Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year 2014 with 8 Auspicious Signs

Here is me wishing all bloggers, readers and visitors to my blog a very HAPPY NEW YEAR 2014 through 8 Auspicious Signs.
1.      May the Right-Turning Conch (Dhungkar) reverberate sounds of Dharma and awaken all of us from sleeping state of ignorance and traverse towards the path of noble deeds that are beneficial to all sentient beings.

2.      May the Parasol (Dhug) symbolizing authority of Buddha protect our heads from the scorching heat of Sun just as the law protects the mind from the scorching passion.

3.      May the Banner of Victory (Gyaltsen) usher in victory of good over evil forces accompanied with the success of noble goals.

4.      May the Endless Knot (Palbheu) symbolizing a law without beginning and without end usher in  Eternity of all the theories and philosophies of the universe.

May the Wheel of Dharma (Choekyi Khorlo) propagate all of Buddha's teaching on eight fold path.

6.      May the Golden Fish (Sernya) - symbolizing resurrection of eternal life, rebirth etc - render us eye of perception and strength to swim with ease without obstruction in the ocean of this world.

7.      May the White Lotus (Pema) facilitate us to achieve the ultimate goal of enlightenment that is free of all earthly matters.

8.      May the Treasure Vase (Bhumpa) provides us with a repository of limitless material wealth, good health and long life.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Historic Punakha Dzong

The oil painting of historic Punakha Dzong has just been started. It is still in the initial stages of painting. There are lots and lots of details to be worked out still. What is striking about this painting is the reflections of Dzong Utse and surroundings which will add value to the overall composition of the painting when completed.

Here is the picture of the painting under process:

Punakha Dzong Painting under process

self at work  

Mixing appropriate color for painting on palette
The readers and viewers would notice from the above pictures that I normally paint from sample pictures in desktop as it is very convenient and handy to copy the colors and details of the subject by zooming in. Gone are days when I used to paint from photos squinting my eyes or using magnifying glasses. The desktop or the laptop has now become an indispensable instruments to assist with my paintings.    

(To be continued later along with the updates of painting...)


Friday, December 20, 2013

Gyaltsuen’s Oil Portrait – Final Print

The oil portrait of Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen’s is now finally completed. It has taken a laborious task of full 5 months to finish – from 30th June to 30th Nov, 2013. Here is the completed print for all to see. 

As said in my earlier post of 1st July, 2013 portrait art is obviously a very difficult and challenging task for any artist in that you really have to paint and bring out the same recognizable identity as that of the subject you are painting. Albeit the difficulty I have really enjoyed painting the portrait of Her Majesty. It has given me so much of new techniques and approaches to be adopted in painting portrait let alone sharpening of portrait painting skills. I can now boast myself that I now know some few do’s and don’ts to abide by while working with oil portraits – although I do not have any formal training as such. Series of ‘Painting Practices’ and ‘Experience’ have by far been the best tutor for me.

The completed oil portrait is now sold to one of the art galleries in Thimphu. Anyone who is interested to see the portrait in real or even aspires to buy may kindly visit the gallery.   

Just for recap of earlier postings of painting updates and for the benefit of all the readers and viewers I am attesting herein the stages of painting process along with the completed print. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Visitor's Travel Journal of Ten Days Experience in Bhutan

I have the pleasure of sharing a travel journal of Mr.Gerren Vincent, an Amercan Teacher in Riyadh. He has written an interesting travel journal for readers sharing his 10 days experience in Bhutan during his last visit in June 2013. He has also shared his own personal views on Bhutan just as any outsiders would do it. 

I am sharing this Travel Journal with the prior approval of the author since he has expressed his desire and consent to share the same with the aspiring Bhutanese readers over email.   

