“Once you have the brush touching the paper, the Almighty paints… you merely witness a piece of art coming up.”

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An architect by profession, a professor by choice and a watercolourist by passion, who croons too, Tushar Manohar Shetty, a Dahisar, Mumbai resident, talks about his perfervid passion for watercolour painting with A Radhakrishnan.

What’s your background?

Since childhood, I have been always keenly interested in drawing as an art form and explored various subjects in the field. Very much at home making graphite and pencil sketches, I have travelled to many places to nurture this realm of art.
My choice of architectural studies was paramount in my mind as it couples technology in tandem with art and moreover is a sure field of creativity.

How did you get into painting? 
 
Drawing and painting were my choicest subjects at school and I loved to plumb many vivid subjects of interest, ranging from object drawings, figurative, portraits, landscapes and memory drawings. Exploring drawing and design has been an indispensable part of my journey as an architecture student.
However, from 2016, I chose to concentrate more on the watercolour art as a medium of expression.
I owe gratitude to many good watercolour artists who time and again guided me with their demos, practice works, books and outdoor excursions and mentored me, instilling in me the importance of practice, a very crucial aspect of this art. I am still constantly mastering the smaller details of this art. 

Why did you choose watercolour as your medium? Did you experiment with other mediums? Is it difficult or easy to care for? 

Well, frankly I was aware of this medium being the most easily available with regards to materials needed. Further it gave quick results with easier handling techniques. 
Though initially this medium had disappointed me, exploring further, I loved its fluidness, transparency, flow content, texture, body, and correctness of hue. Being into sketching art, I found watercolours give a very nice sketchy feel that extracts out the abstract component of the subject.
It leaves the viewer mulling over the abstracted values of the real subject in a very convincing manner. It creates an unique magic as colours get to blend in one another, resulting into newer shades and hues of the original colours. This when coupled with water, adds more charm to the painting.
I experimented with different mediums such as oil, dry pastels, acrylics, but found I was more at home with water colours.The medium has water as the base, which by its own character cannot be much controlled. Hence the trick is to control the behaviour of water and tame it to the right use in the painting. Though handling becomes difficult at the outset for beginners and new enthusiasts, it can be managed once you understand the pulse and tricks of the medium. Again, practice is the only key.
It is a boundless ocean of joy to explore once you get the basics right in place.
 
What are watercolour paints and how they work and can they be permanent? What is the most challenging part about it?
 
Watercolour paints are hues of colours that are water soluble and can be applied on specific papers, made especially for watercolour art.
There is a wide range in quality watercolour paints available in the market, to suit one’s budget. Gelatin in these paints gives them the required lustre and glow once applied to paper. Being water soluble, it blends into other colours making them unique and appealing.
These may fade away after a certain period of time (say around 8 years) depending upon the brand of colour used. There are less chances however, if good quality of paper and colours are used.
The painting needs to be mounted in a glass frame, without exposing the paper, once you decide to exhibit it on the wall. Care should be taken avoid moist walls, water content areas, or seepage walls.
The entire episode of watercolour painting is a challenge right from selection of colours, making the right blend, use of right water and of course the brush. The medium being irreversible one has to think 100 times… but paint only once. This is the secret that the art teaches.
The act of thinking about the rightness in the approach of making a painting is the biggest challenge in this art.

What was the strongest influence you had when you were growing up (artists, movies, cartoons, comics etc.)?

Nature was the strongest influence. She has always shown magical changes with regards to colours, texture, feel. Her ever surprising changing face fascinated me and I had always had a dream to capture the pulse of the moment through a painting.
I have been regularly following the works of artists Chandrakant Mandre, Milind Mulick, Aditya Chari in my formative days and adored their style of bringing in the charm of Nature through their works. Their use of colours and textures mesmerized me, eventually leading me to get closer to their style.
I have also been following and learning through many international as well as Indian artists like Alvaro, Joseph, Vikrant Shitole, Prafull Sawant, Vilas Kulkarni, Aniket Mahale, etc.
Slowly with practice, I could manage to develop my own style in the art which I believe is very important.

What’s integral to the work of an artist? What role does he have in society?

Dedicated practice and new creations are integral. He must constantly explore and achieve newer dimensions of art through his own style and be able to convey the uniqueness of the subject through his works. An artist is a mirror for society. It’s his creative realm that would convincingly show the world its true image.

Does art in itself contribute to a person’s overall consciousness and mindfulness?

Of course yes. Art is the sure image of who and how you are. It silently speaks volumes of your mind, character, belief, personality in many ways.The prepositioning of art to a subject itself is a proof of the contribution it offers to the consciousness and mindfulness that artists possess.

What is the hardest part of creating a painting? How much time does it take? How do you know when a painting is done?

The hardest part is not believing in it as ‘being created’. The much harder part is not approaching the painting at all, though, you are convinced that it could turn out to be a good art piece. Once you have the brush touching the paper, the Almighty paints…you merely witness a piece of art coming up.
It can sometimes take y ears for your truest emotions and concerns to emerge on the canvas as an art piece. Or sometimes it is in a wink of a moment that you express it. A quick caricature or a detailed art work are the two spectrums we all know. Though, for a good sized watercolour work, it takes around 4 to 5 hours.
Your painting is complete when you are aware of what you shouldn’t do more to what you have done. A painting is done when your soul and body are in sync with the pleasure of your eyes. There is no further definition to this feeling.
 
Do you mix styles of art? How important are titles to your paintings? 

Yes. Mixing of styles like abstract to surrealism, realism to pseudo are different explorations I love to do. Of late I have tried to caricate subjects with a touch of realism, a wonderful way of exploring.
Titles bring out the poetic mind of an artist. Also it displays your wit for the subject which may coincide with situations and events of daily life.
  
Do you use photo references? Do you listen to music when you’re painting?

Yes, photo references are immensely useful to associate while composing the drawing and studying colour schemes.
 Music too is a soothing trance one gets, when you paint.

What is the biggest hurdle you have encountered in your art?

The lack of urge to paint at times when you are in two minds whether to paint or not to…laziness is the biggest hurdle I must say. 
 
Aside from being an artist, you also have held numerous workshops? How has this experience been?

Sharing some unique techniques and enquires of art you know with curious learners has always been a very nice experience. When you teach, you learn twice.

Few words on being an architect and teaching.

I am very thankful. Architecture gives a constructive and creative thought line, very well explored in watercolour art.
Teaching has also been my passion as I believe I can give and touch more souls. In a way I am very happy I create good souls along with creating good paintings.

Talk about your love for trains and the book you have written.

I have been a rail fan from childhood and always had an urge to do something on the Indian railways. Coupling my watercolour art with information, Ihave compiled a book titled ‘Whistles and Chugs’ on Indian Railways, scheduled for publication, documenting the railway engines in watercolours.

Other hobbies? You sing too?

As an ardent Kishore Kumar fan,I try to grasp and sing the depth of melodies his songs offer. I believe singing and music are very closely related to watercolour painting. There you have a voice and music and likewise here you have water and colours.I also play the mouth organ and guitar. Besides these, I occasionally play Badminton, Carrom and Chess.


A. Radhakrishnan

A.Radhakrishnan is a Pune based freelance journalist, poet and short story writer, who when not enjoying is favourite cup of kaapi, loves to make people happy.

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