Watercolor on Fabriano paper, 13″x13″
Indian poet Kaalidaas’s literature written around 1500 years ago provides immense painting resource and treat for Indian Watercolorists. The reason is that his writings are replete with description of nature and Watercolor is an excellent medium for portraying nature for its transparency and brightness. Deriving inspiration from Kaalidaas’s lyrical poem ऋतु संहारम्
(Ritu-Sanhaaram) in which he divided the year in 6 seasons unlike 4 in most cultures, I have done several Watercolor Paintings on seasons Under Ritu-Sanhaar
My painting Sharad Ritu-4
) based on ऋतु संहारम्
portrays a few descriptions as narrated in various Shlokas (verse lines). In English this season is called the autumn season. Immediately following the long 10 week rainy season (वर्षा ऋतु), Sharad Ritu is a short 6 week season during mid September-end October period.
The story behind this painting is Kaalidaas’s romantic description of nature and the mood of people during this season. I enjoyed reading the Hindi version of this lyrical poem ऋतु संहारम् (Ritu-Sanhaaram) which means the description of seasons. I had to do a bit of research to understand the vegetation mentioned in the poem. For example Kaalidaas describes Kaans in Shlok-1 saying फूले हुए काँस के कपड़े पहने,……..शरद ऋतु, नई ब्याही हुई रूपवती बहू के समान अब आ पहुँची है। (Wearing swollen Kaans clothes like a beautiful newlywed bride, the autumn season has now arrived).
I did not know what Kaans (in Shlok 1,2, and 28) meant and what it looked like. On searching thru the net I learnt that Kaans is a tall grass, also called Kash Phul or Kaans Flower in Bangladesh. In english it is called Thatching Grass. I also found out that it is the Icon of Autumn in Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and India. On Youtube there is a nice video on kash Phul with some soothing music. Image below shows Kaans. I have also seen it in fields in Gurgaon, in North India.
In Shlok-2 Kaalidaas writes काँस की झाड़ियों ने धरती को, चन्द्रमा ने रातों को, हँसों ने नदियों के जल को…….. उजला बना डाला है। (The earth due to Kaans bushes, the night due to the moon, and the water due to the swans in it have all turned bright white in this season). In my painting, arrows 1 in the picture on the left show the Kaans in the fields, arrows 2 the bright washed moon in the night sky, and arrows 3 the swans in the river waters; all imparting white glow to the atmosphere.
I used Permanent Masking Medium
of Winsor and Newton mixing Quinacridone Gold in it and then applying long brush strokes with a rigger brush to paint the Kaans
grass in the field. After these strokes dried up, I painted the surroundings in the field without disturbing the Kaans
In Shlok-5, Kaalidaas writes घुटे हुए आँजन की पिंडी जैसा नीला सुन्दर आकाश, दुपहरिया के फूलों से लाल बनी हुई
धरती……… इस संसार में किस युवक का मन डाँवाडोल नहीं कर देते। (which young man’s mind can not be lured in this season by the beautiful blue sky like the well masticated kohl and the portulaca covered red grounds!). Why Kaalidaas has compared deep blue sky of this season with kohl (आँजन) was not clear to me, so I just painted the day sky blue (and not black) as shown by arrow 1 in image on the right. I was fairly sure दुपहरिया meant Portulaca flower that blooms in the afternoon. The web search confirmed this. Arrows 2 show these flowers in the painting. These were painted in Guache for opacity, as watercolor would not have stood out so well.
Shlok-7 reads बादल हटे हुए चन्द्रमा के मुँह वाली आजकल की रात……चांदनी की उजली साड़ी पहने हुए अलबेली छोकरी के सामान दिन-दिन बढ़ती जा रही है। (in this season the night having face like the moon, clear of clouds, is lengthening day by day like the heart-stealing lass wearing saree of white moonlight). I portrayed this by showing full moon without clouds and white glow around it on the left as though in early night (see arrow in image on the left). I showed the dark night on the right top corner.
In Shlok-11 of Sharad Ritu description, Kaalidaas writes
जिन तालों के तीर पर मस्त हंसों के जोड़े घूम रहे हैं……..
वे ताल अचानक ह्रदय को मस्त बनाये डाल रहे हैं। (the ponds that have rollicking swan pairs on its banks are suddenly rendering the heart rollicking)
The two arrows in the image on the right show the swan pairs in the waters.
Focusing on the composition, I took help of the diagonal river bank from right bottom, moving towards middle left to lead viewer’s eyes to the Kaans
field and then to the moonlight on top right. The darks on the two corners (top right-bottom left) as well as the blues in the bottom right and top left helped in balancing the composition. The crescent grey in the moon was added on the advice of my learned teacher Ms. Surinder Kaur to make the moon look more interesting. The soft black of the night was achieved by mixing Bamboo Green (Holbein
brand), Alizarin Crimson, and Ultramarine Blue, all three transparent colors. I avoided using Ivory Black, a color that is too stark due to its absolute opaqueness.
In my opinion, the use of two horizontal lines in the painting has added some additional interest in the painting.
Personally, I find in my Sharad Ritu-4 quite a bit, though only partial, portrayal of Kaalidaas’s description of the autumn season. It is a soothing, light, cheerful, and mood uplifting painting. Its small square format makes it versatile for placement in a happy ambience.
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