ChammC came into my life on a morning walk. Rakesh who is the founder of VoSD was walking his dogs one morning and I happened to meet him. He had a baby carrier of sorts slung around his torso and inside was ChammC. This absolute adorable bundle of joy. A Cocker Spaniel with eyes that would melt the hardest heart.
She was found in a dumpster by a good samaritan and handed over to Rakesh. When found she was in a terrible state with a gigantic hole near her bottom filled with maggots. Tiny and young, I think just 2-3 weeks old. No one thought she would make it. But Rakesh did. He hand reared her for the first three months and literally brought her back to life. And she became Helen and Rakesh’s little love. One amongst the many others that live with them but that is another story!
Sadly ChammC passed away while she was only about 7-8 months old. A routine operation to spay her resulted in complications which led to her passing away on the operating table.
12 July 2015 was one year to the day she left and since I could not get her back for them. I painted ChammC as a gift for both Helen and Rakesh. Three portraits from different grainy Facebook pictures that show her at various ages/stages in her young life.
As all high res images of ChammC were lost in an unfortunate computer crash. The Facebook images were the only ones to work from. I hope these ‘high res’ versions bring comfort to her parents…
I read this in a book the other day and I can’t stop thinking about it. Literally. I love how the words string together and somehow the simile connects on a visceral level.
“.. life is a portrait. It’s a picture you paint everyday, every minute, every second, with the palette you were given at birth. It’s an expression of yourself, whether you want it to be or not. Make sure it’s a picture you are proud of..”
For a while there I found myself thinking about all those men and women who have somehow aged so gracefully that there seems to be a beacon shining from within. I just hit 40 so vanity demanded I look in the mirror and assess. Yes – I have wrinkles and ‘bad skin’. Crows feet and lines on my face. My hands have veins popping out and the skin is dry most of the time. Truthfully – I got worried there for a bit.
Ok – Deep breath. Inner calm. I need to work with the palette and get control on my colours, school my expressions better and so on.
It did not work.
And then I got thinking again. This is me. My face. My body bears the marks of my journey through life. My palette has not always been of jeweled tones and candied hues. There have been harsh greys and some blacks too. But if you look closely enough there are more laugh lines than frown lines. The crows feet appear every time I smile. The bad skin tells me just how passionate I am – the hormones that still go crazy and pour out on my skin. The dry skin is a result of years of love with my paints, thinner and acetone. It is an outcome of the many times I forgot to put moisturizers and creme because the smell and feel of paint and thinner was too seductive to wash away. I wrote of me some years ago… you can read that here. You can also read more here.
I will still try and paint a portrait worth looking at. It is a work in progress. I have a few more years yet to finish it I hope. But I do believe the current version is an honest reflection of me.
Does your ‘portrait of life’ reflect you?
I thought I would leave you with a portrait of me I did some years ago as well as a link to an animation of one I attempted later…
Note- Not the best quality photograph. The painting is more vibrant though and me even more so in real life – I promise! (tongue firmly in cheek here)
Divya Thomas and I have been friends on Face Book for a while now. And I have greatly admired her work – Karmasuthra Jewellery. Her FB page is filled with beautiful jewellery and even more beautiful women. Each image begging to be painted with their luminous eyes. I always thought that I would be painting that set of eyes one day. But a mail from Divya changed that to one better
Divya wrote to me with pictures of little Lola and asked if I would paint her. The original source images were not the best quality and I was unsure if I could work with them. So I requested her to send me clearer high res images. Preferably where Lola’s eyes could be seen! Otherwise in almost all images her hair was covering them. Divya did one better. She actually sent me a new set of images shot in a make shift studio setting! This next portrait is a composite from about four images to get just this expression…
I can’t imagine my life without colour. I really can’t. So when I chanced upon this video it made me look at my life in a totally different perspective. I found myself with silent tears rolling down my cheeks. Profound. I find I am so grateful for life and all its abundance. For what is indeed a privilege to have for me -the joy and beauty of everyday, a colour filled life. I define my life in colour.
You’ll have to watch the video to see what I mean. But here’s the gist, so you don’t get blindsided.
As part of the #ColorForAll campaign, Valspar created a short film called ‘Color for the Colorblind‘. It is an Ad but oh! so gut wrencingly beautiful to me.
