Sunday, July 12, 2009

WE DID IT! Collaborative Painting at Triprayar

A quietly breath-taking spot on the Triprayar River near Thrissur, Kerala, India, was the site for a deeply gratifying experience for me as founding director of Beauty of Water. Ten painters, a mixture of amateur and professional, with yours truly included, painted one painting together on one canvas!

This Beauty of Water Painting Camp took place from June 26-28, 2009, and was graciously hosted by Udaysankar, whose ancestors have inhabited this spot for 400 years. Our theme was appreciation for water. We made solo paintings on this theme as well, and the individual paintings are quite lovely, too, as I see it.

This twenty image slideshow, which includes some photos provided by Udaysankar, taken by professional photographer and camp participant Imababu, give a sense of the camp experience. For those who read Malayalam language, here is a story from the Mangalam newspaper written by Gopinath that ran on July 3, 2009.

Beauty of Water Collaborative PaintingThe greatest thrill for me, though, and I know my colleagues were excited, too, was in working together on one large canvas. After brainstorming, encouragement from the more enthusiastic among us, and a few giggles, everyone agreed to give it a try. We discussed dividing the canvas into separate panels, but 20-year-old Sujeendran and I convinced the group that to do so would nearly be the same as making solo works. Rather than creating a patchwork painting, we went for a blended image.

Our starting concept was to make continuous waves, with no set boundaries as to who would paint where, and see what happened. Even with this concept established, the first thing to appear on the canvas was a light blue sky, a sign that collective creativity will bring surprises. Slowly people joined in, one by one or in small groups, while others watched with keen interest, and implicit license to observe each other's artistic processes.

I have been imagining a collaborative fine art project like this for years. Beauty of Water has evolved to focus less on artifacts and more on artistic processes, and has always aimed to facilitate collaborative artmaking on the theme of appreciation for water. To see it happen on a canvas was dazzling.

Special thanks go to Baiju Laxman, shown in the entry below, for actualizing this camp with gusto. Painting camp participants included our host Udaysankar, to whom we also owe great gratitude, Rajesh K, Kumaradaz (painter of one of the longest paintings in the world, located in Kovalam), Sujeendran C, Radhakrishnan with his daughter Remya and wife Remani, Baiju Laxman, Valsan PC, Imababu and Liza Behrendt.