Sanjana’s Story

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She traced her fingers over the newly polished dining table and smiled at the flower arrangement on the centre piece. It looked beautiful. It looked complete -pretty much like how she felt. Sanjana Rao, 38, had completed her fifth interior designing project, successfully. She looked at her wrist watch, still enough time for the clients to get there and have a look; just enough time for a glass of chilled lemonade she had bought in earlier, keeping in mind the hot day. She sat on the beige couch in the living room, and sipped on the lemonade. It refreshed her, it refreshed her memories – she was not always the interior designer she had become today, in fact, things took a turn only three years back.

Growing up, Sanjana had been every parents dream child. Her room would be the tidiest and the neatest, decorated with cut outs of handmade paper, sequined curtains, fresh flower arrangements, patch work bed sheets, hand sewn cushion covers – most of it done by her. Her work was highly appreciated, but making a career out of it was out of the question. “What money will Art and Craft and decorating your home fetch?” “When will you have time for your family?” She wanted to say,” money does not buy happiness.” “Art gives me happiness,” but instead said, “Alright.”

A supporting husband of twelve years and a pair of ten your old twins was all it took Sanjana to move out from a hobby to the business of a professional interior designer. A business based on art, which made her rich – materially and emotionally, it made her confident, it made her smile. Gone were the days when she could not stand up for art, now art stood up for her. She learnt over the years that success does not bring happiness, happiness is success. Art challenged her every day.

 She had the power to change houses into homes. She decided colors to suit the room, and the colors that in turn gave an aura to the room, she made a dull house more cheerful, she arranged homes; her creativity resonating through every decision she made regarding the same and every action that she did. She was a super woman in disguise, and she owed it all to Art.

At Artfairie we celebrate art. We celebrate the colors, the emotions it generates, the connection it creates between strangers – we showcase the works of renowned and upcoming Indian artists, making art accessible to a wider audience. We bring in diverse stories, as diverse as the different colors, but when they all merge in; it creates a marvel, a rainbow.

It is art that created history, and it is art that determines a lot of people’s present. It is nothing but important. On a lighter note, it brings us together. It has to be relevant.

Vaishnavi for http://www.artfairie.com 

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Why Buy Art?

Diary of a Minor Art Collector: No Aspirations

Although the walls of my house are tastefully adorned by paintings, pictures and some Art and though I look upon them with great love and appreciation, I have a confession. Any aspirations to a great soul are dashed when I remember that our first foray into the great Art world, our first original art purchase was prompted by purely philistine motives. I blush to confess it but my husband and I were looking for something to match our upholstery, at that time predominantly beige. I know now that this is a cardinal sin but from this mundane beginning, we acquired one of our favourite, most admired paintings. An all beige or rather sand coloured tone on tone study of the desert by Artist P.N. Choyal.

Desert Scape by PN Choyal

Desert Scape by PN Choyal

It is a scene of an approaching desert storm, the camels in a caravan heading towards an oasis, the water depicted by a darker toned glimmer. Beautiful.

In those days our walls were enlivened by the typical art lovers’ prints of Van Gogh and other impressionists. Along the way I befriended an art dealer and became a little more aware of Indian art. I realized that original art need not be too outrageously expensive. I started buying Art guided by two very reliable inputs: my gut and my wallet. As an economist, er….erstwhile student of economics…I am aware of the concept of Real Value and Value in Exchange. So, I only buy Art for love. If I love the painting as much as the other stuff the Money might have bought …if the painting speaks to me, then after I ponder and wonder I may buy it. Unless it is below a certain discretionary price, in which case, I just buy it.

Rain Drenched Kolkata Street by Aparup Mukherjee

Rain Drenched Kolkata Street by Aparup Mukherjee

 

Vegetable Vendors in Kolkata by Aparup Mukherjee

Vegetable Vendors in Kolkata by Aparup Mukherjee

As my taste and my bank balance improve, I have been spending a wee bit more or asking for Paintings as my birthday present. I acquired two beautiful, large paintings, watercolours done by my favourite artist, Aparup Mukherjee. One, a dreamy study in watery blues and grays depicts a rainy Kolkata street and the other shows vegetable vendors with gleaming brinjals, ripe tomatoes, neatly piled greens. The ennui, the everyday mundane reality has been converted to something vibrant and appealing.

Pastoral Peace by Aparup Mukherjee

Pastoral Peace by Aparup Mukherjee

A painting that burst into my heart and said, Buy Me, is one by the same artist of a spreading banyan tree, a herd of cows under the tree, a little pond and an approaching storm. I have named it Pastoral Peace, ignoring the oncoming storm!
My latest painting is a beautiful, narrow painting by upcoming and somewhat successful painter Sudipta Karmakar. I first saw this painting at an art exhibition in DLF. I loved it. I wanted it. I waited. Two months went by. My life went on, but the painting would pop up in my mind at times, murmuring seductively, “You want me, you know you want me”. (A conversation I often have with bags, shoes or clothes!) It is now up on my wall and I love to lose myself in its cloudy depths. It is bathed in a rosy glow, so I have named it Godhuli…the hour of dusk when the cows come home and raise the dust and cause this kind of sunset glow.
I have two crayon scribbling, actually daubs that I bought many moons ago for the princely sum of four hundred rupees each, which I still dearly love. I have two water colours bought on a holiday in Kathmandu. Though I have become a little more confident in buying Art, I still do not buy Art as an investment.
I buy Art for the love of the painting. I love the paintings that I have and I love the way they add joy, colour and depth to our walls. In fact, in our all beige and brown wood bedroom, it is the paintings that lend life and vibrancy. My love for Art has been rewarding and fairly constant. As has been, my love for beige!