The video follows a handful of people who are colorblind. People who have never seen certain colours in their life. Ever. They are given a pair of EnChroma glasses that allows them to see the colors that they’ve never experienced before. And their reactions are priceless.
July. It is time for that mid-year review.
At the beginning of the year I said – “I have just one agenda for this new year. To paint every day. Something. Anything. Good. Bad. Even ugly. But consistently. To do something creative everyday. 365 days.”
And I am happy to say that I have been able to stick to that resolution for the most part.
I also started this year paying it forward to my four legged friends. I do so again with 15 new paintings. Like the many times before, this entire set of doggie portraits is my gift to ‘The Voice of Stray Dogs‘ (VoSD) as part of their VoSD 3015 Fundraiser . As always for the Poonchh Portraits, I take one rupee per portrait and the rest of the money goes to the dogs. This time I added 15 hugs to the deal too. What can I say I am greedy that way. Besides the dogs hug you like there is nowhere else in the world they would rather be than in your arms at that moment. I feel the same way. The Poonchh Collection is my labour of love. It is something that I do only for love. As selfless as I know how.
I tried something different this time. I painted on red thick card stock paper with acrylics. And was it hard! The first few layers just soaked right in, just like that first experiment on plywood. But I persevered and am quite satisfied with the results I might add.
These paintings are available on the VoSD Face Book store. To buy please click here. Though a few have already been sold from this lot. At last count – we raised about INR 80,000/- from the sale of seven of these paintings. So I am over the moon
This journey was surprising. It turned out to be more complicated than I had planned. Consistently putting down something three times a day regardless of where you are is hard. It takes a certain commitment. When I was out of my studio- I noted the ‘feeling’ at the appropriate time and then came back and wrote. This exercise made me put conscious thought into how I felt. Regardless of all the events that might have happened in a day – at that point – was I happy, unhappy or ambivalent. Was there any balance – equanimity?
The start of the canvas board…
I found myself thinking in 5-8 hour chunks of time. It forced me to not let either euphoria take over or let the bad times take on higher significance than was necessary. I find that I used far more orange and not nearly enough black as compared to what I thought I would in the beginning of this experiment. Equanimity was MIA but turns out I love my life I was also able to better isolate what specific people and events trigger a ‘mood’. Just how much importance I give to those without conscious thought.
The heart that gave me hope. Can you see it?
On the morning of day 14 I was unhappy and I started to write in black and then I noticed a heart in the band of orange and reds. And a heart in red at that. Coincidental? It gave me hope but it did not lift the ‘unhappiness’. So I continued in black that morning….
I also learnt where my emotional, sub conscious and artistic leanings are. I did not set parameters on where I would write or even what size, in caps or cursive. It is interesting to see artistically in terms of positive and negative spaces what my ‘finished’ canvas looks like.
I think I can safely say that that at the end of my first 40 years – I am safe with me.
The finished canvas/board after a journey of 30 days and 90+ images…
It is strange but life always seems to have it’s own plans for me. No matter how much ‘I’ plan or try and work around – jo hona hai wohi hota hai- what as to happen will happen. Not being defeatist here but you know…
So I decided to embrace it all in march when I started a series on the ‘self‘. But more on that in the next post. I break from scheduled programing on introspection here and bring you the first set of new products that have been in the pipeline for a while. ArtByAarohi signature print slings will follow in some time on my shop but what better way to start a new product line than to ‘Pay it Forward‘.
The slings are my gift to VoSD to help in sponsoring future dog rescues.
I hope you find it in your heart to sponsor an animal in need… To sponsor a dog rescue and get one of these please click here.
These slings use new as well as upcycled and recycled fabric. The cat/dog pattern is part of the signature range from The Poonchh Collection. This sling is spacious enough to carry your essentials whether you take it to the market or out for a night partying. Since each bag comes with a black strap and a gold strap, you can ‘dress’ it up or down. Each sling comes with an ArtByAarohi Poonchh charm as well a hand made ‘stenciled dog tag’. The charms as well as the sling straps are detachable so you can interchange them with any other bag. Or just add the charms to your key ring.
It has 1 interior pocket. The lining is made with a high quality cotton and polyester blend fabric in Magenta or orange. This bag has a natural, timeless and quirky style. It really can pack in a lot!
