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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Day two Jaipur - spiritual art

On my second day in City Palace gallery, I got to work with the famous "squirrel tail" brush. It is a super versatile and magically accurate brush that carries a lot of paint (in terms of water colour) but it can apply paint gently and really lightly. I was assigned to work with Hemant Ramu. So I moved to the very front of the gallery where tourists end up gathering the most. It took a while to gain Hemant's attention; he is serious about selling art. But  to my surprise, he ended up being a great teacher both in terms of water colour painting and also in terms of the spiritual application of the self onto paper.

He explained to me that the Gayatri Mantra I learnt in Toronto from Hali Shwartz was in fact a mantra that calls out all the gods, Krishna, Vishnu, Shiva, Devi, etc... I understood the meaning of the Mantra as "O thou existence Absolute, Creator of the three dimensions, we contemplate upon thy divine light. May He stimulate our intellect and bestow upon us true knowledge." The literal Sanskrit words which I memorized and chanted with my fellow yogis in teacher training are:

Oṃ bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ
tát savitúr váreṇ(i)yaṃ
bhárgo devásya dhīmahi
     dhíyo yó naḥ pracodáyāt

He suggested to me to continue chanting this powerful mantra as I apply paint to paper. The idea is that miniature painting is in many ways a spiritual art that depicts religious stories and gods who cannot simply be drawn without affection and reverence. It happened to be a day of intense religious observance for those around me and so there were sporadic prayers all day with holy sweets shared among all. I was told by Hemant that I should never refuse holy sweet, even if that means grabbing a tiny morsel. I obliged.

Here is the image of the picture I was told to work on this week and the stenciled work:

And here is the first application of paint on the image. The background was a yellow ocher wash and the flowers took two or three paint applications. Below is the product of an 8-hour day's work!

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