The Indian Artist, Final Year: I’m Publishing a Book!!

Good Evening Everyone! I hope that you are all doing well! I am very excited to share today’s blog post with you all. This is a project that is very close to my heart and something that I have been working on for almost a year now!

As some of you may know, I am pursuing a career in medicine with the goal of becoming a surgeon. For a long time, I have been searching for ways to integrate my love and passion for art with my commitment to medicine. In December 2022, I had the good fortune of being hired as a Medical Illustrator. In May 2023, I was asked to be the Creative Design Director for a UCLA-based non-profit organization called Pages for Pediatrics and help establish its first chapter at the University of Michigan.

Pages for Pediatrics aims to write and illustrate children’s storybooks working to normalize patient adversity, advocate for disability representation, and combat stigma towards pediatric conditions in the broader community. To help alleviate patient anxiety, we center children’s storybooks around characters that pediatric patients can relate to as a means of instilling hope, comfort, and solidarity. In order to ensure that every patient has unhindered access to our therapeutic stories, we raise funds to cover the production and distribution of our books so we can donate copies to pediatric patients at C.S. Mott’s Children’s Hospital and others nationwide. This is a dream opportunity for me and something that I am so priveleged to be a part of.

I am very excited to announce that our first book, Leela’s Braids, is set to be published in mid-April!! I helped to write this book centered on Alopecia areata and fully illustrated it myself! This has been an incredible project for me and one that I am very proud to share with you all.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Leela’s Braids and supporting Pages for Pediatrics, please feel free to fill out the following order form by March 31st: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdZo0A0l_c0ry2wKDTSYjxJUDb7q4jkYyayQv0qN1beCYPdng/viewform

This would make for a wonderful gift for any little ones and family that you may have. I truly appreciate all of you who have continued to read my posts over the past four years. With my time at U of M coming close to an end, I am so priveleged to leave this project behind.

I look forward to sharing more of the book with you all in the coming weeks leading up to its release. Until then, please feel free to reach out to me or comment if you have any questions, concerns, or thoughts! If you would like to see my work, please feel free to check out my website and follow me on Instagram.

Sincerely,

Riya

Instagram: @riya_aggarwal.art

Website: https://theindianartist.weebly.com/

The Indian Artist, Final Year: Intaglio

Good Afternoon everyone! I hope that you are well. I know that I haven’t posted in some time, but I wanted to write a short post today showcasing some work that I did last semester using a brand new technique!

Intaglio is a means of printmaking in which which the image is carved into a surface and the incised line or sunken area holds the ink. This method is the direct opposite of a relief print where the parts of the matrix that make the image stand above the main surface. Linoleum carving is a type of relief printmaking whereas copper etching is an example of intaglio. I had the privilege of learning intaglio last semester and it was a pure joy! I wanted to share the steps that I learned and the pieces that I made. Enjoy!

  1. Create your sketch! Figure out the subject matter than you are interested in rendering and create an initial drawing.
  2. Prepare the plate! In order to transfer ink from the etched copper plate to paper, it is fed through a press. If the edges of a copper plate are left raw, they can cut through the paper.
    • The first step is the burnish and round off the edges of the plate
    • The second step is to degrease the surface of the plate so that the ground can stick to it. Degreasing the plate is done by mixing a solution of vinegar and whiting together and rubbing it all over the surface. Once this is done comprehensively the plate is rinsed and dried.
    • Lastly, something called a ground is rolled onto the surface of the plate and cured on a hot plate. This ground is what is carved into to expose copper. The exposed copper will be etched when put into acid!
  3. Transfer your image! This is simple, just use some transfer paper and get your image onto your plate.
  4. Now you are ready to etch! Using a thin needle, draw into the hard ground to expose the copper plate. This can be done in layers as the longer the copper is exposed to acid, the darker the lines will be and vice versa.
  5. Etch the plate! Put a piece of contact paper on the back on your copper plate to protect it from the acid. Then, just suspend the copper plate in a vat of ferric acid. Again, etching for longer will make the lines darker.
  6. Print the plate! Apply ink to the plate and wipe off the excess. The ink will sit inside of the etches lines and will transfer to the paper when put through a press set to the correct pressure!

