Using a landscape image from the internet as reference, and under the guidance of our teacher, I painted this landscape.
The paint reflected a little light, so I uploaded a little larger image, than the ones I usually upload, to compensate for the lack of clarity. As a result, it is likely that moire patterns will appear on the image.
My grandfather was the eldest in his family. We were his youngest grandchildren. The age difference between us is almost nine decades!
My grandfather’s life was very eventful. It could be said, that he lead a full life. He was a professor in the Burmese University, joined the Army during the world war, served in the foreign service thereafter. Then he helped establish one of the leading heart institutes of the country, where he worked till his last breath.
He had several hobbies. He occasionally undertook carpentry, and even tried his hand at bee-keeping. But the one hobby that lasted the longest, was photography.
None of his photographs prior to the second world war survived – the family had to leave Burma (modern Myanmar), and several possessions were lost.
All his photographs from 1945 onwards, however, were carefully pasted in a book – thick black pages bound together, with beautiful photographs chronicling the life of his children, and even some important people of the times . He developed most of his photographs himself. And he took great pains arranging them in the album, and putting captions for them. He had the foresight to know that other people will one day look at the album with no clue as to who’s in the pictures! The album is showing signs of ageing, and rarely comes out of the cupboard. But when it does, it takes us back in time, to another world.
My grandfather’s love for photography was inherited by my father, who bought a range-finder – spending almost a month’s salary on it. Point-and-shoot or compact cameras never entered our house. From our father, that passion passed onto us. Like our father and grandfather, my brother’s love for photography is serious.
Digital photography had begun entering the market by the time I was old enough to be trusted with the film camera. And my father’s old range-finder was the only one I ever used before my brother’s DSLR entered our lives.
“Extend your palm,” said my aunt to my brother during one of our visits. “I’ve been wanting to give this to you for a long time. It might be useful to you. It belonged to your grandfather,” she said.
She placed a cylindrical leather pouch in his outstretched palm. Like a child unwrapping his gift, my brother’s face lit up with excitement, when he realised, what it was, that he had inherited.
It was my grandfather’s tripod.
“It looks absolutely new!”
No one knows how old the tripod is, but it is, at the very least, seventy years old! And we know that only because the tripod features in one of the pictures my grandfather took of his youngest son – our father.
I have no living memory of my grandfather, and I often wish I had been born earlier – or he had lived longer – so that I may have been able to converse with him. But every time I take a picture, or look at that tripod, I can’t help but think he’s around us – always encouraging us to continue documenting life.
This is a painting of the brooch we bought as souvenirs in Kohima. Instead of photographing it, I thought I would try sketching it, but on the spur of the moment, decided to give it a shot with paint – my first attempt at painting still life.
We travelled for three days on the crowded train – there were more than two hundred of us, and only a hundred confirmed tickets. A bus journey from Dimapur brought us to the campus of Nagaland University, located atop the hills, in Kohima. Exhausted after the journey, we didn’t bother about blankets, as we fell into deep slumber in the dormitory.
During our stay, we discovered the ‘passion fruit’. We devoured them like wild beasts. We had never heard of them, and we knew that we may never taste them ever again. By the time we left, the locals had made a handsome profit!
The nearby hangar served as the venue for talks and concerts. The music and dance performances mesmerised the large audience, and the atmosphere quite literally came alive when clouds filled the ‘auditorium’!
We had the privilege of attending workshops conducted by national artists. And the highlight of the entire trip was the ‘classical overnight’. Beginning after dinner, continuing till dawn, the all-night programme held us in a state of trance. We didn’t sleep during the concert, and yet, ‘woke up’ feeling refreshed, without a hint of exhaustion.
We spent the last day in the main town, visiting the War cemetery, and the Museum.
Due to the insurgent outfits operating throughout the North-Eastern Region, we were forbidden to travel at night. That meant that we had to reach Dimapur before sunset. The last night of our stay was spent on the railway platform at Dimapur Railway station.