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am hoping to document my mid life churn here within the pages of my blog. I am looking to paint narratives. Story telling through pictures. I started with my friend Rakeshand his dogs. You can see that series in the preceding few posts.
I am a positive person by nature though I do go through rough spots. I have been euphoric at points in life where I felt I was on Speed/LSD or some such drug even though I was not. And I have been down in the dumps enough number of times to understand the desire to leave it all behind. To end it all as it were. But my innate love for life, for connections, desire and passion always saw me through. Having almost completed 40 years of this life while still looking forward to the next 40. I am ready to document my inner mind scape right now. To share with you a series (hopefully !!) of self portraits through different mediums.
I hope to document as best and as honestly as I can my feelings for a period of one month. The resultant ‘painting/visual journal’ will be an attempt at a portrait of my emotional self. Written in three different sets of colours on this 20×20 inch board will be my thoughts – happy, ambivalent or unhappy.
Orange/Reds for happy, Black for unhappy and Blues/Grey for ambivalent.
Notice I do not use the word equanimity but ambivalence. For if I have moments of equanimity – rare as they are – that will be depicted in white.
I will write on this board – morning, noon and night.
2 pm and
10 pm. Three times a day. For 30 days. Everyday for a month. But each time I will only write one sentence – I love my life. In different colours depending on what I feel at that moment in time.
I started this piece on the 5th of April 2015 and have been diligently keeping track of my ‘journal’. I did not want to start on a stark white background. So I dropped some blue and green paint on the board and just let instinct guide my hands. These specific colours because I thought I would follow the colour code mentioned above as I have been feeling very ambivalent and on some days even unsettled for about six months to a year now. I hope to learn something about me so the blue background is in some sense to connect to the past while I get ready for the future. The torn pieces of paper used in between are from my daughters notebook to represent continuity in change. And to show the myriad fractured events that make up the lines of my life.
It will be interesting to see which colour pre-dominates at the end of one month.
‘Please listen to me. I know what I am talking about. I have your best interests at heart. Trust me. I will go the distance with you. Nothing will happen to you while you are with me...’
I would imagine that of the 4000+ dogs that VoSD has rescued over the past few years and the near 500 that now stay permanently with Rakesh at his farm, this is the conversation he has had with each one. And he has meant and lived up to it too. Every time.
It is done with Acrylics and Charcoal on raw plywood. It is approximately 23×30 inches. I layered the base with torn paper and then put paint on it to get a sort of background ready to work on. The colours for the back ground came out of no specific thought or structure, just instinct. In hind sight it is interesting that it has the colours of my country. More so because while I am very patriotic, I know Rakesh cares deeply for our country and her people too. He is always trying to make things better for those less fortunate and believes progress lies in education. Rakesh is the founder of Mi TWB, Free Science and The Voice of Bangalore.
On a backdrop of torn/shredded/scattered, I wanted to paint a picture that is whole and complete in itself. No matter the jagged edges.The endeavour is not to be photo realistic but to capture more. Intensity. Honesty. Hard work. …and Love.
There is nothing more wonderful than waking up to a wet nose sniffing at your neck. OK, there are a few but you have to admit it’s pretty up there in the ‘feel good’ ranks. Anyone who has ever had a dog will tell you that. I have almost always seen Rakesh with dogs. Not one but many. They are exuberant with him and restful. Sometimes boisterous. Sometimes very possessive. But there is always uncomplicated and comforting love.
I wanted to paint that. That feeling of coming home to comfort no matter how much and how many times the world beats you down. You get up and start again. And in between those hard times is a deep, warm comforting breath. That one deep breath that allows you to center yourself.
So here is one of a wet nose and questing snout.
This portrait is done in Acrylics on hard board and is approximately 24×48 inches. The hardboard is reclaimed from a previously unfinished work. I layered it with torn paper and then started work on it with charcoal. The paper used is from my daughters old school note books. On a backdrop of torn/shredded/scattered, I wanted to paint a picture that is whole and complete in itself. No matter the jagged edges. I first thought of using papers from law books or even rules regarding animal welfare in India. But finally thought that the innocence of childhood was a better connection to work with. I had also painted the dogs in greater detail but then went back and obscured them a little.
The endeavour is not to be photo realistic but to capture more. Dust. Dirt. Grime. Sweat. Hard work. …and Love.