LANDSCAPE PAINTINGS : The Play of Cool Colours

MOUNTAIN PEAKS -by Naval Langa

When I had declared that I want to be an artist, people had started looking uncomfortably at me.

They must have been scared a little bit, perhaps. In those days of youth, I got more things going wrong than the things going right; and so I had reasons to believe that I would become an artist or a writer, or a poet at least. But the colours and canvases were soon to become my near relatives. Thus I started calling myself an artist, officially. 

I had enjoyed the great company of these colours in the nineties, too, when I actually had taken paintbrushes in hand with a stubborn honesty. During these years I had found that it is worth to study the theory of colours. It was necessary to learn something about the technique to apply these colours. It would certainly enrich our knowledge if we explore all the potential of these colours with their resultant effects.  

It takes a good amount of time building up a sort of deep knowledge about this great play of nature (the colours available on the earth). But gradually an artist would find that by regular practice, the art of painting would become spontaneous. It would rock on the unconscious part of your mind. and that would play a wonderful role in making a normal person an artist.

Rockman and The Ship -by Naval Langa

Exploring the Characteristics of Colours. 

Knowing the Hues of Colours. Practice in the application of Colours. 

The clan of artists is a group of persons who have an amazingly exceptional association with the colours. Every artist would love to see all the colours applied to all of their hues. These artists, the clan of the artists, know and respect the value of all the colours they use. They love every brushstroke through which they upload these colours on their canvases.  

While I was painting this, Rock-man and the Ship, I was not more than a curious student of the art of painting. It is Oil on Canvas, size 90cm x 60cm.  But after cleaning my hands on almost a dozen of such landscapes, I found that I had befriended the colours. I think I had cultivated a working relationship with the blues, the reds and the yellows. The hues of blue and red had started talking with me about their characteristics. The yellow started smiling at me when I get it out of an artist-grade tube. It worked. It worked well with me and my palate. 

In fact, that was the real beginning. The cordial relationship with the colours. Now I can say that I can paint with ease. The blank canvases do not send me into shivers, as it used to be in past. To feel like a close relative of the canvases, I prepared the canvases myself. Yes, I did it myself. It makes us feel good. 

After executing two and twenty landscapes like this one, I had learnt the meaning of the word ‘spontaneity’. Those were the days when I did not know when the nights have turned into dawns. I did not even care to know that when the morning had turned into evening. That was how I worked. Day and night. To be an artist is to see a dream. And Onew great man has said that "The dreams are not those elements you see during your sleep; the dreams are those elements which do not allow you to sleep." 

I had learnt a bit about how the individual colour would respond to its adjoining colours and how that situation would create a chiaroscuro. By doing the constant learning, we learn how to exploit a particular property of a particular colour, an inherent characteristic of a distinct colour.

Theory of Perspective painting, Painting Mountains and Rivers. 

It was not a matter of surprise for me to live amongst the singing birds and swinging paddy fields. I am a born villager, so it was natural for me to behave so naturally. 

No one had noticed to my looking at the striking difference between the colours of leaves of the same tree. I was getting a hard time assigning my spare life-hours in wandering through neighbouring farms and not playing cricket with other boys. Every Indian, young or aged, wants to play cricket. I do not feel, today, that I have missed much. By not playing cricket. 

However, every dog, or every cat, has his or her day. Mine also came. It was a surprise for all of my family members when one of my college professors found me painting landscapes with coloured pencils. She saw my work on drawing papers. She liked it, and she spread it into my family and friend circles. That was the first recognition as a possible artist. This incident gave relief to my mother, as she had stopped worrying about my unaccounted hours. My father was uncommitted as usual. But I found one change: my pocket money was doubled. It enabled me to pay the costs of colours and drawings paper. 

I tell you this because similar could be the story of many of the aspiring artists. Some of them might be fortunate to get an opportunity to excel or have a pat on their backs. In my college days, I went through two major happenings. One incident granted me a life long unhappiness, the life long mortgage of my freedom. I had got a well-paid job in the banking sector. And another incident showered upon me a life long happiness: I met my future wife in college days, and for that happiness, I thank my college library. You know, the libraries have multipurpose resources. 

I went through the big volumes of art books containing the experiences the great artists of the world went through. I read about all the techniques they used while using the colours; I went through the minute details about how these artists handled their paintbrushes and how passionately they stood before the canvases, for days and months together. I read all these materials, stroke by stroke, dash by dash, drop by drop; I was a ‘round-the-clock’ reader in those days. 

The Artist's Journey: When an artist decides to paint a landscape, he or she decides to create a harmonious relationship between the vast canvas of Mother Earth and the palates in hand. Keeping this idea in mind, the artist tries creating the feel and smell of the earth. The artist executes the depiction of the reality before the eyes; he or she tries recreating imagination in his or her mind. The landscape painters’ tools are the bright and cool colours; small and big brushes; the surface to paint before eyes; the imagination, and the heart. 

My Art Lessons: The first phase of my learning about oil painting was well below the expected level. The reasons were not far; they were within me, the artist in hurry. My hurried grasp of the brushes, my splashing of the colours as my impulse told me, and my carelessness in learning the art of painting step-by-step: these all factors contributed to my initial failures in getting some recognition from other fellow artists. I should have used out several dozens of pencils and a score of watercolour tubes had I decided to enter the realm of oil painting seriously. 

But I took no time to learn many things attached to oil paintings. The first rejection from a local gallery was sufficient to teach me the things I needed to learn. When I looked at my paintings I found the crowded details that had made my paintings ‘nicely clogged’, generating the smiling displeasure in the viewers’ minds.  

But when I looked at the faces of my friends, and the fellow artists who looked at my paintings with expectations in their eyes, I felt the need for renouncing my approach of a ‘casual artist’. The ‘Art’ descends in you only when you make it a case of life and death: that was what I learned in those days. The above painting is the first painting, Indian Landscape, I had painted after learning some basic concepts attached to the art of painting in general and the art of oil painting in particular. I had painted this 36” X 24” sized frame on a self-made canvass in 1995.  

All of the above paintings, size 36" x 24", "Oil on Canvas" were painted in 1995. These paintings were also exhibited in two of my solo exhibitions.

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