…Teresa Barat

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Taking Care of Your Paintings

Age Must Not Wither Them

Untitled by Naval Kishore

Untitled by Naval Kishore

Indian artists are getting their share of fame and famous Indian paintings are selling for unbelievable prices. On a less commercial note, people are increasingly looking at Art and paintings in particular to enhance their décor or to make a statement about who they are or what they like. Whether you buy art for love of paintings or as an investment, i.e. whether your motivation is love or money, you need to look after these valuable pieces.

To understand how to look after a painting, you need to understand what a painting is: a piece of the artist’s soul, an expression of an artist’s feelings, hopes and sufferings. Yes, yes, very true, but on a more practical note, a painting is made up of two parts: the support layer and the image layer. The support layer relates to the canvas or paper that the painting is on plus the supporting frame or stretcher. The image layer relates to “such stuff as dreams are made of” – the painting itself. Artists may use primer and then the paint, which may be oil or water based. Sometimes oil paintings may be varnished to protect the painting or to saturate the colours. The image you see when you look at a painting is an interaction of all these layers. All the layers change and deteriorate and take on different physical characteristics over time – varnish oxidizes with light and air, turning yellow or brown, paint may become brittle, paper may get attacked by insects, in damp environments canvas could grow mildew. Four factors that most affect the health of your painting are temperature, relative humidity, light (i.e. visible light and ultra-violet radiation) and pollution.

Ideally, paintings should be stored at a temperature between 18° to 24° C, which, of course, would put paid to any Indian keeping any paintings for more than two generations. But temperature is not as important as relative humidity levels. As constant air conditioning is not feasible for most, an easier solution is to keep paintings in internal rooms, which are less exposed to outside elements and variations in temperature.

Light is another factor that is hard to control, but UV blocking films on windows are a practical solution and do not block natural light. Do not make the mistake of putting traditional picture lights over your valued paintings. The heat and focused light are very damaging to your paintings. Paintings should not be exposed to direct sunlight. Try to use diffused lighting where you display your pieces.

What Lies Ahead by Rajib Bag

What Lies Ahead by Rajib Bag

Regarding dust and pollution. Dusting has to be done with extreme care and should be avoided if there is flaking paint. According to some experts, vacuum cleaners can be used to remove dirt from the back of dusty paintings. Another option is to prop the painting up at a forward angle and brush it carefully, in one direction only; using a clean, soft, dry natural hair artists’ brush, (3.5 cm. to 5 cm. tip). You could even use a make up brush. Never use dusters or feather dusters as these can damage the paint. More serious problems like flaking paint, torn canvas, cracks with lifting edges, wrinkles in the canvas, mould growth, highly discoloured varnish should be left to a professional conservator.

Make sure that your paintings are hung securely. Check on hooks, nails and wires at regular intervals. These, like everything are subject to wear and tear and a huge falling painting can cause damage to itself as well as others. Take especial care when you are moving paintings, two persons should always handle large paintings. Never lift a painting from the top of the frame, hold a painting from the middle of both sides. Handle with clean hands and remove rings, watches or anything that can scrape the surface. Map out your route in advance and prepare the place that you are shifting the painting to. If you have to transport the painting, pack it securely: lay flat pieces of thermacol, cardboard, mat board or such firm material over the front and back of your painting. Then wrap the whole in bubble wrap. Do not keep it wrapped for too long to prevent moisture buildup, which can cause damage to the painting.

With good artwork costing as much, or more, than fine jewellery, wise owners of beautiful paintings should take pains to ensure that the Art they are lucky enough to possess, will be enjoyed for generations to come.

 

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Surrounded by Beauty

Beauty in the Mundane

Have you ever seen art students at a tourist site? There they sit, diligently drawing what everyone else is looking at. So, why are so many people keen on seeing what they draw? There is something about seeing the everyday made into something lasting and beautiful by the magic of art.

Kolkata City II by Sudipta KarmakarThe wonderful thing about appreciating art, loving or owning paintings is that it makes you see the beauty that is often present in our daily life. The view from the French windows in our house is beautiful.  Tall bamboo stems, feathery bamboo leaves, rust tiles and all the other shapes and shades of green. We have palm leaves, ferns, philodendron, canna leaves and they make a lovely, verdant view that I would dearly love to have painted.  And if you wipe your mind free of the irritation and the ‘…oh, no, not again’ feeling, traffic jams or crowded streets at night look very dramatic. Think of it, red lights of the cars in front of you and the yellow beams of the cars facing you….look for beauty and you will find it.

