Tag Archives: art

Book Review: ‘Invitation to Draw’ By Jean Van’t Hul

Image source: Amazon

In my conversations with parents concerned about their children’s future, I always advise them to make their children invest in arts and books. Here I use art in the broadest possible sense, which includes fine arts as well as performing arts. If you indeed love your children, you must think of their future, and provide them with something which would support them whole life. 

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‘Laetitia Casta’, graphite and charcoal portrait on canvas. Artist: Amit Misra

I have been making portraits in pencil for quite a long time. In fact, I have lost count of how many of them I have made till now. With every portrait, there is something to learn, not just about the skill, but about the facial features of humans. Laypersons mostly comment on the model or the subject I am portraying. For example, once it happened that incidentally I made portraits of Kareena to gift to two different friends. The general opinion spread that Kareena is my favourite actress! I receive the same comment particularly when the subject is a female model or an actress. Here I would like to tell you that for artists the subject is not that important as is generally believed. You might have heard it from artists and photographers that they found a particular face ‘interesting’. However, it simply means just that and doesn’t necessarily mean that the artist is in any way attached to the model. In general, artists do not see face, eyes, nose, lips, hair and so on; instead, all they see is geometrical figures. Yes, you read it correct — all they see in front of them is cones, pyramids, rectangles, cubes, cuboid, spheres, and lines. And it is the amusing combination and interplay of these geometrical figures in any face or figure is what makes it appealing and attractive to them. But I am not mathematically inclined; I am a physicist. So however hard do I try, I am not able to accurately analyse any figure in terms of its geometrical components. Instead, I take the alternative path shown by physics — optics to be precise. As I told you in another post, I am mainly attracted to the interplay of light and shade, how shadows form, the various patterns formed by light, and in the case of portraits, how this symphony of light and dark brings out the volume, shape and characteristics of any figure.

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‘Bowl In Bowl’, Pencil On Paper, Realism, Still Life, Artist: Amit Misra.

Scientists tell us that life on Earth was possible only because it is at an ‘optimum’ distance from the Sun. This energy — a combination of light and heat — was behind the creation and sustenance of all flora and fauna on Earth. But it did not stop there. In my personal opinion, light played the most crucial part in our scientific quest and discoveries. Optics is the foundation of human civilisation. Only by light are we able to see the natural world and its treasures. We looked up at the source of daylight, viz., the Sun, and the innumerable stars dotting the night sky. We were curious, and tried to make sense of it all and have an explanation of it — first from mythological stories, then by logic and analysis. Who are we, where did we come from, who created these celestial and terrestrial objects? And what does it all mean? 


To have a look at my other drawings, click here. You can follow my art journey on Instagram and Facebook.

‘Bowl In Bowl’, Pencil On Paper, Realism, Still Life. Artist: Amit Misra

The branch of Physics which deals with the study of light and various phenomena associated with it is called Optics. In  Geometrical Optics (or Ray Optics) we assume that light travels in a straight line in the form of rays. This model is useful for studying the formation of images by lenses and mirrors. On the other hand, in Physical Optics (or Wave Optics) light is assumed to be a wave. Various phenomena such as interference, diffraction and polarization, which cannot be explained by Ray Optics, are studied under Wave Optics.


To have a look at my other drawings, click here. You can follow my art journey on Instagram and Facebook.

Book Review: ‘301 Things To Draw’ By Editors Of Chartwell Books

Image source: NetGalley

If you want to be successful in any form of art, you need to practise it regularly in order to hone up your skill. Otherwise, any gap in your practice would slide you back and erase whatever little progress you had made. This way you would find yourself forever beginning from scratch and never making any considerable progress. But easier said than done. If you are an artist, you would know that making a piece of art is easy when you are in mood or it is your hobby, but it loses its charm when you have to perform on demand. And here the demand is ‘regular practice’. Sometimes you do have the will and discipline to get up and sit at your working table, but have no idea where to start — what to draw and how to start with it. Note that here the first stroke is the most difficult step, for once you have overcome that hurdle, then the art would by itself pull you into it. Thereafter it becomes easy. But the first step — the artist’s block as it is called — is the most difficult phase. If you ask me, personally I do not consider it to be any issue. While sketching, I start drawing whatever object is lying in front of me.

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‘Bowl On Bowl’, Pencil On Paper, Realism, Still Life. Artist: Amit Misra

I work on the interrelation between art and science — Physics, to be precise. For the most part, sketching is about Optics, isn’t it?


To have a look at my other drawings, click here. You can follow my art journey on Instagram and Facebook.

‘Tap’, Pencil On Paper, Realism, Still Life. Artist: Amit Misra

My specialization is in usage of strong contrast between light and dark to portray the shape and volume of any object, which in art terms is called Chiaroscuro


To have a look at my other drawings, click here. You can follow my art journey on Instagram and Facebook.

‘Knob’, Pencil On Paper, Realism, Still Life. Artist: Amit Misra

My mentor Prof. Amitabh Sengupta used to say, “Fine Arts is 60% observation and 40% skill. Or I’d rather go so far as to say that it is 80% observation and 20% skill”. He encouraged me to move away from the type of portraits that I had been making till then, and instead invest my skills into practising realism. At first it was difficult for me to break old habits. But the lockdown period last year offered me an opportunity to take a closer look at the objects around me, particularly those scattered around in my house. This sketch of the bathroom shower knob was the first drawing in realism that I made during lockdown last year.


To have a look at my other drawings, click here. You can follow my art journey on Instagram and Facebook.

How To Handle Criticism

Once I sent my drawings to a friend; she liked them and from then on she started asking regularly whether I have made any new art work or not. On the other hand, I am not able to produce artworks on a regular basis, however hard I try. So the next time this girl asked me for any new painting, I didn’t have anything to show. I was also afraid that she would start giving me sermons on the need of a more disciplined life and to be regular in art — all that stuff which I had heard several times from her and others. So in order to escape from rebuke, I searched my hard disk and sent the photograph of a very old painting which I had made long back. She replied, “Wow this is very nice work! I should say your painting skills have improved a lot! Great work!“ This was the first instance of fake appreciation for me. She was trying to tell me that I had made great progress in art but her facts were incorrect. I immediately understood that she was simply passing superficial comments and perfunctory appreciation.

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Why You Should Turn Your Passion Into Profession And What Makes It Difficult

Once question keeps popping up in my mind every now and then. Let me put it in this way. Everyone of us is educated, enters into some profession and earns a living. The rest of life is spent working hard, earning money which soon transforms into accumulating wealth, and then it all ends when we are old or retired, or both. Whenever someone asks why we undertake so much hardship, our quick answer is — financial security, our family responsibility, and above all, happiness. In a way, all reasons are related to each other and imply the same thing — happiness. My question is, instead of working so hard on something which we do not enjoy in order to earn a living so that we could be happy, why not start with happiness itself, i.e., do things that we enjoy and turn it into profession? That way life indeed would become fun and work would no longer be a labour. In fact, most of the time when we say we are tired, we actually mean that we are bored.

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