I have asked myself this question a million times. Is painting only an activity that I do to earn a living?
Was I chosen to have this gift? Have I handled this gift carefully? Have I nurtured it, allowed myself to work, and above all kept the faith in what I am doing?
I realize that I have done all this. To keep the faith going, the artist has to let go of all inhibitions, doubts, of any kind. And above all, an artist has to dream. Most artists do not realize that the activity of dreaming, even with their eyes open, is a choice they have to make. Believing in the dream is the next step. Each one of us has our dreams. Making the dream real is the task of those who choose it.
Our dreams are not gifted to us without having the power to make it come true. The belief we sustain, will carry us across to what we want to be. The next step is hard work, Hard work happens when we believe that we have the power to make every one of our dreams come true.
When I started painting, no one told me about the sizes of paper I had to use. Coming from a small town, I did not have access to any painting papers except the drawing books and occasional watercolour sets. I just started finding my peer group and slowly it happened. A bunch of artists working together.
From these, and mainly from my mentor, the late GS Shenoy, I began learning about the qualities of paper, kinds of paper and how to use them. For starting, use thick cartridge, or ivory board.
The paper should be thick enough to withstand the force with which you work. Use an old X-Ray film sheet at the back of the sheet you are working with, so that the impression of your work does not come on the next sheet. Start working on that. Do not graduate to colour suddenly. The line should first be in control. Work well within the edges of the sheet.
The size - grab any A3 sheets which are freely available in the market. They also come as books. At this stage, please remember, that you are not set out to paint masterpieces.
You are just filling up a sheet of paper, you are at a stage when you get a feel of the paper. Place your hands of the paper, close your eyes and feel its texture. Run your fingers on the perimeter of your sheet and pick up a pencil, a charcoal pencil, and start exploring it. Be aware of even the sound the pencil creates on paper. Painting is a sensory experience.
Try to include all the senses into the act of drawing. Observe what is happening on the sheet. Do not let your eyes interfere and make judgements.
Just doodle. Draw parallel lines, draw vertical lines, do it using different amounts of pressure on the pencil. You can use pencils from B to 6B for this purpose.
As you work, you can see different shades of black evolving. Observe what you are doing, intently. No judgements. Just develop the feel. When you feel done with one sheet flip to the next sheet. Repeat.
Milind Nayak is one of India’s finest artists. A prolific painter, he works in different media like oils, watercolors, pastels and other media.