Purple is a very fascinating color to me. The hues from the Purple family have the uncanny ability to evoke emotions on both sides of the spectrum.
A little extra Blue can create a cold and dark place. A little more Red can make it warm and at times cheerful.
When used densely packed in a small space, Purple brings in a feeling of heaviness. The twilight Purple feels light and breezy.
Purple is royal and rich; Purple sometimes reminds of material wealth. Purple is also sweet surrender; being enveloped in soft Purple can be strangely comforting and feel closer to divine.
I love the Green of trees and Blue of sky. But when I spot Purple, I jump up with excitement… as if it’s a rare color that decided to make a special appearance for me. The twilight sky, that rare flower, the mountain shadows in the distance… Purple is everywhere but I still wait for it to show itself.
As I look up at the moon and the night sky, I wonder about colors, especially Purple. How life would change if rays of light behaved differently!
My mind conjures up vivid images and my imagination runs wild. I see moon as a pot of magic potion flowing down upon us and spreading colors through the world. What if moon was Purple and it starts overflowing. Gradually the color spreads through sky softly and falls on trees to turn leaves Purple like tiny flowers peeking out of a very Green landscape. The Purple then flows away with rivers and springs. I cannot spot the horizon anymore. I cannot see the difference between the sky and the water. It’s a medley of Purple and Blue. The trees are dotted with Purple flowers. The moon sits above us all like the creator of this very surreal image.
I am enamored by flowers and the beautiful hues they bring to a landscape. Sometimes they appear as multiple tiny dots in a sea of green; sometimes one flower with the brightest shade demands attention; and sometimes they are just little drops of color somewhere in the background. Most often the beauty is lost in the wide view. Rarely do we stop to contemplate and admire the intricate patterns, shapes and colors of the flowers.
Flowers are the most common doodles, sketches and paintings I have been making ever since I was a child. And I can’t seem to get over it.
Here are a couple of my latest attempts.
The unexpected sight of a bunch of flowers hanging out through the windows and terrace gardens always bring a smile.
I love the little game of hide and seek flowers sometimes play buried in the bushes and plants.
The most enchanting view I have ever seen in my life is a valley filled with millions of fireflies celebrating life, disturbed only by the light drizzling of pre monsoon showers. I went searching for this experience two years in a row. Both times I tried to capture the beauty through camera and words… and failed miserably. Here’s an attempt using watercolour painting.
One of the great tragedies of modern world is a supreme deficiency in the sense of wonder and an almost stubborn inability to believe in magic.
How difficult it is for us to be child-like in our view of the world! Why don’t we jump up and down like a crazy kid when we see something new, unknown and exciting!
Most adults have lost the sense of wonder, awe and excitement. Adults don’t smile at the twinkling stars in the sky and cook up stories of magical beings living up there. Adults don’t look at clouds and see fluffy animals in them.
Every once in a while it’s ok to laugh and say ‘it’s magic’.
The first step of a scientific and rational enquiry is also the thought ‘I wonder why’.
Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.
During a discussion about a new project on environment, someone shared a few online pictures of nature reclaiming its space from man. They included some shocking images of trees and shrubs growing through abandoned cycle, cars, ship and railway line. Most of them are interesting and amusing. It might feel unnatural initially to see a cycle embedded in a tree trunk. A moment later, it feels silly to call ‘nature’ unnatural.
The image that moved me the most was of tree roots growing through a pavement. It’s less dramatic but more impactful for me. I have seen similar growth in Mumbai many times before and I used to be fascinated with the natural pattern of tree roots. That image felt much more real than the almost unbelievable surreal images of man-made vehicles buried in a jungle of dense trees. It was closer home. In an inconceivable moment, it was easy to simultaneously see the joy of growing life and the agony of life fettered in chains. The growth of these roots finding their way through the pavement is an example of the struggle for survival. Life finds a way.
