How do I sum up a day that allows me to create art? Difficult I must say, as the ‘day’ is a sum total of thousands of days, of an unending journey of self-discovery.
My day starts with art in every form conceivable, like planning and preparing tiffin for my daughter at 5.30 AM. Tiffin and art? Then breakfast for my family and art? But, that’s how it is. I believe art is everywhere and one gets to absorb from any art form. Food is definitely one with its processes, textures and taste. It has to be healthy, tasty, interesting and inviting, all at the same time. That’s art too. Cooking is like meditation for me. It soothes me, helps me find a semblance of sanity out of chaos and madness. It’s like a jugalbandi (a duet of two solo musicians) between food and my chaotic artistic mind.
“…the ‘day’ is a sum total of thousands of days, of an unending journey of self-discovery.”
Next comes exploring my home with its lovely terrace garden, that surprises me with mother nature’s art – the flowers and foliage in all their form, colour, glory and fragrance. Every day is a surprise, every day holds something new. I observe them and take inspiration for my day ahead. Do the shadow play of the leaves under the rising morning sun tries to give me a cue to composition? I think about such things as the day unfolds, and imbibe them. Perhaps, with the hope that they will sneak into my paintings. But oh wait, are the works that my brushes work fervently meant to paint or to create art? So I rummage my memories, travel back to childhood and discover my next inspiration, my next human story that I must bring forth on my canvas. And more importantly bring them to life, which touches souls and moves people.
I put on the music, my old radio or the music system. It depends, on what I am going to create that day. From Tagore songs to Bob Dylan, I shuffle through and then listen to them with my heart. Sometimes, I pause them to listen to a Bulbul just outside my window and join it humming my favourite songs.
”Do the shadow play of the leaves under the rising morning sun tries to give me a cue to composition?”
The morning newspapers confront me with reality, and also human stories of triumph and tribulations. A hot cup of Darjeeling tea balances my senses, soothes my nerves and strengthens my resolve to do my bit. As I sip the second flush muscatel, it takes me back to the sylvan hills and the mysterious customs of the Buddhist monks, of the simple life of the pahari (people inhabiting the Himalayan regions of Nepal and northern India) people. I shuffle my music list and listen to ‘Pahari’ by Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and Shiv Kumar Sharma and suddenly the hills invade my home. I am not a very religious person, but I do pray mostly to thank and rarely to ask.
Moving to the next, at around 9.30 AM, after all my family members have been taken care of, is when a mother, wife and daughter-in-law is ready for the artist. My studio beckons, the paints gear up, the brushes quiver and my canvases on easels become restless to meet me.
“My studio beckons, the paints gear up, the brushes quiver and my canvases on easels become restless to meet me.”
At 10 AM sharp I am at my studio. It begins with mundane things like checking messages and mails and responding to them. But, at times, exciting official work like responding to a studio or an enquiry. I also scan through a few art websites to get the day’s news.
The next half an hour I dedicate myself to read. Over the last couple of years, I have tried to build a small library of sorts. From theatre to tribal art to textiles, and of course study material on masters – both past and present, and both international and national. Ganesh Pyne is one of my favourites and so is Jogen Choudhury for his bold lines. I also like to read about Chittoprasad for his fieriness, as also Bhaijju Shyam for his dare to dream attitude. Hockney, Sabavala, Nolde, Manida…all of them suddenly fill my studio and sweep away the quietude. Each one inspires me, tells me to pick up the brush and lets go off the apprehensions about acceptance/rejection that clouds my thinking.
I then take a deep breath and look at my canvases, brushes and paints - My time to talk to them and listen to them. Have I failed them? Poured enough love for them? After all, they are all my children. At times they do tell me a lot of things, their worries or even sentiments. But in the end, our conversations end on one note – pick up the brushes and tell your untold story, paint for the greater glory of life.
“Each one inspires me, tells me to pick up the brush and let go off the apprehensions about acceptance/rejection that clouds my thinking.”
And so, I pick up a conte or a charcoal block to draw the first lines. Slowly the rhythm picks up and the line between reality and imagination starts getting blurred. The brushes follow, then the scalpel or maybe the syringes and tubes of color. In between, sandpapers come and go and so are the colour pencils and ink. It’s the most satisfying period, as I lose count of time and what is happening around; detached with the world yet attached to my own that I have created. After a spell, I step back and then I am my biggest critic. It depends at what stage the painting is, and whether it satisfies me as it evolves. The next is to go back to it with double the effort, maybe start fresh or course-correct if the painting needs so.
Till I am reminded by a gentle buzz on my phone that it’s Lunchtime, and that 3 hours have just flown. I come back to receive my daughter from school and listen to her day’s story until I serve lunch to my family. The afternoon is spent reading a book, maybe a fast-paced thriller on India’s archaeological findings or behind the scene anecdotes of Sherlock Holmes or even short stories by Tagore. At times I find similarities with the struggles and frustrations of the Master Painters, and at times the laidback afternoon brightens up on finding similarities of triumph and hope with that of my own journey. This is my recharge time for the evening shift.
“It’s the most satisfying period, as I lose count of time and what is happening around; detached with the world yet attached to my own that I have created.”
Evenings are spent helping my daughter with her studies, solving Maths, explaining physics and giving her tasks while I head for my studio again. Enroute I pick up groceries and vegetables. And then, I am back at my studio for the next 2 hours, picking up from where I left in the morning session. I draw the curtains and look at the city’s night skyline, the reflection of dancing lights on the lake and soak in the breeze. I head back home again for one of the most interesting parts of the day – my chit chat session with my husband, friend, guide and philosopher. Till dinner time, when the whole family comes together over the table. This is the time our discussions veer from unusual to the most mundane of topics from films to music to cybernetics to biotechnology to philosophy to cuisine, except politics that is.
At 10.30 PM it’s time to listen to the Night Jar and the whispering trees, and then the dreams take over; preparing me for another day, for an unending journey to find myself, my true calling.
About the Artist: Born in 1975 Runa Biswas comes from the old side of Kolkata, India and lived in a house that was 100 years old, surrounded by a history of 300 years. There was art everywhere, surrounding her with its many hues, patterns, colours and smell. From a very early age, she was drawn to art; painting whatever evoked a sense of happiness and freedom. After procuring a Diploma in Fine Arts from Rabindra Bharati University and an MSc in Economics from Calcutta University, she dived straight into the world of colours, mainly watercolours, then on to more experimental forays with ink.
Currently, Runa Biswas is based out of Bangalore. Over 15 years or so she had been able to develop a highly unique artistic language, experimenting with various mediums, textures, tools, and concepts. She uses a mix of wash technique, layer on layer glazing, pouring, batik and brushwork. This allows her to combine the rigidity of bold lines with the fluidity of watercolor. Her subjects are mostly figurative, inspired by dreams, folklore, mythology, and personal moments that were etched in her memory. Her tools are as varied as her subjects - brushes, pens, palette knives, droppers, twigs, combs, and even her nails. With speed and timing being key, she has trained herself to be ambidextrous, using both her hands at the same time to implement different applications.
This is the final episode of the mini-series "My Creative Day" this Season. You can check out the FIRST, SECOND and the THIRD one by clicking on the links.