This is the first of a series of posts on my artistic experiments. I realised that since each work is a story in visual form, I can write a post about it too. This is one of my recent success stories, inspired by India’s national bird – the peacock. I’ve only worn it twice!
Purple was an unusual colour for a background. This was a pretty dark shade, almost a brinjal-like shade so light and bright colours would show well. However unlike black which has a solid personality of its own and pretty much offsets anything that contrasts it, purple is a more – shall we say – malleable colour. The combination of colours you choose sets the tone for how you interpret purple.
For example, teamed with vermillion and gold, it would cue royalty, the way monarchs of old would wear it. You’d imagine velvet (purple) edged with rich brocade (the other colours). On the other hand, matched with hot pink, it would be more funky-punk. Line up purple with black and you have futuristic, especially if edged with silver.
I decided to try a different tack. I’ve always been fascinated by the peacock’s spectrum of colours. Vibrant blues, indigo, violet, green, turquoise and yellow. It was probably a bit of a risk putting all those against a purple background since purple does belong to a related colour family (on account of the blue but different because of the red in it).
The garment is a thin cotton vest that I bought off the roadside. The fabric was thin enough to absorb all the paint and stiffen when it dried, which was ideal since I was painting across the whole front and it would lose appeal unless the entire picture was on display.
I’m not great at sketching animals so I decided to focus on the vivid colours instead. There was no sketching involved here. I just lined the peacock’s head in a thin white line (which was subsequently coloured over) and went splash-dunk into a riot of colour (my favourite technique). I think it came out pretty well.
For each feather, I started with the outer-most colour (Fevicryl no.12 Light Green) and then painted over with each inner layer in the following order – Fevicryl no.32 Cerulean Blue, Fevicryl no.352 Pearl Metallic Gold and Fevicryl no.46 Bamboo. I touched up a few of the feathers with Fevicryl no.305 Pearl Blue so the sheen in the colour would catch the light. The plumes and eye were done in Fevicryl no.301 Pearl White while the beak was Fevicryl no.355 Pearl Metallic Bronze.
I have a dusky skin tone which normally looks sallow with such a dark colour but since it is matched by the feather highlights and contrasted by the bright blues and greens, I think I carry it off well. I team it up with jeans, usually a dark blue. The last time I wore this, a gusty wind swirled around making me feel like I really was welcoming the monsoon.
Garment: Loose waist-level vest
Material: Thin cotton
Background colour: Purple
Paint colours used:
- Fevicryl no.12 Light Green
- Fevicryl no.46 Bamboo
- Fevicryl no.32 Cerulean Blue
- Fevicryl no.301 Pearl White
- Fevicryl no.305 Pearl Blue
- Fevicryl no.352 Pearl Metallic Gold
- Fevicryl no.355 Pearl Metallic Bronze