If any readers and bloggers are interested to go through his travel journal you may visit this link:  https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B9QNG1eHcBUCVl9KYlpHMl81bFE/edit?usp=drive_web

Saturday, October 19, 2013

My Way of Painting

As committed earlier in my post under ‘Trongsa Dzong Painting’, let me briefly outline the process that I usually follow in starting with any painting – be it landscape or portrait.
Generally speaking each artist would have their own way of starting a painting project. In fact there won’t have any uniform practices of art processes among the artists just as we all think and act differently.
Some professional artists might directly sketch the drawings on canvas and start painting simultaneously; some not-so-professional ones might first draw and sketch the subject on canvas before any color is painted; and some others who are just a beginner might even use a tracing paper to copy down the elements of subject on canvas.
Even I too used to do draw the picture on canvas using tracing paper long before. It was as simple as that. But now this practice has been discontinued as it is no longer feasible especially when you are doing a large sized painting and when the image needs to be enlarged to fit with the canvas size.  
Here are the steps that I usually adopt in starting any new paintings:
Step 1: Whenever I come across a high resolution picture to be painted I first create a grid design in adobe photoshop. Anybody who is interested in working with grid design in photoshop can visit this weblink hereSteve Patterson Steve Patterson. Steve Patterson who is the author has given an explicit step-by-step tutorial on how to create a colorized grid design.    

Step 3: Next comes the marking of numbers 0, 1, 2, 3 and so on in each lines of the grid both horizontally and vertically as shown below: 

Step 4:  Then the same number of square grid lines as seen in the picture is drawn on to the canvas.   Of course area of the square grids may have to be enlarged depending upon your canvas size.
Step 5:  Next, all elements, objects and shapes of the picture are copied down on the canvas with a pencil strictly corresponding to the same numbered grids where they are located in the sample.

The drawing of sample image on canvas using grid design is a tedious task. One needs to have patience. There is no hurry to rush up your work as the initial drawing is often the foundation of any painting project. The greater the efforts put, the better will be your drawing.

The grid method of drawing gives you added advantage in portraits as it helps you sketch a replica of the sample figure with fullest accuracy of all elements such as eyes, ears, nose, mouth and other shapes of the portrait. I would highly recommend this method to be adopted if anybody is interested to take up portrait art.

Step 6:  The final process is painting or coloring the subject – which again involves several stages of processes entailing specific skills, techniques and knowledge of the artist. Basic knowledge of color and its properties (hue, tint, shade, tone, saturation, light and dark etc), color wheel and color mixing is prerequisite for any artist to embark on a painting project.

I usually paint the basic shapes and layout of the painting first in acrylics as acrylics dry very fast within few minutes. Thereafter oil colors are used to blend, adjust, or refine each elements of the painting composition just as they are in the sample (for portraits and Dzongs) or in the way I want to project to the viewers in case of scenery.

As we are living in the 'flat world' where technology is fast expanding, I am making optimum use of my PC for all grid design, editing and referencing of the sample pictures for painting. Just as brushes and colors are essential components of painting, so are my desktop and laptop which have become indispensable tools without which I cannot imagine to paint.                
Though the art of painting is not an easy task as some experts have even quoted, “Painting is EASY when you don’t know how, but very DIFFICULT when you do”, I firmly believe that so long as one has the interest, will and determination to practice art, there is nothing that is impossible. Everyone can paint to become an artist! So friends, why not give a try?   

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Trongsa Dzong Painting

Landscape painting of Dzongs is of great significance and sacred to both artists as well as viewers.  

One - it exhibits the rich and awesome architectural art of Bhutan. Two - it adds great value and splendour to the overall landscape painting composition. Three - it inspires and disciplines artists to maintain the originality of the scenery.   

In the past ever since I took interest in landscape paintings I had painted numerous Dzongs such as Paro, Punakha, Jakar, etc. But I had never painted the Trongsa Dzong. Not only I did not come across a sample picture of the Dzong suitable to my interest but even the thought of painting such a massive and extensive stretch of the dzong rather deterred me from giving an attempt.  

Finally I came across with this image of Trongsa Dzong which inspired me to test my skill and patience
. I have used this as a sample picture for my painting.   

Thus I started off with determination and gusto. Sketching and drawing of image on canvas size of 4x3 ft was indeed a gigantic task for me. It took almost two days of getting all structural elements of the Dzong drawn onto the canvas with pencil.

Here are the various painting stages with relevant images for the benefit of viewers:

1st Stage: The foundational outlay of basic shapes and elements of the sample image has been  painted with Acrylic (though the rest of the work is usually done in oil) in this preliminary stage.  This is the first coloring of the painting or underground painting as artists usually refer to.

As you see the first stage of the painting you will observe that although the basic shapes of Dzong structure are more or less done in the eyes of viewers, the background and foreground sceneries are nothing more than some patches of blues and greens in background and yellows & whites in foreground scenes without any details.     