Two of my favourite paintings depict such mundane scenes. One depicts aVegetable Market by Aparup Mukherjee vegetable vendor with fresh, bright vegetables and the other painting is of a rainy, narrow Calcutta street complete with rickshaw and yellow taxi. The rain scene is particularly lovely during arid, dry Delhi summers! There is always joy in looking at beautiful things and there is a particular joy in seeing the beauty in ordinary things.

Teresa Barat

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Appreciating Watercolours

Appreciating Watercolours

Varanasi

Varanasi by Aparup Mukherjee

Watercolour painting is both an exacting and suggestive art. By definition, a watercolour is both a medium and the finished artwork. As a medium, it refers to a paint that is water soluble with one of its key attributes being its transparency, allowing brushstrokes or drawings painted under to show through a layer painted over, giving depth and sometimes luminosity to the work.

Why do we call it a suggestive art, because in watercolour painting an artist seeks to capture the essence of the composition or scene? The artist paints a visual image of what they have analysed and internalised. The attempt is to suggest not emphasize or over paint. The image created should hold the correct balance. In watercolours it is said that the tone is the hero and colour just the supporting cast.

A true watercolour masterpiece shows an individual personality of its own. View the foreground, mid-ground and background to gauge its depth. Never underestimate the value of a single brush stroke.  Examine the whites to see how they get placed against the darker shades. Remember, there is no transparent white watercolour paint; the white parts in a watercolour artwork are often those that are not painted and allowed to be seen as they are carefully placed and left blank while painting the artwork. Imagine how a watercolour artist sees the entire painting before he starts actually sets brush to paper, knowing what colours to merge and where to place his strokes to achieve his vision!

Water is an active agent in any watercolour painting, and the artist’s skill in commanding the fluidity of this medium reflects the mastery in his craft. The artist is an alchemist too, blending water and paint to create shades and hues that capture light and luminosity. There is frankly no way of correcting a watercolour painting, any flaws is glaringly obvious. Paint once placed on the paper will leave its mark. It is no wonder then that we admire those who have mastered this craft.

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What Size Painting to Buy?

Small is the New Big

Small Paintings Arranged on a Wall

Among various questions which come across someone’s mind while buying art, the size of painting is a very common query.

Is less than a full sheet (2*2.5 ft) too small a size to get noticed?
Should I look at covering 30% or 40% of the available wall?

One Large or Many Small: We all wish to own large pieces of art at the cheapest price imaginable. A few thoughts to keep in mind when deciding on what size of art to buy – bear in mind the area available to hang the picture when making a decision on what size of painting to buy. If you have a large room with a large wall on which to hang the painting a large painting is well worth considering, but if you have a large wall in a small room, it may not be the right decision to buy a large painting as there may not be enough space in the room to get a true appreciation of its artistic value.

Budget V/s Size: Unless you have a large house with many rooms and large expanses of walls, its best to start small. Let me expand on the joys of buying small! Now you can define what your measure of small is …and how it fits your pocket :)! The advantage of buying small is that it allows you to indulge this passion (and let me warn you that it truly does become a passion) for a very long time! A wall of many different paintings, of course they must be well arranged and complement each other, adds so much character to a room. You or your visitors can spend hours gazing at the different works, the eyes flitting from painting to painting, learning more and more about each work, discovering hidden nuances that you didn’t notice at first glance. Small paintings have a charm of their own … it’s great discovering them in little nooks and corners of a home!

They are also easy on the pocket and make delightful gifts for any occasion. You can never have too many. Arrange them vertically on a narrow wall … or framed and aligned horizontally along a wall or even in ascending order at every other step as a staircase makes its way upstairs …the options are as many and as varied as your imagination …singly or in groups the make a statement. Small definitely can become the new Big!

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Art is Always Big

Investing in Art

Still Life by Mohan Tamang

There is a lot of money floating in the market and prices for art are going sky high. Big investors always circle the waters, hoping for a kill. In this situation, with large auction houses like Christies and Sotheby’s also in India, mushrooming Indian art galleries and so many people looking at art for investment purposes, can the small investor think of art as investment?

We should keep in mind that the penniless painter of yesterday has in many cases, morphed into a media savvy painter who knows what his paintings are worth. So, forget all hopes of a Vincent Van Gogh like masterpiece in the attic. Money for nothing in Art is a rarity today. One option suggested is to look at new work by budding artists. In fact, curator Sandra Khare, Birla Academy of Art, Worli, looks out for new art during her backpacking travels around India.
Before you invest in Art, it is advisable to visit galleries in your city. Look at art sites, read up about artists and look out for news about Art. Decide what kind of art you want to invest in and set your limit. Do not look for instant returns. Keep in mind that what you pay for your paintings should factor in how much you, personally, like it; the artist’s present market value and perhaps, what a more learned art aficionado feels would be his value in the future. Size matters, the larger the painting, the more the cost, If you have a good eye and are prepared to wait for a bit, a painting you buy should seldom sell for less than what you paid. If you do decide to splash out and buy an expensive painting from one of the known names in Indian art, ask for a certificate of Authenticity or Provenance from either the painter or the gallery from where you buy. In today’s environment, where there are a number of fakes floating in the market, you can even get your painting certified by the painter.

Teresa Barat

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