And that is all it takes! I know this was a long overdue post and a bit of a different one, but I hope that it was interesting to read! I have always really admired printmaking and am so lucky that I have had the opportunity to dive into it this past year. I am currently working on a woodblock print and look forward to sharing it with you all.

As always, please feel free to reach out to me or comment if you have any questions, concerns, or thoughts! If you would like to see my work, please feel free to check out my website and follow me on Instagram.

Until next week,

Riya

Instagram: @riya_aggarwal.art

Website: https://theindianartist.weebly.com/

The Indian Artist, Final Year: The Four Canonical Painting Modes

Good Morning! I hope that you are all doing well! To wrap up the semester I wanted to do an informative post on some techniques that I true love that were expanded and developed from the Age of the Renaissance. There are four significantly different modes of techniques in the Renaissance paintings that were widely spread by many great masters. They were applied superbly to create brilliant and spectacular art treasures.

1) Cangiante

In the early Renaissance, the primary modes of painting were based on Fresque and Tempéra. At that time there were only a few kinds of pigments used, as skill and materials were limited. Therefore, artists adopted relatively simple methods to express color and value, such as the intrinsic color of the object mixed with black in order to represent shading. That’s the reason Cangiante emerged. The main purpose of this technique is to replace the highlights and shades by using analogous colors as long as the value and hue do not show too big a difference when compared to the actual color. We can see in Giotto’s works that he used this practice occasionally.

2) Chiaroscuro

Now this one is my personal favorite! Chiaroscuro uses light and shade to express three-dimensional forms and space. In the early Baroque period Caravaggio composed his paintings with strong lighting on the main subject. He used a dark background and emphasized the contrast of light and shade in order to achieve a dramatic effect that was similar to stage lighting. This technique is used to compose images effectively by using light and shadow to create the effect of three-dimensional space and the beauty of a sculptural figure on a flat plane. If, for example, we were to depict a man standing outdoors, we would realize from observation that the natural light comes from all directions. This is not the same as painting the effects of light and shade as if lit by a shaft of light from a single source. Think about a candle lit in a pitch black room. The purpose of this arrangement is that it is convenient way for artists to show three- dimensional forms but the result is totally different from reality.

I have subtly begun to apply Chiaroscuro to my paintings and plan to create a more exaggerated piece very soon!

3) Sfumato

The most significant part about Sfumato is that painters use very fine transparent pigments and a glazing medium which has the ability to flow smoothly and spread easily. The basis of this method is the careful superimposition of glazes applied layer by layer. The color of each layer is so subtle, light and thin that it is hardly to be observed. Also, every coating layer had to be completely dry before applying the next one with a different transparent color. As it is applied, changes are made, and the glazing is adjusted according to differences in the object’s structure and the changing of light and shadow. With the process of applying up to ten of layers of glaze the colors are slowly enhanced to a rich tone and the edges are blurred. After much painstaking work, finally it had led to a mysterious and soft visual effect. Because of the manipulation of successive glazing, what people actually see is not the result of oil paints mixed on the palette, but a natural combination of whole colors under the optical effect of light going through layers of delicate and magnanimous glazing. This is famously applied and implemented by Leonardo Da Vinci.

4) Unione

Unione has many similar attributes to Sfumato. It is one of the most famous techniques of the Renaissance. It is regarded as a prominent technique rather than a perspective technique. It plays an

integral role in enhancing the work of art. This method relies on the smooth transformation of colors without any hint of hard lines. However, it differs from Sfumato due to the intensity of the colors being used.

