Monday, September 6, 2010

Guru Nanak - Shabad Vichar

So I decided to release the painting. I worked on the critiques this morning to the point of satisfaction. I also detailed the piece, fixing small errors here and there. I also did things a bit differently this time. I added an introduction explaining the underlying reasons for meditating on which all the Eastern Traditions place great stress! It is based on the words of Sam Harris, who is a neurologist and has made efforts in the field of meditation.

"Men (and women) from all over the world and throughout history have been in search of pleasant sites and sounds, tastes and sensations, and attitudes. They noticed that even in the best of times, without sickness, death and horrors of old age, happiness and pleasure could only be felt temporarily by having to repeat things like eating delicious food, having professional success and celebrating festivals. Many over the ages accepted this as a fact of life, and lived their lives around reiterating this temporary relief.

However, some began to wonder whether there was a form of happiness that was not dependent on having one’s family and friends within arm’s reach, or taking all kinds of drugs. They began to train their attention from moment to moment experience to see whether there was a greater happiness to be discovered at all, one that was independent of sensory experience.

This lead many to believe that if there was such an experience to be had, it should be available in places where delicious food, friends and family, and such were nowhere to be found. This rationale led many to give up their family life, and led many to further renounce the world, isolating themselves in a cave or a desert or mountains, places no different to solitary confinement, where they began to take notice of their experience and of subjectivity itself. Over the ages, these people claimed to have found an alternative to the contingent experiences of happiness and well-being. Many introspective techniques were developed by these people, who came to be known as ascetics, mystics, saints and bhagats..."
Continue reading...


There will be some delay with the release of the painting on Guru Nanak Dev ji. I have been receiving critiques to this day, and still see some scope for improvement. In the meanwhile, I ended up working on Guru Nanak Dev Ji's information page. I did it a little differently from the others. I thought Guru Nanak is very well known so instead of giving a historical description, I added an introduction, an understanding, a western perspective which attempts to capture the interest of young people. My attempt is to provide an introduction that even a Non-religious person will understand and hopefully, admire. The introduction was based on the words of Sam Harris, who is non-religious himself but has studied Eastern Traditions in depth. I found that it shed some light on all Eastern Traditions, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism.

So yes, there will be a delay but hopefully for the better!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Weekly Sketch #18: Nihang Photorealism

Another Weekly Sketch, feels more like monthly sketch though. But anyway, I was just working on my photorealism skills. Although, I am not a fan of having everything photorealistic, it certainly helps to attempt photorealism to study the subject, in this case faces, in depth. Laying down all the details, and studying every nook and cranny. Every wrinkle, every mark on the face...
I used a photograph by Charles Meacham.

In other news, be sure to check out Important Updates - August, if you haven't already, and prepare yourself for the release of the painting on Guru Nanak. I am going to release is in a day or two, if all goes well.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


I was not completely absent from this blog during the past month. I wrote up some posts but never ended up developing them to completion. Some were about specific details of my paintings, and other were thoughts on emotions such as anger and happiness. So, yeah I never finished them so they were never published.

I have to say though, I have been pretty busy with stuff. This summer I ended up taking two philosophy courses, which took up the time I usually spend on sketching and those Weeky Sketches/Paintings I would normally do. I think philosophy is just awesome, it opens up the mind, unclogs its gear, and sets it into motion. I ended up learning about western and eastern philosophies, and it gave me a whole new perspective on life, a new perspective on world religions and non-religions. We also looked at some of the famous philosophers of the west and the east, including Kant, Neitzche and Radhakrishnan. It was just wonderful!

While, I studied philosophy at university, I worked on the Guru Nanak painting at home. It's coming out nicely. In fact, its in its final stages now, and I will (most probably) be releasing it at the end of this month. Right now, I am finishing up the details and working on the critiques I got for it. Needless to say, it's not my usual style of work. It's not as dynamic and dark as my other paintings. It's more calm and cheerful. I am also going to use a wider palette, reds,greens, oranges, blues, yellows and violets. That I think raises the difficulty of any piece - having a wider palette. You have more things to manage and so it takes some experience to be able to do that. That is why my earlier work was monochromatic or used a narrow range of colours. An artist has to be able to think holistically about the parts of the painting in relation to each other, and that includes colour. The more parts there are, the harder the painting becomes. Sound like we are managing visual information... it is just that.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Art in the Making - Old Art, New Art and Tons of Sketches!

Having my other projects locked away in my older hard drive gave me a chance to start up some new ones and work on the really old ones. Its because I hadn't backed up the middle ones... oh well. Let's start with the really old ones. I am talking about Mai Bhago, Banda Singh Bahadur and Udasis of Guru Nanak. I was quite certain then that I was going to complete them by now but I haven't. I once spoke about how the painting on Hari Singh Nalwa, lacked that extra punch. Well, these ones are in that position currently.
Mai Bhago one just looks mundane really. I recall Kanwar Singh from Art of Punjab making the same comment about his Mai Bhago charge. I thought I could make one that wasn't. I did several versions of Mai Bhago's cavalry charge last summer, as well as, other generic cavalry charge scenes from interesting angles. Let me know what you think of all these, leave a comment below.

