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...