

My next blog post will be about the worst part of my life and the challenges I’ve had to face.