Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Do you see the Painted Stork?

I took along sketch book and oil pastels during a recent birding day trip. 

On a tiny promontory, my son and I sat down near the lake’s edge and trained our eyes to look for the birds. At a distance was a mud island on which was a large tree on which were perched some Painted Storks. Painted Storks are large birds, and their colouring is somewhat similar to flamingoes…a dash of that beautiful rosy pink is distinctly visible. But there the resemblance ends. While flamingoes are quiet waders, just feeding endlessly a few metres from the shore, Painted Storks are quite active. They  fly about and perch on large trees where they roost and look after their young. They are quite vocal too raising quite a cacophony in the nesting season. 

Anyway, while I was focusing on one Painted Stork that had just landed, suddenly the whole scene in front of me appeared just  in the form of colours. I tried to capture it  roughly – using oil pastels for the first time is not child’s play – but anyway, a rough sketch of the colours resulted, more like an aide memoire for me later.

Surprisingly, the sensation only got  more vivid, and I could recollect the palette of the landscape even days later.  So I put it down a little more neatly this time, again using oil pastels. They still aren’t easy to use, but the effect is suitable for what I want to convey.  

Around the perimeter was the land, we had plants along the shore, different shades of green, moved into the water which reflected the overcast sky, with highlights of black and sunshine. We moved past this to the mud island, on which the tree stood. On the tree was the Painted Stork. 

Do you see it now? 

Some time ago, I was reading about the artist S.H. Raza and there were some photographs of his famous works in the series “Bindu”.  He used acrylics on canvas and used geometric shapes in almost childlike manner, but there is something deeply spiritual about these images. 

My earliest memory of  art classes at school was when we'd each be given a sheet of paper and asked to draw whatever we wanted. I remember always starting from the top left corner with an arc and colouring it in boldly, adding another arc, and then another..all of different colours. It’s something like that, but in this case it was really graphic representation of a landscape that was actually in front of my eyes. It was an interesting sensation indeed, and  I'm dying to do this again.

Flash of pink, white and black...Painted Stork on the tree. Photo by Anant.