Like a thorn stuck somewhere that you can’t tear out, I realised today that not only have I not been painting for over six months now, I’ve also lost touch with the fellas at my DA community.
I checked out the piles of notifications, dwindling comments, and the generally vegetative state of most of the other members. One bloke I particularly like seems to have had a bad time with a cyber bug which deleted much of his art works — including comments and accolades. I love his works, the crazy mechano-man with a passion for the human spine. Looking at his art I imagine him with a big head, a wide smile, and rounded eyes almost always hallucinating metallic life forms out on a killing spree.
But that’s trivia. What mattered to me was a little personal note he left behind by way of answering someone’s query. He’s unable to showcase his works in galleries. He has little time to paint for his own sake, having to hold on to a full-time job. Therefore he’s training as an art teacher, so that once he gets into the teaching business, he would have part of the week to devote entirely to his art. Money for the rent and grub would come from the teaching job.
I felt a kinship with this stranger, although I’m sure I’ve done nearly nothing in comparison to pursue art as a way of life. Therefore, I find myself today, writing this post while seated at my prized white-collar-job desk. I’m grateful to have a job, even though that leaves me with little time to do my own thing. I’m grateful for having the clarity that I’ll have to pursue art my own way — DESPITE the circumstances. I’m also grateful for having the means to talk about my difficulties. Many people do better under worse conditions, and I, simply, have to push through.
To think that I would have done better had I followed my heart and joined art school is naive. It’s difficult to understand for people not familiar with middle class Indian (read Bengali) ethos. To take stock of the situation when I was in school — everyone was solving complex mathematical problems in and out of school. Lovers paired and broke up on the basis of examination scores. Everyone wanted to become an engineer. After six hours of school, my friends would dash off for back-to-back very expensive tutorial classes in the evening. Their days would begin after dinner, when they settled down to comprehend all the reams of notes they took down in class. And all this to crack one of those numerous engineering college entrance tests — which were, and still is, the gateway to money and comfort. If that didn’t work, the universal Plan B was a degree in English or Economics. Those were the shortcuts to quick jobs. No one talked about becoming painters or musicians.
Middle class families in India do not send their children to school in the hope of grooming the next big sensation in art. In fact my parents found it increasingly difficult to understand me, or my brother, since we exhibited qualities that were clearly tilted — in the extreme — towards aesthetics and literary mambo jambo. My dad would have liked us to be mechanical engineers instead. In retrospect, dad might have been right. It would have probably been better to pursue a money-spinning vocation rather than going half-way — and ending up with a desk job and dreaming about paintings.
Never mind the reasons for my long abstinence. They may be good for claiming paid leaves, but just not good enough to stay away from art. At best, I’m a jacked artist. A hijacked artist maybe. A raving, ranting, fool who thinks she’s an artist more appropriately. Honesty sure sucks.