Merry Christmas 2019

Laid-back holidays have a unique charm. It is the time to rediscover leisure while planning for an upcoming vacation. I agree that it is exciting to plan and pack for adventure trips to foreign lands. But I am immersing myself in the experience of savoring moments that expect nothing useful from me. While tons “need” to be done, I opted to do NOTHING about them. I am breathing, listening and moving my fingers on the keypad. I occasionally lift my hand to scratch my head. I cannot precisely tell how long ago it was, but I had this vision of painting a portrait of a human face, sitting in front of an easel. I was adding bold stokes with the paintbrush and nothing else in the world mattered. I am thankful that my childhood wish to make a portrait in oil, finally came true.

To be honest, I am intrigued by the events that led up to this. As a child barely 6 years old, I remember I loved to pencil-sketch side faces of pretty girls. This went on for a while without any formal training. My mother thought I should focus on studies and strive to be a good student like my brother. My focus in studies sharpened at the end of six grade. It did not take long for mom to know that once focused, her headstrong daughter will not waiver. She engaged an art teacher to come home and teach every week when I was in eighth grade. I enjoyed a year of guidance and learnt a few rules. I am not very proud to admit that I am not a rule-based person. Only simple and fundamental rules found their way into my repertoire. By ninth grade, the workload in studies climbed new heights. I also joined a couple of tuition classes. As a result, spending time and money on Art was simply out of question.

When I got free time I still made sketches of famous personalities, mostly women. I even tried my hand at acrylic paint to paint flowers and animals on fabric. My neighbor’s daughter who was 6 years older than me used to paint portraits using oil paint. She could go over with paint and make corrections. I found it very interesting and wished someday I would paint like her. With no experience in working with oil paints, it was to remain just a wish.

Studies took the forefront and art remained my hobby. I got admission into IIT, Kharagpur to pursue a Bachelor degree in Energy engineering. I was playing it safe. Needless to say, this personality did not change when I was doing sketches or other paintings. I tried very hard to not make mistakes so the artwork was mediocre. When, I was working at Tata Electric Companies, in Mumbai, I met an artist who advised me to take risks with my brush strokes. It was about 23 years ago but I still remember our brief interaction. It was the best advice I could have gotten. Unfortunately, I was afraid and was not ready for the nugget of wisdom.

Shortly afterwards, I moved to a different country, got married, joined a new job and had kids. I got busy with life and lost connection with Art for 20 years. When my kids were about 6 or 7 years of age, I set aside time to teach them drawing and painting with water colors. I was not creating anything that I was happy with, except for a few occasional inspired works.

I bought a new house in May 2016 and completely moved in, in January 2017. By that time, my daughter was very much interested in learning Art. A dear friend provided me the contact of a certified Bob Ross Art teacher, Ms Julliette Salter and suggested both of us join her classes. Thus began my journey with oil painting. I was fortunate to learn painting nature scenes from Ms. Julliette for about 2 and 1/2 years till she moved to a different state. Luckily, she is planning to visit in January and will be taking some classes during her stay.

I still did not know how to proceed with my first oil portrait. I had just expressed my wish to people I met. May be one of their positive vibes helped make this happen for me. A fellow Art student at Ms. Julliette’s class gave me this canvas. With left over paint from a class that I brought home, I started to paint on a July afternoon in my backyard patio, without an easel. I ran into the situation when it was too wet to paint any further. I left it alone for months. Recently, I felt the urge to work a few hours after dinner in my basement and finish it. It was not easy, but I learnt to take a few risks and here I am, today.

I have no idea how but I know that I am free to feel happy. Thank you God, for this wonderful gift.

Lesson relearned

To be honest, truth has several layers. Learning something as an idea or logic is probably the thinnest outermost layer. Until we act it out regularly in a disciplined manner, the core of the truth remains illusive.

Today I rediscovered the value of thankfulness. Here are some reasons.

I am thankful that after so many years, I can feel love. It took me a ridiculously long time to learn this simple act of ” how to love”.

I am thankful to have realized that what ultimately matters is how you made someone feel.

I am thankful to still have the opportunity to thank people who have helped me. I realized this opportunity does not last forever.

I am thankful for the reminders that my parents provide when sometimes I feel confused. I am thankful for the insightful words and songs of Rabindranath Tagore that my parents bring my attention to. In this context I would like to share the latest reminder. “I have invited sin itself in the process of punishing the sinner.”

I am thankful to have been guided to essential truths of life by the true Teacher. I am forever thankful to You for this opportunity to journey through life.