We had to board the early morning train, which would stop only for fifteen minutes. We collected all the luggage in one place, and hauled every bit of luggage inside the train as fast as we could, irrespective of whose bag it was. After a chaotic hour or so, we found out that along with our baggage, two large boxes of RDX had found their way into the train. The train we boarded for our return journey was even more crowded than the one in which we went. The mood in the train was dull.
That didn’t last long, however, when we tasted the freshly cut pineapples that were being served by vendors in the train. Juicy and soft, they simply melted in the mouth, and there was not a hint of fibre – you could be forgiven for thinking that they were mangoes. The exotic produce of the north-east, it seemed didn’t end with the passion fruit!
Eventually, we bade farewell to all the people with whom we had shared our entire experience. People who were strangers only a few days back, and people whom we would probably never meet again.
It is unlikely we would ever be a part of such a trip, ever again.
We didn’t carry a camera to capture the great, and the not-so-great moments (and there were plenty of both!) Our stock of passion fruits lasted no more than a few days, and the trip became a distant memory, within just a few months. Looking back, it all seems like a dream. The details of the trip are blurry, and there is little record of us ever having been there. I never wrote anything about it, to remind me of the time.
However, we do have some proof of it being real – a pair of brooches that we bought as souvenirs.
And a painting.
This painting was made in Kohima. I had attended the workshop being conducted by Padma Shree Anjolie Ela Menon. Perhaps there was something in the air that made me draw this – I had never before drawn something abstract, and even after the trip, I have not dared to venture into that territory.
Upon returning, I discovered, to my horror, that the acrylic paint had actually not dried up, and the foam plate I had placed over the canvas to ‘protect’ it, got stuck, and ruined the painting.
Several months passed, and I never fixed it. After over four years, I finally painted over the bad patches. While the scars are still visible, the picture is more presentable.
After spending an evening at my aunt’s house, I thought I had an idea for another blog post. I didn’t know what I would actually write – I had just one line.
When we were about to leave, my aunt asked me if I needed a diary. “I have a plain unruled diary. If you want, you can take it”, she offered. It was kept on a coffee table near a wall. I picked it up, and flipped through it. It had a quotation on each page, and there were no lines. I kept it back.
“I do need a diary, but I need it for taking down class notes. I wouldn’t want to use such a good diary for that!”
“Oh you want one for taking notes? I have just the thing, then!”
I came away holding a thick, black spiral bound book. After reaching home, I placed it over the cupboard. And I just stared at it. What would I do with this?
The pages had such a smooth texture. There was absolutely nothing written inside. No days, or months, or quotations, or fancy designs. Just thin lines. To add to it, there were colour coded tabs running along the sides. It was so beautiful.
It was not meant to be filled with random notes that I wouldn’t bother to look at. It was not supposed to be sold to the scrap dealer once the pages were filled. It was meant to be preserved.
I was scared to open it. To write on it. What if I made a mistake? I had three such books, lying unused, inside the cup board, for the exact same reason!
After spending hours wondering what to do, I told myself, “That’s enough! It is just a bunch of pages. Break out of it!”
I picked up my black pen, and started writing. I didn’t bother about the subject. I wanted to just write. To feel the pen slide on the paper, for no reason. I wrote random sentences. The more I wrote, the more I wanted to write. It seemed as if water was trying to burst through a small hole in a dam.
What I wrote, didn’t matter. But the sight of the beautiful paper, being written on, thrilled me!
After several minutes of writing, I forced myself to stop.
I had filled a few pages with words, I would not even bother to read again. But it looked beautiful!
I recently submitted my assignments for internal assessment (3D modelling, texturing and lighting). Here are the renders – the wire-frame, ambient occlusion, beauty pass, and composite. They have all been made using real images as references. The chocolate box took the most effort, and is, by far, the most original of the lot. Hope you enjoy!