2nd Stage: The viewers would now see a more refined painting with all shades of contrasting colors from dark to light.   

In addition, the viewers might also observe that a trunk of the big cypress tree seen right in front of the dzong has been painted.

3rd Stage: The viewers would notice that some trees have been added in this stage of the painting. It is quite a laborious task indeed for artists to finish the painting at any one stage.  Every elements of detail has to be judged and painted as they would appear in any given scene.  

4th Stage: The 4th stage of the painting will now present the viewers with great details and addition of live figures in the foreground. The painting might now appear completed in the eyes of viewers but it is still yet another stage for the artists to proclaim it as finished.  

5th Stage: At last after series of painting stages this is the final image of the Trongsa Dzong painting which now stands completed. This painting has taken almost 8 months to transform to its final shape including few months of break in the middle.  

Among all landscape paintings especially Dzongs, the painting of Trongsa Dzong (on large canvas size of 4x3 ft) has by far been the most difficult and gigantic task to for me to paint. The reasons are obvious – the whole architectural structure of the dzong is extensively long and complex, let alone the other scenery patterns supplementing the overall beauty of painting.

Here again I have used my artistic license to translate the overall composition of the painting to an artistic scene of which I wanted to project it to the viewers while at the same time maintaining the originality of the image. 

Albeit the final painting image shown above is copyrighted one I will certainly share the original image of the painting without the copyright marking once it has been sold off. Till then, my friends, bear with me!

“My Way of Painting” will be my next post………..

Friday, September 20, 2013

Landscape Painting of Drugyal Dzong, Paro

This is a landscape oil painting I am currently working - on a very large canvas size of 4x3 ft. Needless to say what I am painting 'What' as the readers and all visitors will at the mere sight of it will be able to say 'what I am painting' 

Yes I am painting the famous Drukgyal Dzong which was once a grand fortress historically built by Tenzin Drukdra in 1649 at the behest of Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyel to commemorate victory over an invasion from Tibet. The dzong lies in upper part of the Paro in Drugyal valley. Albeit now in ruins the Drugyal Dzong is however a very popular place of importance for tourist visits. 

Shown below is the original reference image from which I am painting.

Ever since I came across this picture I was greatly inspired to give a try in painting this striking scene.

I knew I would not be able to paint exactly the same as what it looked like. It is almost next to impossible for a painter to bring out the same image as it is; only a camera can capture the exact replica of the original. 

Nevertheless keeping the essence of the original image as it is I have, as a painter, used some artistic licences to alter certain elements of the original image. And thus painted this landscape scenery in accordance with how I desired to project the painting to the viewers.  

In fact this painting has taken quite a long time to complete and is still in process with its revised version which I am retouching again. 

The earlier version lacked some focal points of emphasis as I squinted critically over the painting. Finally I decided to repaint with more emphasis on focal points though a lot of time would be consumed by the retouching. 

The viewers might now see for yourself the obvious difference in the painting with middle ground (i.e. the scenery around the ruined dzong and houses) appearing more focused with contrasting light and shadow colors than what was in the previous version.   

The revised version (which is how the painting will look like in finished version) is still to be completed. I am now contented with the revision.  

Thursday, September 19, 2013

My 12 Long Years of Stay at Sherubtse, Kanglung.

Sherubtse College, Kanglung was and will forever remain in my heart as the historic and apex seat of my education – both schooling as well as college.  The 7 years of schooling from 1971 – 1977 and 5 years of college from  July, 1981 – May, 1986 is what translates into 12 long years of my peak learning in Sherubtse, Kanglung.

I was neither born in Kanglung nor an inhabitant living in the vicinity of Kanglung which guaranteed such a precious opportunity of getting education in Sherubtse. The readers might wonder how I landed in Sherubtse though I hail from Sako Village under Thrimshing Gewog, which is far from Kanglung.

Here is the brief history of how I landed in Sherubtse, Kanglung...........

I began my primary education originally in Thungkhar Primary School (TPS) under Thrimshing Dungkhag in Eastern Bhutan. TPS was so near to my village (about one and half kilometers away) that I would daily walk to school and even walk back home for lunch. 