When I saw a whole bunch of these pictures last week, something changed for me. I kept thinking about a tree I used to see almost every day on my way to work last year. The roots of this tree are spread over a huge wall like a network of veins in a human body… a grotesque yet incredibly beautiful piece of art created by the forces of nature. Now wherever I go in Mumbai, I see more trees with roots sprawling over pavements, roads, fences and buildings. That’s all I see now every time I step out of my home. It’s beautiful and gloomy at the same time.
There are so many of these trees all over Mumbai trying to find their space in the sun. I could easily imagine a forest covering this land a thousand years back that was gradually cut down to make space for traders, capitalists and warring kings. The trees then were happy and healthy. They lived as a community. Now they are restricted and separated. They are alive but slaved. I felt like we took away their home. The spreading roots aren’t a form of revenge; they are attempts to get little more sunlight and space required for survival.
I found this tree growing through the boundary wall of an old building near my home yesterday.
My head is spinning with multiple questions. Is Mumbai even a fit place for humans? Is the environment of Mumbai meant only for a jungle to survive? The city is a port and significant for traders. We grabbed the land, its resources and started to flourish. But in the process, did we create an ecological imbalance we were not supposed to? Do these stifling trees exist in other urban settlements across the world? Is this something to be worried about anyway? May be that’s just how its supposed to be. Perhaps this is the harmony of jungle and city. Perhaps this is the best way for us to coexist. As a city dweller, I want the roads, buildings, railways and other infrastructure. But it bothers me to see the trees being tortured. We took their home. And now they are trying to take it back in an attempt to fight for survival. I wonder what the trees are feeling.
I have never studied biology after school and have no knowledge of the environment. I don’t know much about the trees of Mumbai and the ecological implications of human’s treatment of trees in urban areas. I don’t have answers today. But I can’t get the images out of my mind. Trees and the ever-growing roots are now my latest theme for art. I am fascinated by the patterns of tree roots and the conflict of our coexistence.
While I try to learn more about ecology, I took some time off to paint.
Dusk in a jungle (my imagination of the land of Mumbai just before humans took over… healthy and happy trees soaking in the sunlight)
Roots bleeding through the walls (trees trying to breathe in a city with ever growing concrete and cloud of smoke)
Last leaf (Is this how the future looks? Burnt dry tree retaining semblance of leaves only through our imagination)
Black. He replied. I asked someone yesterday during a casual conversation, “What’s your color?” His answer surprised me at first. His next statement put things in perspective for me. “Black Black. And really black. Jet black. Black so black it’s black to the core.” He is an Apple fan and has been waiting for iPhone 7.
Anyhow, after the initial shock of first 2 seconds, I wondered why did I get shocked. The first thought was the association of black with evil or sadness or darkness. And in the very next second, after reference to iPhone, I remembered all other associations with Black… elegance, richness, beauty.
Even I have been a fan of Black. Other than Indigo, most of my wardrobe is Black. All my electronics are Black. My favorite automobile color is Black.
Black is beautiful. Black is not the absence of light. Black absorbs all colors of light and reflects none. Black is the love and harmony of all colors.
Black feels more natural and real than any other color. White and all other colors are interpretation of eyes depending on their wavelength. Colors are the play of light. Black is what resides behind all the illusion.
His answer created another challenge for me. Before I asked him this question, I had planned to make a painting in his color as a gift. Now I had to paint Black! It’s an especially difficult problem for amateurs like me who usually rely on the magic of colors to create an aesthetic appeal for simple paintings.
I decided to give it a try using watercolors on white paper. I cheated to include White color in the paintings to create shades of Grey. Only Black felt like ‘just a sketch’. My limited talent doesn’t yet allow me to create amazing monochrome watercolor paintings.
After two hours of research, planning and pre-work, I ended up with three white papers with ugly black blobs. I was about to give up; but in a sudden moment of inspiration, I decided to finish what I started, even if it meant changing the original concept I had in mind. This time I decided to not walk out on a piece of art because of negative evaluation and judgment by monsters in my mind.
Here are the five paintings I created using Black and White in the last two days.