Let the colours be

For an artist, the studio becomes a place of power, as well as warmth and peace, a place where the creator can forget all worldly cares, and just create. Although my home is not a stressful or crowded space, my studio is still a welcome refuge. Here the world fades away, and I am in a cocoon. Depending on what I am working on, that cocoon can be soft, bold, powerful, smoky with intent, sparkling or quietly beckoning.
Art is an intuitive, unpredictable mistress. Sometimes I want to experiment with carmine and rust, sometimes it’s the calm of azure and turquoise, sometimes I just want to work with soft tones of ivory, pearly, sooty grey.
Increasingly I find myself veering towards pale greens and subdued tones of aquamarine.
As the summer blazes fiercely, crows are building nests in the beautiful big Peepul tree outside my window. Every summer, I watch their pursuit of collecting bits of wire, string, twigs to create sturdy intricate nests. In Bombay, they make use of small spaces below the AC ducts and balconies, undeterred by the shortfall of trees. Like us, they have learnt to adapt and adjust to the paucity of space. A pair of crows has occupied the space below our bedroom AC over several years. Every year, they are at this tiny space, with Mr Crow flitting about furiously getting string, twigs, wire, and weaving them to make a sturdy little home. He won’t rest until Mrs Crow is satisfied. Curious about our AC duct tenants, I read up to see if crows stay faithful. Apparently, they do. Unless a mate is killed or severely incapacitated, crows appear to stay with the same mate year after year. It is possible, however, for exceptions to occur. Generally this would happen in the case of a young pair of birds that mated but bred unsuccessfully. Our Crow couple has had a sturdy batch of chicks every year, so I guess they’ve been together for a while.
(Of course, I wouldn’t be able to tell if they were different, but that’s another matter).
I turn back to my canvas. Summer is a lovely season, but sometimes the Mumbai heat and humidity are a challenge. Some May-June days are meant just for sketching or writing. The act of painting becomes difficult. And when I do paint, I find myself looking for soft, soothing colours. Perhaps the blazing heat makes me choose calm tones. Perhaps winter will bring warm colours back to my canvas. I find my colours are not in my control anymore – they choose themselves. And I must obey. When I decide to rebel, the canvas becomes trite, forced, and the work almost always has to be discarded.
I must prepare to be obedient, to let the colours speak, guide my hand, and work their way onto this canvas. Sometimes it is better to let things decide how they want to turn out.

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