Indra and Vritra

Indra and Vritra. Studies (Top row) in ink and gouache, about 9″x12″ each. Painting (bottom row), oil on paper, 11″x15″.

The episode of Indra fighting the demonic vritra that appears in the rig veda has numerous parallels in other ancient cultures (Hittite, Eastern European).The serpentine vritra swallowed all the waters, causing draught to the land. Seeing this, the king of the devas Indra, brimming with confidence and the soma drink, takes him on with his divine weapon (the vajra or thunderbolt), astride the mighty airAvata (the king of elephants). The fight lasts long but vritra is utterly vanquished in the end.

This aspect of Indra and the very form of vritra have undergone significant changes over the millenia, to attain the foms they have in modern Hinduism. Nonetheless, they refer to an ancient time when songs of valour and courage occupied the minds of the common-folk and battles with mighty enemies captured their imagination.

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From the jungle…

Path to the forest. Casein and gouache on paper 10″x14″.

Forest scene showing two male deer. The first stage was a quick watercolor-esque gouache application (left). The gouache can be treated just like watercolor, this consists mostly of wet-in-wet washes of burnt umber, yellow ochre and cobalt blue. For this, transparent gouache pigments are essential since many manufacturers add titanium white or filler in their gouache.

Even though gouache ‘lifts’ with water, addition of thicker casein paint on top of the first stage can be done with minimal lifting (Right). This shines through, particularly in the dry brush effects with the grass. Some brown ink was added later for fine lines in the fur.

Head studies

Head studies. Casein on paper 2.5″x2.5″ each.

Head studies of works by two (nearly) contemporary artists – James Gurney (left) and Rien Poortvliet (right). The attempt was to recreate their working styles in the course of this study.

James makes a pencil sketch, fixes with acrylic matte medium, then goes from transparent to opaque paint application. Rien starts with a permanent brown ink drawing with semi opaque paint application over the top.

Guardian of the temple deity

 

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dwArapAlaka, Gouache and pencil on paper 7″x10″.

At the entrance to the inner sanctum of any Hindu (Shiva/ Vishnu) temple are the mighty dwArapAlakas (dwAra = gate, pAlaka = protector) or gate keepers. The keepers of a Vishnu temple and those of a Shiva temple are distinct and over the millennia they’ve come to feature in many a mythological story.

This particular  one is from the thyAgarajar kovil (a Shiva temple) in the little town of Thiruvarur in South India. Sculpted in brass and standing over 4 feet tall, it simply had to be recorded in a sketchbook.

Painted in gouache over a gesso primed, green tinted 300 gm watercolor paper in a sketchbook 7″x10″.

Location: thyAgaraja temple, Thiruvarur, Tamil Nadu, India