Where Sfumato relies on smoothing colors by dark or ling pigment which reduces the intense colors in paintings, Unione is focused on the intensity. It tries to improve the eye-soothing parts o the images to make the picture even more vibrant, colorful and lovely. By following this method, the works are able to represent the value of the color, while at the same time they form the shapes with delicate transitions from light to shade. The outcome is colorful and dazzling. Raphael was responsible for revolutionizing this technique.

All of these techniques were revolutionary for their time and have helped set the stage for post-Renaissance and modern artists. Without knowing it, all artists implement one of the above techniques in some way. All modern teachings are expanded from these first four canonical modes of painting. Maybe I’ll try and implement all four in a painting one day!

Sources:

https://artium.co/en/node/126#:~:text=There%20are%20four%20significantly%20different,been%20widely%20spread%20by%20posterity.

https://artpaintingartist.org/the-four-canonical-painting-modes-of-the-renaissance/

As always, if any questions or thoughts arise, please comment or reach out to me! Thank you for reading!

Until next week,

Riya

Instagram@riya_agg.art

Portfolio: https://theindianartist.weebly.com/ 

The Indian Artist, Final Year: Big Milestone!

Good Afternoon Everyone! I hope that you are all well. I wanted to take this week to share my most recently completed painting. This is one that I started back in February of this year so it is legitimately months in the making. I used my Thanksgiving Break to finish it up and am very excited to share it with you all and what I learned from it. Enjoy!

This painting, titled Five White Horses (4′ x 5′), is a recreation of the infamous cover of the Bhagavad Gita and is completed in oil on canvas. This is a rendition of an original piece by Bijay Biswasl, one of my all time favorite artists. I made many changes and personalizations from Biswaal’s original work such as a change in the orientation and composition, manipulation of the size, changing of colors, and creative liberties over certain details to be more accurate to scripture. This is the largest piece that I have completed to date and though it was not the most challenging technique-wise, it pushed me greatly.

If you are interested in learning about the origins of this piece and the meaning behind the five white horses, check out this older post. This painting was the epitome of “it looks worse before it gets better” and a masterclass in patience and perseverance. Personally, I have no trouble starting my work; however, it is once I surpass the initial excitement and adrenaline over a new piece that I have the most trouble. I was able to get this painting to the 75% mark fairly quickly. It is the last 25% that takes the most effort and push. I’m a firm believer in the fact that inspiration is completely overrated. The best and most successful artists know that they cannot rely on inspiration. It takes brute force and discipline to create work. I am not saying that I am a successful artist by any means, but I know that importance of forcing myself to sit in front of the easel and just work.

It was an absolute pleasure to create this painting and I am so proud of the final result. Of course, as with all of my work, there is so much more that could be done, so much that could be made better. But I felt that it was time to stop, at least for now. Who knows, maybe I will come back to it one day and make some changes! Tune in for that!

As always, if any questions or thoughts arise, please comment or reach out to me! Thank you for reading!

Until next week,

Riya

Instagram@riya_agg.art

Portfolio: https://theindianartist.weebly.com/ 

The Indian Artist, Final Year: Taking Stock

I have never been good at abstraction. Honestly speaking, I have never wanted to be. I have always looked down upon, and still continue to dismiss, the loose, illegible, mind-bending, and non-figurative nature of work that is not bound to recognized life in the most obvious ways. I am a figurative artist. I work with life, capture the beauty and pain within my heritage and culture, and push myself constantly to get closer and closer to realism in each of my pieces.


Watching many of my peers work with such clarity while creating something so abstract is a true wonder to me. I struggle to understand and recognize the beauty in much of the work that I see from my fellow classmates, but I know that there is great value in their creations. One of the things that I am the most grateful for in my life are my hands, and creating with them is my truest passion. By taking a sculpture course this semester, I thought that I would be exposed to various different mediums and then left to my own devices to create work as I pleased. I did not expect the challenges that I have faced.


