Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Art as a Sadhana

10:27 AM
Pratyasha Nithin

An art is a Sadhana(spiritual effort), an ever learning process in which an artist is always a student. He may or may not have a physical teacher. But he is always taught by his own thoughts and sense perceptions. Nature is the greatest teacher and one learns a lot of things just by observing her. The work of the nature and the Physical teacher is to help a student to discover his own inner Self which is the inner guide and teacher. And once the inner self starts to guide an artist, art will flow out of him spontaneously. It is this state of spontaneity, an artist must aspire to achieve because without spontaneity it is impossible to achieve perfection.

Perfection as for as an artist is concerned is an ability of the artist to paint on a canvas or carve in a stone perfectly the image which he had in his mind. That is, if the physical image created by an artist is a perfect replica of his mental image, only then his art-work can be termed as perfect. Practically speaking it is almost impossible to create an exact replica of the image, the artist has in his mind.

This near perfection can not be achieved in a day or a month. An artist must continuously and patiently strive hard to improve his skills with dedication and a sense of detachment. He must make his art a sadhana, spiritual effort towards this goal of perfection. Only such an attitude of commitment, humility and detachment will lead to purification of his heart and mind(chitta-shuddhi) which will in turn help him develop spontaneity. More the mind is purified, more the spontaneity he develops.

No matter if the artist is a beginner or a professional, there is always a scope for learning in every art work he accomplishes. Sometimes it could be a new trick for an old concept and sometimes a solution to an old problem or it could be a completely new perspective of looking at things. With every effort, he walks a step further in an eternal process of being perfect. Even though an artist may or may not achieve perfection, it is important for him to enjoy the journey. An artist himself is the best judge and critic of his own work. Because he alone knows what he expected from the outcome of his painting and where he failed, what mental image he had and how much he was able to depict in his work.

Saturday, May 25, 2013


6:03 PM

Water colors on Paper, 12" x 9.4"

I have depicted Lakshmi according to the description given in following mantra-

aruna kamala sansthA tadrajaha kunjavarnA 
karakamaladruteshtA abhitiyugma ambujA cha
maNi makuta vichitrAlankruta kalpajatairbhavatu
bhuvanmAtA santatam shrEhi shriyai nah || 
--Shri Sukta Dyana Mantra

Lakshmi is the one who is sitting on a red lotus, has four hands. The front hands are in abhaya and vara mudra and the back hands are holding lotuses. She is wearing ornaments and crown made of gem-stones. The ornaments are as if born from Kalpvriksha (tree of boons). I salute to the Mother of Universe and the cause of abundance in prosperity in all existence.

Monday, May 20, 2013


5:42 PM

Ram-Janaki (Practice sketch)
Pencil- HB,2B,
8.25" x 11.5"

The sketch depicts Ram and his wife Sita standing together according to the description given in the first half of the following verse.

Nilambuja Shyamala komala angam,
Sita samaropita vaama bhagam |
PaNau mahasayaka chaaru chaapam
Namami Raamam Raghuvamshanatham ||

Meaning- He whose body is soft and dark-colored like that of a blue lotus; Who has Sita on his left side; Who has an arrow and a beautiful bow in His hands. I bow to Ram the lord of house of the Raghu (Raghu-kula).

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Making an Art-Work

8:14 PM
Pratyasha Nithin

Production of any art work not only involves the actual physical work done on a canvas or paper, but also the mental effort put into conceiving the image. Most people assume that art involves only a play of colors. But it is not so. The mental effort put is as important if not more than the physical effort.

Traditionally in India, the production of art was divided into two stages- 1. The mental conception of the Image and 2. The Physical expression by way of painting or sculpting of the mental image.

1. Mental conception: This is the most important stage in the creation of an art. An artist may spend weeks meditating or simply day dreaming about the theme he desires to put in colors. In many cases, the time spent to conceive the imagary may be much more than the time taken to paint on a canvas. Especially, when a person desires to paint on a mythological or religious themes, like portraying a picture of God or a deity, one must first understand the essential nature of the deity. He must first understand the aspect and spiritual truth that mythological figure represents. Some may represent peace, some destruction and some again knowledge. An artist must gain firm understanding of this. Then, he should contemplate on this understanding of the deity using the Lakshanas (symbols) given by the mythlogies for such deities. Only when in his mind, he perceives a proper imagery, he should attempt at painting them on canvas.

2. The actual production of art- An artist having thus conceived the image in his mind, will then proceed to physically created them on canvas or stoneor wood etc. Many a times, the outcome of the real painting/sculpture will not be as good or as beautiful as one's mental imagery. But, the Physical image will always serve as a medium for that person and the others to mentally construct the image which was originally in the artist's mind.

Hence, Anand k Coomaraswami says- "The picture is not in the colours but is in the heart(Hrdaya) of the artist(Karaka) before the work is done and of the spectator(Bhogin) who when the work is done has grapsed it's meaning."

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Painting a Deity/god

8:01 PM
Pratyasha Nithin

There are two distinct ways in which an artist creates his works. He proceeds from universal to the particular or from the particular to the universal. In the case of the imagery of the deity it is the first case. It is called Dhyatva Kuryat, the intellectual conception precedes the actual creation of work.

For example, in the imagery of Brahma, apart from representing all the lakshanas(symbols) like the four heads, four hands, lotus etc, one must make sure that the real essence of the deity is represented. Brahma is basically a Rajasik(active) deity always involved in the action of creation of universe. Hence any depiction of him as being extremely violent bordering on Tamas(inertia) or extreme sweetness and serene bordering on Sattva(equipoise) should be avoided.

Another example is that of Hanuman, the essence of Hanuman exemplifies Veera Bhava(heroic nature) and Dasya Bhava(attitude of a servant)  that is one of extreme courage, strength and at the same time humility and simplicity. It is important to keep in mind that a depiction of courage should not turn into a depiction of extreme violence or animalistic behavior.

The goal of any image of a deity is to be a medium on which the spectator can meditate on the essence of the deity. It is important for an artist to depict the essence properly in his works. A wrong portrayal of essence by an artist leads to a wrong conception of the deity in the heart of the spectator. Hence the portrayal of excesive mucsles to depict strength, excessive violence to depict virility and excessive sweetness to depict equipoise should be avoided.

Monday, May 6, 2013

India: Mā Bhārati

5:10 PM

Mā Bhārati
Acrylic on Canvas, 20" x 24"
Original: $550/- (Approx Rs 30,000/-)

Painting of Mā Bhārati- the personification of India. The image depicts India as coming out of a fire-sacrifice in which the oceans act as the fire-pit.

Yajna or fire-sacrifice is the symbolic representation of cosmic manifestation of the universe. In Hindu mythology, whenever the Dharma/Righteousness degenerates and evil rises the cosmic energy-the Divine Mother(Adya) is invoked by a fire-sacrifice to reestablish Dharma and bring order to the cosmos.

In this painting, i have used the same theme to depict the revival of India free from the social-economic-spiritual degeneration that has set in over past few centuries.

When I was half-way through the painting, it looked like this:

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