I Walked On A Canvas To Paint

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Our very own Nandita Kochar gets inspired by our previous article, Sarah Urist’s Art Assignment. She decided to try and recreate the Assignment #8 Walk On It!, By Kate Gilmore, in a quaint little corner at Hauz Khas Fort. Take a little journey with her down memory lane as she relives her experience and the painting she ended up with!

My grandfather once bought me a beige-coloured painting board. Imagine a ten year old girl, sitting in front of this huge piece of wood each morning, staring at it and wondering of all the various things a simple piece of white canvas could turn into.

But I was a perfectionist. I wanted my strokes to move smoothly, like those of all the painters I had seen. I wanted my brushes to give life to what existed in my mind at the moment. With a lot of effort, I would pick up the pencil and mark the first dot. My mind would immediately start bursting with questions about whether its position was right. Doubts stepped in, telling me that I won’t be able to move beyond this point. Barely two strokes in and I would reach a conclusion that it is a disappointing piece of work.

I always thought of art as something distant and unachievable; something so complex that only a certain group of Homosapiens had the ability produce it. But the ten year old girl in me never grew up and never gave up. And now, I believe, I have my masterpiece.

On 25th December 2014, I watched the video that featured Kate Gilmore as the artist of the week. Something inside me grew so certain about doing the assignment she gave. There were no doubts or hesitations; I just had to do it! The very next morning I called up a friend, Lusha, and after some criss-crossing of dates we settled on 3rd January.

There was a lot of debate about where to do it; we both wanted a quiet little place outdoors where we wouldn’t be a nuisance to anyone. After seriously considering Lodhi Garden, we eventually decided to go to Hauz Khas Fort; the picturesque beauty of the place is ideal to nurture creativity.

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We even prepared a short (pun intended) list of what we needed to take with us.

On the Day of the Assignment, we reached the Fort and started looking for a location where there wouldn’t be much disturbance. After finding a little corner that wouldn’t get us in trouble with security people, we started spreading newspapers on the ground and placed a piece of cardboard strong and big enough for two people to walk on it. Both Lusha and I wanted to do the walk barefoot because that made the whole task feel more personal. A nice quote helped us decide our theme for the assignment; Earthiness.

“When we walk like (we are rushing), we print anxiety and sorrow on the earth. We have to walk in a way that we only print peace and serenity on the earth… Be aware of the contact between your feet and the earth. Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.”

― Thích Nhất Hạnh

The first paint that we spilled over was Brown. The paint melted wonderfully under my feet as I took my first step on it. A few more steps in and I gained a sense of calmness like never before. What next? I was jumping over the entire cardboard piece, dancing to my favourite tunes.

We spilt copper, blue, green, red, yellow, orange and pink all over the piece. We loved spilling yellow each time; there’s something so happy about it, isn’t it? We were jumping and sliding on tiny mountains of paint, and everytime we squeezed some paint and made it look like a sea horse over the cardboard, we would get as giddy as a 5 year old. We discussed colours and how they meant a lot more when they resonate with our emotions.

People would see two girls walking on paint and stop by to understand what was exactly happening. Some laughed; some smiled. Some clicked photographs. Some had questions they wanted answered but never made it out of their mouth.

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Then came along an uncle; he went gaga over the whole project as soon as he saw us. He thought it was some kind of ‘abstract’ art when we described it to him as something which had the absolute courage to be ‘nothing’. He called us ‘Adventure Girls’. In mere minutes, he was walking on the canvas with us, barefoot. For the first few moments of his walk, he was quiet. When he finally spoke, he said it felt like walking on the softest sand on the Earth.

As I walked home, feet wet with paint, the masterpiece was right there on my feet. I realised Art is not complex or distant or unachievable. Don’t you like that feeling when you are making something? How those little movements bring life into a possibility? That’s the true nature of art. It’s meaning that isn’t logical; it’s reality that defies any expectation; it’s the sound of your soul.

I told the ten year old in me to pick up the brush and quit doubting.

The Yellow Sparrow is organizing a “Walk On It” on a larger scale too! If you’re feeling inspired by this activity and free this Sunday, check this out.

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