Friday, August 23, 2013

Footprints in Colour – Art and I

By: Madhur Prashant, Humber Student & International Centre Student Ambassador

Many believe that nothing can be wrong in art. Art is not run by rules and what you create is open to artistic interpretation.

The first week of art classes will turn this notion upside down.

My text-heavy and theory-based social science background has made me text-dependent, and drawing was a hobby I had generally ignored. Often, when expressing my ideas in words, I found words to be sometimes limiting. Maybe I wasn’t coming up with the right ones. Therefore, I couldn’t wait to indulge in some imagination, mix and create a new colour family, dip brushes into thick paint, dirty palettes with dollops of colour, and make new worlds over un-ruled sheets of paper. I was hoping to break away from the monotony of words, books, rules, grammar and verbosity. Such were my thoughts.

Thus was my new endeavour.

First day in Class

Eager to meet my first art group, I arrived early and waited outside the classroom. As usual, I had a notebook and basic stationery to get started – in case art ‘notes’ were to be taken. The doors opened and there it was - a huge hall with furniture and props I had not seen in my theory classes before. Wow!

I grabbed something that wasn’t a chair but a long wooden bench with two perpendicular planks holding it at both ends. ‘Some arty stool,’ my ignorance remarked!

Our ‘teacher’ (I had uttered that word after a long time. Until then, it had been ‘Boss’) stood facing us with a smile, as students trickled into the room one after the other. I observed my colleagues... err... peers. Some with glaring tattoos and others with blaring headphones and flashing colours, it was an art-full class. There were a few like me who exchanged shy introductory greetings.  The image of my home city flashed and, for a moment, I missed the comfort of a known place.

Everything and everyone was new!

I looked around, ceiling to floors to walls, and found an unidentified, expressionless onlooker by the wall. He/she/it was a skeleton! Skeletons in art classes look classy, clean and sophisticated! I had never paid attention to the one in my Biology lab! That was creepy.

There wasn’t a podium, the kind I was used to looking at during the whole period. Instead, there was an elevated platform right in front, meant for something I had yet to discover!

I was still trying to figure out the name of the bench I was on. ‘Please sit on one of these horses,’ my teacher instructed. I wondered about the ‘who’, ‘what’ and ‘where’ of ‘horses’. Then I realized, ‘Oh yes! I am sitting on a ‘horse’. It is not galloping!’

I am still not sure if it is called ‘horse’ or something that rhymes like one. I can’t find it online! Pardon my ignorance. Anyway, not many in the class looked as unsure as I did and chatted without much apprehension.

What was I Learning?

After a few days into my program, I was learning rules and theories in and the science of art. I know that it can be far complex and demanding in terms of thought, skill and dedication. The worst – you can’t guess or Google (I don’t always Google, okay)! Some tasks in art work like scientific experiments. If you don’t get it right, you have either failed the experiment or have come up with a new creation.

I am learning that art is much more than expression and freedom. Art is more than just about you, even if you are the creator. It is an unlimited expanse of substance, meaning and interpretation, yet it is limited and defined by the dimensions of its medium. It takes heart, mind and spirit to experience art.

Coming down to the real, I am surrounded by a more experienced group. I am told to see shapes and not things and people around me; and to distinguish between values and not see just black or white. I am told to imagine freely and not be bound by conventions or inhibitions.

Despite years of work and world-experience, I am a newborn. I have just stepped into the realm of art, and am learning to give meaning to shapes. I try to walk and often trip, but I do get back up in this new endeavour.