My first two projects, The Tarp and The Chair, were simple. They were very safe and I knew that I would end up creating something attractive once I decided what to make. I kick myself now that I allowed myself to explore the exact same subject, a peacock, in both projects. I was very comfortable with the materials and resources, but struggled heavily with the thought of transcending beyond a recognizable form. I think this paralyzed me into staying within the confines of what I know.


I push myself to my limits. I am known as the girl taking the 18 credits, working the job, being the president and leader of multiple organizations, running a business, volunteering at clinics, doing extreme sports, and finding time for art. I push myself in every aspect of my life. My art is the place where I have always pushed and challenged myself in the magnitude and complexity of my compositions, but never in the content. My work is aesthetic and attractive, but it is predictable, par for the course, fitting. I have created a narrative and name for myself and done a good job of fitting it.


The Verb Project pushed me to make something unrecognizable (my verb was “to crease”). I could have easily done another peacock, but I wanted to push myself in a different way this time. I truly enjoyed this piece and this time I feel that though the material was safe, the end product was something outside of my self-constructed box. I wanted to create something simple, not too complicated, but something different. Throughout this semester I have really learned about my weaknesses and limitations. Being forced to create past these limitations has been a challenge to say the least but a welcomed portal. I look forward to incorporating this freeing air that I have captured into my future work.

Until next week,

Riya

Instagram@riya_aggarwal.art

Website: https://theindianartist.weebly.com/

The Indian Artist, Final Year: Sneak Peak!

Good evening everyone! I hope that you are all doing well and have had a good week thus far. I am suffering from major writers block here and thought that I would post a little bit of sneak peak into my latest painting. I also wanted to share some of the difficulties that I have had with this piece and the process by which I work through rendering challenging subjects.

My current piece, set to be complete by the end of the month, is a 4’x5′ oil painting on canvas titled Five White Horses. This piece is a recreation of the symbolic and famous cover of the Hindu holy text called the Bhagavad Gita. I have taken inspiration from a similar recreation by Bijay Biswaal as well as the original cover from the official Srila Prabhubad version of the text. This is my biggest and most detailed painting to date and it has been more than a challenge getting it to a place where I am satisfied.

The figure on the left is Krishna. Krishna is meant to be portrayed as divine with beautiful, effeminate features that are still strong and masculine. I have had a lot of trouble rendering Krishna in this painting in a way that depicts him as intended. There are a few tricks that I use when I am facing these challenges that I wanted to share with you all!

  1. Take a break from the piece! Taking time away from the painting is imperative. I took a couple weeks off from this work and decided to focus my attention on other art pieces. This provides me with a fresh perspective on my composition.
  2. Turn the work upside down. Though this seems bizarre and counterintuitive, a change in perspective literally forces you to attach the artwork with a new eye and vigor.
  3. Refresh with reference images. This is very important for paintings with life-like subjects. I find that taking time to study lighting, staging, and anatomy away from the physical piece is very helpful. This help me to sculpt out the subjects with a greater likeness
  4. Give yourself some grace! Good work that you can be proud of takes a lot of time. I struggle with every single piece that I do. However, it is through this struggle that I learn the most about myself and unlock new skills that I am able to apply to future pieces. Take your time to explore your medium and subjects. Make mistakes and welcome them!
  5. Finally, stop when you have said what you need to say. It is very common to overwork an art piece. It is an art in itself knowing when to stop and having with wherewithal to call a piece done. When you feel that you have expressed your intentions in the work, let it go. There is no such thing as perfection in an art piece and continuously harping on details can take away from your broader message.

I hope that some of these points were helpful if you are also struggling with or stuck on a piece. There are so many aspects of my art process that have become second nature and I find it fun to put some of them into writing. As always, please feel free to reach out to me or comment if you have any questions, concerns, or thoughts! If you would like to see my work, please feel free to check out my website and follow me on Instagram.

Until next week,

Riya

Instagram: @riya_aggarwal.art

Website: https://theindianartist.weebly.com/