With Banda Singh Bahadur, he is approaching oncoming infantry and cavalry, and that puts him into a better position. Still I thought it could use some work.

Last summer, I gave the painting that 300-style, dark and gritty look to see if it could be improved. It certainly looks interesting! But as I worked on the painting this year, I tried several things one of which was to change the perspective so more of the background warfare could be seen. This will allow me to add more depth to the painting. Also, dynamic clouds in war paintings complement the action so I'll be developing those as I work on this next year. If you're wondering why I changed his khanda to a tulwar, its because khandas don't do very well on horseback.

Speaking of war paintings, a frown is rarely seen in Sikh paintings. Even on the battlefield, one finds no frowns. I always found that strange and also this, which is even more strange: dark skin is never seen unless its to represent Mughals or Afghans, both of which are descendants of Mongols who are as pale as the Chinese! Anyhow, I intend to annihilate both norms! I'll post more about them later.

Battle of Chamkaur - Sahibzada Jujhar Singh was a sketch I did back in early 2008. As you can see, the horse is just ghastly. Essentially, what I had in mind was Jujhar Singh overwhelmed by Mughal Cavalry. I couldn't draw horses so I ended up doing Sahibzada Ajit Singh instead, and decided I would come back to this.

With Mai Bhago, Banda Singh Bahadur and now Udasis of Guru Nanak that was three paintings with side view of the main characters. I don't know why my paintings usually ended up like that. However, I ditched the side view with a rough layout of Udasis (again last summer). After laying out the side view, it became much easier to portray from a different angle.

I came up with these last summer as well, portrait shots of Guru Nanak and Mardana. After laying out the compositions, I put them aside to work on a different painting on Guru Nanak, which kind of built up on previous sketches. As I did that I thought to myself, its good that I am painting spiritually uplifting paintings now because that's an even bigger part of our history. However, I did not spend much time on them because I had a lot of other paintings ahead.

I'll end with three paintings I am working on right now. Everything except Banda Singh Bahadur was done last summer or the year before. These projects I began just a while ago. One is about Guru Amardas ji, one about Guru Gobind Singh ji and one about Guru Nanak Dev Ji. I am going to put aside Udasis for a moment, and get this painting of Guru Nanak out first. There were several scenes I went through (above), before I captured the right moment. Expressions are always important to me in a painting so let me know if you have an idea of what expressions they have, leave a comment below. Also, see if you can judge the content of the full painting from the expression alone!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Akali Phula Singh and More Updates!

I released Akali Phula Singh ji's painting today (after midnight yesterday), along with a few other things. I would have blogged then but was too tired.

Akali Phula Singh was pretty big a project but not as big as Battle of Chamkaur. It was also much simpler to work with so it took less than 4 months to complete. For Akali Phula Singh, I went with a wider colour pallet than my other work. Since the subject was Nihangs (again), I decided to do a blue-orange harmony (once again). I wanted a different look from Akali Nihang General so I went with more saturated colours and lower contrast. Though, in no way should you think that I am going to ditch that 300-style, dark, gritty, rugged look that you see in Akali Nihang General. No way! I love that look but you could say I am experimenting a bit.

I think its time now for a proper non-war painting. Although I still have to decide which sketches I want to start working with, I will reveal some Works in Progress later this month, including an updated Banda Singh Bahadur.

I also gave my website a new look. This was a plan from August 2009 but wasn't required because I didn't have many paintings in August 2009. I am preparing for more paintings to pile up on that "For Sale" page. The drop down menu should make it a lot easier to navigate through them once they do. Also added a Facebook link to my website, for those who prefer one-liners over essays lol!
There are still some things to be done like the background. I will get to those later.

Lastly, I reduced the price of my paintings to make them more available for brothers and sisters outside of US. I live in Canada so I understand how costly shipping can be. There are ways around some shipping charges that occur at borders but I am not sure if they are legal so I won't go into that!

Bhagat Siya over and out! cheesy...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Really Excited!

It's 3 AM in the morning and I just painted the final touches on Akali Phula Singh! But I am not going to put it out just yet. Instead, I am going to release it this Saturday. That'll give me sometime to go over it, fix anything that needs fixing and allow me to finish Akali Phula Singh ji's info page on my website.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Weekly Sketch #17: Pargat Singh

Who?! Just some random person from a village. Original photo is by Gurbir Singh Brar, who is another addition to my "Awesome Photographers" list along with Charles Meacham. Its really good practice for painting. For sketching, I actually look at real people, in somewhat crowded (and recently sweaty) locations...

There are other photographers whom I admire but I haven't gotten around to studying stuff from their photographs yet (Nick Fleming and Nihang Teja Singh, for example). My reason for using the photographs from Flickr (other than it being a famous photo sharing system) is that when I first started painting Sikh history on the computer (Mata Bhag Kaur), I got an amazing response from the community there. Their comments were very encouraging and pushed me until I built up some momentum (leading eventually to Battle of Chamkaur). It's sort of my way of giving back, by promoting the community a bit. Big thanks goes to Photo08 (first comment), Avnit Kaur, Laadli Fauj and Simmal Tree for their constant enthusiasm about my paintings. There were many others (including Kanwar Singh and Jathedar), as well.

