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?
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.
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.