If we let them, the transparency of watercolours can reveal a lot about ourselves to us. Particularly because, unlike other mediums watercolours let us know when we try to hide behind layers and when we are bold enough to not. My name is Patanjali Bhati. Growing up in India, I spent many nights of my childhood listening to mythological stories narrated by my grandmother while she tucked me in bed.
These stories ranged from episodes of Panchatantra, Ramayana and Mahabharata, the famous Hindu fables of Gods sprinkled with morals and spiritualism. These nights, in a way, were my first introduction to spirituality. I’ve also been painting since as far as my memory takes me, and was encouraged to do so by everyone around. The instinctual connection that I felt towards colours, be it any medium, has been one of my most cherished experiences of childhood.
Over time, as the size of the sheets of paper I was given to paint on increased, the more thrilling and exciting the experience got. Some time during that time the intermingling of these two aspects, creativity and spirituality took place, which I can comprehend only in hindsight. Through the years, exploring different mediums to express creatively has fused with my spiritual growth.
Recently, I have fallen in love with watercolours all over again. I had considered it a more complex medium in comparison to oil and acrylic paint, until I was awakened to the simplicity of it. And simple is not the same as easy.
It is said that we all have Buddha nature buried within us. It is in the laborious uncovering of layers formed through lifetimes and beyond, that makes space for this ultimate nature to shine through. And every exploration begins with a direction. Watercolours allow me to comprehend where I’m coming from and where I have been, so I might know where to go. I feel the transparent layers of paint yield the truth of nature – both outward and inward.
Amongst the many life lessons, watercolouring has taught me, here are twelve, that I’d like to share with you…
1. Being patient is a reward in itself. Sometimes we have to wait for it to dry before we introduce a new stroke, and on other occasions, for the exciting new shade’s turn to arrive on paper.
2. Everything is connected – at times loosely, and at times, tightly. Each thing is, because something was. In other words, everything is empty of inherent existence and serves as a cause and condition, all at once.
3. Less is more. To develop the understanding to stop before less becomes more, allows us to focus on what is important, and as a result create value, both in life and colour.
4. To have the serenity to stop in order to deal with any resistance, is an art worth nurturing. More often than not, there is a lesson hiding behind the mask of resistance, that leads us closer to ourselves.
5. Our brush strokes reveal our mental strength, and sincere strength develops only with the capacity of being sensitive.
6. Our initial judgement, is often a result of only a singular angle of perception. The whole picture takes time to unravel, and deep looking from various angles facilitates this unravelling. Hence, it’s important to not judge too soon, neither too late. Wisdom is in knowing the difference.
7. ‘Be Water.’ Just as Bruce Lee said it. To allow the flow of water to carry our mind’s impressions on paper.
8. Just as one can never step into the same river twice, it is crucial to know when to ride with the wave. The opportune moment leaves as quickly as it arrives. For that it is imperative to ‘be present’.
9. Find the energy, paint the energy. I’ve realised that when the finished piece conveys the same feeling that I feel when I experience the sight in nature, I can consider my piece honest. Feeling + emotion = energy in motion.
10. The compositions may vary, but most afflictions replicate, until we grow farsighted enough to step back, and adapt to a new perspective.
11. Often in nature, just as in shades of colours, it is the opposites that complement each other.
12. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. To be gentle with ourselves in the knowledge that it is important enough that we tried.
My Art Materials
White Nights Watercolours by St. Petersburg, a Russian brand has been my choice ever since I was introduced to this premium brand during an Art Residency in Lithuania, and cold pressed Brustro Artists’ Watercolour Paper and natural hair mop brushes suit me well for the wet on wet technique I enjoy.Recommended4 recommendationsPublished in