I was supposed to be working on Akali Phula Singh lately, hoping that I would finish by... well, today! But by the end of last week I found myself, working on Banda Singh Bahadur. After several different thumbnails and sketches, I decided to keep the painting I had developed. I found a way to improve the battle scene by reworking some stuff (everything). The painting was all on one layer, so I separated each figure into its own layer. I find this saves a lot of time when working with complex paintings with a lot of pieces... like a puzzle only in 2.5-dimensions (overlappping pieces!).
Battle of Chamkaur had about 100 different layers (no I did not count them). One for each figure (sometimes their weapons/shield/clothes were on separate layers), several layers for the armies in the back, and several layers for just Sahibzada Ajit Singh alone. This significantly helped me keep the whole thing organized for one, and two, I could mess with different figures without screwing up the rest! Now there's a tip for photoshop students... and here's a tip for traditional students... plan the painting, before you start painting! ...which reminds me, I should get to my traditional works sometime this summer...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Weekly Sketch #16: Baba Jagir Singh

I don't know who he is but I know he showed up in the "Knight of God" documentary with Baba Hari Singh ji. If anyone knows about him, feel free to leave a comment. :)
Original photo is my Charles Meacham, who has worked a lot with Sikhs. He has a huge gallery of photos.

Its summer time and I am back to working on my paintings again. I am currently working on Akali Phula Singh, and hoping to finish by the end of this month.

Last month my Hardrive crashed with all my new work and photos inside, including Hari Singh Nalwa. I just recently got around to looking at companies who will recover my data. Let us wait and see how the data recovery process goes. If it fails I will have to work on Hari Singh Nalwa from a previous stage, and that'll delay its release date. Not to mention, I'll have to sketch out new pojects once again including Bota Singh and Garja Singh. I am now reworking Guru Nanak Dev ji, Banda Singh Bahadur and Mai Bhago until results arrive. I am reworking them because I wanted to portray a story in the painting rather than have generic charge/battle scene.
Click on the picutre to see a full view and different stages.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Late Gurupurab Celebrations at Sikhi Art

Machhiwara was supposed to done by January, and was set to be released on Jan 5. At that point I had recieved the constructive criticism, I had asked for and I got back to work. Took a couple of weeks to straighten out the setting and composition, and so the painting was delayed.
But now that it is out... Happy late Guru purab to everyone!! :P

So, what's next? Well, I have no plans on working on any painting till summer. But when I do get started, Akali Phula Singh is next. It is a along awaited painting, and I have been aching to get to it!

So what is Machhiwara, what is it about?
Well, after being attacked several times by the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb's army, Guru Gobind Singh ji is forced to flee from the Anandpur fort to Chamkaur. During the escape, the weather was insane, and it flooded the river, Sirsa, that Guru Sahib had to cross. In the chaos, his mother and younger sahibzaadey's are separated from him, and are eventually doomed in the false courts of Sirhind.
As Guru Sahib takes shelter in a haveli in Chamkaur, he is again attacked by the Mughal forces. This time his older sons fall in the intense battle that takes place. Odds were stacked aagainst him, Guru Sahib had to flee once again. This time he had nothing left all his devotees had been martyred, and his family was lost. The great cause he was fighting for seemed to be slipping away from his grip. However, as Guru Gobind Singh ji meditates in Machhiwara, he keeps himself in the highest of spirits. Exhausted from warfare, he rests here overnight, and is eventually saved by his Muslim devotees in the morning.

Machhiwara, undoubtly, is a symbolic painting. Everything around Guru Sahib symbolizes his chardi kala attitude, and the rise of Khalsa.

Click on the image below to access close-ups, larger image, buying options, etc.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Weekly Sketch #15: Weapon X

Machhiwara is almost done! I can't wait to get it out there.

One my previous sketches of wolverine just wasn't good enough, so I did another one. I am not a fan of bollywood movies but they have released two good movies this year - Rocket Singh - Salesman of the year and 3 Idiots. I totally loved 3 Idiots and its message. Although, 3 Idiots does not have any Sikh main characters, there was one thing I noticed. If you look at Sikhs in the background, and there are so many of them. The producers show them like normal people, in all sorts of professions. I thought that was awesome. This was the background though, in the foreground Aamir Khan and his co stars gave a wonderful performance!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Weekly Sketch #14: Rocket Singh

First of all, Happy Gurpurab to all! I would have loved to have finished Machhiwara by today but it's going to need more time. For those of you who don't know about Machhiwara, the painting is about the time when Guru Gobind Singh ji had just escaped from Chamkaur after suffering defeat, he had lost his younger sons during a chaotic time period just before the battle, and his older sons were martyred during the battle. The legend goes to say that even after all this, Guru Gobind Singh ji did not let his spirits down, and stayed in Chardi Kala.

This is what Rocket Singh - Salesman of the Year (this week's sketch) echoes all throughout. I totally loved the movie. After Singh is Kinng and Love Aaj Kal, which were alright... Rocket Singh is definitely another step towards getting positive Sikh models in the media.