IIT KGP En Plein Air Diary – Chapter V

iitkgpepa chapter V

Head or the Heart?

27 July 2017, Day 5 of the shoot

Painting at night under outdoor lighting is an exercise in self belief. The outdoor light makes all colors look almost same. It is difficult to gauge even the tonality of the paint. In a nut shell, the visual feedback from the painting is almost gone. So you have to get a feel of how paint flows on paper and trust your instinct and go ahead with painting. Painting today evening at Vegies was no different.

Also read the Prologue , Chapter I , Chapter II, Chapter III and Chapter IV of IITKGPEPA Diary!
People don't come to Vegies just to eat
People don’t come to Vegies just to eat

People do not come to Vegies to eat. They come there to have conversations (not discussions), wonder about life (even afterlife in some cases), introspect, plan their futures, pass time, grow their love lives, find new love, discover themselves…… Some people come there just to be at Vegies. Vegies probably is at the heart of student life at KGP. And when you know you are going to paint something so close to heart of all KGPians and that too in the night, you know you are under pressure. I was quite nervous about the painting today.

Something's cooking
Something’s cooking

But when there is a problem, a solution often comes with it.

I set myself up to paint on one corner table. There were two guys already at the table, and as it turned out they were already aware of IITKGPEPA project. So a conversation started immediately between the three of us as I started to sketch. The conversation was about the age-old tussle between the heart and the head. The path of the head is always more predictable while the path of the heart is full of surprises at every turn. But following the later is more fulfilling than the former. And those who realize that there are actually two paths to choose from are always looking for answers to make up their mind. The two guys sitting with me, at the beginning of their adult lives and standing at the cross roads of head and heart finally turned to me to provide them with some answers. I carefully avoided answering such an existential question, because I don’t think such questions really have a clear answer. And frankly I did not have any answers at that point of time. I could sense that they were a little disappointed with whatever I had to offer. However the conversation had worked its magic and the butterflies had flown out of my stomach.

Yellow light dominating the composition
Yellow light dominating the composition

The film crew had also arrived by then and my painting seemed to progress well. The painting got over around the same time when Vegies was transforming to Eggies and it was becoming noisier and livelier. Back in the room under better lighting conditions, when I checked the painting to see how it had turned out, I was very pleased. What I had in front of me was different from the way I usually paint. It would not have turned out this way had I painted this under proper lights. Painting in full light surely would have been safer, more predictable (discounting the fact that watercolour itself is not very predictable) and eight out of ten times I would have made a successful painting. But by taking the risk of painting at night under street lamps and following my gut instinct I ended up with something that surprised even myself. But it does not always happen. In fact most of the time, it is a disaster. But today was a day when things fell into place and hence there was this small little self discovery sort of thing about myself as an artist.

When Vegies turns into Eggies
When Vegies turns into Eggies

More importantly I guess I had found some answers to the questions that I had avoided answering earlier in the evening today.

Night Sketch at Vegies
Night Sketch at Vegies
Next - Capturing the ochre light at Jnan Ghosh stadium