Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Painting Competition

I was lucky to be part of Independence day celebrations in Hubli city this year (2008). One of my friends is Government official in Hubli, and he had invited me to see the folk dance program which was organized by city corporation. On the Independence day morning, he told me about a painting competition and asked me to accompany him. Since, I didn't have much to do on that day, I went along with him.

I was always, confused with the concept of paintings and need to confess, never understood the concept clearly. There was a time, when I thought people were making bakra out of general people by drawing some stuff :-) and naming it as art. And Painting as art always used to be tagged with the saying "Only intellectuals can understand" which I do not appreciate much. Hence, I was not much impressed with my friends idea of taking me to painting competition.

My friends argument was, The competition was open for students of painting schools only. The students quality of knowledge of painting was pretty good. He also explained me, how he had an opportunity to see, some of the works of these students and how he was impressed with the quality.

The subject of painting competition was "Independence Struggle".

Process of Painting:

Only products I had created as a process of my thoughts were, software products. Funnily enough, I ended up comparing the process the artists followed to achieve there end product of painting with my experience of creating software products. This comparison, came to my mind while I was pondering over the subject on my way back to Bangalore.

I could classify the structure of an artists thought process to below 3 process steps,

1) Scoping
2) Structuring
3) Development

1) Scoping - Scoping is about identifying the layout of the painting. Artists identified different sections (modules) of the painting and defined boundary on the canvas. Typically people used, proper geometric devices to arrive at the layout of the painting. This is the initial step and for me, this basically defined the clarity in the mind of participants on how they are going to create the end product.

To relate it to the IT world, this is a sort of high level architecture of the end product.

2) Structuring - This was a stage, when all the participants used hand drawings to represent the structure of the end result. This had more drawings with curves, figures, people, etc., this can be called as rough sketch of end product. In this step there was more clarity on what the end result would look like.

Relating it to the IT world, I will relate this to something like a low level design.

I need to confess, I couldn't follow 80% of the sketches. I never could guess, how the end product might look like. In some of the cases, which I could guess, I ended up being terribly mistaken at the end. I guess, the way each individual designed their end product was different and for a third party like me (and novice), it would be difficult to understand the perspective.

3) Development - This is the step during which, people took up their paint brushes, and started painting their end products. I was awestruck by the amount of detail in which they were going to choose a color and mix it. And some of them startled me with their skills of layering their structure on top of the other structure they had already painted. The foresight of the artist to achieve his end result through this layering method astonished me.

While watching this step in action, I really couldn't guess, how a painting would end-up even in a single case. I guess this is the power of true creativity of the individual, and my inability to understand artists thoughts.

To relate this stage to the IT world, this is more like coding stage. Where an individual is trying to execute the design and give a practical form. The margin of correction is very low in case of a painting, which is unlike analytical world (IT).

The first 2 stages, helped artists to make the idea concrete, using analytical techniques. And then the pure creativity in execution flows, is what I felt seeing the process.

About the paintings itself,

I was awestruck by the variety of thoughts, through which people represented the "Independence Struggle". During the start of the competition, I also started thinking about how I would represent this subject in a picture. My brain stopped working, once I started to
think :-) whatever levels I tried, couldn't come up with an "Visual Idea" to represent independence. Need to think sometime in life about why I couldn't come with an image?, What part of me doesn't work? etc.etc. Probably I am suffering from unnamed mental problem which is completely opposite of Dyslexia.

Coming back to the variety, I was impressed, as most of the artists (Around 50%) used the idea of independence, which has nothing to do with "Indian Independence Struggle". Me, coming from the background of Gandhi's thinking, "true freedom is 'freedom of mind' rather than freedom of the nation from British" liked the idea very much.

Some of the representations of Independence struggle were,

1) Independence of society from wine, cigarettes and other social problems;
2) Independence of society from AIDS;
3) Some of the female artists were writing about Independence from dowry problems, female Infanticide, AIDS etc..

to look at the funny side,

there was one person, who had immersed Indian map in a wine Glass :-) ha ha ha :-)

there was another drawing, where I was not clear if he was asking people to drink/smoke/etc.. or stop them :-)

Sad side of the affair was, I think all the artists represented the Independence Struggle with a negative concept. to top, this I couldn't even think of a positive way to represent this subject.


Frankly, there was no way in which I could have chosen first/second/third from the lot of around 50-60 paintings. Again, my analytical brain failed to think of a way to segregate the paintings as best/better etc.. I got a opportunity to talk to a internationally acclaimed painter who was one of the judges.

My first question to him was "How will you evaluate this?"

His answer was simple,

First step - We will evaluate and eliminate based on craft. The elements of craft are,
a) Lines (Differentiation between different sections of the paintings show the brush skills of artist)
b) Colors (how presentable were the color combination etc.. )

The second step was to judge, how an individual has been able to represent the concept of competition. The judge agreed that this was a very difficult part, as understanding of what an individual has represented needs understanding of individuals mind. I couldn't discuss the nitti-gritties of this step with the evaluators, as they had to started the process of evaluation by then.

At the end, I didn't agree with some of their evaluations :-)

But overall it was a very pleasing experience for my senses, and I need to say, I thoroughly enjoyed each of the painting time and again. In hindsight, I enjoyed the effort I put in to try understand, the painters perspective of subject. It was a very fulfilling experience. Starting from my initial worry of attending the competition, I had spent around 6-7 hours on that day looking at different works of the artists (multiple times). This experience, has helped me look at paintings and art in general from a different perspective.

This is how, I ended up with this definition for painting, "painting is a expression of individuals thoughts through color and picture". I further have, abstracted this to "all art forms" and "all things creative" saying "All art forms are expression of thoughts of an individual".

-- Madhukar Hebbar


Madhukar Hebbar said...

Friends, sorry for posting this in urgency as I was not sure if I will find the time to refine it.

Luckily could find some time now. And I guess, I have refined to best of my ability. Please provide your thoughts.

Shetty said...

I liked the Indian map in the wine glass part "freedom from prohibition" :-)

Keep Walking!

VidyaShankar Harapanahalli said...

Painting or drawing is an Art not science. Although you can have guidelines and systematic approach, finally it is vision of artist is the guiding light.


somewhere I felt this essay become a little light in its content... I am not sure why

Madhukar Hebbar said...

Article is a dump yard of my thoughts on that day. Probably that is the reason it looks light on content (painting), more tilted towards sharing of my thoughts.

I think critical thing I realized was, An "artist" also goes through a process to define his end product. What makes it creative is, it is not defined by somebody as in corporate world.

VSS, I am sure, before taking up a subject to write, don't you go through the the process of your own?

Vision, is the end product. It is guiding light. But, I am sure, you would have your process (steps), using which you will "realize" your vision.

Gulmohar said...

"I think all the artists represented the Independence Struggle with a negative concept. to top, this I couldn't even think of a positive way to represent this subject"

Yen maga hingandre? I can think of Freedom only as positive. Was it more of lootin by the British?

Madhukar Hebbar said...

most paintings represented the "negativeness of not having independence".. Like how bad british was.. how bad the social problems were etc. then the paintings derived, Independence as a freedom from this.. Is there a way to represent this in a full positive way?

Thinking more, Independence word is derived from Dependence. Probably cannot be represented purely without showing dependency factor..