An article written in 1996 printed in Dawn’s Sunday Magazine, now I’m sharing it with you after updating it.
Only a few years ago, if someone had said I was going to be a writer, I’d say ‘Me, a writer? Never! I am only an artist. And an artist cannot write – she paints!’ But here I am writing! Who could be better equipped to write about my work, my art and value of art – than myself?
I have held ten solo exhibitions, taken part in many group exhibitions. I have written over seven hundred articles. I have painted in many styles and mediums but oils and acrylics are my favorite.
Everyone is talking about ‘developing a style’. I believe that one should paint what one feels. . I accept assignments which are close to my heart. I am at home with abstract art as well as with impressionism, expressionism and realism. I like my subject to suggest the best medium for it. – Rather than to impose myself on my subject.
Artists donate work: I believe, that artists must donate works to organizations for health, education and libraries. These institutions deserve works of art, because they help humanity! I’ve donated several paintings to libraries, hospitals and schools.
Finding time to paint: As a mother of three children, with a job and a home to take care of, I still found time to work. It is all possible, because my art is important to me. I keep my stock of paints and canvases handy all the time.
Sometimes, at the end of the day, when I am going to my ‘studio’, I am already exhausted from my day’s commitments but it is just my body that is tired, my mind is eager to express itself. Ever since I started writing, my paintings have become more serene.
When we go for a picnic, my water colors or acrylics are with me. I settle down and do the complete work on location. When I paint an abstract, it is not done consciously. It just happens. Sometimes at 2.00 am. But it has to happen. Sometimes when I am feeling serene my painting looks serene. When I am angry, my painting is angry too! After all, my art and I are one. My feelings, my observations, my thoughts, my arguments – all are there. Sometimes I do not paint for months. Sometimes I do two paintings in one day (once I did six paintings in two days!). I have never worked as a routine. It just comes in patches. Sometimes I am buried within a project for days, sometimes, I do not work for weeks.
Value of paintings: There is a great deal of talk on ‘value’. This is why gold is ‘valued’ so much. It is the same with paintings. A painting of mine which did not sell at Rs. 5000/- many years ago, got sold at four times the price only few years later. Paintings are collected and kept for generations as items of value. People pride themselves for their collection of paintings by famous artists. The value of a painting includes the quality of work and material used, it’s current market value and specially the name and fame of the artist.
Most important of all: The moment a well-known artist passes away, a full stop is placed on his or her work. The present work immediately gains in value. Much as we love the great artists. It is silly to copy them, except to learn from them. There is no place in this world for two Leonardos or Michelangelos, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Gulgee or Sadeqain. No one can afford the paintings of these famous artists today. These are too expensive. But people would have been able to, when these artists were alive!
Smart people invest in arts: So the smart folks invest in art works and just wait till the value keeps increasing with time. Just like investing in antiques, and hand- made carpets. You can easily afford to buy genuine works of art today at the price of a mobile phone, laptop, dish antennae, or a dress, or even a pair of shoes . However, where will the value of these items be in a couple of years’ time? You immediately lose a couple of thousands upon purchase, – it’s a used item now! In fact it will most probably become half it’s cost within a few months. But the same money spent on a painting will continue to increase. At the same time, it gives emotional and mental peace and pleasure for years to come without losing it’s value. The most you need to do is to change it’s frame (if at all!).
How each person who enters your home reacts to it (or doesn’t!) means something to you. The comments, the attention, the thoughts, the sparkle that it creates in people’s eyes, the conversations it triggers. And most of all the appreciation, of your own good taste ! As Hajra Mansoor says, I realize the taste of people I visit by the collection of their paintings.
Abstract paintings: There is a lot of controversy about abstract paintings. It is an artistic language which uses lines, colors and strokes to create a certain affect. The artist may have tried to depict something from his own experience. But you can only react to it according to your own experiences. You might find something in a painting that brings out another memory or feeling in you. That is fine. Two people look at the sun. One notices the color and beauty, the other sees the glare and heat, a third person thinks of skin cancer, another thinks “Goody, let me get some free vitamin D!”. So the item remains the same, the reactions differ. All reactions are correct from that persons’ point of view. It is the same with paintings.
No two people feel the same way about paintings. The fact is, they don’t have to. Each person has a different understanding of it.
While one is painting… Suddenly, something strikes the right code, and it starts working out. Each painting is like life itself. You have an idea, and then you start working on it. The process of painting is something you have been gifted with, and yet you need to develop your skills and expertise. I believe, that the talent of painting or any creative quality is a responsibility. It needs to be worked on, improved, studied, brushed up (literally!) and then when it comes out ‘right’ the feeling is awesome!