Rostrum Diaries, 2022.

An event by ArtLit Times

at 𝐀𝐫𝐭𝐋𝐢𝐭 𝐅𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐚𝐥 𝑎 𝑚𝑖𝑛𝑖 𝑎𝑟𝑡 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑙𝑖𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑎𝑡𝑢𝑟𝑒 𝑓𝑒𝑠𝑡𝑖𝑣𝑎𝑙 held 𝑜𝑛 𝗙𝗲𝗯𝗿𝘂𝗮𝗿𝘆 𝟮𝟳 (𝗦𝘂𝗻𝗱𝗮𝘆)
(Excuse me for the casual spoken Indian English)
Shirish: Hello Pooja, Hello everyone

Pooja: Hello sir, I had to start actually. Good evening everyone. I am actually very known to Sir. Its like we share a group together. And he is the president of the group and I am so happy to be a part of this and I welcome you Sir.
So, I think creativity takes courage and I would say that Sir has made a different way to come up with a career, he has chosen a different way, I think we are very known to a ballpoint pen which we usually go through our daily life, but we never take it as a part of our, but I think ballpoints have proven themselves to be a part of professional as well as amateur doodlers. So, Sir has recently launched his book, Exploring the ballpoint, so I would like to ask Sir what have you explained us in the ballpen and how would you like to approach.

Shirish: Ok. Good evening everyone. My journey in art started long back during my childhood. My mother was a painter. So art was at home and I could see her paint every day and so inspiration was not a rare thing for me. So I was into art and it developed during the school times and then my mother decided I should be having further education in art. So I went to Pune and there I had my formal education in commercial art. It used to be commercial art in those days, nowadays what it is called is graphic design and branding and all those things. So I came back to Belgaum after my education and had my own graphic design studio here. For many years, I think for almost about 25 years I have done a lot of design work in Belgaum. Most of the established brands and companies have taken services from me. But after doing that, when I was almost fifty years old, I came to a point wherein I thought that my services actually did not give myself any more satisfaction. So I thought of doing something of my own. What happens is with applied art you have to work for others and others have some requirements that you have to fulfill. So there is nothing much that you can add your own hundred percent into that. So I went into that another journey in my second innings of life I started with my fine art journey. But one of my friends, he said that now look there are lakhs of artists in this world who are trying to make a position for themselves, what is the uniqueness that you have, you will be having to stand apart from others. So art is complete life by itself and finding your own voice in artistic creations is a very very difficult thing. So subjects is one choice that you can specialize into one and then have your voice heard by the people. Or then there are some mediums and techniques and it went on, I went on in search of the perfect medium for me to express and I was using oil colors, acrylic colors for many years, but I did not see that the things that I wanted to put in I did not have the expertise or whatever the fluency we can say with the brushwork or those things. And as it is I was into drawing for many many decades. One day I found that the ballpoint pen may help me and tried one drawing with the ballpoint pen and it really came out good. And since then my journey started with the ballpoint pens and I had my first show in Pune in 2009 when I was fifty years old. But the show, the people in Pune, they responded so well and they came up with so many questions, how did this happen. Everyone had the question that the ballpoint, we know the ballpens, and we use for doodling in our school days and college days, every one of us uses that for doodling. But how come that you have made such beautiful artworks. And then as that rendering came naturally to me, the answers to these questions were not so easy to find for me. So I started teaching my techniques to people and I conducted several workshops in Pune, Belgaum, Bangalore, and taught others to use ballpoint pens. Pooja also happens to be one of my students in the workshop. And then from that, the questions those I received, I tried to answer in my own way. But you know for a physical workshop there is a limit, there is a physical limit to be present and to arrange for everything. So finally, it came down to writing a book. And the pandemic was a great opportunity just like for many others in this world that we have faced everything. We faced bad times also but some people made use of that time as a productive time for themselves, and this is the outcome. And I have explained all my techniques in that, every secret and including about forty artworks are featured in the book along with the techniques and all the thought process that goes behind the work, I have explained in that.

Pooja: Sir, so is this book helpful for artists as well as nonartists? What do you think?