Thungkhar Primary School

As I recall the past now I vividly recollect that 3 students including myself from Class 2 were selected from TPS in 1970 to try our luck in getting admission in Sherubtse Public School, Kanglung. In those years the present so called Sherubtse College was historically known as Sherubtse Public School (SPS). The written examination for selection was conducted in Wamrong Junior School but I can hardly recall what type of questions was set up for the exam. All I can recollect now is that all three of us passed the exam and were selected for a golden admission in SPS.

So the year 1970 was indeed a turning point in my school life.  

Early 1971 academic session we reported to the most renowned SPS in Kanglung to continue our primary education. As we were still kids and not fully matured our parents of course had to accompany us. I cannot remember how old we were; must have been probably 10 years old since I was admitted to school quite late then.

Late Father William Mackey, the Son of Bhutan, was then the Principal of SPS. He was a very jolly educationist with full of humour and jokes. He used to often tease every student and make fun with everyone with his broken Sharchopkha. But when he got agitated he was a real TERROR. We could often understand his temper from his natural whitish face to reddish look when angry.  No one would dare go near him let alone utter anything. 

We 3 students of TPS who were most fortunate in getting the golden admission in SPS were at the same time quite unlucky in having to restart our education again from Class I instead of actually continuing from Class III onwards. I don’t remember why we were made to restart from Class I. I guess the only reason could have been because of our low standard of education in primary school.  As a result we lost solid two years of our past experience.           

Our past school days spent in SPS from 1971 to 1977 was very sacred and most cherishing. Education in those days was completely free in that we were provided with everything that we required; from  yearly school uniforms (Gho with Tego), mattresses, bedsheets, towels, pillows with pillow covers and blankets to toiletries such as soaps, tooth brush and tooth paste to steel boxes, slippers and canvas shoes etc. The life buoy and sunlight soaps were provided every weekend that we could hardly finish using all of them. So we would often stock the unused soaps securely and present as gifts to our parents, relatives and friends whenever we visited home during summer and winter vacations. Not a penny was spent even for the text and exercise books. EVERYTHING WAS FREE in those days and I do not know how our Royal Govt of Bhutan could afford such a free provision of education.  

Later in 1978 when Sherubtse Public School became Pre-University, all students from Class VII and below - headed by Late William Father Mackey as the new Principal - moved down to a new Jigme Sherubling High School in Khaling. 

Jigme Sherubling High School

So the rest of my school years from Class VIII to X were spent in Khaling from 1978 to 1980 from where I successfully completed my matriculation. This period (1978-80) was the only 3 years of my stay out of Sherubtse, Kanglung as later I had to move to Sherubtse again to pursue pre-university education.

I completed my pre-university education (ISC) in Commerce in another 2 years of stay in Kanglung from 1981 to 1982. 

At the back of my mind I had a notion that like our predecessors we might be also sent to various colleges in India for degree course after completion of Class XII. However, the excitement of visiting India and getting ourselves exposed to totally different college atmosphere was more of a day dream than a reality as things did not click in our favour.

Before we could complete Class XII, the RGOB had already finalized its decision to update the Sherubtse College to a new Degree College from 1983 onwards. Though we missed our chances to visit India we were, however, honoured to start the Degree Courses, the first of its kind in Bhutan, in Sherubtse College.

The final and last 3 years of my stay in Kanglung thus coincided with 3 years of degree course in B.Com from June, 1983 to May, 1986. This completed my 12 years long journey of education and meritorious stay in Sherubtse College, Kanglung from where I achieved highest education degree in B.Com and even won a bronze medalist in 2nd position in B.Com.

I take pride to be a real Sherubtsian and am highly indebted to none other than Late Father William Mackey who created a golden opportunity of my learning in the apex institute and for shaping my life’s career with good education and making me into “what I am today”. All my heartfelt gratitude and thanks goes out to Fr.Mackey to whom I pay my wholehearted Tribute.

The 12 long years of my stay in Sherubtse, Kanglung was worth the ‘Lifespan’ spent indeed for it gave me wholesome ‘Education’ and ‘Experience’ that is indispensable in one’s life. I also take pride in becoming a Pioneer Graduate from Sherubtse College as I was one among the group to become the first graduate from only degree college that Bhutan could boast in those days.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Reflections on Life and Impermanence

Photo Courtesy: Kuensel

As I watched the glimpses of funeral pyre of 11 soldiers being broadcast by BBS in its news hour at 7 pm yesterday evening, I was overcome by sheer emotions and grief which gave rise to series of random thoughts and questions to myself. The same must have been felt by every one of the viewers, if not all.