Shirish: I think so. Because you know rendering with ballpoint pens needs a lot of patience. You just don't need yourself, the pen and the paper for making art. What you need is deep thinking, and persistence, and your efforts and patience. Those things are very very.... the meditative thinking that goes behind these things is very very important that is what I feel. And it is a great stress reliever that is what I can say. Because you know the rendering... suppose I have to cover a particular area with a brush and paint I can just dip the brush in paint and have the wash and the whole area can be painted in one second. But with pen, you have to work for hours together, you have to put in your efforts to make up that area. And that time spent with that thing is a repetitive process wherein you keep on enjoying your thought process. And there is so much of a, you know going back in time, pondering upon the events in your life, finding solutions to that, that is a great stress reliever for everyone who tries, that is what I feel.

Pooja: Thank you, Sir, it took a lot of time for you to reach over here, so what would you say, like even we will have that period of time or maybe we can achieve it a little earlier?

Shirish: Pooja, that is a good question. But actually, you know, art is a long journey and I think that it is an unending journey. So, even I don't know. I am also still enjoying. I am also a student and every day when I work, I definitely learn something new every day. Every drawing is a new experience, every drawing is a new journey, and you know I am always or by that process of creation wherein within the process before I finish one artwork, I have something in my mind that I should try. So, I always say, many artists say this that my next drawing will be my best drawing.

Pooja: So, if anybody would like to ask questions to Sir? Anyone? Regarding maybe his book, art or whatever it can......... OK

Audience: Can I ask one secret? What types of ballpens are useful or helpful in art?

Shirish: Ok. So I start with a quote from my cousin brother. In my first exhibition he came to the show, he saw all the work and he said that I am going to stop using the ballpoint pen from today, because what he says is I am actually insulting the ballpoint pen by using it just for writing. So that is the power the pen has. Because you know there are subtle differences between any other kind of pen and a ballpoint pen. The ink of ballpoint pen is a oil-based and of a thicker consistency ink. What you do is you can have pressure sensitivity while you use. So you can have a lighter line and a darker line depending on how you put the pressure of your hand on that. So that is one thing. But the question you asked is important. Long back in 2008 when I started this, I found out that there are many artists who use ballpoint pens. I came to know about one artist in US, some Jerry, and he mentioned that India is one of the largest producers of ballpen refills. Ok?. and in those days, there was no color ink available, only red, green, blue, and black. Only four color inks were available. So I was searching for yellow. Yellow is a basic color, without which we can not have many other colors. Ok? and yellow was not available. I was in search of that and I could get some pens from US, UK, and Japan etc. But how about here? And then one more important thing I came to know that you can not use canvas as your drawing surface. Because canvas is coated with some acrylic primers and that interacts with the inks and the inks fade away after some time. So the pens are made basically for the paper. Paper is the perfect substrate for that. But how about the inks? So, most of the inks fade away. And there is no longevity for the inks. But many others, even watercolors also fade if you keep them in direct sunlight. Ok? so same with ballpoint pens. But then there was no data available, there was no one to tell me that this is artist quality or this is student quality or this is just for writing, there is no differentiation available in those branded pens. Even the best-known brands like Reynolds and all, their blue ink also faded. Ok? and that was a shock for me. So what I did was, I collected all the blue color ink pens whichever brand I could put my hand on, I bought all of them and tested for light-fastness against direct sunlight. And then I chose the best ones. Like you know, Uniball has a blue color which is good, Pentek has a red color which is good, and like that and so on. But then Yellow still remained, there was no yellow. And then I could get from foreign countries and I used them in my drawings. But recently for the last four-five years we can get Indian brands and they are so cheap and so good, I am so proud that India has achieved that level. You know, they are use-and-throw. We get a complete set of ten colors in just fifty rupees, can you imagine that? and the colors are so wonderful, the writing, very very smooth, very smooth, so that is not a problem now absolutely. But there are color sets which you have to use for this. And I have written everything about that, whatever the colors are available, how to mix, because you know, there are no premixed colors available like in acrylic or oil colors, professional grade colors, we have those names for the colors, you may be knowing lemon yellow or golden yellow and those kind of things. There is no luxury in ballpoint pens that you get a lemon yellow or something like that. So they are not named at all. There are no names on the ballpens. And each company has a different yellow, has a different red, so you have to use the same and prepare your own drawing in your own way. So there is a method to mix those colors. You have to use your paper as a palette, drawing surface itself as a palette, so you can not mix the color somewhere else and bring it to the paper. Ok? So there is no scope for a mistake. You can not do even a single mistake. Once done, it is done.

Pooja: Thank you sir, it was a great pleasure to know you and your art. Thank you once again.

Shirish: Thank you, everyone.


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