Ø  Was it destined that all Eleven (11) of them will breathe their last breadth at the Same Time’, on the Same Day’ and at the Same Spot’ at Anakha, Haa on 2nd Sept, 2013?

Ø  Was even their ‘Karma’ same for all of them?

Ø  Would all of the deceased have ever expected that they would face such a most ‘Tragic, Accidental and Untimely’ death such as Anakha incident despite the knowledge that all of us are bound to die one day?

Most of the deceased must have been so young with full of vigour and plenty of life’s aspirations in store for them. Few may have been recently married with their beloved ones while few others might have just been gifted with beloved kids and wife – a family life that was to be still explored and experienced.
Photo courtesy - Kuensel 

The most ironical and saddest part is that the Anakha incident has not only cut short the lifespan of all the deceased but have also been denied of all the opportunities that life had in store for them. What a pity indeed!

Nevertheless, as the country and its people have offered a most befitting gun salute and a solemn respect (as per army’s rule) to all the deceased at the funeral, let us all pray that their souls rest in peace and be reborn as human beings again in Bhutan only. Let us also pray and wish that the bereaved families gain inner strength and courage to continue their living. 

To conclude, the abrupt end to the lives of 11 soldiers such as Anakha is enough signal to remind all of us to reflect on life and its impermanence - we all know life is not only short but even its existence is impermanent. 

So when it is crystal clear that none of us can escape the death trap, the only thing we can do while we are alive is dedicate ourselves to true Buddhism and its practices. This is the only sacred thing that will be of immense help in life after death.

So friends why don’t we begin practicing Buddhism (“Choe”) today when we are alive since tomorrow is totally uncertain.  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

An Update of the Royal Portrait painting

Just a small update of oil portrait painting of Her Majesty the Queen for those lovers of arts! But 60% of the work still remains to be done.
2nd Stage of Portrait Art

Monday, July 1, 2013

Back to Royal Portraits Again

Hi friends! I am back to royal portrait again. This painting has just been started on Sunday the 30th June, 2013 and is still under process. I have just managed to roughly paint and refine some of the facial features in oil over the first outline of sketching and drawing in acrylic. The oil portrait I am painting this time is comparatively larger with canvas size of 24x30 inches. One day’s effort is worth inspiring for me to continue further with refinements of all the acrylic works in oil and concentrate more on adjustment of color values, tone and overall composition of the subject. All viewers who are keen lovers of art can obviously observe how much work is left to be done with this portrait. I still have to redo and refine the entire background, the hair, the ‘tego’ and all facial features again in oil. So everyone, be patient to see the completed painting as it will take some more Sundays to finish it. 
1st Stage of Portrait Art

Though portrait art is a very difficult and laborious task I really enjoy painting portraits insofar as the more I paint the more I gain confidence besides acquiring new techniques and sharpening of skills. My inner instinct and passion still says that “I CAN DO IT” and thus inspires me further to take up portrait art. The truth is now being revealed that if we really have keen interest and strong passion for anything there is nothing that we cannot do. And, remember portrait is an art done by people like us all over the world. I am really amazed to know that some professionals in the world have been painting portraits for the last 60 to 70 years and this itself shows the amount of interest, dedication and sacrifice people have devoted to human art.

In fact the only tutor and guide I have is the net through which I learn all about portrait painting techniques shared by great masters. Besides this, the amazing realistic oil portrait pictures and the online painting demos of various professional artists have been the key source of “INSPIRATION” for all my interest and learning in portrait art.

It's quite encouraging to know the truth that there are blues, greens and other color pigments in human skin tone as advised by one professional portraiture from America . Truly speaking I never used any blue or green pigments in my earlier portraits of Their Majesties as I did not know the real advantages of using this pigments along with normal skin color until I heard from the expert. Now as I follow and apply the expert's advice into actual painting practice, these (blue and green) are really wonderful pigments which are helpful in toning down the otherwise bright red or orange colors often used for skin tones. I have learnt now that we cannot think of painting skin tones without these pigments. Thanks to the expert who has been kind enough to share his experience.    

My only hope and aspiration is to become one of the portrait experts of Bhutan some day in future. But for that to materialise we need unwavering efforts and continued learning with constant practices.